The Cambaroora Star


So you're writing for a paper? Well, it's nothing very new
To be writing yards of drivel for a tidy little screw;
You are young and educated, and a clever chap you are,
But you'll never run a paper like the CAMBAROORA STAR.
Though in point of education I am nothing but a dunce,
I myself -- you mayn't believe it -- helped to run a paper once
With a chap on Cambaroora, by the name of Charlie Brown,
And I'll tell you all about it if you'll take the story down.
 
On a golden day in summer, when the sunrays were aslant,
Brown arrived in Cambaroora with a little printing plant
And his worldly goods and chattels -- rather damaged on the way --
And a weary-looking woman who was following the dray.
He had bought an empty humpy, and, instead of getting tight,
Why, the diggers heard him working like a lunatic all night:
And next day a sign of canvas, writ in characters of tar,
Claimed the humpy as the office of the CAMBAROORA STAR.
 
Well, I cannot read, that's honest, but I had a digger friend
Who would read the paper to me from the title to the end;
And the STAR contained a leader running thieves and spielers down,
With a slap against claim-jumping, and a poem made by Brown.
Once I showed it to a critic, and he said 'twas very fine,
Though he wasn't long in finding glaring faults in every line;
But it was a song of Freedom -- all the clever critic said
Couldn't stop that song from ringing, ringing, ringing in my head.
 
So I went where Brown was working in his little hut hard by:
`My old mate has been a-reading of your writings, Brown,' said I --
`I have studied on your leader, I agree with what you say,
You have struck the bed-rock certain, and there ain't no get-away;
Your paper's just the thumper for a young and growing land,
And your principles is honest, Brown; I want to shake your hand,
And if there's any lumping in connection with the STAR,
Well, I'll find the time to do it, and I'll help you -- there you are!'
 
Brown was every inch a digger (bronzed and bearded in the South),
But there seemed a kind of weakness round the corners of his mouth
When he took the hand I gave him; and he gripped it like a vice,
While he tried his best to thank me, and he stuttered once or twice.
But there wasn't need for talking -- we'd the same old loves and hates,
And we understood each other -- Charlie Brown and I were mates.
So we worked a little `paddock' on a place they called the `Bar',
And we sank a shaft together, and at night we worked the STAR.
 
Charlie thought and did his writing when his work was done at night,
And the missus used to `set' it near as quick as he could write.
Well, I didn't shirk my promise, and I helped the thing, I guess,
For at night I worked the lever of the crazy printing-press;
Brown himself would do the feeding, and the missus used to `fly' --
She is flying with the angels, if there's justice up on high,
For she died on Cambaroora when the STAR began to go,
And was buried like the diggers buried diggers long ago.
 
  . . . . .
 
Lord, that press! It was a jumper -- we could seldom get it right,
And were lucky if we averaged a hundred in the night.
Many nights we'd sit together in the windy hut and fold,
And I helped the thing a little when I struck a patch of gold;
And we battled for the diggers as the papers seldom do,
Though when the diggers errored, why, we touched the diggers too.
Yet the paper took the fancy of that roaring mining town,
And the diggers sent a nugget with their sympathy to Brown.
 
Oft I sat and smoked beside him in the listening hours of night,
When the shadows from the corners seemed to gather round the light --
When his weary, aching fingers, closing stiffly round the pen,
Wrote defiant truth in language that could touch the hearts of men --
Wrote until his eyelids shuddered -- wrote until the East was grey:
Wrote the stern and awful lessons that were taught him in his day;
And they knew that he was honest, and they read his smallest par,
For I think the diggers' Bible was the CAMBAROORA STAR.
 
Diggers then had little mercy for the loafer and the scamp --
If there wasn't law and order, there was justice in the camp;
And the manly independence that is found where diggers are
Had a sentinel to guard it in the CAMBAROORA STAR.
There was strife about the Chinamen, who came in days of old
Like a swarm of thieves and loafers when the diggers found the gold --
Like the sneaking fortune-hunters who are always found behind,
And who only shepherd diggers till they track them to the `find'
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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"The Cambaroora Star" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 12 Jul 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/17968/the-cambaroora-star>.

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