An Emu Hunt

 

West of Dubbo the west begins
The land of leisure and hope and trust,
Where the black man stalks with his dogs and gins
And Nature visits the settlers’ sins
With the Bogan shower, that is mostly dust.

When the roley-poley’s roots dry out
With the fierce hot winds and the want of rain,
They come uprooted and bound about
And dance in a wild fantastic rout
Like flying haystacks across the plain.

And the horses shudder and snort and shift
As the bounding mass of weeds goes past,
But the emus never their heads uplift
As they look for roots in the sandy drift,
For the emus know it from first to last.

Now, the boss’s dog that had come from town
Was strange to the wild and woolly west,
And he thought he would earn him some great renown
When he saw, on the wastes of the open down,
An emu standing beside her nest.

And he said to himself as he stalked his prey
To start on his first great emu hunt,
“I must show some speed when she runs away,
For emus kick very hard, they say;
But I can’t be kicked if I keep in front.”

The emu chickens made haste to flee
As he barked and he snarled and he darted around,
But the emu looked at him scornfully
And put an end to his warlike glee
With a kick that lifted him off the ground.

And when, with an injured rib or two,
He made for home with a chastened mind,
An old dog told him, “I thought you knew
An emu kicks like a kangaroo,
And you can’t get hurt — if you keep behind.”

Copyright Andrew Barton Paterson (1864 – 1941)