Ballad of the Lone Prospector

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By Antmuzik77   |   Watch
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Published: October 20, 2009
The Ballad of the Lone Prospector

I met him up the Murchison, on digs just out of Trillbar
A scrawny lad, with pan in hand and shoes that'd trodden far
His dusty face grimaced, as he tipped the dirt again
"For the all the luck that I've had, would have killed a better man"
And as the last light faded, across the distant hills
The youngster in his angst bit the bitter pills

My inquires showed the young man hadn't eaten now for days
His water bag was drying and his head was in a haze
Well I'd been waltzing matilda, near a billabong for weeks
So my supplies were quite sufficient, to offer to the meek
With youthful surrender, he gladly smiled, accepted the break
For many a man had died for prides ugly sake

So as the moon grew larger, amongst the speckled sky
I swear I saw this young boy wipe a tear from his eyes
He said he was from the west coast, Batavian born and breed
He spoke just like a gentlemen, there was brains within his head
And as he swished his damper ,'round the rusty cup
He tasted the last of the kangaroo stew and look far and squarely up

He pointed to the Southern Cross, that sat above us high
"That up there" he said "That's what's  gettin' me by"
And neither of us had to speak, for I clear understood
As any good prospector ,from around this way would
And as he tramped off back, over t'wards his camp
I fell asleep staring upwards 'til the last light of me lamp

T'was late when I awoke, the sun already soaring
I saw the young man panning, while the rest of camp was snoring
And though he stared so long and hard waiting for that flash
It never came while I was there, he never made the cash
T'was time for me to roam again as my feet were growing restless
So I picked me billy and swag up and headed for the south west

T' was not quite a year when I headed back to the pickings
Getting into some law trouble ,with all the fleecy nicking
I inquired about the prospector, who tilled down by the creek
And eventually I found a bushy willing to wag the beak
"He's dead" s'was all he said and he brushed his dusty hat
"We found him by his pickings, by his pan that's where he sat"

And I looked and they had buried him, near a dying gum
With the inscribed tree reading "here lies a chum"
And nailed to the tree, there was placed a rusty pan
A simple engravement around the base of it ran
Though rare I will admit that for words I was at a loss
'cause there staring back at me was the flamin' Southern Cross.
© 2009 - 2019 Antmuzik77

Challenge #44
I have been teaching Seniors about ballads from the Middle Ages. Write a traditional ballad. The topic can be modern or from the days of Old English. It doesn't have to be iambic pentameter, though that could be impressive. Some traditional elements you should aim for though are that:
1. Ballads often have sensational or tragic subject matter. The ones I have read recently are either historical/tragic (relating to issues of the time) or comedic/exaggerated. Go one of those routes.
2. Ballads use refrains.
3. Ballads leave out extra details. (As much as I love details, they are just not usually a part of the form)
4. Ballads often follow a question and answer format or dialogue.
5. Ballads are narrative.

I think I missed out the refrain but anyways here is my entry in the challenge. Below is a quick reference to the Aussie slang. If there is anything else you need clarification on just ask.

Waltzing Matilda – Is picking up your swag and walking
Billabong – A waterhole
Damper – is a type of bread
Southern Cross – A constellation in the stars
Billy- is a kettle
Fleecy nicking – stealing sheep
A bushy – a man/ woman who lives in the country
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Comments (7)
imjustme213's avatar
Congradulations on the win. I found the poem to be very interesting and it flowed well. Good job.
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Antmuzik77's avatar
Thankyou I didn't even realise I had won until you said so :) Thankyou so much for the feedback.
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PoetryPlease's avatar
I loved the language and rhythm! I was entertained the whole way through! Great work! This was chosen as the featured piece for Challenge #44! Congrats!
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Antmuzik77's avatar
:dance: thankyou so much it has made my weekend :)
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Rachabelle's avatar
Rachabelle|Hobbyist General Artist
This is good. Well written and very Australian, like Waltzing Matilda.
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Antmuzik77's avatar
Hey Rachel, How goes it? How's little Connor going? Thankyou for the comments. I saw the challenge on the D.A site and thought I would put an Aussie slant on the comp...I was thinking Aboriginal ballad but then I thought that might be truly un-understandable :). Reminds me I haven't seen any of your writing for a while :cry:. Keep well and big hugs :hug: :teddy:
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Rachabelle's avatar
Rachabelle|Hobbyist General Artist
Hey Adam. I'm not doing too badly. Parenting is an up and down process. Sometimes I think I've gotten the hang of it and he sleeps for a few hours each time, enough for me to get enough sleep to feel human and then he just changes again and doesn't sleep much. Last night I wasn't able to get any sleep and the previous night I got 40 minutes. It's annoying having to catch up during the day... but it's what you do. Connor seems healthy which is the main thing.

I have been thinking about your comment about the writing thing and I just decided to write something. I kind of like it. Thanks for reminding me. I need that sometimes... It's odd to put off something that I like. Easy to do though... and sometimes after a while I can even convince myself that I'm not very good. The other day I found a little unfinished piece that I used as a bookmark for a book I hadn't finished reading. I thought it was a dead piece at the time... but re-reading it, I kind of liked the feel of it. It's often like that for me. I tend to be very picky about my writing. It's not until I reread it as a reader that I like it.

Hope you're doing well. :hug:
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