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The Bush Girl

[words Henry Lawson, music Peter Bellamy]

Peter Bellamy sang The Bush Girl in 1985 on his EFDSS album Second Wind. He noted:

My father, who spent some time as a “jackeroo” on a New South Wales sheep station in the 1920s, tried to interest me in the verses of Henry Lawson, but it never “took” until I toured Australia in 1980. After that I rethunk, and noticing the long shadow of Rudyard Kipling over many of his pieces, I set several Lawson poems to music. The tender Bush Girl and the bizarre Glass on the Bar seemed my most successful efforts. I have subsequently learned that I am not the first—indeed, more like the twentieth—to have a stab at the former. I haven’t actually heard any of the other settings, though, so I refuse to be intimidated.

Jon Boden sang The Bush Girl as the 18 September 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day.


Peter Bellamy sings The Bush Girl

So you rode from the range where your brothers select,
Through the ghostly, grey bush in the dawn.
You rode slowly at first, lest her heart should suspect
That you were so glad to be gone;
You had scarcely the courage to glance back at her
By the homestead receding from view,
And you breathed in relief as you rounded the spur,
For the world was a wide world to you…

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Grey eyes that grow sadder than sunset or rain,
Fond heart that is ever more true…
Firm faith that grows firmer for watching in vain,
She waits by the slip rails for you.

Ah! the world is a new and a wide one to you
But the world to your sweetheart is shut;
For a change never comes to the lonely bush homes
from the stockyard, the bush, and the hut;
And the only relief from the dullness she feels
When ridges grow softened and dim;
And away in the dusk to the slip rails she steals
To dream of past meetings “with him”.

Do you think, where, in place of bare fences, dry creeks,
Clear streams and green hedges are seen,
Where the girls have the lily and rose in their cheeks,
And grass in the summer is green
Do you think, now and then, now or then in the whirl
Of the city, while London is new,
Of that hut in the bush and the freckled faced girl
Who waits eating her heart out for you?

Final chorus:
Grey eyes that grow sadder than sunset or rain,
Bruised heart that is ever more true…
Fond faith that is firmer for trusting in vain,
She waits by the slip rails for you,
She waits by the slip rails for you.