Henry Lawson

17 June 1867 – 2 September 1922 / Grenfell, New South Wales

The Bulletin Hotel

I was drifting in the drizzle past the Cecil in the Strand—
Which, I’m told, is very tony—and its front looks very grand;
And I somehow fell a-thinking of a pub I know so well,
Of a palace in Australia called The Bulletin Hotel.
Just a little six-room’d shanty built of corrugated tin,
And all round a blazing desert—land of camels, thirst and sin;
And the landlord is ‘the Spider’— Western diggers know him well—
Charlie Webb!—Ah, there you have it!—of the Bulletin Hotel.

’Tis a big soft-hearted spider in a land where life is grim,
And a web of great good-nature that brings worn-out flies to him:
’Tis the club of many lost souls in the wide Westralian hell,
And the stage of many Mitchells is the Bulletin Hotel.

But the swagman, on his uppers, pulls an undertaker’s mug,
And he leans across the counter and he breathes in Charlie’s lug—
Tale of thirst and of misfortune. Charlie knows it, and—ah, well!
But it’s very bad for business at the Bulletin Hotel.

‘What’s a drink or two?’ says Charlie, ‘and you can’t refuse a feed;’
But there’s many a drink unpaid for, many sticks of ‘borrowed’ weed;
And the poor old spineless bummer and the broken-hearted swell
Know that they are sure of tucker at the Bulletin Hotel.

There’s the liquor and the license and the ‘carriage’ and the rent,
And the sea or grave ’twixt Charlie and the fivers he has lent;
And I’m forced to think in sorrow, for I know the country well,
That the end will be the bailiff in the Bulletin Hotel.

But he’ll pack up in a hurry and he’ll seek a cooler clime,
If I make a rise in England and I get out there in time.
For a mate o’ mine is Charlie and I stayed there for a spell,
And I owe more than a jingle to the Bulletin Hotel.

But there’s lots of graft between us, there are many miles of sea,
So, if you should drop on Charlie, just shake hands with him for me;
Say I think the Bush less lonely than the great town where I dwell,
And—a grander than the Cecil is the Bulletin Hotel.
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