© Donald Crane

Winner, 2014 ‘Bronze Spur Award’ Drovers’ Camp Festival, Camooweal Queensland.

Preamble: Cast in a ‘women of the west’ mould, the Bush Mother in this poem typifies the many thousands of those pioneering women who faced the hardships and privation of our bygone era.

She came to the altar a bashful bush maiden, to take the bold step that would change her whole life,
The vows and the promises made so intently, the ring and a kiss, then pronounced man and wife.
Thus started her new life, the first of three phases, as spouse, wedded partner, no longer a Miss,
Bright eyed and entranced by the joy of the moment, naively expecting a lifetime of bliss.
But fate has a habit of bursting our bubbles, life’s pathway is strewn with the relics of schemes,
The best of intentions are oft left in tatters, the best of our plans can become shattered dreams.
A far outback block without homestead or comforts would be the first home for this newly wed bride,
Together with husband all day in the paddock, at fencing or stock work they toiled side by side.
But this was a bush girl, at home in the saddle, as good as a man in the scrub or the yard,
With never a moment to grouch or to grumble, nor ever a day found too long or too hard.

Their first years of marriage were harsh beyond measure, each act of misfortune was met with a curse,
The tougher life got found their bond growing stronger, for theirs was a pledge made for ‘better or worse’.
The hard times and heartache, the worries and drought years, all tested their mettle, their courage and yet
Despite frugal living and earnest endeavour, ten years found their bank book still drowning in debt.
The next milestone came when this wife became Mother; a family of four bringing tantrums and tears,
But cherished and nurtured with good sense and wisdom and guided with love through their formative years.
Success is not measured by fame or by fortune, ones worth is not counted by status or wealth,
How lucky her kids who good fortune did favour with manners and morals, bush skills and good health.
Fast forward a decade; again the scene changes, now married, her offspring have kids of their own,
Again without favour all grandkids are special, again the same love and affection is shown.

Today as she sits in her role as a Grandma surveying her family with justified pride,
With fairness in mind then ‘tis surely we must be no less in our praise for the man at her side.
It’s fifty years now since they stood at the altar, five decades have passed since they both said ‘I do’.
A model bush couple with old fashioned values, exemplary parents; now sadly too few.
Long days with her husband in stock yard or saddle, this multi skilled mother with talents diverse,
Fulfilling her role as a housewife and mother, the backbone of family, home tutor, bush nurse.
Let’s honour those women of outback and station, the loneliness suffered, the hardships endured,
How stark is the contrast to ‘urbanised mothers’, with everyday comforts and lifestyle assured.
So cherish her dearly this ‘pearl of the west’, search in vain but you’ll not find another,
They’re not made today as they were in the past when they turned out this type of Bush Mother.

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