The Captain of the Push is one of Henry Lawson’s many poems. It concerns the recritment of a bushman to join the gang (push) who expressed a strong desire to join in their violent activities.
Said the stranger: ‘I am nothing but a bushy and a dunce;
‘But I read about the Bleeders in the Weekly Gasbag once;
‘Sitting lonely in the humpy when the wind began to “whoosh,”
‘How I longed to share the dangers and the pleasures of the push!
‘Gosh! I hate the swells and good ‘uns — I could burn ’em in their beds;
‘I am with you, if you’ll have me, and I’ll break their blazing heads.’
He had to prove his mettle and then he was accepted, though his delight in “ultraviolence” was considered to be a little excessive. Then he went back to the bush, leaving his criminal colleagues a little sadder and wiser.
Some interesting historical research to trace the missing stanzas from a popular bawdy poem, “The Bastard from the Bush”, revealed that this was the original version of The Captain which Lawson wrote to amuse his circle of friends, being completely unprintable at the time. I can fortunately post a link to the original without having to read it right through (being a gentleman of delicate sensibilities). It is believed that the poem is incomplete and some stanzas are still missing.
This is posted to lift the quantum of cultural and literary commentary on the site in case the blog might qualify for a grant from the Literature Board of the Australia Council.