Story: Poetry

Cover of Station ballads by David McKee Wright

 Cover of Station ballads by David McKee Wright

David McKee Wright's book of poems published in Dunedin in 1897 was the closest New Zealand equivalent to the 'Bulletin' school of Australian poetry. The Bulletin was a lively anti-British periodical from Sydney, which printed poems and stories by 'bush poets' such as Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson. They focused on the earthy outdoor life of the Australian backblocks. Wright's ballads captured some of this flavour. This is the last verse of his poem 'While the billy boils':

The speargrass crackles under the billy and overhead is
              the winter sun;
There's snow on the hills, there's frost in the gully,
              and, Oh, the things that I've seen and done,
The blokes that I knowed and the mates that I've worked
              with, and the sprees we had in the days gone by;
But I somehow fancy we'll all be pen-mates on the day
              when they call the Roll of the Sky.
(Ian Wedde, and Harvey McQueen, eds., The Penguin book of New Zealand verse. Auckland: Penguin, 1985, p. 104)
Using this item

Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Reference: David McKee Wright, Station ballads and other verses. Dunedin: J.G. Sawell (Wise's), 1897.

This item has been provided for private study purposes (such as school projects, family and local history research) and any published reproduction (print or electronic) may infringe copyright law. It is the responsibility of the user of any material to obtain clearance from the copyright holder.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

John Newton, 'Poetry - Colonial poetry', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/photograph/43058/cover-of-station-ballads-by-david-mckee-wright (accessed 30 March 2020)

Story by John Newton, published 22 Oct 2014