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By Margaret McPhee

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Hughes praised Lawson as ‘the poet of Australia, the minstrel of the people’. 31 Past Carin’ Now up and down the siding brown The great black crows are flyin’, And down below the spur, I know, Another ‘milker’s’ dyin’; The crops have withered from the ground, The tank’s clay bed is glarin’, But from my heart no tear nor sound, For I have gone past carin’ — Past worryin’ or carin’, Past feelin’ aught or carin’; But from my heart no tear nor sound, For I have gone past carin’. Our first child took, in days like these, A cruel week in dyin’, All day upon her father’s knees, Or on my poor breast lyin’; The tears we shed — the prayers we said Were awful, wild — despairin’!

She loves her children, but has no time to show it. She seems harsh to them. Her surroundings are not favourable to the development of the ‘womanly’ or sentimental side of nature. It must be near daylight now. The room is very close and hot because of the fire. Alligator still watches the wall from time to time. Suddenly he becomes greatly interested; he draws himself a few inches nearer the partition, and a thrill runs through his body. The hair on the back of his neck begins to bristle, and the battle-light is in his yellow eyes.

As she sits through the night waiting for the snake to reappear, her mind drifts off and she remembers things from the past. In this way Lawson builds up her character and gives the reader an understanding of her hard and lonely life in the bush. Lines like ‘It must be near one or two o’clock’ and ‘it must be near morning now’ mark the passing of time and the movement of her mind from the past back to the present. 29 The Drover’s Wife Country I Come From and Joe Wilson and His Mates. British-based novelist and fellow short story writer Joseph Conrad called Lawson’s short stories ‘beyond praise’.

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