Here you will find the Long Poem The Death of Ben Hall of poet William Henry Ogilvie
Ben Hall was out on Lachlans side With a thousand pounds on his head; A score of troopers were scattered wide And a hundred more were ready to ride Wherever a rumour led. They had followed his track from the Weddin Heights And north by the Weelong yards; Through dazzling days and moonlit nights They had sought him over their rifle-sights, With their hands on their trigger guards. The outlaw stole like a hunted fox Through the scrub and stunted heath, And peered like a hawk from his eyrie rocks Through the waving boughs of the sapling box On the troopers riding beneath. His clothes were rent by the clutching thorn And his blistered feet were bare; Ragged and torn, with his beard unshorn, He hid like a beast forlorn, With a padded path to his lair. But every night when the white stars rose He crossed by the Gunning Plain To a stockman's hut where the Gunning flows, And struck on the door three swift light blows, And a hand unhooked the chain - And the outlaw followed the lone path back With food for another day; And the kindly darkness covered his track And the shadows swallowed him deep and black Where the starlight melted away. But his friend had read of the big reward, And his soul was stirred with greed; He fastened his door and window board, He saddled his horse and crossed the ford, And spurred to the town at speed. You may ride at a man's or maid's behest When honour or true love call And steel your heart to the worst or the best, But the ride that is ta'en on a traitor's quest Is the bitterest ride of all. A hot wind blew from the Lachlan bank And a curse on its shoulder came; The pine-trees frowned at him, rank on rank, The sun on a gathering storm-cloud sank And flushed his cheek with shame. He reigned at the Court; and the tale began That the rifles alone should end; Sergeant and trooper laid their plan To draw the net on a hunted man At the treacherous word of a friend. False was the hand that raised the chain And false was the whispered word: 'The troopers have turned to the south again, You may dare to camp on the Gunning Plain.' And the weary outlaw heard. He walked from the hut but a quarter mile Where a clump of saplings stood In a sea of grass like a lonely isle; And the moon came up in a little while Like silver steeped in blood. Ben Hall lay down on the dew-wet ground By the side of his tiny fire; And a night breeze woke, and he heard no sound As the troopers drew their cordon round - And the traitor earned his hire. And nothing they saw in the dim grey light, But the little glow in the trees; And they crouched in the tall cold grass all night, Each one ready to shoot at sight, With his rifle cocked on his knees. When the shadows broke and the dawn's white sword Swung over the mountain wall, And a little wind blew over the ford, A sargeant sprang to his feet and roared: 'In the name of the Queen, Ben Hall!' Haggard, the outlaw leapt from his bed With his lean arms held on high, 'Fire!' And the word was scarcely said When the mountains rang to rain of lead - And the dawn went drifting by. They kept their word and they paid his pay Where a clean man's hand would shrink; And that was the traitor's master day As he stood by the bar on his homeward way And called on the crowd to drink. He banned no creed and he barred no class, And he called to his friends by name; But the worst would shake his head and pass And none would drink from the bloodstained glass And the goblet red with shame. And I know when I hear the last grim call And my mortal hour is spent, When the light is hid and the curtains fall I would rather sleep with the dead Ben Hall Than go where that traitor went.