The Sea-Wife

(Original Version
as introductory verses
to Steve Brown's Bunyip)






THERE dwells a Wife by the Northern March
And a wealthy Wife is she.
She breeds a breed o' rovin' men
And casts them over sea.

And some they drown in deep water,
And some in sight of shore;
And word goes back to the carline Wife
And ever she sends more.

For since that Wife had gate or gear,
Or hearth or garth or bield,
She wills her sons to the white harvest,
And that is a bitter yield—

She wills her sons to the wet ploughing
To ride the horse o' tree,
And syne her sons come home again
Far spent from out the sea.

The good Wife's sons come home again
Wi' little into their hands
But the lear o' men that ha' dealt wi' men
In the new and naked lands—

But the faith o' men that ha' proven men
By more than willing breath,
And the eyes o' men that ha' read wi' men
In the open books o' Death.

Rich are they, rich in wonders seen,
But poor in the goods o' men:
And what they ha' got by the skin o' their teeth
They sell for their teeth again.

Ay, whether they lose to the naked life,
Or win to their hearts' desire,
They tell it all to the carline Wife
That nods beside the fire.