Rev. David McKee Wright - poetic parson and pressman, Irish, born on 6th August 1869

Press, 7 February 1928, Page 8
Sydney, February 4. The death is announced of the Rev. David McKee Wright, poet and journalist, formerly of Nelson, aged 61. [Died: 5 Feb 1928 Glenbrook, New South Wales and buried with Anglican rites in Emu Plains cemetery, no headstone found]. The Rev. David McKee Wright was born at Ballynaskeagh, County Down in 1876, being the son of the Rev. William Wright and Annie McKee. After Annie's death the family moved to London. William was a Presbyterian minister and well-known author of The Brontes in Ireland. He was educated in a private school [Pope's School] in London and later at the Otago University [in 1897.] He arrived in NZ in 1887. [In Christchurch Wright was briefly reunited with the family of his uncle, David McKee, and his grandmother, Rebecca McKee, who had emigrated earlier January 1880 in the Pleiades from Dublin via London as cabin passengers.] David was employed as a shepherd and rabbitter at Puketoi station and later at Scobie Mackenzie's Hakataramea Valley Station as a rouseabout. From 1890 he contributed verses and stories to the Otago Witness, and from 1892 to the Christchurch Press.] He was the winner of the Stewart prize for a poem in 1887. Entering the Congregation ministry in 1898, he was appointed pastor at Oamaru and later stationed at Constable-street (Newtown), Wellington then to Nelson in 1901, and four or five years later he entered journalism as editor of the Nelson Times. He was also known in Wellington journalism. He developed a strong poetic gift and in 1897 won the first Stewart prize for a poem at Dunedin. Among his published works were: Aorangi and Other Verses," Station Ballads," Wisps of Tussock," and "An Irish Heart." Some years ago Mr. Wright settled in Sydney. In 1920 he won the Rupert Brooke prize for a long poem on Gallipoli. In the same year he won a prize for the best poem commemorating the visit of the Prince of Wales. Whilst in NZ he penned Station Ballads. [A son born on 15 September 1900 has the same name. David McKee Wright was baptisted in 1869 at Anaghlone, Down, Ireland ]

History reviewed
David M'Kee Wright was dispatched out to New Zealand in 1887 for health reasons by his father at the age of 17 or 18 from County Down, Ireland. He went to Christchurch to live with his grandmother Rebecca McKee whom he considered his second mother as she had looked after him in Ireland. She died in 1892. He first started submitting poetry to the Otago Witness in 1894. His poems depicted back country life in Otago. He wrote "A nation lives in its art and literature." He was an elocutionist of very high order, could sing, and this is what Nelson was to him:

Here there is room to breathe and think.
Here there is space for souls to grow,
And life may run as pleasantly
As Maitai's waters flow.

 

Timaru Herald, 24 September 1910, Page 4 In the Moonlight
David McKee Wright has come close, once or twice, true to life, surely, and to New Zealand life.

Where the lines of gorse are parched and dry, and the sheaves are small and thin,
The engine beats and the combine sings, to the drays that are leading in,
For they're threshing out of the stook to-night, and the plain is as bright as day,
And the fork-tines flash as the sheaves are turned on the frame of the one-horse dray.
For many a hand will toil to-night, from the mountains to the sea:—
But I'm far from the lips of the girl I love, and the heart that beats for me."

Auckland Star, July 1926, Page 36
David McKee Wright's writes excellently of the "rough diamonds" up-country, the roving, careless "rolling stones" of the bush. The reviewer [Ernest L. Eyre] has seen scores of them working on the farms and sheep-runs, or tramping with "bluey up" in various parts of New Zealand. An old, tired swagman, trudging through the rain into a fiery sunset, is one of life's saddest sights. From  "While the Billy Boils."

There is coves and coves! Some I liked partic'lar, and some I would sooner I never knowed,
But a bloke can't choose the chaps that's he's thrown with in the harvest paddock, or here on the road.
There was chaps from the other side that I shore with that I'd like to have taken along for mates,
But we said "so long!" and we laughed and parted for good and all at the station gates.
The spear-grass 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.

Mount Ida Chronicle, 10 April 1896, Page 3
AORANGI AND OTHER VERSES BY DAVID M'KEE WRIGHT,
The Rev. David M'Kee Wright in one of his poems thus eulogises Mount Cook.— Aorangi, which gives name to the book, is an address to Mount Cook. To any one who has watched the sunrise in alpine solitudes, Mr Wright's description of the glory which the monarch's rays impart to their cloud capped summits must be felt to be very felicitous as well as brief.

And still the dawn about thy brow shall cast
A diadem of gauzy silver mist
O'ertopped with icy gems and rosy sheen
Of Nature's softest satin

But thou alone, unaltered, still shall stand
Fresh from the great Creator-Sculptor's hand,—
A mighty emblem of Eternity.
With every icy precipice and chasm
To mark the passing of a world of time.

Mount Ida Chronicle, 22 January 1898, Page 4 DAVID M'KEE WRIGHT'S POEMS.
TO THE EDITOR. Sir,— I was much amused at reading in your last issue a criticism of David M'Kee Wright's splendid book, Station Ballads." Your correspondent has evidently been hit hard in a sore place. He resents being called a "hungry cockatoo." First of all we have Mr Wright accused of profanity for saying that Christ was on the wallaby the time that he was here." Well, sir, I, will only say this, if the scene of Christ's operations had been Maniototo instead of Palestine, he would have felt the truth of the old swagger's saying that, there's hunger in the air," He is frank, this country correspondent, he tells us literary criticism is out of his line; he did not need to tell us this, it is plainly evident. He has not even the literary acumen to see that in this poem it is an old swagger who is speaking. Your correspondent informs us that he has a higher ideal of Christ than this old swagger. Has he a higher ideal than David M'Kee Wright? He would not use the word "wallaby" in reference to Christ. Does he expect an old illiterate swagger to use the same, choice language as squatter swells, well-off cockatoos, or country correspondents? Your correspondent cannot appreciate the originality that is the charm of the "Station Ballads." He concludes by accusing Mr Wright of going out of his way to have a kick at the cockatoos. How does that cap fit his own head, ver.sap. But we must be lenient with him. He is, as he tells us himself, recovering from an attack of "the blues." I was very pleased to read, Sir, that the book is receiving such a ready sale. Its undoubted literary merit has been recognised by the Press throughout Otago, the first discordant note being raised by "Your Own" at Gimmerburn, whose letter is a typical instance of raising a mountain out of a mole hill. Thanking you in anticipation.— I am, &c., Cowboy. Kokonga, January 16, 1898.

Oamaru Mail, 20 July 1898, Page 1 "Bush Poets of Australia and New Zealand."
The attendance at Emmanuel Church last night, when Mr David M'Kee Wright delivered the first part of his lecture on the above subject, was very good. Mr Penfold presided, and in briefly introducing the lecturer, mentioned the favorable reception which Mr Wright's own "Station Ballads" had met with recently in the columns of a London newspaper. The lecture was wisely cast in a popular mould, and was mainly illustrative, though there was sufficient criticism to enable an attentive audience to, superficially, at any rate, gauge the merits of the various authors brought under review. There is no denying the fact that those who really appreciate poetry are comparatively few in number, and Mr Wright's handling of the subject, though it necessitated an occasional "gallery hit," was justified by the success with which he kept a mixed audience with him from stare to finish. No less than 12 writers were noticed last night, commencing with Domett and ending with Lawson and including Gordon, Kendall, Bracken, Wych Elm (Marie R. Randle (1856-1947)), and Patterson. Mr Wright justified his varied selection by defining "bush" poetry as "all poetry which reflects truly the feeling of Australasia and gives us the local color of New Zealand and Australia," and he craved the forgiveness of his hearers if a few pieces were rather outside the boundary. The delivery of the lecture left little to be desired it was clear and forceful, and while the reading of so varied a collection of poetry was, of necessity, somewhat unequal, yet where powerful pathos and vivid description required pourtrayal, a distinctly high level was cached. Space forbids our entering fully into detail, but a line or two on the new school of writers may be given. Said Mr Wright: The poets of the new Australian school, with Lawson and Patterson at their head, are writers of dashing, spirited, yet not thoughtless verse—men who who are gaining the same hold upon the Australian mind that Burns has upon the mind of Scotland." In this connection the lecturer paid a tribute to the mission of the a much-maligned but clever, witty journal. The 'Bulletin' which from the first began to encourage genuine Australian literature. It paid for every poem it accepted, and that no other journal did. The result was that a taste for bush poetry was fostered, and now every shearer, every drover, and every station hand throughout the wilds of Australia carries in his pocket well-thumbed newspaper cuttings and in his head the echoes of their swinging bush rhymes." The lecture last night was a decided success, attentive listening and hearty applause rewarding the speakers efforts.

Otago Witness 16 November 1899, Page 29
Mr David M'Kee Wright, who was sent, to Oamaru about 18 months since by the Dunedin executive of the Congregational Union, for the purpose of assisting in the attempt to work up the cause and restore to Congregationalism somewhat of its old strength, has resigned the pastoral charge of Emmanuel Church, having come to the conclusion that there is no future for Congregationalism in Oamaru. At a meeting of the congregation the resignation was accepted with regret, and it was resolved to place on record appreciation of Mr Wright's services. As the church is free from debt, it was decided to close it for the present when Mr Wright leaves.

Photo credit to K.E. McKee Wright, Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library. Photo taken by May Moore, of Sydney c. 1926. Copies of prints lent to the Alexander Turnbull Library by Mr K E McKee Wright, Papakura, in May 2003, in response to the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography Picture Search.


Shepherd, poet, journalist and Congregational minister with auburn hair-
once occupied the pulpit at Oamaru and Nelson.

Pseudonyms -31 and counting

Cleggs [Christchurch Press]
Rimu [Otago Witness]
Pat O'Maori
George Street [1911]
Mary McCommonwealth - [1910, 171 works]
Curse O’Moses [1911]
Glen
Historicus
D.M.W.
Maori Mac, Gillette, Benjamin Kidd, McCallum, Justin Thyme, Pearl Smith, Anthesis, Aaron McHebron, Alice Nevertire, N. S. Wales, P. Jackson-Heads, G. Almighty, Tot. Abstinence, S. Toney-Broke, Aunt Angeult, William I of Geelong, Vanity Porridge, Margaret Cathpole, Ivy Twister, Grace Glory, and Buss King [Sydney Bulletin, c.1500 contributions between 1907 -1928]


From Wisps of Tussock, 1900

Front Cover

Aorangi and Other Verses. Dunedin, Mills, Dick & Co., 1896 20p.
Station Ballads and other Verses. Dunedin, J. G. Sawell (Wise’s), 1897 140p.
Wisps of Tussock: New Zealand Rhymes. Oamaru, Andrew Fraser, 1900 56p.
New Zealand Chimes. Wellington, W. J. Lankshear, 1900. 5p.
An Irish Heart. Sydney, Angus & Robertson, 1918 137p.
Station Ballads and Other Verses. Ed. Robert Solway. Auckland: John, A. Lee, 1945 64p.


The small pamphlet New Zealand Chimes, issued privately in Wellington as a Christmas souvenir at the end of 1900, contained six poems, none of which are ballads: the collection reprints an early Christmas carol and includes several patriotic works. Content: Wellington, Our Island Home, A Christmas Carol, Nelson, Towards Otago, Zealandia's Birth

The Open Country [from Towards Otago]
I see again the upland wilds, stern, rugged, bleak and bare;
The strong winds sweep o'er the hill sides steep
And the tussocks toss in the icy air,
Silver and gold in the changing light,
Gold and silver far-up on the height
Of the mountain wild and bare."

 

Shepherd to POET TO PREACHER  -  He was a station hand at Tabletops and Scobie Mackenzie's Hakataramea Valley Station.

Otago Witness, 31 December 1896, Page 17 Our Christmas Number
TO THE EDITOR. Sir, — It was with feelings of pleasure that I opened your Christmas Number. These soon gave place to admiration as I turned over the leaves. In the first place, I wish to congratulate you upon your Christmas issue of 1896. For many years past I have seen most of the Christmas numbers of the Australasian weeklies and I can say with confidence that your Otago Witness Christmas issue for 1896 was the best I have ever seen. Your illustrations were splendidly finished and most interesting. The three prize competition stories were a credit to the colony. I cannot let this opportunity pass without giving a word of praise to the writer of the tale entitled " Mates," which justly took first prize. In Mr David M'Kee Wright Otago has, in my opinion, a Rudyard Kipling belonging entirely to itself. Some people may smile when they read this ; but it is a fact nevertheless. I have heard the " Station Ballads " read and criticised in the station camp, in the smithy of the mines, at crib time, way back in the dark gullies amongst perpetual snow and ice, and down on the sunny plains of Central Otago, by all sorts and conditions of men. As Rudyard Kipling is familiar with the life of the fo'c'sle and barrack room so also is M'Kee Wright familiar with the life of the shearing and mining camps. Both give us the thoughts of these —no matter how humble and sometimes coarse they may be— who have made Britain what she now is, and built up this grand nation of Australasia in these southern seas.  I am. &c,- W. T. G. Macetown, Lake County, December 21.

Station Ballads and Other Verses by David McKee Wright
Publisher: John A Lee, Auckland, New Zealand, 1945
Originally published in 1897. The poems are characterised by genial cheer and moral earnestness. Wright identified country life with manly virtue and womanly purity, and town existence with industrial strife, crime and effeminacy. His bitterest invective was directed at grasping station bosses, and at strikers, whom he generally portrayed as work-shy. 64 pages with a glossary.

 

Station Ballads and Other Verses by David McKee Wright.
Publisher: Dunedin. J. G. Sawell (Wise's) 1897 140 pages. Cloth boards with gilt illustration and lettering on front board. Page dimensions: 182 x 117mm. New Zealand poetry.
They were big rough sheep on Maimai, fit to make a shearer's heart
And the digger came here in misfortune or luck with his tent and his swag on his back,
But his bottle is all that is left of him now at the foot of the old Dunstan track." - p. 65.
Selected contents:
The Man that Saved the Match
Lucky Joe Puketoi June 1893
An Old Colonist's Reverie Puketoi April 1896
The Rabbiter Puketoi June 1896
Aorangi
Winter in Central Otago
Moonshine Ode
 I
 II The Swagger Puketoi June 1896
III The Duff (A tragedy)
IV
V Our Correspondent Puketoi July 1896
VI Old Mates
VII The Bloke from South
VIII The Hawker's Cart [Wright’s friend Robert McSkimming (‘Crockery Bob’)]
IX While the Billy Boils
 X The Bloke that Ran across a snag Puketoi August 1896
XI Unlucky Harry
XII The Remedy
XIII At the foot of the old Dunstan track
XIV Flash Joe
XV Arlington
XVI Shearing's Coming
XVII Over the Ranges
XVIII Speak as you find him.
XIX The Diggers Puketoi Oct. 1896
XX Old Nugget Puketoi Oct. 1896
XXI Shearing Puketoi Oct. 1896
XXII The Mile Puketoi Oct. 1896
XXIII So Long Puketoi Nov. 1896

Pastoral Poetry
The Last of the Lucky Joe
Rakaia
Dreams
Under the Birch trees June 1894
Song  Table Tops, Hakateramea Valley, 1 Feb. 1894
Olive Tabletops, Hakateramea Valley, March 1894
Beyond Tabletops, Hakateramea Valley, March 1894
Waves of Time Tabletops, Hakateramea Valley, March 1894
Dark Gilboa Tabletops, Hakateramea Valley, May 1894
Wych Elm Tabletops, Hakateramea Valley, May 1894
Aura: Gold Fever Dreams Tabletops, Hakateramea Valley June 1894
Memory Tabletops, Hakateramea Valley, June 1894
Song, October 1894
Demos and the New Zealand Liberals Tabletops, Hakateramea Valley, Oct. 1894
Beauty Hakateramea Valley, Nov. 1894
Double Sonnets Tabletops, Hakateramea Valley, Nov. 1894
Bush Wedding Hakateramea Valley, Dec. 1894
Mother Puketoi, March 1896
The Old Colonist Reverie Puketoi, April 1896
The Rabbiter June 1896
Rimu Dec. 1896
Puketoi January 1897
The Empire of the South Dunedin January 1897
Black Leg and Unionist Addington March 1897
The Chaps we use to know Dunedin August 1897
Queen Victoria November 1897
Christmas Stars 1897 Starlight
Day Dreams
Manipouri from Otautau April 1890
The Station Belle  Jan. 1895
Fair in love and war. The Press May 1895
How they had the new chum The Press June 1895

Tussock and Asphalt Rhymes
No. 2 After Harvest Dunedin, April 1897
No. 3 Threshing Dunedin, February, 1897
No. 6 The Namless Graves
No. 8 A Country Face Dunedin, March 1897
No. 12 The Woes of McNab Dunedin, April 1897
No. 14 The Speller Dunedin, May 1897
No. 16 Hard Case Dunedin, May 1897
No. 23 How the Mail came Down Aug. 1897
No. 25 The Chaps we used to know Dunedin, August 1897
No. 26 In the Old Man's House Dunedin, August 1897

Otago Witness, 26 August 1897, Page 46
TUSSOCK AND ASPHALT RHYMES.
By David M'Kee Wright. No. 25.— THE CHAPS WE USED TO KNOW.

I wonder where the chaps are now that once I we used to know —
Tent-mates and camp mates in the days of summer winds and snow ;
Who trod with us the tussock hills, or round the winter fire
Would talk and barrack all the night, and never seemed to tire?
There's been a scattering since then new men are in their places,
But memory brings me back again the old good-natured faces.

We never asked from where they came, we took them as they were :
A band of brothers, one and all, as long as they played fair.
We didn't ask for pedigree, or what they might have been,
They came with us for what they were, and that was quickly seen;
We didn't need to trot them out, or put them through their paces,
The sort of character they had was mostly in their faces.

You smile ! You never knew the men — hard drinkers, gamblers, fools :
The smooth smug world goes rolling by with nicely-fashioned rules.
And most of them had broken these ; but I, who knew the men,
Know that the hearts are smaller now than those about me then.
But all the chaps are scattered far, new men are in their places,
And only memory brings again the old good-natured faces.

I somehow think that many men are born a lump too late ;
In the old stirring, fighting days— the days of love and hate —
Such men would not have gone to waste — big hearts and strong right hands
Were wanted in the storms that shook the bases of the lands,
And men like those we used to know would soon have found their places.
They didn't, and they're scattered far, the old good-natured faces.

And still I think about the chaps that once we used to know —
Tent-mates and camp-mates in the days of summer winds and snow ;
Who trod with us the tussock hills, and round the winter fire
Would pitch and barrack all the night, and never seem to tire ;
And I could wish for just one night, when all were in their places.
And ringed around the fire again the old good-natured faces.
Dunedin, August 1897.

Station Sketches
No. 1 Some Station men and a conversation 11 Nov. 1897
No. 3. The Black Horse Nov. 1897

North Otago Times, 12 March 1896, Page 2
We have received from the publishers a copy of a small book of songs and verses written by Mr David M'Kee Wright. Mr Wright, we believe, hails from Hakateramea, and the breezy hills and life-giving air of that place have no doubt inspired him with enough of the divine afflatus to warrant him in giving his poetical thoughts to the world. The world is all the richer for the decision, for Mr Wright has put his name to a number of pleasantly written songs and verses much above the average work of colonial writers in construction and versification. 

A little world all of our own- eight miles from a church or a pub.
And the men -oh, the men that were there! - big hearts and strong hands, that we knew:
Heathens all, but they somehow did things that would honour a Christian to do.
The summers of heat and of wind, and the changes that made the long day,
The dew in the early dawn, on the river flats misty and grey,
The cobwebs, like trappings of pearl, that jewelled the scrub brushes over,
The toi-toi that slept by the stream, and the hoggets down-stringing through clover,

It all comes to me now, like a dream of an older time-
We watched the deeds of the world like men and nations at play.
Those days are gone and forever, and over all is a change-
But the chimneys dotting the flat will tell their story for long,
Of a life that was fresh and fair, and of men that were true and strong,

Otago Witness, 26 August 1897, Page 46
TUSSOCK AND ASPHALT RHYMES.
By David M'Kee Wright. No. 25.— THE CHAPS WE USED TO KNOW.

I wonder where the chaps are now that once I we used to know —
Tent-mates and camp mates in the days of summer winds and snow ;
Who trod with us the tussock hills, or round the winter fire
Would talk and barrack all the night, and never seemed to tire?
There's been a scattering since then new men are in their places,
But memory brings me back again the old good-natured faces.

We never asked from where they came, we took them as they were :
A band of brothers, one and all, as long as they played fair.
We didn't ask for pedigree, or what they might have been,
They came with us for what they were, and that was quickly seen;
We didn't need to trot them out, or put them through their paces,
The sort of character they had was mostly in their faces.

You smile ! You never knew the men — hard drinkers, gamblers, fools :
The smooth smug world goes rolling by with nicely-fashioned rules.
And most of them had broken these ; but I, who knew the men,
Know that the hearts are smaller now than those about me then.
But all the chaps are scattered far, new men are in their places,
And only memory brings again the old good-natured faces.

I somehow think that many men are born a lump too late ;
In the old stirring, fighting days— the days of love and hate —
Such men would not have gone to waste — big hearts and strong right hands
Were wanted in the storms that shook the bases of the lands,
And men like those we used to know would soon have found their places.
They didn't, and they're scattered far, the old good-natured faces.

And still I think about the chaps that once we used to know —
Tent-mates and camp-mates in the days of summer winds and snow ;
Who trod with us the tussock hills, and round the winter fire
Would pitch and barrack all the night, and never seem to tire ;
And I could wish for just one night, when all were in their places.
And ringed around the fire again the old good-natured faces.
Dunedin, August 1897.
 

Otago Witness, 25 March 1897, Page 46
TUSSOCK AND ASPHALT RHYMES.
By David M'Kee Wright.

NO. 6 — THE NAMELESS GRAVES.
They talk about Glengarry'a grave, the last of all his race —
Perhaps he'll sleep as soundly here as any other place —
But many are the nameless graves with none to raise a stone
Of hero chieftains of our race who made the land our own :
They sleep upon the cold grey hills and in the clear blue deeps,
And o'er their head the sea-bird cries, the springtime shower weeps.
Glengarry's fame is but his sires'— the heroes of a clan —
And more to me the tussock mound that marks the nameless man.
We are the heirs of that strong race who came from Britain's shore,
Who crossed the mountain and the flood where none had been before,
Who set the standard of their faith upon the hills of time,
And linked the chain of English homes from golden clime to clime.
No marble monument is theirs, but where the mountains rise
Line over line their tombstones stand beneath the watching skies ;
Their passing bell the wild winds rang, and when the storm began
The funeral coaches of the clouds bore by the nameless man.
Where Clutha thunders to the sea across her river bare,
Or where Aspiring lifts his head sheer-pointed to the stars,
Their name is written ; on the hills and over every plain
Their monument is decked anew with waving wreaths of grain ;
The railway whistle shrieks their fame by upland gorge and wild,
Their legacy to us in store stands ever triple piled.
Glengarry's fame is but a breath — the last of one small clan —
Far more to us the heap of stones that marks the nameless man !
Dunedin, March 1897.
 

Otago Witness 22 February 1894, Page 39
SONG
Down amid the deep pine shade
Soft ferns rustle in the breeze,
Rata blossoms brighten all the glade,
Long vines trail about the trees.

Come, dear, 'tis the home of love,
Soft sighs linger on the breeze ;
Birds amid the branches far above
Hold their merry courtship in the trees.

Come, love, down amid the shade,
Bright dreams linger on the breeze ;
Fancy that the world for us was made—
You and me, the robins, and the trees.

—David M'Kee Wright. Table Tops, Hakateramea, February 1.


Otago Witness
, 14 June 1894, Page 39
UNDER THE BIRCH TREES
Leave me here where the bright berries gleam ;
Leave me here, I would sorrow alone, —
For the flowers we planted are withered away,
The summer is past and the autumn winds moan —
And my life's like a drear autumn day.

The yellow stream echoes below,
The dripping boughs answer his song ;
But their voice is a dirge of the dead long ago,
And sung by a year that will perish ere long
And be shroud-like enwreathed in the snow.
Come I here 'mid the gloom for a light,

For a star that may brighten my way ?
No, I come where the forest is weeping to weep —
Together we laugh when the soft breezes play,
And together our sorrows are deep. —
David M'Kee Wright. Tabletops, Hakateramea June 6.
 

Otago Witness 3 December 1896, Page 41 STATION BALLADS.
NO. XXIII.-" SO LONG."
We're down to the last ballad, chaps— at least, it's the last for a while ;
I don't know if I've roused you at all or twisted your mouths to a smile :
My songs have been most of them true and the smell of the tussock is there—
You'll admit that I've talked pretty straight if I ain't on for splitting a hair.

There's fellows that's humping the swag to-day on the long dusty track—
I've put in a word for them here that might lighten the load on their back ;
There's the chaps in the rabbiting camps—
I've hailed them as brothers and men;
So they are, and the grip of their hands
I can feel in the turn of the pen.

There's the diggers— the best of the lot— the men of the hard, honest hand;
They've got their certificate here as the jokers -who opened the land ;
And the good sort of shearers as well that keep clear of the low spieler crowd,
They're a push— and deny it who will — that would make any young nation proud.

... 14 stanzas

Well, if s time that this song had a finish : good night and good luck to you all !
May they soon find a job that ain't got one, may the prices of wool never fall ;
May the tallies be bigger than ever, may the headrace keep on running strong —
There, chaps, all the ballads are ended and there's nothing to say but "So long !"
—David M'Kee Wright. Puketoi, November 1896.  

Otago Witness, 11 November 1897, Page 60
STATION SKETCHES. By David M'Kee Wright.
No. I. SOME STATION MEN AND A CONVERSATION.

Let us get away up the country as far as the railway will take us, and on beyond into the land where tourists never go, where the homes are few and far between and the broad hill-sides lie yellow hi the sunshine, and the wide flat spreads brown and barren-looking to the winding curves of the river. Here is a station nestling in the folds of the hills amid the green grass of irrigated paddocks and the shelter of -bending willows and tall poplar trees. Yonder is the woolshed, built of grey iron, set among the posts and rails of its circling sheepyards. The manager's house lies to the right, with its white gate and its darker trees, and on beyond are the stables and huts where the station-hands live.

I want you to come up there and get to know some of the men of old New Zealand. Away to the north, dotting the broad plain, are the farmsteads of a newer race ; down in the city a new people are at work in shop and factory ; but here, and here only, yon will see the old New Zealand life that is fast passing away.

It is 5 o'clock, and the ploughman is coming through the stockyard gate riding one of his horse, while the other three trot towards the stable with clanking harness ; a shepherd is coming down the steep, rocky hill at the back leading his horse, while his dogs ran before him ; ewes and lambs keep up a continuous bleating as they creep round the steep sidling nibbling at the short grass among the rocks, and here and there, if you have good eyes, you will see disturbed rabbits scampering up the hill to shelter. Where the creek runs by the end of the long, whitewashed hut a couple of men in shirt sleeves are washing themselves after their day's work, and out on the pile of firewood a swagger is sitting beside his swag waiting until the boss comes home.

There are voices talking in the bar, and the Round increases as man by man comes home from his day's work. After a while the cook's' cheery voice rings out "Roll up, you mutton worriers! Roll up, roll up, roll up! " The long table in the kitchen is filled amid a hum of voices and a clatter of tin pannikins. All is light-hearted merriment and banter. The words are strange, and often coarse enough ; but kindly good nature marks everything that is said, and offence is not lightly taken where none is intended.

Let me introduce you to some of the company. Every man among them has a life history that if it could be written would make a volume brimful of interest. There is Tom Preston near the head of the table ; you are sure to like him. He is big and bronzed, with brown beard and hair and eyes that strangely attract you. Tom used to be in business in a big Scotch town, but he belongs to the station now, and the life would not be the same here without him. He is everybody's friend, and he can do anything, from bookkeeping to hanging a gate. Then there is Hugh Wilson, the head shepherd, a little like Tom, but graver and with less to say, for the destinies of a big sheep run are in his hands. Jack Kelly sits next him, a man of 35, who looks 50 with his bald head and grey whisker. He is the life and soul of the party with his colonial-Irish fun and his endless yarns. Then there is the ploughman, who laughs best at what Jack says, and near the bottom of the table Charley, the cowboy, tries with all his might to be funny, and gets the laugh as often as not turned upon himself. There is a Chinaman there that you ought to know, Mignonette we call him, a jolly good fellow, too, and the best sample of a man that ever wore a pigtail. There are others as well that will interest you, like Skiting Harry, the little sandy-whiskered man near the window, and William the Liar, the solemn grey-beard, who laughs the least. Behind them all moves the cook attending to their wants, a short thickset man with Herculean arms and shoulders, the finest specimen extant of a colonial Cockney.

Sit. down beside them at the table; you will be welcome enough here. There is a tin plate and a pannikin for you, and you will get better bread and sweeter mutton than you are likely to meet in town. William the Liar and Skiting Harry have joined in the conversation, and there is a merry twinkle in Jack Kelly's eyes as he listens. They have been talking about the heat of the weather.
"A bit different this from the top of the Old Man Range the winter of the big snow," gays Jack.
" The winter of the big snow," chimes in Skiting Harry with a nasal accent supposed to be Yankee. "I mind the time of the snow of '63 when I crossed the Old Man first, in the dead of winter. I guess there's nobody knows more about that lot than me."
"The winter of the bi g snow was quite good enough for me," says Charley. "I'm off it when it comes to digging in the garden with a crowbar."
"Oh, you reckon you're killed, you do," says William the Liar. "When I was up north in what they call the Jam Country, ever beard of the Jam Country ? "
" I reckon it's me should know the Jam Country," says Jack.
" Well, up in the Jam Country there was 25ft of snow "
" Good enough," says the cook.
" You don't believe it ? I take my oath there was 25ft."
"I believe that," says Jack. "I've seen 18ft myself on the flat, and they reckoned that the mildest winter there was for years."
" Well, up in the Jam Country me and my mate was out prospecting for copper, and we got lost in the fog."
" That's right," gays Jack encouragingly ; ' I know what a fog's like on the Jam Ranges."
"Well, there we were stuck for the night, and no more shelter than a snow-grass tussock over as, and it came on to freeze. You may laugh, but the frost up there ain't no laughing matter. I tell you the gospel truth, I got up in the morning with stones as big as spuds hanging to my hair."
" Don't believe a word of it," says the ploughman with a sly wink at Jack, who has been drinking in the story with the face of an undertaker.
" I do," says Jack, " I believe every word of it. I'll tell you what happened to me up there. You may n't believe it, but I take my oath it's true. I was out with my swag that winter of the 18ft of snow, the mild winter, prospecting for mutton and a place to doss for the night."
" Good enough," from Jack the cook.
" Well, I got stuck in a black fog. You know what a black fog's like, Bill."
" My oath I " says William.
"There I was on 18ft of hard snow without so much as a tussock, and freeze, I tell you, chaps, I had to carry my blanket on my shoulder stiff like a sheet of galvanised iron till 12 o'clock before the sun was strong enough to thaw it. There, that's the Jam Country for you."
" Good enough I " comes from all quarters, and the old hut rings with laughter as the men rise from the table and begin to fill their pipes.
The sun is, setting in red and gold over the high rocks of the western range, and many another yarn will be told before the evening is over.


Press (Christchurch), 19 July 1923, Page 2
The Rupert Brooke literary prize, instituted in 1920 by the Old Collegians' Association of the Melbourne Presbyterian Ladies' College, to commemorate peace. The first award, which was made in 1920, was for a noble epic poem on "Anzac," by Mr David McKee "Wright.

The Bulletin (Sydney) newspaper [The Bulletin, 2 September vol. 41 no. 2116, 1920 p.40] published the only known full version of the winning poem, as this poem has never been published in a book. A shorter version of this poem "GALLIPOLI" was published by the Cains Post (QLD) 25 April 1925 page 5. If you wish to order a copy of the poem "GALLIPOLI" from "The Bulletin" newspaper you can do so via The State Library’s Document Supply Service. However, they now charge a fee per newspaper article requested. The form you need is called “Copies from a magazine, book or microfilm”. Newspaper articles and obituary notices can be supplied to you via email or post at a cost of $ 15.00. per article in July 2014.

Cairns Post Saturday 25 April 1925 p 5
GALLIPOLI.
Rust on the cannon, cobwebs on the drum —
The darkness passes, and the day grows wise,
Lo, from the south the rainbow riders come,
And all the world is spread below their eyes!
Jewelled with dreams the flashing ocean lies,
The valleys crowd in shadowed mystery:
But over all the pilgrim thought still flies
Racing the wind's sob to Gallipoli.
Here let the soft wings glide in even flight.
Broadspread and silent through the reverent sky.
The windy plains of Troy have passed in light,
The Asian mountains fade and blue seas lie
Fondled to Europe with a summer sigh.
The great propellers droning, faint and cease
Above the little graves where heroes lie —
White crosses by white waves. Ah, rest in peace.
Brave hearts so young, yet not too young to die!
Slowly, in darkness moved the silent ships
Back from the place of sacrifice made vain.
The door was past, the world in black eclipse
Had other calls afar, to other pain
Not here should Freedom find her throne again,
Till in the west her conquering bugles blew.
Anzac and Suvla, how the red flares wane!
Gallipoli is gone — the world is new.
Gone! And the war roars on through storms of death,
And reddened valleys of a world's despair,
Pain at its heart, fear catching at its breath.
While tears of widowed nations drown the air.
Cold sorrow chokes the sob that breaks the prayer,
Till, on a sudden hope at green of spring
Mounts on her holy wings, and every-where
The growing gladness has a song to sing.
Peace! For the wrong is broken in the hold!
Peace! For the Truth is master over shame!
The shattered armies of the foeman yield,
Outmatched by that stern valor none could tame;
And Freedom, splendid in her deeds and name,
Goes crowned upon the car of Victory,
War dies like some great sunset lit with flame,
Nor wakes the sleepers at Gallipoli.
I know not what shall come of this seed sown.
What fields of harvest waving fair and wide,
What resurrection morn with trumpets blown.
What stone from Faith's low tomb be rolled aside.
But this I know: Not all in vain they died,
Who live till silence fall on tongue and pen —
The youth of young Australia crucified.
The men, who of their manhood, died for men!
—David McKee Wright

 South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project