Poetry

Ned’s lieutenant Joe Byrne liked to put pen to paper. When he wasn’t dictating Ned’s speeches he was busy writing letters and poems to friends and lovers. Through the years many writers have felt the urge to tell their Kelly story through the art of rhyme so we thought it’s high time IronOutlaw.com dedicated a section to these fascinating literary gems.

My name is Ned Kelly,
I’m known adversely well.
My ranks are free,
my name is law,
Wherever I do dwell.
My friends are all united,
my mates are lying near.
We sleep beneath shady trees,
No danger do we fear.

Joe Byrne

Simple Things

My parents named me Edward, but most folks just call me Ned,
I write these thoughts from in my cell before they lay me dead.
So if you’ll mind to take the time, I’d like to reminisce,
And tell you of life’s simple things, the things I’ll truly miss.

I’ll miss my mother’s caring arms, loud laughter through the room,
From brothers, sisters, friends and all, forever lost too soon.
And even though he’s long been gone, my father I shall keep,
Deep in my heart fond memories throughout death’s endless sleep.

I’ll miss the fresh sweet smell of dawn that filled the Greta air,
And the violent reds of sunset ‘cross the sky in awe I’d stare.
The freedom of the wild ride across those sun drenched plains,
To the Riverina shearing, to mate’s laughter and the pain.

I’ll miss the dust and cursing as we whipped the horses forth,
All borrowed from the local gents, but now they’re heading north.
Down gully and through hidden track, deep in the tangled bush,
Towards the mighty Murray and to sale all onwards push.

I’ll miss the old Strathbogie’s covered cloak of greenish grey,
Midst the Stringybark and Eucalypts, near fire’s light we’d lay.
With tales of bold adventures turned to rhyme by dear old Joe,
Foul noises from young Dan and Steve no soul would care to know.

I’ll even miss a smoke or two, and drinking with the boys,
Of Christmas’s with those I love, the children and their toys.
I’ll miss the smell of roasting meat, all family gathered near,
But times so few are now but lost, and held in sheltered tears.

I’ll miss the heart so dear to me for all that might have been,
A true love held forever more, not death could come between.
I’ll miss her touch, the warm embrace, sweet smile of tender care,
I pray, at some place far from here, in peace will see me there.

Hush! The warder’s steps are closing, and my time here nearly done,
There’ll be no march to stirring pipes, or beating from a drum.
So I thank you for your precious time to help me reminisce,
Please remember me, forever more, and all those things I’ll miss.

A.D. CRICHTON

Never Gone

Up around Beechworth it is big country, big hills, the bush is wilder and when you look at the horizon at times you see just a flicker in the corner of your vision that could be men on horse back, just disappearing from view.

In this half light
That is not of day
Yet not of night
Our shades still gallop
Racing over hills and plains

In hazy twilight
Man and horse linger
Black against silver sky
Forever surveying
The land that is ours

Gullies and ranges alive
With memories and shadows
Creaking of leather, scent of smoke
Lingering voices drift through tall gums
Here yet not, never truly gone

MOLLIE SCHOLLUM

Shoulder To Shoulder

After seeing Dan and Steve’s armour in the police museum in Melbourne I thought about them a lot. How it must have been for them, to be there but in the shadows almost. The focus always on Ned and his impressive figure and yet they endured as much and the end for them was unbearable to think of. They lie within metres of each other in the Greta cemetary like I think they were when they chose their way to end it. Fitting that they should be there like that but so very very sad too.

Not boys, not quite men
We died together
Shoulder to shoulder
And in poor dark soil
We lie side by side

It was no game
Not like the wild Greta days
The fast riding
Flashy clothes
Horses, dancing, pretty girls

Kelly and Hart
Famous perhaps
But what good is fame
When death stalks your dreams
and each day may be the end

We know that he tried
Ned did and Joe too
Wanting to somehow save us
To keep us safe
So we smiled for them

Nodding, flip words
Of short lives, but merry ones
Though our hearts pounded
And fear roiled in our bellies
God knows that we were scared

Still we died like men
Face to face, grief consuming
Knowing that just perhaps
We had done something
Made some difference

Hoping to God, that Ned knew
When he heard those last shots
That it was done
There was none left to save
That he was free to go, to live.

MOLLIE SCHOLLUM

Remembered

This was written just after the first time I visited Joe’s grave in Benalla. It was late in the afternoon when we arrived and we just sat for a while. The tree behind his grave is significant, when we got to Beechworth, when we were standing looking out over the Woolshed there were scattered stands of the same. I like to think that someone took that seed and planted it there for him. Something from home to mark his place.

There is a track worn through the cemetery to his grave, generations of feet making their way to remember and to recognise. I like to think and hope that there were men of his faith that gave him the words that he was denied at his death.

It is a special place, he the only one of those young men that has a memorial, I am very glad that Joe now has a headstone that recognises his life and his place of resting. The simplicity of that marker and the dignity of the sole tree are powerful, yet peaceful.

Alone I was buried
No tears of loss or love
Hurried placement
Cold dark earth

Coarse sack to cover
No rosewood coffin
For one such as I
Unwanted boy, unconsecrated ground

They sought to lessen
To diminish in death
Insignificant man
Deemed nothing in God’s eyes

But they came
Those who had known, and loved
Men of god prayed beside me
Blessings falling upon me

Long has it been
Since I passed from this earth
Yet still they find me
Young and old, of here and not

I am held by soft earth
Shaded by one small seed
Which now is my monument
More true than any marble

Life surrounds me
Others find me
To remember those who have no place
To remember Ned, Dan, Steve

This dirt that was nothing
Is now of hope and peace
But I am not just here
I am everywhere

Everywhere that I am remembered…

MOLLIE SCHOLLUM

The Day That Young Ned Kelly Came To Town

The public bar was filling quick, when McDougall took his place,
By the window that was facing to the street.
Not a minute had gone past, when he finished off his glass,
Lit his pipe and settled back into his seat.

Old McDougall was a likely bloke of four score years or more,
Who always had a yarn or two to tell.
With the bar now deathly still, nor a clinking from the till,
Scratched his head and started talking to the swell.

Now let me see, I’s gots ta think ya know… It seems so long ago,
Must be more’n sixty year or so has passed.
As the crowd all gathered near, and McDougal with no beer,
Lost his voice until some patron filled his glass.

It happened back in Greta town, when I was just a lad,
I seen this kid dressed up in flashy clothes.
He was riding on this mare, all fancy free without a care,
Before this copper and the kid soon came to blows.

As they rolled around the dusty ground the mare she done a bolt,
The lad jumped to his feet and tried to catch.
With the copper in pursuit, I think the kid had lost his boot,
In a race I swear this trap had met his match.

And then I seen before me eyes, the copper pulls his gun,
In all me life I‘ve never felt such fear.
With two shots at point blank range.. Don’t ’spose a fella’s got some change?
It seems me empty glass has left me feeling queer.

With his glass soon quickly filled to brim McDougall took a sip,
The audience pushed forth to hear him speak.
A slice of pie might do me good, and I’d pays you if I could,
But me pension cheque don’t get here ‘til next week.

Now patience was a virtue that always served McDougall well,
He finished off his pie and drained the beer.
The bar was silent as a tomb.. Come on boys just give me room!
And I’ll tells ya what you buggers comes to hear.

Well the copper’s gun misfired and the kid he went berserk,
With one punch he laid the copper belly up.
Now the kid’s jumped on his back, with his spurs stuck in the trap,
I’d bet a quid they could have won the Melbourne Cup.

He rode that copper down the road I reckon half a mile,
The young bloke had no thought of recompense.
When the rider lost the reins, on his mount with little brains,
Both horse and rider crashed straight through O’Brien’s fence.

Well the kid he gave a left and right and uppercut to boot,
I could hear the copper’s screams from ‘cross the town.
And it wasn’t until then, and with the help of fifty men,
That the copper had the kid tied on the ground.

McDougall looked exhausted as he climbed down off his chair,
Sheer excitement had fair carried him away.
In a coarse and whispered cry.. Struth me throat it’s gone all dry,
I ‘spose a whiskey wouldn’t go too far astray.

The crowd was getting restless as McDougall eyed the bar,
Who the blazes is this kid he’s on about?
With a whiskey on the way, and not a penny paid all day,
Old McDougall mustered strength for one last shout.

This kid they gives him three hard years for crime he never done,
It’s a sight I won’t forget so drink ‘em down.
Here’s a toast to no regret, and a day I’ll n’er forget,
‘Twas the day that young Ned Kelly came to town.

A.D. CRICHTON

Endings and Beginnings

I have been thinking a lot of how Christmas/New Year must have been for the Kelly Gang, outlawed unable to come home, no chance to celebrate with family and friends. But I have this image of those family and friends coming to them, to gather and to laugh, talk and drink and to dare to hope that things would work out. I did not want this to be another sad poem. I wanted it to be about love and togetherness. I am not sure that I accomplished that, for we know what happened and that seems to always colour everything.

Flames shift in the darkness
Bright light on bright eyes
As we talk and laugh
Remembering the past
For the future is yet to come

Tommorow will wait
For now we have life
Friends and family
We gather in the hills
Under starlight and leaves

No ride to town tonight
To dance on wooden floors
No polished glasses or mirrors
This year we lie on our elbows
The soil is our floor

But music we have
Our voices not taken
Spirits not cowed
And we sing the rebel songs
Talking of what could be

Though we are outlawed
A price on our lives
Fear in our souls
We are not forgotten
For all are here with us

To see this year end
Relinquishing of the old
And welcoming of the new
A hoping for change
And a hunger for justice.

MOLLIE SCHOLLUM

Ghosts Of Men

No more, never to be, we are just a memory, a legend, lives cut short
On still nights can you hear our voices calling?
The shots ringing out across the gullies
over the dry hills with the gum trees, bark peeling

Do those that carry our blood still mourn us?
Or have our deeds become that by which we are remembered
So that our thoughts and dreams are only a pale shade
have we become history

We were but boys
Boys who took hostages, but arranged flowers for mass
Who fate turned against and condemned
We died as men but never lived

And as the wind blows stirring the dust
Muttering of memories of blood and of fire
Can you hear us calling to you?
Calling over the long years

Remember, remember us…

MOLLIE SCHOLLUM

Imprisoned

Earlier in the year I visited Dan and Steve’s armour on display in the police museum in Melbourne. The wrongness of that is almost palpable. I hated that place, hated the fact that they were there in the very midst of the ones that had done them so much harm. I am not condemning anyone that is a member of the service today not at all. It was more that around them was exhibits expounding the great deeds of those that hunted them. It was an awful experience and I could not wait to get outside. The armour should be in a neutral place, the library with Ned’s and I do hope that this one day does come to pass.

Metal armour encased in glass
Long have we been gone
But the very air is thick
Our fear and anger still felt
Trapped in a place that we despise

This is no home for our final suit
Not our Sunday best
But a coat that shone
Knights we were to be
Fighting for a better place

Clad in steel but two so very alone
The surprise in Joe’s eyes as he went
Made our breath catch in our throats
He was invincible
And they had taken him too

And Ned gone fearless into the night
Taking the fight to them
Saying he would be back
To not be afraid that he would return
But his voice went silent

Now just two and filled with fear
Then resolve and compassion
For each other, our mate
So choices were made
And with shaking hands it was done

There was no choking smoke
Or singeing flames
Souls gone from those charred remains
And they took this steel that was ours
It does not belong here

This place of coppers and lies
Of twisted stories told to protect their own
Truth is all we want
And for our armour to be home
With that of our brother’s, our leader’s

Our Ned’s

MOLLIE SCHOLLUM

A Mother's Tear

10th November 1880

Alone she sits midst echoed walls of bluestone damp and cold,
All down her face slow tortured tears did run,
Tomorrow at the stroke of ten the hangman she is told,
Will steal away her precious first born son.

Sweet memories of times long gone soon ease her troubled mind,
Her one true love, young faces fill her heart,
Across green painted hills to home a family she’ll find,
All waiting for the chance to make a start.

Oh how I miss the summer scent upon the northern breeze,
How much I miss cool rain upon my face,
Dear Lord if prayers could turn back time my life would surely please,
And my son not lay buried in this god forsaken place.

And Daniel what of you my boy all lying in your grave,
To have your short life end in such a way,
Not even twenty years of age, dear Lord I ’d give my life to save,
Now all you’ve left me with is nothing but to pray.

Sweet Maggie how I count the hours to be back home again,
To see my darling children gathered ‘round,
But our lives dear God have changed, and for me the heartfelt pain
Will remain until I’m buried in the ground.

And still she sits midst echoed walls of bluestone damp and cold,
All down her face slow tortured tears did run,
Tomorrow at the stroke of ten the hangman she is told,
Will steal away her precious first born son.

A.D. CRICHTON

In memory of Ellen Kelly (1832-1923).
A wife and mother, who through strength, endured all pain.

I Shall Stand

The last photograph of Ned before his execution is one that I find hard to study for too long, the intensity of his gaze, as if he is looking at only you is quite incredible. There is no fear, no compromise, he is a strong sure man and he is standing facing the world as such. His poor hands are crippled from his injuries at Glenrowan but yet he holds such power in the way that he looks at us from the past. Confronting and compelling, challenging, such dignity and strength in such a young man. You do not see the face and stance of the condemned.

Here I stand
Unbowed I am not afraid
I am no less than you
False words, false justice
They have no power

I shall look you in the eye
For I have no fear
I am beyond your touch
Your judgement holds no weight
I have spoken my truth

Though my hands are ruined
My eyes are my tools
And I shall gaze at those to come
They shall know my words
They shall remember my name

The beginning was not with me
But I would not die
Not for the lies of one man
I had no fight with the ones that came
But there was no other way

Their blood spilled
and the innocent suffered
Their words, our words
worthless, meaningless
Yet the weakest stood strong

Shoulder to shoulder united
Their actions and words no less
Though you may not know their names
Or remember their deeds, I shall
Death and time shall not silence me

For every moment my name is spoken
I shall whisper their names
And the truth shall be known
And those days remembered
Here I stand…

MOLLIE SCHOLLUM

Ned Kelly 10 November 1880

Poetry

Misunderstood

From out the morning mist Ned came, all iron clad was he,
Defiant and with guns in hand, he moved from tree to tree.
The bullets flew, the guns ran hot, the lead just bounced away,
The traps they fired like men possessed to keep this bloke at bay.

Onward, onward, did he push, with taunts of ‘Have a go’,
You can’t hurt me you bloody dogs, I’m bolted head to toe.
Just fire away for all you’re worth, it matters nought to me,’
And on Ned pushed to save the boys, all on to set them free.

But Sad-lier the trap in charge, he had another plan,
‘We’ll dis-Armour him with careful shot from every steadfast man.
Fire at his head, there’s weakness there, the helmet’s bolts we’ll cut,
Aim true my boys, just stand your ground, well go for both the nuts.

Now Ned had fair misunderstood, he’d heard those words before,
‘Twas back in old Benalla town and death he truly swore,
His blood ran cold, his eyes rolled back, his face took on a frown,
He lifted both his guns and fired to bring those buggers down.

Now Ned was not the only one who plain misunderstood,
Old Sergeant Steele, shot-gun in hand would do it if he could,
Unlike the rest his aim was poor, he’d make this bugger beg,
But instead of where his shot was aimed, it hit the outlaw’s leg.

The outlaw fell and hit the ground, ‘I’m done, I’ve had my gruel,’
But that was not enough for one who tried a kick so cruel,
Just like his mate, old Sergeant Steele, Dwyer missed his mark,
Instead of where the kick was meant, the iron stripped his bark.

Ned settled back and gave a grin as Dwyer limped away,
That’s what ya get you bloody dog, for such an act you’ll pay,
I’ve done some things throughout my life without the ifs and buts,
But I’ve never done this cowards act,… of going for the nuts.

A.D.CRICHTON

Within, Without

In 2008 I traveled both throughout Kelly Country and also to Ireland. Whilst up around Beechworth it was not hard to imagine silhouttes against the sky line or to think you had seen four men riding furiously across that flat land out towards Greta. So different from Ireland, where everything was so green. Both countries with land so alive but so different. Ned, Joe, Dan and Steve had never known Ireland so how could that place, which I would imagine would have been an almost mythical place to those that had been born in Australia, how could it be home? To them Australia was home but to others the authorities, the priviledged, they were undoubtedly Irish and did not belong…

This is our country
Our blood is it’s blood
No memories for us
Of those green shores of Ireland
This is the land of our birth

All we have known
Here we belong
Us to it and this land to us
Red blood tinged with red dirt
Wild country for wild hearts

We know her like our own hands
Every hilltop climbed
Our silhouettes proud against sky
This is our place, our home
This land that is ours

We do not dream of the return
Of walking soft green fields
We dream of jagged hills
Of scorching sun
And lines of dusty cattle

Our hearts are here
And so are our hopes
This is our place of comfort
The dirt that sings
Is no soft black soil

It is hard and harsh
And we know no mercy
But this land is free
Wild and unfettered
And we belong to her.

MOLLIE SCHOLLUM

Passing Into Legend

You came along in times or hardship and sorrow,
Mum and Dad gave you what they could.
Sometimes you’d have to beg, steal and borrow,
Knuckle down to get ahead was understood.

Saved a kid before you reached your teens,
A sign of your bravery indeed.
Try to describe how much that means,
Your reward would absorb it when you bleed.

Farewelled your Dad like a man in waiting,
The burdens are now being passed onto you.
Signed the papers and your teeth were grating,
Draw a deep breath and help to get them through.

Learnt to build and you leant to use a saw,
The time inside at least provided new found skill.
But the traps wouldn’t hold back the claw,
Hounding you to react, then you learnt to kill.

Watched your Ma taken from her kin,
You’d be dead before she was free.
Friends and neighbours locked away in the tin,
To compensate the force’s lack of gallantry.

You fought to get your message through,
Hardened by the back-hand of the law.
But we know that justice was never coming for you,
I guess it’s time to even up the score.

When we’re backed into a corner we submit or retaliate
Wanted nothing ‘cept to get on with a peaceful life,
But the weight of injustice finally sealed your fate.
And with it the opportunity to make a wife.

How’d a hanky and candle bring you down?
When trust and fairness built your reputation.
As the special train steamed into town,
Worthless now – the traps are at the station.

Came out fighting with armour and determination,
Standing for the rights of your family and mates,
That’s an ounce of what represents this nation,
We count this as a measure of our traits.

Blame seemed to be so easily achieved,
And as predicted Barry’s delight was fleeting.
Though it’s never comforted those who grieved,
The passing into legend takes some beating.

Your struggle we’ll continue to share,
Thoughts and memories are never too far.
Oh, how I wish that I could have been there,
No doubt you’re a part of what we are.

CRAIG BRATBY

Shadowed Light

At midnight hour, alone, and lost in thought through shadowed light,
Afraid, but somehow not, this first born son.
Will the last brief glance of morning’s light bring peace he dearly seeks,
Or will his soul be surely damned for what he’s done.
With head in hand the shadowed light would fade and disappear,
Brief freedom he would steal ‘cross sweated horse,
Across the flats to Greta and to home and waiting arms,
But all too soon cruel shadowed light will change his course.
In silence and through shadowed light, this young man falls to knee,
Afraid, but somehow not, with strength he’ll pray.
If my life will teach the public that ill-treatment makes men mad,
Then this life of mine will not be thrown away.
The shadowed light soon disappears, as the morning sun arrives,
No brief freedom for this man ‘cross sweated horse.
The hangman’s steps are drawing near, with shadowed light has gone all fear,
Into a brighter light he’ll walk his final course.

A.D. CRICHTON

The Irises

There is a curve in the Woolshed Road, just a slight sweeping bend and above it, elevated, there is the site of where Aaron Sherritt’s hut was. It is a place that feels like it is out of this time, that when you clamber up and stand under the trees that you are there in that time not at all in the here and now, as if very few have stood there in the many years that have passed. You can just see if it is pointed out to you, that there was a house, there is a depression in the ground, a slight clearing. The gum trees overhead are all blackened from a bush fire several years back. The only remainder are the Irises, just peaking through the undergrowth, determined and hardy. A reminder of what was.

There is no sign
A curve in the road
Hollowed earth
Fire blackened gum trees
The only remainder

No one comes here
For it is not a place
They wish to remember
Unexplained tragedy
That reaches across lifetimes

Fist hammering wooden door
No words for him
But his eyes knew
And his death came
Despair and darkness followed

Not the end of it all
That was but days later
But here it ended
Friendship beyond salvage
Death the only path they had not trod

Their youth’s only memorial
The trees that stand guard
The irises that emerge
Undefeated, unbowed
To bloom for all

MOLLIE SCHOLLUM

Glenrowan Morning

Glenrowan is an odd place, on the main street there are the cafes, the tourist shops, the theatre all trading on the Kelly Gang. But up over the railway line, you are behind the hustle and bustle and here is the site of the Inn. There is nothing left. The place was ready for an archaelogical dig when we visited, all the trees have been cleared and it was fenced in by plastic netting. Nothing to see really. Until you began to listen to what the land said, the wind, the trees, the memory is still there.

Chill morning light
Silence beneath dark hills
No bird, no whisper of wind
Just pure stillness
Dark soil, broken bricks
And a plastic fence

A catch of breath
The taste of smoke
And shouts on the air
Gunshots, curses, flames
And shadows that ripple
Behind insubstantial windows

The hills draw closer, to listen
To witness the witnessing
to acknowledge the memory
And we wait for the signal
but it does not come
No saviours in the reliving

Ironclad men out of shadows
Stepping, weapons raised
And we flinch from the shots
Knowing the voice that we hear
Shouting angry defiance
As the bullets ring on hard metal

Silence comes with one shot
These faint walls framing
An image of a man
Fallen, still, dying
And he is gone, spirit soaring
Yet still we stand mute

Able only to remain in vigil
Honouring the two inside
Respecting their choices
Understanding, blessing, releasing
Watching as flames consume
Turning to follow bloody footsteps

Broken and bloody he stumbles
Spiraling into oblivion
But it is not done
And the hills lean closer
As he stands to defy yet again
Weeping as he falls

MOLLIE SCHOLLUM

Ned Kelly

Ned Kelly was a legend a brave and loyal man
The son of Red the convict, a product of the “can”

A son from”Ireland” Red, from Erin’s own green isle
The taste of persecution had run in Kelly blood a while

A cruel unjust system forced Ned to stand and fight
He stood and spoke for many before he fell that fiery night.

Some say he was a crim a nasty heathen too
Then what they say about the scum the men in royal blue

They stole for large selectors from folk on threadbare lives
They took the bribes and payments no justice in their shires

They locked away his mother when Fitzpatrick the trap was shot
and told how Ned had did it but Ned was with another lot.

So persecuted were these folk no body can deny
So Ned took up the fight, this system to belie.

A rebel he became from then, and bushranging was his life
A thousand people helped the gang when they got into strife

If Ned was such a mongrel man then how did he survive?
£8000 upon his head he was wanted dead or live

£8000 way back then would make a man complete
Hundreds covered for young Ned, never a deceit

I urge you all to read about this man and hear it from his side
I’m sure you will agree his way was forced from loyalty and pride

Today we toast the pluck of Ned and what he stood for then
Today, his is the character that’s Instilled in all good Australian men.

GARY ZIEBELL

The Site

I stood before a block of dirt all fenced with wire mesh,
My mind soon drifted back in time to screams and bloodied flesh.
Of outlaws fighting for their lives in Armour made from ploughs,
And men and women, children too, all terrified for hours.

I heard the shots from men of law that pierced those paper walls,
Not caring for the souls inside like crazed bloodthirsty fools.
I saw the fight, I heard the screams, and saw the inn burn down,
I saw two boys all burnt to hell and laid out on the ground.

I saw a man just early on come through a mist of fog,
In Armour and with taunts to police; they shot him near that log.
I saw them cart him over there all bloodied head to toe,
And where they took him after that, well, you don’t really wanna know.

But soon the fresh clean air had gone and diesel filled my nose,
I turned around to see a sight, Improvements I suppose?
But what I saw before my eyes where men and boys were killed,
This sacred ground Australians love, they’ve ploughed it like a field.

And there they strut in shirt and tie with hard hats on their heads,
With plans and mobiles in their hands, well, I think my point is said.
But from my heart they’ll never take, nor visions in my mind,
This little piece of bloodied ground, will stay ‘till end of time.

We can only hope.

A.D. CRICHTON

The Death of Ned Kelly

Ned Kelly fought the rich men in country and in town,
Ned Kelly fought the troopers until they ran him down;
He thought that he had fooled them, for he was hard to find,
But he rode into Glenrowan with the troopers close behind.

“Come out of that, Ned Kelly,” the head zarucker calls,
“Come out and leave your shelter, or we’ll shoot it full of holes.”
“If you’d take me,” says Kelly, “that’s not the speech to use;
I’ve lived to spite your order, I’ll die the way I choose!”

“Come out of that, Ned Kelly, you done a lawless thing;
You robbed and fought the squatters, Ned Kelly, you must swing.”
“If those who rob,” says Kelly, “are all condemned to die,
You had better hang the squatters, for they’ve stolen more than I.”

“You’d best come out, Ned Kelly, you done the government wrong,
For you held up the coaches that bring the gold along.”
“Go tell your boss,” says Kelly, “who lets the rich go free,
That your bloody rich man’s government will never govern me.”

They burned the roof above him, they fired the wails about,
And head to foot in armour, Ned Kelly stumbled out;
Although his guns were empty he made them turn and flee,
But one came in behind him and shot him in the; knee.

And so they took Ned Kelly and hanged him in the jail,
For he fought singlehanded although in iron mail.
And no man singlehanded can hope to break the bars;
It’s a thousand like Ned Kelly who will hoist the flag of stars.

John Manifold
Manifold wrote this in 1941 when he was fourteen.

Margret Kelly

So, Mrs Skillion, history passed you by – Your sister, Kate Kelly, is in the public eye.
Twas you that taught young Ned and Dan the rules of class and race,
Ere the colony Victoria might put them in their place.
It was you that took supplies to Ned when he was on the run,
Laying brush and leaves across your track, beneath the setting sun.
And when they threw Ma into goal, with a baby at the breast,
You slaved to keep two households then, and knew but little rest.
The ammunition getting low you went to Melbourne tow
To buy supplies – and showed the traps a merry run-around.
The blacktrackers getting close you sheltered all the gang,
And stood to fight beside them, ere the troopers turned and ran.
It was you that nursed the charred remains of Dan and poor Steve Hart,
And made the coward policemen cringe – and stood they well apart.
It was you that Ned he sent for, while awaiting trial in goal,
To handle the arrangements – ’cause they wouldn’t go him bail!
But it was Kate, young Kate, who took the stage the night your brother hung
At the Music Hall in Melbourne. It’s of her the songs are sung.
Now Kate is in the folk songs, and you are in the grave:
A Kelly to the very last, who knew how to behave.
You never expected justice Meg, and time will have its way.
But the Kellys are a legend, throughout this land today.

Keith McKenry

Such is life...

Dialogue Ned Kelly

They came looking for us
Thought we were an easy mark
But yesterday we found them first
Camped down by Stringybark
Camped down by Stringybark

They came looking for us
We were innocent as babes
We gave ’em ev’ry chance, they fought
And finished in their graves
and finished in their graves

Here’s to a short life and a merry one
We were never lookin’ out for trouble and strife
Now we’re gonna ride through the pages of history
Win, lose or draw, such is life

Freedom is expensive
We’ll have to make them pay
An illegal bank withdrawal
And we’ll soon be on our way
We’ll soon be on our way

At home up in the ranges
At home among our friends
At war against the Squatters traps
We’re fightin’ till the end
We’re fightin’ till the end

Here’s to a short life and a merry one
We were never lookin’ out for trouble and strife
Now we’re gonna ride through the pages of history
Win, lose or draw, such is life

As I was outlawed without cause, and cannot be no worse,
and have but once to die, and if the public do not see justice done,
I will seek revenge for the name and character
which has been given to me and my relations,
while God gives me strength to pull a trigger.

Here’s to a short life and a merry one… etc….

Philip Maguire

The Ride

And the lights are shut off
the armed guard, he sleeps
there is silence
deep quiet, heavy darkness

And a whisper
“Joe is that you?”
“Ned….”
“aye and the lads too”

So we are home then
it smells like home
we have returned
and at midnight we shall soar

Spirits rising
Alarms and locks no barrier
Music and Mirth they wait
and the four of us shall ride

A wild ride
galloping through the night
Beechworth to Greta and beyond
all places revisted

Untamed lads rejoicing
in who they were
Death no ending
these ties shall never be broken

Mollie Schollum

An Artist’s Plea

Ned Kelly was hung when he was still young
And was bold as bold can be
He took from the rich and gave to the poor
My point I hope you can see

My paintings are young but still not hung
But bold they are indeed
They need to be put where they can be seen
And I for sure am in need

So if you’re inclined to be ever so kind
And hang them for people to see
Then we can both smile as they fly out the door
And share the resulting fee

Now closing my ditty it would be a pity
If your choice is not to reply
For what we have here is a style that is fresh
And simply deserves a try

Roydon Johnson