In the poem A Strange Dream, the narrator dreams he is searching for a deceased friend named Mulga Mick. Believing Mick to be of a similar nature to himself, he heads for the Gates of Hell, only to learn that his friend is too sinful for Hell. According to the Devil, the only fit place for Mulga Mick is Angledool, to which he is quickly directed.
I dreamed that I was searching for a well beloved mate
I found his tracks and followed him straight to the devil’s gate
I thought he was no better than I am, so it’s clear
Unless old Nick’s been cheated, I’ll find my lost mate here.
So at the gate I rattled, then old Nick appeared
I backed and shivered slightly, he was just what I had feared
He stood there for a moment with his hoof raised for a kick
Then I bowed politely and inquired for Mulga Mick.
“Mulga Mick!” the devil uttered, “Mulga Mick! Why man you’re drunk!
To think that such a trimmer in this place could get a bunk
But if you want to find him and to follow him you’re game
But mind you if you get burnt you’ve only got yourself to blame.”
He pointed to a black smoke on a distant stony ridge
He said, “Steer straight for that and you’ll cross the Yerranbah Bridge
Cut the bend to Angledool and there you’ll find your mate
I’m very sorry for him but his sins were very great.
I got a whiff of brimstone as I crossed the stony ridge
And the sparks were flying ‘round me when I reached the Yerranbah Bridge
An awful yell came ringing through the cinders and the smoke
A big mosquito bellowed in my ear and I awoke.
Harper’s poem has no chorus. I made the third verse the chorus. In this verse, Mr McCarthy (see article) used the word “trimmer” rather than “sinner”, as used by Harper. (“To think that such a trimmer in this place could get a bunk.”) I have kept the word “trimmer”, which means an opportunist. Apparently it also has a slang usage, meaning a good or impressive person. I like the appropriateness of this facetious play on the word, perhaps something the Devil might have enjoyed doing.
- Read the article Jim Harper of Mulga Land by Jim Low