Brogan's Lane, by Louis Esson

There's a crack in the city — down that sharp street
In couples, and armed, tramp rozzers on beat.
Like a joss, silhouetted across the pane,
A Chinese face watches down Brogan's Lane,
Brogan's Lane, Brogan's Lane,
A reeling moon blinks over Brogan's Lane.

Flash Fred, when he dives on a red lot, sneaks thro'
To Moscow the swag with a Polaky Jew.
Tho' rooked by old Shylock, he needn't complain,
The melting pot bubbles in Brogan's Lane,
Brogan's Lane, Brogan's Lane,
Rats pinch from their cobbers down Brogan's Lane.

And Jenny, fresh down from the country, goes gay
And drives to the races and laughs at the play;
Till one morn, lying out in the cold and the rain,
A body is perished in Brogan's Lane,
Brogan's Lane, Brogan's Lane,
There's only one turn to the long last lane.

With opium dens, sly cribs, bones and rags,
'Tis the haunt of thieves, wastrels, poor women and vags.
They booze to bring joy, they sin to numb pain,
But there'll come a stretch at the end of the lane,
Brogan's Lane, Brogan's Lane,
The river and morgue shadow Brogan's Lane.

I had a Dingo, he was but fair,
And then he left me, I know not where.
I went to find him, but he didn't show,
So I wandered off to the one place that I know:
Brogan's Lane, Brogan's Lane,
The Indos ate my Dingo, I'm going insane!

This poem is essentially one man's reflection on the more unseemly side of Melbourne life in the late 19th century. The racial undertones are quite strong, and I think it makes for an interesting window on the mentality of your average colonialist while Australian male.

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