The Poetry Corner

The Diggers

By Banjo Paterson (Andrew Barton)

Bristling Billy the porcupine, A person that nobody liked, Sinking a shaft on an ant-bed mine, Came on a burrowing lizard's line, And the lizard was badly spiked. "You're a blundering fool," said the snake's half-brother, And that was how one thing led to another. Weary Willie the wombat king Said he was champion excavator; But the Bristler said, "You ain't no such thing; You couldn't dig up a new pertater!" So a match was made on their mining skill, Bristling Billy and Weary Will. Both of the creatures were stout as steel, With knife-like claws that could dig for ever. The wombat dug with the greater zeal, But he hadn't the style or the action clever Of Bristling Billy, who looked a winner Till he struck some ants, and he stopped for dinner. Down where the ants had hid their young Underground in a secret tunnel, Scooping them up with his sticky tongue Into his mouth that was like a funnel: "Why should I dig for your wagers scanty," Said he, "when I'm feeling so full and ant-y?" A kangaroo who has lost his cash Was wild at this most absurd come-uppance. "Now listen, you poor ant-eating trash, I'd give you a kick in the ribs for twopence!" "Well, when I've finished with this here diet," Said Bristling Billy, "you come and try it." Bristling Billy the porcupine, A person that nobody likes, Wanders away on his lonely line, Rattles his fearful spikes. Says he, "There's none of you long-haired squibs Is game to give me a kick in the ribs."