The Poetry Corner

The Flying Gang

By Banjo Paterson (Andrew Barton)

I served my time, in the days gone by, In the railway's clash and clang, And I worked my way to the end, and I Was the head of the "Flying Gang". 'Twas a chosen band that was kept at hand In case of an urgent need; Was it south or north, we were started forth And away at our utmost speed. If word reached town that a bridge was down, The imperious summons rang, "Come out with the pilot engine sharp, And away with the flying gang." Then a piercing scream and a rush of steam As the engine moved ahead; With measured beat by the slum and street Of the busy town we fled, By the uplands bright and the homesteads white, With the rush of the western gale, And the pilot swayed with the pace we made As she rocked on the ringing rail. And the country children clapped their hands As the engine's echoes rang, But their elders said: "There is work ahead When they send for the flying gang." Then across the miles of the saltbush plain That gleamed with the morning dew, Where the grasses waved like the ripening grain The pilot engine flew, A fiery rush in the open bush Where the grade marks seemed to fly, And the order sped on the wires ahead, The pilot must go by. The Governor's special must stand aside, And the fast express go hang; Let your orders be that the line is free For the boys in the flying gang.