> Peter Bellamy > Songs > The Glass on the Bar

The Glass on the Bar

[words Henry Lawson, music Peter Bellamy]

Peter Bellamy sang The Glass on the Bar in 1985 on his EFDSS album Second Wind. He noted:

My father, who spent some time as a “jackeroo” on a New South Wales sheep station in the 1920s, tried to interest me in the verses of Henry Lawson, but it never “took” until I toured Australia in 1980. After that I rethunk, and noticing the long shadow of Rudyard Kipling over many of his pieces, I set several Lawson poems to music. The tender Bush Girl and the bizarre Glass on the Bar seemed my most successful efforts. I have subsequently learned that I am not the first—indeed, more like the twentieth—to have a stab at the former. I haven’t actually heard any of the other settings, though, so I refuse to be intimidated.


Peter Bellamy sings The Glass on the Bar

Three bushmen one morning rode up to an inn,
And one of them called for the drinks with a grin;
They’d only returned from a trip to the North,
And, eager to greet them, the landlord came forth.
He absently poured out a glass of Three Star …
And he set that drink down with the rest on the bar.

“There, that is for for Harry,” he said, “and it’s queer,
But it’s the very same glass that he drank from last year;
His name’s on the glass, you can read it like print,
He scratched it himself with an old bit of flint;
I remember his drink it was always Three Star.” —
But then the landlord looked out through the door of the bar.

He looked at the horses, and he counted but three:
“You was always together; where’s Harry?” cried he.
Oh, sadly they looked at that glass and they said,
“You may put it away, for our old mate is dead…”
But one, gazing out o’er the ridges afar,
Said, “We owe him a shout so leave the glass on the bar…”

They thought of the far away grave on the plain,
And they thought of the comrade who came not again,
They lifted their glasses, and sadly they said:
“We drink to the name of our mate who is dead.”
And the sunlight streamed in, and a light like a star —
Seemed to glow in the depth of the glass on the bar…

And still in that shanty a tumbler it is seen,
It stands by the clock, always polished and clean;
And often the strangers will read as they pass
The name of a bushman engraved on the glass;
And though on the shelf but a dozen there are —
That glass never stands with the rest on the bar…