The Corner-Man

The Corner-Man  (1889) 
by Banjo Paterson

I dreamt a dream at the midnight deep,
When fancies come and go
To vex a man in his soothing sleep
With thoughts of awful woe --
I dreamed that I was the corner man
Of a nigger minstrel show.

I cracked my jokes, and the building rang
With laughter loud and long;
I hushed the house as I softly sang
An old plantation song --
A tale of the wicked slavery days
Of cruelty and wrong.

A small boy sat on the foremost seat --
A mirthful youngster he,
He beat the time with his restless feet
To each new melody,
And he picked me out as the brightest star
Of the black fraternity.

"Oh, father," he said, "what would we do
If the corner man should die?
I never saw such a man -- did you?
He makes the people cry,
And then, when he likes, he makes them laugh."
The old man made reply:

"We each of us fill a very small space
On the great creation's plan,
If a man don't keep his lead in the race
There's plenty more that can;
The world can very soon fill the place
Of even a corner man."

I woke with a jump, rejoiced to find
Myself at home in bed,
And I framed a moral in my mind
From the words the old man said.
The world will jog along just the same
When the corner men are dead.

This work is in the public domain in Australia because it was created in Australia and the term of copyright has expired. According to Australian Copyright Council - Duration of Copyright, the following works are public domain:

  • published non-government works whose author died before January 1, 1955,
  • anonymous or pseudonymous works and photographs published before January 1, 1955, and
  • government works published more than 50 years ago (before January 1, 1972).

This work is also in the public domain in the United States because it was first published outside the United States (and not published in the U.S. within 30 days), and it was first published before 1989 without complying with U.S. copyright formalities (renewal and/or copyright notice) and it was in the public domain in Australia on the URAA date (January 1, 1996). This is the combined effect of Australia having joined the Berne Convention in 1928, and of 17 USC 104A with its critical date of January 1, 1996.

Because the Australian copyright term in 1996 was 50 years, the critical date for copyright in the United States under the URAA is January 1, 1946.


This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.