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(26 March 1866 – May 1892 / Sydney / Australia)

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From The Far West

'Tis a song of the Never Never land—
Set to the tune of a scorching gale
On the sandhills red,
When the grasses dead
Loudly rustle, and bow the head
To the breath of its dusty hail:

Where the cattle trample a dusty pad
Across the never-ending plain,
And come and go
With muttering low
In the time when the rivers cease to flow,
And the Drought King holds his reign;

When the fiercest piker who ever turned
With lowered head in defiance proud,
Grown gaunt and weak,
Release doth seek
In vain from the depths of the slimy creek—
His sepulchre and his shroud;

His requiem sung by an insect host,
Born of the pestilential air,
That seethe and swarm
In hideous form
Where the stagnant waters lie thick and warm,
And Fever lurks in his lair:

Where a placid, thirst-provoking lake
Clear in the flashing sunlight lies—
But the stockman knows
No water flows
Where the shifting mirage comes and goes
Like a spectral paradise;

And, crouched in the saltbush' sickly shade,
Murmurs to Heaven a piteous prayer:
‘O God! must I
Prepare to die?'
And, gazing up at the brazen sky,
Reads his death-warrant there.

Gaunt, slinking dingoes snap and snarl,
Watching his slowly-ebbing breath;
Crows are flying,
Hoarsely crying
Burial service o'er the dying—
Foul harbingers of Death.

Full many a man has perished there,
Whose bones gleam white from the waste of sand—
Who left no name
On the scroll of Fame,
Yet died in his tracks, as well became
A son of that desert land.

Submitted: Friday, April 09, 2010


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