Down the River

Original Text: 
Where the Dead Men Lie and Other Poems, ed. A.G. Stephens (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1897): 52. Internet Archive. Sydney Electronic Text and Image Service (SETIS), digital text sponsored by AustLit:
2      Clink of hobble and brazen bell
5Where is he making for? Down the River--
6      Down the River with eager tread!
7Where is he making for? Down the River,
8      Down the River to seek a shed.
9Where is his dwelling on old Monaro?--
11Dry Plain is it, or sweet Bolaro?
13Where is he making for? Down the River!
14      When, oh, when will he turn him back?
15Soft sighs follow him down the River:
16      Moist eyes gaze at his fading track.
17See! behind him the pack-horse, ambling,
19Oft and oft from the pathway rambling,
21Where is he making for, equine rover?--
23Tempted down by the thought of clover
25Dreams of life and its future chances;
26      Snatch of song to beguile the way--
27Through green crannies the sunlight glances,
29"So long, mate! I can stay no longer.
30      So long, mate! I've no time to stop:
32      Bluegong, Grubben, and Pullitop.
33"What! you say that the River's risen?
34      What! that the melted snow has come?
35What! that it locks and bars our prison?--
36      Many's the mountain stream I've swum.
37I must onward and cross the River:
38      So long, mate! for I cannot stay;
39I must onward and cross the River--
40      Over the River there lies my way!"
41One man short when the roll they're calling!
43Heads are drooping and tears are falling
44      Up on Monaro's mountain lands ...
45Where is he making for? Down the River,
46      Down the river of slimy bed!
47Where is he making for? Down the River,
48      Down the River that bears him--dead.


1] the River: the Murrumbidgee River (poet's note in The Bulletin). Back to Line
3] shearer: sheep shearer. Back to Line
4] Monaro: a region in New South Wales east of the Snowy Mountains. Back to Line
10] Buckley's Crossing: a crossing of the Snowy River. Jinadaboine, Dry Plain, Bolaro: villages in the Monaro District of New South Wales, near the Snowy Mountains. Back to Line
12] where the rivers join: the Snowy and Eucumbene Rivers (poet's note in The Bulletin). Back to Line
18] kit: stuff such as cooking equipment, bedding, etc. (originally a soldier's). Back to Line
20] crops: cropped ears. Back to Line
22] Eucembene: a river in the Snowy Mountains region of New South Wales. Back to Line
24] Riverine (Riverina): a region in southern New South Wales that includes the lower portion of the Murrumbidgee River Valley. Back to Line
28] jack-shay: a quart pot. Back to Line
31] Mahonga, Blugong (Brookong), Grubben, Pullitop: large stations (ranches) in New South Wales. Back to Line
42] Old Bobby Rand's: a 19th-century settler in the Riverina area who at one time owned Mahonga station and other property in the vicinity. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
The Bulletin, February 6, 1892.
RPO poem Editors: 
Cameron La Follette