The Song of the Darling River

Original Text: 
Henry Lawson, Verses Popular and Humorous (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1900): 73-74. x.981/3738 British Library; PR 6023 A94H8 1905 Robarts Library
1The skies are brass and the plains are bare,
2Death and ruin are everywhere --
3And all that is left of the last year's flood
4Is a sickly stream on the grey-black mud;
5The salt-springs bubble and the quagmires quiver,
8`I fill my branches again and again;
10`For my life and my peoples the South Seas drain;
11`And the land grows old and the people never
12`Will see the worth of the Darling River.
14`I turn drought-ruts into rippling rills --
15`I form fair island and glades all green
16`Till every bend is a sylvan scene.
17`I have watered the barren land ten leagues wide!
18`But in vain I have tried, ah! in vain I have tried
19`To show the sign of the Great All Giver,
20`The Word to a people: O! lock your river.
21`I want no blistering barge aground,
22`But racing steamers the seasons round;
23`I want fair homes on my lonely ways,
24`A people's love and a people's praise --
25`And rosy children to dive and swim --
26`And fair girls' feet in my rippling brim;
27`And cool, green forests and gardens ever' --
28Oh, this is the hymn of the Darling River.
29The sky is brass and the scrub-lands glare,
30Death and ruin are everywhere;
31Thrown high to bleach, or deep in the mud
32The bones lie buried by last year's flood,
34To laugh at the rise of the Darling River.


6] the Darling: the longest river in Australia, flowing from Queensland through New South Wales and into the Indian Ocean. Back to Line
7] Queensland: state in eastern Australia. Back to Line
9] billabongs: watercourses coming out of a stream and then going nowhere, or returning into it. Back to Line
13] lave: wash. Back to Line
33] Never Never: deep outback. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
Bulletin; See Stone, 10
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 2001.