Tag Archives: Henry Lawson

Waratah and Wattle by Henry Lawson


Though poor and in trouble I wander alone,
With rebel cockade in my hat,
Though friends may desert me, and kindred disown,
My country will never do that!
You may sing of the Shamrock, the Thistle, the rose,
Or the three in a bunch, if you will;
But I know of a country that gathered all those,
And I love the great land where the Waratah grows.
And the Wattle-bough blooms on the hill.

Australia! Australia! so fair to behold-
While the blue sky is arching above;
The stranger should never have need to be told,
That the Wattle-bloom means that her heart is of gold.
And the Waratah’s red with her love.

Australia! Australia! most beautiful name,
Most kindly and bountiful land;
I would die every death that might save her from shame,
If a black cloud should rise on the stand;
But whatever the quarrel, whoever her foes,
Let them come! Let them come when they will!
Though the struggle be grim, ’tis Australia that knows
That her children shall fight while the Waratah grows,
And the Wattle blooms out on the hill.


Source: When I was King and other Verses, 1905


Middleton’s Rouseabout by Henry Lawson

Tall and feckled and sandy,
  Face of a country lout;
This was the picture of Andy,
  Middleton's Rouseabout.

Type of a coming nation,
  In the land of cattle and sheep,
Worked on Middleton's station,
  "Pound a week and his keep".

On Middleton's wide dominions
  Plied the stockwhip an' shears;
Hadn't any opinions,
  Hadn't any "idears".

Swiftly the years went over,
  Liquor and drouth prevailed;
Middleton went as a drover,
  After his station had failed.

Type of a careless nation,
  Men who are soon played out,
Middleton was - and his station
  Was bought by the Rouseabout.

Flourishing beard and sandy,
  Tall and robust and stout;
This is the picture of Andy,
  Middleton's Rouseabout.

Now on his own dominions
  Works with his overseers;
Hasn't any opinions,
  Hasn't any "idears".

Source: In the Days When the World Was Wide, 1896

Andy’s Gone with Cattle by Henry Lawson


Our Andy’s gone with cattle now –

Our hearts are out of order –

With drought he’s gone to battle now

Across the Queensland border.

He’s left us in dejection now,

Our thoughts with him are roving;

It’s dull on this selection now,

Since Andy went a-droving.

Who now shall wear the cheerful face

In times when things are slackest?

And who shall whistle round the place

When Fortune frowns her blackest?

Oh, who shall cheek the squatter now

When he comes round us snarling?

His tongue is growing hotter now

Since Andy crossed the Darling.

Oh, may the showers in torrents fall,

And all the tanks run over;

And may the grass grow green and tall

In pathways of the drover;

And may good angels send the rain

On desert stretches sandy;

And when the summer comes again

God grant ’twill bring us Andy.


Source: The ABC Book of Australian Poetry: a treasury for young people compiled by Libby Hathorn (ABC Books 2010)

Ballad of the Drover by Henry Lawson


Across the stony ridges,

Across the rolling plain,

Young Harry dale, the drover,

Comes riding home again.

And well his stock-horse bears him,

And light of heart is he,

And stoutly his old packhorse

Is trotting by his knee.

Up Queensland way with cattle

He’s travelled regions vast;

And many months have vanished

Since home-folks saw him last.

He hums a song of someone

He hopes to marry soon;

And hobble-chains and camp-ware

Keep jingling to the tune.

Beyond the hazy dado

Against the lower skies

And yon blue line of ranges

The station homestead lies.

And thitherward the drover

Jogs through the lazy noon,

While hobble-chains and camp-ware

Are jingling to a tune

An hour has filled the heavens

With storm-clouds inky black;

At times the lightning trickles

Around the drover’s track;

But Harry pushes onward,

His horses’ strength he tries,

In hope to reach the river

Before the flood shall rise.

The thunder, pealing o’er him,

Goes rumbling down the plain;

And sweet on thirsty pastures

Beats fast the plashing rain;

The every creek and gully

Sends forth its tribute flood—

The river runs a banker,

All stained with yellow mud.

Now Harry speaks to Rover,

The best dog on the plain

And to his hardy horses,

And strokes their shaggy manes:

‘We’ve breasted bigger rivers

When floods were at their height,

Nor shall this gutter stop us

From getting home tonight!’

The thunder growls a warning

The blue, forked lightings gleam;

The drover turns his horses

To swim the fatal stream.

But, oh! the floods runs stronger

Than e’re it ran before;

The saddle-horse is failing,

And only half-way o’er!

When flashes next the lightning,

The flood’s grey breast is blank

A cattle dog and packhorse

Are struggling up the bank.

But in the lonely homestead

The girl shall wait in vain –

He’ll never pass the stations

In charge of stock again.

The faithful dog a moment

Lies panting on the bank,

Then plunges through the current

To where his master sank.

And round and round in circles

He fights with failing strength,

Till, gripped by wilder waters,

He fails and sinks at length.

Across the flooded lowlands

And slopes of sodden loam

The packhorse struggles bravely

To take dumb tiding home;

And mud-stained wet and weary,

He goes by rock and tree,

With clanging chain and tinware,

All sounding eerily.


Source: The ABC Book of Australian Poetry: a treasury for young people compiled by Libby Hathorn (ABC Books 2010)

The Days When We Went Swimming by Henry Lawson


The breezes waved the silver grass,

Waist-high along the siding,

And to the creek we ne’er could pass

Three boys on bare-back riding;

Beneath the sheoaks in the bend

The waterhole was brimming –

Do you remember yet, old friend,

The times we ‘went in swimming’?


The days we ‘played the wag’ from school –

Joys shared – and paid for singly –

The air was hot, the water cool –

And naked boys are kingly!

With mud for soap the sun to dry –

A well planned lie to stay us,

And dust well rubbed on neck and face

Lest cleanliness betray us.


And you’ll remember farmer Kutz –

Though scarcely for his bounty –

He leased a forty-acre block,

And thought he owned the county;

A farmer of the old world school,

That men grew hard and grim in,

He drew his water from the pool

That we preferred to swim in.


And do you mind when down the creek

His angry way he wended,

A green-hide cartwhip in his hand

For our young backs intended?

Three naked boys upon the sand –

Half buried and half sunning –

Three startled boys without their clothes

Across the paddocks running.


We’ve had some scares, but we looked blank

When resting there and chumming,

One glance by chance along the bank

And saw the farmer coming!

And home impressions linger yet

Of cups of sorrow brimming;

I hardly think that we’ll forget

The last day we went swimming.

On the Night Train by Henry Lawson


Have you seen the bush by moonlight, from the train, go running by?

Blackened log and stump and sapling, ghostly trees all dead and dry;

Here a patch of glassy water; there a glimpse of mystic sky?

Have you heard the still voice calling – yet so warm, and yet so cold:

‘I’m the Mother-Bush that bore you! Come to me when you are old’?


Did you see the Bush below you sweeping darkly to the Range,

All unchanged and all unchanging, yet so very old and strange!

While you thought in softened anger of the things that did estrange?

(Did you hear the Bush a-calling, when your heart was young and bold:

‘I’m the Mother-Bush that nursed you; come to me when you are old’?)


In the cutting or the tunnel, out of sight of stock or shed,

Have you heard the grey Bush calling from the pine-ridge overhead:

‘You have seen the seas and cities – all is cold to you, or dead –

All seems done and all seems told, but the grey-light turns to gold!

I’m the Mother-Bush that loves you – come to me now you are old’?

In Possum Land by Henry Lawson


In possum land the nights are fair,
The streams are fresh and clear;
No dust is in the moonlit air,
No traffic jars the ear.

With possums gambolling overhead,
’Neath western stars so grand,
Ah! would that we could make our bed,
Tonight in Possum Land.