The Great Grey Plain, by Henry Lawson

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Out West, where the stars are brightest,

Where the scorching north wind blows,

And the bones of the dead gleam whitest,

And the sun on a desert glows-

Yet within the selfish kingdom

Where man starves man for gain,

Where white man tramp for existence-

Wide lies on the Great Grey Plan.

No break in its awful horizon,

No blue in the dazzling haze,

Save whereby the bordering timber

The Fierce, white heat-waves blaze,

And out where the tank-heap rises

Or looms when the sunlight wane,

Till it seems like a distant mountain

Low down on the Great Grey Plain.

No sign of stream or fountain,

No spring on it’s dry, hot breast,

No shade from the blazing noontide

Where a weary man might rest.

Whole years go by when the glowing

Sky never clouds for rain-

Only the shrubs of the desert

Grow on the Great Grey Plain.

From the camp, while the rich mans dreaming,

Come the “traveler” and his mate,

In the ghastly dawn light seeming

Like a swagman’s ghost out late;

And the horseman blurs in the distance,

While still, the stars remain,

A low, faint dust-cloud haunting

His track on the Great Grey Plain.

And all day long from them

The mirage smokes away-

That daylight ghost of an ocean

Creeps close behind all day

With an evil, snake-like motion

As the waves of a madman’s brain:

‘Tis a phantom not like water

Out there on the Great Grey Plain.

There’s a run on the western limit

Where a man lives like a beast,

And a shanty in the mulga

That stretches to the east;

And the hopeless men who carry

Their swags and tramp in pain-

Their footmen must not tarry

Out there on the Great Grey Plain.

Out west where the stars are brightest,

Where the scorching north wind blows,

And the bones of the dead seem whitest,

And the sun on the desert glows-

Outback in the hungry distance

That brave hearts dare in vain-

Where beggars tramp for existence-

There lies the Great Grey Plain.

Tis a desert not more barren

Then the Great Grey Plain of years,

Where a fierce fire burns the hearts of men

Dries up the fount of tears;

Where the victims of a greed insane

Are crushed in a hell-born strife-

Where the souls of a race are murdered

On the Great Grey Plain of life!

by Henry Lawson

Published in The Worker (Brisbane), 7 October 1893

Resources:ironbarkresources.com

All photos were taken on the Australian Nullabor Plain 2017.

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