The Never-Never Country by Henry Lawson



By homestead, hut, and shearing-shed,

By railroad, coach, and track-

By lonely graves of our brave dead,

Up Country and Out Back:

To where ‘neath glorious clustered stars

The dreamy plains expand-

My home lies wide a thousand miles

In the Never-Never Land.


It lies beyond the farming belt,

Wide wastes of scrub and plain,

A blazing desert in the drought,

A lake-land after rain;

To the skyline sweeps the waving grass,

Or whirls the scorching sand-

A phantom land, a mystic land!

The Never-Never Land.


Where lone Mount Desolation lies,

Mount Dreadful and Dispair-

‘Tis lost beneath the rainless skies

In hopeless deserts there;

It spreads nor’-west by No-Man’s Land-

Where clouds are seldom seen-

To where the cattle-stations lie

Three hundred miles between.


The Drovers of the great stock routes

The strange Gulf country know-

Where traveling from the southern droughts,

The big lean bullocks go;

And camped by night where plains lie wide,

Like some old oceans bed,

The watchmen in the Starlight ride

Round Fifteen hundred head.


And west of named and numbered days,

The Shearers walk and ride-

Jack Cornstalk and the Ne’re-do-well

And the grey beard side-by-side;

They veil their eyes from moon and stars,

And slumber on the stand-

Sad memories sleep as years go round

In the Never-Never Land.


By lonely huts north-west of Bourke,

Through years of flood and drought,

The best of English black-sheep work

Their own salvation out;

Wild fresh-faced boys grown gaunt and brown-

Stiff-lipped and haggard-eyed

They live the Dead Past grimly down!

Where boundary riders ride.


The College Wreck who sank beneath,

Then rose above his shame,

Tramps West in Mateship with the man

Who cannot write his name,

‘Tis there where on the barren track

No last half-crust begrudged-

Where Saint and sinner side-by-side,

Judge not, and are not judged.


Oh rebels to society!

The Outcasts of the West-

Oh hopeless eyes that smile for me,

And broken hearts that jest!

The pluck to face a thousand miles-

The grit to see it through!

The communism perfected!-

And- I am proud of you!


The Arab true to desert sand,

The Finn to fields of snow,

The Flax-stick turns to Maoriland,

Where the seasons come and go;

And this old fact comes home to me –

And will not let me rest-

However barren it may be,

Your own land is the best!


And, lest at ease I should forget

True Mateship after all,

My water-bag and billy yet

Are hanging on the wall;

And if my fate should show the sign,

I’d tramp to sunsets grand

With gaunt and stern-eyed mates of mine

In the Never-Never Land.


Retrieved from Australian Poetry Library



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