The Poetry Corner

By The Grey Gulf-Water

By Banjo Paterson (Andrew Barton)

Far to the Northward there lies a land, A wonderful land that the winds blow over, And none may fathom or understand The charm it holds for the restless rover; A great grey chaos, a land half made, Where endless space is and no life stirreth; There the soul of a man will recoil afraid From the sphinx-like visage that Nature weareth. But old Dame Nature, though scornful, craves Her dole of death and her share of slaughter; Many indeed are the nameless graves Where her victims sleep by the Grey Gulf-water. Slowly and slowly those grey streams glide, Drifting along with a languid motion, Lapping the reed-beds on either side, Wending their way to the North Ocean. Grey are the plains where the emus pass Silent and slow, with their dead demeanour; Over the dead man's graves the grass Maybe is waving a trifle greener. Down in the world where men toil and spin Dame Nature smiles as man's hand has taught her; Only the dead men her smiles can win In the great lone land by the Grey Gulf-water. For the strength of man is an insect's strength In the face of that mighty plain and river, And the life of a man is a moment's length To the life of the stream that will run for ever. And so it comes that they take no part In small world worries; each hardy rover Rides like a paladin, light of heart, With the plains around and the blue sky over. And up in the heavens the brown lark sings The songs the strange wild land has taught her; Full of thanksgiving her sweet song rings, And I wish I were back by the Grey Gulf-water.