The Poetry Corner

Song Of The Wheat

By Banjo Paterson (Andrew Barton)

We have sung the song of the droving days, Of the march of the travelling sheep, How by silent stages and lonely ways Thin, white battalions creep. But the man who now by the land would thrive Must his spurs to a ploughshare beat; And the bush bard, changing his tune, may strive To sing the song if the Wheat! It's west by south of the Great Divide The grim grey plains run out, Where the old flock-masters lived and died In a ceaseless fight with drought. Weary with waiting and hope deferred They were ready to own defeat, Till at last they heard the master-word, And the master-word was Wheat. Yarran and Myall and Box and Pine, 'Twas axe and fire for all; They scarce could tarry to blaze the line Or wait for the trees to fall Ere the team was yoked, and the gates flung wide, And the dust of the horses' feet Rose up like a pillar of smoke to guide The wonderful march of Wheat. Furrow by furrow, and fold by fold, The soil is turned on the plain; Better than silver and better than gold Is the surface-mine of the grain. Better than cattle and better than sheep In the fight with drought and heat; For a streak of stubbornness, wide and deep, Lies hid in a grain of Wheat. When the stock is swept by the hand of fate, Deep down on his bed of clay The brave brown Wheat will die and wait For the resurrection day, Lie hid while the whole world thinks him dead; But the Spring-rain, soft and sweet, Will over the steaming paddocks spread The first green flush of the Wheat. Green and amber and gold it grows When the sun sinks late in the West; And the breeze sweeps over the rippling rows Where the quail and the skylark nest. Mountain or river or shining star, There's never a sight can beat, Away to the sky-line stretching far, A sea of the ripening Wheat. When the burning harvest sun sinks low, And shadows stretch on the plain, The roaring strippers come and go Like ships on a sea of grain. Till the lurching, groaning waggons bear Their tale of the load complete. Of the world's great work he has done his share Who has garnered a crop of wheat. Princes, Potentates, Kings and Czars, They travel in regal state, But old King Wheat has a thousand cars For his trip to the water-gate; And his thousand steamships breast the tide And plough through the wind and sleet To the lands where the teeming millions bide That say: "Thank God for the Wheat!"