Archive for April 26th, 2013

Friday, 26 April 2013

Where the Dead Men Lie by Barcroft Henry Thomas Boake

Out on the wastes of the Never Never—
That’s where the dead men lie!
There where the heat-waves dance for ever—
That’s where the dead men lie!
That’s where the Earth’s loved sons are keeping
Endless tryst: not the west wind sweeping
Feverish pinions can wake their sleeping—
Out where the dead men lie!

Where brown Summer and Death have mated—
That’s where the dead men lie!
Loving with fiery lust unsated—
That’s where the dead men lie!
Out where the grinning skulls bleach whitely
Under the saltbush sparkling brightly;
Out where the wild dogs chorus nightly—
That’s where the dead men lie!

Deep in the yellow, flowing river—
That’s where the dead men lie!
Under the banks where the shadows quiver—
That’s where the dead men lie!

Where the platypus twists and doubles,
Leaving a train of tiny bubbles;
Rid at last of their earthly troubles—
That’s where the dead men lie!

East and backward pale faces turning—
That’s how the dead men lie!
Gaunt arms stretched with a voiceless yearning—
That’s how the dead men lie!
Oft in the fragrant hush of nooning
Hearing again their mothers’ crooning,
Wrapt for aye in a dreamful swooning—
That’s how the dead men lie!

Only the hand of Night can free them—
That’s when the dead men fly!
Only the frightened cattle see them—
See the dead men go by!
Cloven hoofs beating out one measure,
Bidding the stockman know no leisure—
That’s when the dead men take their pleasure!
That’s when the dead men fly!

Ask, too, the never-sleeping drover:
He sees the dead pass by;
Hearing them call to their friends—the plover,
Hearing the dead men cry;
Seeing their faces stealing, stealing,
Hearing their laughter pealing, pealing,
Watching their grey forms wheeling, wheeling
Round where the cattle lie!

Strangled by thirst and fierce privation—
That’s how the dead men die!
Out on Moneygrub’s farthest station—
That’s how the dead men die!
Hardfaced greybeards, youngsters callow;
Some mounds cared for, some left fallow;
Some deep down, yet others shallow;
Some having but the sky.

Moneygrub, as he sips his claret,
Looks with complacent eye
Down at his watch-chain, eighteen-carat—
There, in his club, hard by:
Recks not that every link is stamped with
Names of the men whose limbs are cramped with
Too long lying in grave mould, camped with
Death where the dead men lie.

From: Boake, Barcroft, Where the Dead Men Lie, 1897, Angus and Robertson: Sydney, pp. 140-142.
(http://adc.library.usyd.edu.au/view?docId=ozlit/xml-main-texts/boawher.xml&chunk.id=d772e181&toc.id=&database=&collection=&brand=default;query=verse)

Date: 1891

By: Barcroft Henry Thomas Boake (1866-1892)