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Where the Dead Men Lie

Barcroft Henry Boake (1866-1892)

Australian writer

Out on the wastes the Never Never
That's where the dead men lie!
There where the heat-waves dance forever
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 he!
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 mother's 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 stockmen 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 Moncygrub's farthest station
That's how the dead men die!
Hard-faced greybeards, youngsters caflow;
Some mounds cared for, some left fallow;
Some deep down, yet others shallow.
Some having but the sky.

Moncygrub, 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, cramped with
Death where the dead men lie.

About the Author

See our page on Barcroft Henry Boake. Includes a linked list of all his writing available on our website.

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