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By the Grey Gulf-water

Written by: Andrew Barton Paterson | Biography
 | Quotes (1) |
 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.