The Paroo River

A poem by Henry Lawson

It was a week from Christmas-time,
As near as I remember,
And half a year since, in the rear,
We'd left the Darling timber.

The track was hot and more than drear;
The day dragged out for ever;
But now we knew that we were near
Our camp, the Paroo River.

With blighted eyes and blistered feet,
With stomachs out of order,
Half-mad with flies and dust and heat
We'd crossed the Queensland border.

I longed to hear a stream go by
And see the circles quiver;
I longed to lay me down and die
That night on Paroo River.

The "nose-bags" heavy on each chest
(God bless one kindly squatter!),
With grateful weight our hearts they pressed,
We only wanted water.

The sun was setting in a spray
Of colour like a liver,
We'd fondly hoped to camp and stay
That night by Paroo River.

A cloud was on my mate's broad brow,
And once I heard him mutter:
'What price the good old Darling now?,
God bless that grand old gutter!"

And then he stopped and slowly said
In tones that made me shiver:
"It cannot well be on ahead,
I think we've crossed the river."

But soon we saw a strip of ground
Beside the track we followed,
No damper than the surface round,
But just a little hollowed.

His brow assumed a thoughtful frown,
This speech did he deliver:
"I wonder if we'd best go down
Or up the blessed river?"

"But where," said I, " 's the blooming stream?'
And he replied, 'we're at it!"
I stood awhile, as in a dream,
"Great Scott!" I cried, "is that it?

Why, that is some old bridle-track!"
He chuckled, "Well, I never!
It's plain you've never been Out Back,
This is the Paroo River!"

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