Lines Written During a Night Spent in a Bush Inn

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I wish now this heart with its pleading refrain
Would freeze and be still, then this tumult of pain
That mortals call living would end, and the cast
Of life be as nought but a pestilence past.

This robe I am wearing, as white as a cloud,
With neatly sewn border, would do for a shroud,
And thus I'd be ready, pain-shriven and meet,
With only to straighten my hands and my feet.

No sign would I make when Death's hand on me lay,
No sob would I utter when passing away;
For those in the house need the rest, all too short,
To heal the fatigue that a hard day has brought.

Out on the verandah, asleep on the floor,
With weary feet blistered, and aching and sore,
The tramp dreams of home with his head on his swag,
Nor recks he of drought, or the dry water-bag.

And soundly asleep, with a sun-blistered face,
The drover now dreads not the “breaks” he must chase.
But he must be up at the first peep of light
To “fetch up” the yards for his cattle at night.

And while all the sheep in the hurdles are snug
The black boy must rest on his old 'possum rug.
In dust and in heat he has shouted all day,
And sunrise must see him again on his way.

I looked in the face of Death once, when alone,
And met the grim King without shudder or moan,
So I will not shiver nor shriek with affright
If I have to go with him into the night.

And then they would take me to where I love best,
To where I know well that my spirit would rest,
Where gaudy birds chatter and wild cherries wave,
And sunset would throw a red haze o'er my grave —

Away on the gap, 'neath the big kurrajong
That stretches its branches the granites among,
And forms with its shelter a natural tomb
With rest in its stillness, and peace in its gloom.

And some one among them, with grief in his breast,
Might register roughly the place of my rest
By carving in letters cut deep on its bole
These plain words: “A Woman. May God rest her soul.”

In ground that is hallowed let happy folk lie,
But give me a grave in the bush when I die.
For have I not lived, loved, and suffered alone?
Thus making it meet that my grave be unknown.

The sound of the stockwhip away on the hill.
Ah, God! It is day, and I'm suffering still!

This work is in the public domain in Australia because it was created in Australia and the term of copyright has expired.

See Australian Copyright Council - Duration of Copyright (August 2014).


This work is also in the public domain in the United States because it was in the public domain in Australia in 1996, and no copyright was registered in the U.S. (This is the combined effect of Australia having joining the Berne Convention in 1928, and of 17 USC 104A with its critical date of January 1, 1996.)

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1924.


The author died in 1920, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.