Vonda Stanley's collection of early Australian bush poems


The Christ of the Never


With eyes that are narrowed to pierce

To the awful horizons of land,

Through the blaze of hot days, and the fierce

White heat-waves that flow on the sand;

Through the Never Land westward and nor'ward,

Bronzed, bearded, and gaunt on the track,

Low-voiced and hard-knuckled, rides forward

The Christ of the Outer Out-back.


For the cause that will ne'er be relinquished

Despite all the cynics on earth---

In the ranks of the bush undistinguished

By manner or dress---if by birth;

God's preacher, of churches unheeded---

God's vineyard, though barren the sod---

Plain spokesman where spokesman is needed,

Rough link 'twixt the bushman and God.


He works where the hearts of a nation

Are withered in flame from the sky,

Where the sinners work out their salvation

In a hell-upon-earth ere they die.

In the camp or the lonely hut lying

In a waste that seems out of God's sight,

He's the doctor---the mate of thee dying

Through the smothering heat of the night.


By his work in the hells of the shearers,

Where the drinking is ghastly and grim,

Where the roughest and worst of his hearers

Have listened bareheaded to him;

By his paths through the parched desolation,

Hot rides, and the long, terrible tramps;

By the hunger, the thirst, the privation

Of his work in the farthermost camps;


By his worth in the light that shall search men

And prove---ay! and justify---each,

I place him in front of all churchmen

Who feel not, who know not---but preach!


Henry Lawson

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