Vonda Stanley's collection of early Australian bush poems


The Light on the Wreck


Out there by the rocks, at the end of the bank,

In the south of the river the Wanderer sank.

She is resting between the blue water and green,

And only her masts and her funnel are seen;

And you see, as day fades to its last crimson fleck,

On her foremost a lantern – a light on a wreck.


‘Tis a light on a wreck, warning ships to beware

Of the drowned iron hull of the Wanderer there;

And the ships that come in and go out in the night

Keep a careful look out for the Wanderer’s light.

There are rules for the harbour and rules for the wave;

But all captains stand clear of a ship in her grave.


And the stories of strong lives that ended in wrecks

Might be likened to lights over derelict decks;

Like the light where, in sight of the streets of the town,

In the mouth of the channel the Wanderer went down;

Keep a watch from the desk as they watch from the deck;

Keep a watch from your home for the light on the wreck.


But the lights on the wrecks since creation began

Have been shining in vain for the vagabond clan.

They will never take warning, they will not beware;

They have for their watch words, ‘What matter?’ “What care?’

They steer without compass, and sail without check,

Till they drift to their grave. ‘neath a light on a wreck.


Henry Lawson


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