THE GREAT GREY PLAIN

Out West, where the stars are brightest,
   Where the scorching north wind blows.
The bones of the dead gleam whitest,
   And the sun on a desert glows---
Yet within the selfish kingdom
   Where man starves man for gain,
Where white men tramp for existence---
   Wide lies the Great Grey Plain.

No break in its awful horizon,
   No blur in the dazzling haze,
Save where by the bordering timber
   The fierce, white heat-waves blaze,
And out where the tank-heap rises
   Or looms when the long days wane,
Till it seems like a distant mountain
   Low down on the great Grey Plain.

From the camp, while the rich man’s dreaming,
   Come the “traveler” and his mate,
In the ghastly daybreak seeming,
   Like a swagman’s ghost out late;
And the horseman blurs in the distance,
   While still the stars remain,
A low, faint dust-cloud haunting
   His track on the Great Grey Plain.

And all day long from before them
   The mirage smokes away---
The daylight ghost of an ocean
   Creeps close behind all day
With an evil snake-like motion,
   Like the waves of a madmans brain:
Tis a phantom not like water
   Out there on the Great Grey Plain

There’s a run on the Western limit
   Where a man lives like a beast;
And a shanty in the mulga
   That stretches to the East;
And the hopeless men who carry
   Their swags and tramp in pain---
The footman must not tarry
   Out there on the Great Grey Plain.

Out West, where the stars are brightest,
   Where the scorching north wind blows,
And the bones of the dead seem whitest,
   And the sun on a desert glows---
Out back in the hungry distance
   That brave hearts dare in vain---
Where swagmen tramp for existence---
   There lies the Great Grey Plain.

(Henry Lawson)