Henry Lawson

Here you will find the Long Poem Ballad Of The Drover of poet Henry Lawson

Ballad Of The Drover

Across the stony ridges, 
Across the rolling plain, 
Young Harry Dale, the drover, 
Comes riding home again. 
And well his stock-horse bears him, 
And light of heart is he, 
And stoutly his old pack-horse 
Is trotting by his knee. 

Up Queensland way with cattle 
He travelled regions vast; 
And many months have vanished 
Since home-folk saw him last. 
He hums a song of someone 
He hopes to marry soon; 
And hobble-chains and camp-ware 
Keep jingling to the tune. 

Beyond the hazy dado 
Against the lower skies 
And yon blue line of ranges 
The homestead station lies. 
And thitherward the drover 
Jogs through the lazy noon, 
While hobble-chains and camp-ware 
Are jingling to a tune. 

An hour has filled the heavens 
With storm-clouds inky black; 
At times the lightning trickles 
Around the drover's track; 
But Harry pushes onward, 
His horses' strength he tries, 
In hope to reach the river 
Before the flood shall rise. 

The thunder from above him 
Goes rolling o'er the plain; 
And down on thirsty pastures 
In torrents falls the rain. 
And every creek and gully 
Sends forth its little flood, 
Till the river runs a banker, 
All stained with yellow mud. 

Now Harry speaks to Rover, 
The best dog on the plains, 
And to his hardy horses, 
And strokes their shaggy manes; 
`We've breasted bigger rivers 
When floods were at their height 
Nor shall this gutter stop us 
From getting home to-night!' 

The thunder growls a warning, 
The ghastly lightnings gleam, 
As the drover turns his horses 
To swim the fatal stream. 
But, oh! the flood runs stronger 
Than e'er it ran before; 
The saddle-horse is failing, 
And only half-way o'er! 

When flashes next the lightning, 
The flood's grey breast is blank, 
And a cattle dog and pack-horse 
Are struggling up the bank. 
But in the lonely homestead 
The girl will wait in vain - 
He'll never pass the stations 
In charge of stock again. 

The faithful dog a moment 
Sits panting on the bank, 
And then swims through the current 
To where his master sank. 
And round and round in circles 
He fights with failing strength, 
Till, borne down by the waters, 
The old dog sinks at length. 

Across the flooded lowlands 
And slopes of sodden loam 
The pack-horse struggles onward, 
To take dumb tidings home. 
And mud-stained, wet, and weary, 
Through ranges dark goes he; 
While hobble-chains and tinware 
Are sounding eerily. 

The floods are in the ocean, 
The stream is clear again, 
And now a verdant carpet 
Is stretched across the plain. 
But someone's eyes are saddened, 
And someone's heart still bleeds 
In sorrow for the drover 
Who sleeps among the reeds.