Henry Lawson

17 June 1867 – 2 September 1922 / Grenfell, New South Wales

The Water

Let others make the songs of love
For our young struggling nation;
But I will sing while e’er I live
The Songs of Irrigation;
For while the white man shall beget
The white man’s son and daughter,
The two most precious things for us
Shall still be wheat and water.

We’ve been drought-ruined in the West—
And ever in my dreaming
I see wide miles of waving crops
And sheets of water gleaming,
On plains where fortune died of thirst
When my brave father sought her,
I see the painted barges pass
Along the winding water.

And now the glorious scheme’s afoot,
Our country to deliver
From drought and death on blazing waste,
By long neglected river.
You’ll see the boodlers of the world
Rush in from every quarter:
They want the land,—the gold-reefed sand,
And now they’ll want the water.

Bright intellects will plan the dykes—
With little gold to gild them—
Bright intellects will plan the dykes,
The people pay to build them;
And when we’ve made our long canals,
And lakes in every quarter,
Then ours would be the “guarantee”—
The Trust would own the water.

They’d hold the bores and aqueducts,
The water-ways and barges,
And we would live, or we would starve
According to their charges;
From all the Edens in the West
They’d bar our sons and daughters—
They’d hold the land, ten leagues or so,
Each side the rippling waters.

But those who fight to hold their own,
The Lord and time delivers;
As we have held our railway lines,
So we shall hold our rivers.
We’ll find the money, as was found
The money spent in slaughter,
To build our dykes and build our dams,
And we shall own the water.
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