Works in the Herald 1935

Referring to the frequent floods in East Gippsland and the consequent erosion of the soil, an officer of the Water Commission declares that, if forest destruction continues at its present alarming rate, the complete denudation of the highlands is a mere matter of time.

"They ran the land on Rafferty's rules
   With each man out for himself,
Greed's generation of mostly fools
   Who bartered their race for pelf.
For their thought was all for the cash in hand,
   And none for the future's need;
Since they deemed the land was all their land,
   And gave to their sons scant heed."

If thus it be spoken in future years
   Of our greed and our senseless haste,
When the full grim tale of our folly appears
   Writ plain o'er a land laid waste;
When the floods have taken the last green blade
   And the winds the last rich mould --
Revealing the ruin our hands have made --
   How then shall our memory hold?

For we run our land on Rafferty's rules,
   With little of scheme or plan
Yet, not for a generation of fools,
   For the service of deathless Man
Does earth put forth her fruit and flowers
   And her tall, earth-binding trees
That hoard the treasure of quickening showers
   Thro' the countless centuries.

But we felled the forest and laid earth bare
   To the tmepest and the flood;
For our minds were on the profits there,
   And the lust was in our blood
For sudden riches, cushioned ease
   In our time -- and ours alone;
So we laid the axe to the harboring trees
   And stripped earth to the bone.

Now must we stand by helplessly
   And watch life-giving earth
Go out on the flood to the open sea
   And what was our striving worth?
We have filched long-hoarded treasure here
   To serve the need of a day.
But how shall this work of our hands appear?
   And what shall our son's sons say?

"They ran the land on Rafferty's rules,
   They ravaged the hill and the plain.
Now they are dead and dust, poor fools,
   Where is the ultimate gain?
Where forests flourished the rock grins bare;
   Earth's fruitfulness is gone
Since a generation of thieves dwelt here
   And plundered, and passed on."

Herald, 30 December 1935, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2005