Shifting Sand by Charles Henry Souter

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Do you see that post a-stickin in the sand?
Just the point of it a-poking thro' the sand?
   Me and Madge put in that fence.
   Yes! We should have had more sense!
We was young, you see, and didn't understand.

Twenty years come next November we began;
There was nothing here but scrub when we began --
   Sold the farm on "Dingo Flat,"
   And put all we had in that!
Into blasted shifting sand and "Take-all pan."

This here paddick--which? Why where you're standing now
(Oh! it was one, tho' you wouldn't think so now!)
   Well, we grubbed it, nice and neat,
   And we gut it in with wheat;
And we didn't reap enough to feed the cow!

In the early spring the sand began to shift ---
In a "Norther" have you ever seen it shift?
   Well, it all went in a night,
   Not a blade was left in sight
When we come to look next morning at the drift!

Round the back there, by them stunted pepper-trees;
Hardly anything will live here but them trees.
   Madge is lying there, asleep,
   With the sand above her, deep:
Deep and loose enough to sink you to the knees!

Many other things are buried on the land,
Things you can't get back from any kind of land,
   Youth and hope, and tears and sweat,
   Wasted work and vain regret,
In the sneaking, creeping, greedy, shifting sand!

First published in The Bulletin, 11 September 1897, and again in the same magazine on 5 April 1933;
and later in
Freedom on the Wallaby: Poems of the Australian People edited by Marjorie Pizer, 1953;
Old Ballads from the Bush edited by Bill Scott, 1987; and
Two Centuries of Australian Poetry edited by Kathrine Bell, 2007.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on September 11, 2011 8:36 AM.

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