The Camp Within the West by Roderic Quinn

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O did you see a troop go by    
Way-weary and oppressed,    
Dead kisses on the drooping lip    
And a dead heart in the breast?    
Yea, I have seen them one by one
Way-weary and oppressed,   
And when I asked them, "Whither speed?"
They answered, "To the West!"

And were they pale as pale could be ---   
Death-pale with haunted eyes,
And did you see the hot white dust   
Range round their feet and rise?   
O, they were pale as pale could be,   
And pale as an embered leaf;   
The hot white dust had risen, but
They laid it with their grief.
Did no one say the way is long,   
And crave a little rest?   
O no, they said, "The night is nigh,   
Our camp is in the West!"

And did pain pierce their feet, as though   
The way with thorns were set,   
And were they visited by strange   
Dark angels of regret?   
Oh yes, and some were mute as death,
Though shot by many a dart,   
With them the salt of inward tears   
Went stinging through the heart. 
And how are these wayfarers called,   
And whither do they wend?
The Weary-Hearted --- and their road   
At sunset hath an end.
Shed tears for them ... Nay, nay, no tears
They yearn for endless rest;   
Perhaps large stars will burn above
Their camp within the West.
First published in The Bulletin, 15 October 1898 and in the same magazine on 29 December 1900 and 29 January 1930;
and later in
The Lone Hand, 1 April 1908;
The Golden Treasury of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1909;
The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse edited by Walter Murdoch, 1918;
An Australasian Anthology: Australian and New Zealand Poems edited by Percival Serle, R.H. Croll and Frank Wilmot, 1927;
Australian Bush Songs and Ballads edited by Will Lawson, 1944;
A Girdle of Song: By Poets of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Eire, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa edited by Edith M. Fry, 1944; and
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on October 15, 2011 7:46 AM.

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