Scots of the Riverina

This piece of verse was made quite popular in a song by Lee Kernaghan on one of his albums. It was also recorded by Hugh McDonald on his album – “The Lawson Album” , which I highly recommend.

The boy ran away to the city from his home at harvest time
They were Scots of the Riverina, and to run from home was a crime
The old man burned his letter, the first and last he burned
And he scratched his name form the Bible when the old woman’s back was turned

A year went past and another, and the fruit went down the line
They heard the boy had enlisted, but the old man made no sign
His name must never be mentioned on the farm by Gundagai –
They were Scots of the Riverina with ever the kirk hard by

The boy came home on his “final” and the township bonfire burned
His mother’s arms were about him, but the old man’s back was turned
The daughters begged for pardon till the old man raised his hand
A Scot of the Riverina who was hard to understand

The boy was killed in Flanders, where the bravest heroes die
There were tears at the Grahame homestead and grief in Gundagai
But the old man ploughed at daybreak and the old man ploughed till the mirk –
There were furrows of pain in the orchard while his housefolk went to the kirk

The hurricane lamp in the rafters dimly and dimly burned
And the old man died at the table when the old woman’s back was turned
Face down with his bare arms folded he sank with his wild grey hair
Outspread o’er the family Bible and a name re-written there.

Henry Lawson