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Sacred to the Memory of “Unknown”

Henry Lawson 1867 (Grenfell) – 1922 (Sydney)

Oh, the wild black swans fly westward still,
While the sun goes down in glory—
And away o’er lonely plain and hill
Still runs the same old story:
The sheoaks sigh it all day long—
It is safe in the Big Scrub’s keeping—
’Tis the butcher-birds’ and the bell-birds’ song
In the gum where ‘Unknown’ lies sleeping—
(It is heard in the chat of the soldier-birds
O’er the grave where ‘Unknown’ lies sleeping).
Ah! the Bushmen knew not his name or land,
Or the shame that had sent him here—
But the Bushmen knew by the dead man’s hand
That his past life lay not near.
The law of the land might have watched for him,
Or a sweetheart, wife, or mother;
But they bared their heads, and their eyes were dim,
For he might have been a brother!
(Ah! the death he died brought him near to them,
For he might have been a brother.)

Oh, the wild black swans to the westward fade,
And the sunset burns to ashes,
And three times bright on an eastern range
The light of a big star flashes,
Like a signal sent to a distant strand
Where a dead man’s love sits weeping.
And the night comes grand to the Great Lone Land
O’er the grave where ‘Unknown’ lies sleeping,
And the big white stars in their clusters blaze
O’er the Bush where ‘Unknown’ lies sleeping.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Henry Lawson

Henry Lawson 17 June 1867 - 2 September 1922 was an Australian writer and poet Along with his contemporary Banjo Paterson Lawson is among the best-known Australian poets and fiction writers of the colonial period more…

All Henry Lawson poems | Henry Lawson Books

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    "Sacred to the Memory of “Unknown”" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 23 Jan. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/17903/sacred-to-the-memory-of-“unknown”>.

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