Reedy River


 

CLASSIC BUSH VERSE – AUSTRALIAN DREAMING

 

Warren Fahey recites ‘Reedy River’

 

Max Cullen recites and sings his arrangement of ‘Reedy River’ from ‘Dead Men Talking’.

Reedy River

 

HENRY LAWSON

 

This poem has a real pedigree in as much it had a huge effect on the history of Australian theatre. Dick Diamond used its title for his 1950s musical play based on bush life, and bush workers in particular. The poem, set to beautiful music by Chris Kempster, was a highlight of the play.

 

Ten miles down Reedy River
A pool of water lies,
And all the year it mirrors
The changes in the skies,
And in that pool’s broad bosom
Is room for all the stars;
Its bed of sand has drifted
O’er countless rocky bars.

Around the lower edges
There waves a bed of reeds,
Where water rats are hidden,
And where the wild duck breeds;
And grassy slopes rise gently
To ridges long and low,
Where groves of wattle flourish
And native bluebells grow.

Beneath the granite ridges
The eye may just discern
Where Rocky Creek emerges
From deep green banks of fern;
And standing tall between them,
The grassy sheoaks cool
The hard, blue-tinted waters
Before they reach the pool.

Ten miles down Reedy River
One Sunday afternoon,
I rode with Mary Campbell
To that broad bright lagoon;
We left our horses grazing
Till shadows climbed the peak,
And strolled beneath the sheoaks
On the banks of Rocky Creek.

Then home along the river
That night we rode a race,
And the moonlight lent a glory
To Mary Campbell’s face;
And I pleaded for my future
All thro’ that moonlight ride,
Until our weary horses
Drew closer side by side.

Ten miles from Ryan’s crossing
And five below the peak,
I built a little homestead
On the banks of Rocky Creek:
I cleared the land and fenced it
And ploughed the rich red loam,
And my first crop was golden
When I brought Mary home.

Now still down Reedy River
The grassy sheoaks sigh,
And the waterholes still mirror
The pictures in the sky;
And over all for ever
Go sun and moon and stars,
While the golden sand is drifting
Across the rocky bars;

But of the hut I builded
There are no traces now.
And many rains have levelled
The furrows of the plough;
And my bright days are olden,
For the twisted branches wave
And the wattle blossoms golden
On the hill by Mary’s grave.