Scots of the Riverina

Henry Lawson, one of Australia's finest and best loved bush writers composed this beautiful poem. Set in the Riverina District of New South Wales, it tells the tale of a stubborn old Scot and his wayward son.

The tune is by Melbourne musician Ade Mons borough.

 

The boy cleared out 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 letters. The first and the last he burned

And he scrubbed his name from the bible when the old wife's back was turned.

  

A year went by and another and the fruit went down the line

They heard the boy had enlisted but the old man gave no sign

His name must never be mentioned on the farm near Gundagai,

A Scot of the Riverina with ever the kirk hard by.

  

The boy came home on his final leave and the township's bonfires burned

His mother's arms were round him but the old man's back was turned.

His sisters tried to sway him till the old man raised his hand

A Scot of the Riverina, and hard to understand.

   

The boy was killed in Flanders where the best and bravest died

There were tears in the Graham homestead and grief in Gundagai

And the old man ploughed at daybreak, and the old man ploughed till the mirk

There were farrows of pain in the orchard while the household went to the kirk.

 

The hurricane lamp in the rafters dimly and dimly burned

And the old man died at the table while the old wife's back was turned

Face down with his bare arms folded, he sank with his wild grey hair

Outstretched on the open bible with a name rewritten there.