Grapegrower Steven Barbon, accompanied by Fido
on his sodden property near Griffith yesterday,
believes proposed water cuts will destroy regional Australia.
Picture: Amos Aikman Source: The Australian
In Australia, the driest inhabited continent on earth, we have gone from The Big Dry of the ten to twelve years of drought to 2010 and The Big Wet. Floods again in the Riverina. I believe we have entered the mindscape of John O'Brien's Hanrahan - and the poem - in spite of its humour - provides much food for reflection both in terms of Earth's current ecological crisis but also our own ability to find our place in the purposes of the planet.
Lockhart, NSW - Photo from here
More pictures and
Flood infromation from the ABC available here.
by John O'Brien
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, In accents most forlorn, Outside the church, ere Mass began, One frosty Sunday morn. The congregation stood about, Coat-collars to the ears, And talked of stock, and crops, and drought, As it had done for years. "It's looking crook," said Daniel Croke; "Bedad, it's cruke, me lad, For never since the banks went broke Has seasons been so bad." "It's dry, all right," said young O'Neil, With which astute remark He squatted down upon his heel And chewed a piece of bark. And so around the chorus ran "It's keepin' dry, no doubt." "We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, "Before the year is out." "The crops are done; ye'll have your work To save one bag of grain; From here way out to Back-o'-Bourke They're singin' out for rain. "They're singin' out for rain," he said, "And all the tanks are dry." The congregation scratched its head, And gazed around the sky. "There won't be grass, in any case, Enough to feed an ass; There's not a blade on Casey's place As I came down to Mass." "If rain don't come this month," said Dan, And cleared his throat to speak- "We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, "If rain don't come this week." A heavy silence seemed to steal On all at this remark; And each man squatted on his heel, And chewed a piece of bark. "We want an inch of rain, we do," O'Neil observed at last; But Croke "maintained" we wanted two To put the danger past. "If we don't get three inches, man, Or four to break this drought, We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, "Before the year is out." In God's good time down came the rain; And all the afternoon On iron roof and window-pane It drummed a homely tune. And through the night it pattered still, And lightsome, gladsome elves On dripping spout and window-sill Kept talking to themselves. It pelted, pelted all day long, A-singing at its work, Till every heart took up the song Way out to Back-o'-Bourke. And every creek a banker ran, And dams filled overtop; "We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, "If this rain doesn't stop." And stop it did, in God's good time; And spring came in to fold A mantle o'er the hills sublime Of green and pink and gold. And days went by on dancing feet, With harvest-hopes immense, And laughing eyes beheld the wheat Nid-nodding o'er the fence. And, oh, the smiles on every face, As happy lad and lass Through grass knee-deep on Casey's place Went riding down to Mass. While round the church in clothes genteel Discoursed the men of mark, And each man squatted on his heel, And chewed his piece of bark. "There'll be bush-fires for sure, me man, There will, without a doubt; We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, "Before the year is out."
Around the Boree Log and Other Verses, 1921
This has been republished from the free e-book