"Sacred to the Memory of
Who Was Found Dead Near This Tree During the Great Drought of '96.
(Don't Cut Down this Tree, for a White Man Lies Beneath It)."
Henry Lawson, 1901
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.