The Christ of the "Never"

Henry Lawson, 1898

      With eyes that seem shrunken to pierce
             To the awful horizons of land,
      Through the haze of hot days, and the fierce
             White heat-waves that flow on the sand;
      Through the Never Land westward and nor'ward,
             Bronzed, bearded and gaunt on the track,
      Quiet-voiced and hard-knuckled, rides forward
             The Christ of the Outer Out-back.

      For the cause that will ne'er be relinquished
             Spite of all the great cynics on earth —
      In the ranks of the bush undistinguished
             By manner or dress — if by birth —
      God's preacher, of churches unheeded —
             God's vineyard, though barren the sod —
      Plain spokesman where spokesman is needed —
             Rough link 'twixt the bushman and God.

      He works where the hearts of all nations
             Are withered in flame from the sky,
      Where the sinners work out their salvations
             In a hell-upon-earth ere they die.
      In the camp or the lonely hut lying
             In a waste that seems out of God's sight,
      He's the doctor — the mate of the dying
             Through the smothering heat of the night.

      By his work in the hells of the shearers,
             Where the drinking is ghastly and grim,
      Where the roughest and worst of his hearers
             Have listened bareheaded to him.
      By his paths through the parched desolation
             Hot rides and the terrible tramps;
      By the hunger, the thirst, the privation
             Of his work in the furthermost camps

      By his worth in the light that shall search men
             And prove — ay! and justify each —
      I place him in front of all churchmen
             Who feel not, who know not — but preach!