The Law of the Land

The Law of the Land poem has been in my possession for a few decades. The author was unknown, although it was thought it had its origins in South Africa. It was powerful then, and even more powerful today.

It is not meant to moralize, but brings a strong message to Australia’, and indeed the world.

We feel it is particularly relevant today, as the Australian government is finally recognizing the plight of farmers and all those involved with the land, and by default, our lives.

As ‘natural disasters’ begin to abound, and temperatures soar, it is understandably difficult to discern whether man’s influence is at the stem.

But whatever the cause, the farmers combating these horrors of fire and flood, should be acknowledged as our national hero’s.


Now this is the Law of the Land, son

      as old and as true as the hills

And the farmer that keeps it may prosper,

      but the farmer that breaks it, it kills

Unlike the Law of Man, son

      this law, it never runs slack,

What you take from the land for your own, son,

      you’ve damn well got to put back.

Now we of the old generation

      took land on the cheap and made good;

We stocked, we burnt and we reaped, son’

      we took whatever we could.

But erosion came creeping slowly,

      then hastened on with a rush’

Our bluegrass went to glory,

      and we don’t relish wiregrass much.

The good old days are gone, son,

      when those slopes were white with lambs,

Now the lambs lie thin and starved, son

      and the silt has choked our dams

Did I say that those days were past, son?

      For me they’re good as gone.

But to you they will come again, son,

      When the job I set you is done

I have paid for this farm and fenced it,

      I have robbed it and now I unmask’

You’ve got to put it back, son

      and yours is the harder task.

Stock all your paddocks wisely

      rotate them all you can’

Block all the loose storm water,

      and spread ’em out like a fan

Tramp all your straw to compost,

      and feed it to the soil;

Contour your lands where they need it

      there’s virtue in sweat and toil.

We don’t really own the land son,

      we hold it and pass away’

The land belongs to the nation,

      till the dawn of Judgement Day

Now the nation holds you worthy

      and you’ll see if you’re straight and just

That to rob the soil you hold son,

      is forsaking a nation’s trust

Don’t ask of your farm a fortune’

      true pride ranks higher than gold’

To farm is a way of living’

      learn it before you grow old

Now this is the Law of the Land, son

      to take out you’ve got to put back

And you’ll find that your life was full son,

when it’s time to shoulder your pack.

Taken from The Stellerlander Newspaper,  South Africa, author unknown,

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