Droughts and Floods

Nature often goes to extremes,
And after years of blighting droughts,
As flood descends and lightning gleams
Midst thunder’s roars, as though our thoughts
Were realised. But what of that?

We don’t prepare for what we sought.
Wisdom resolves to store what’s sent
To catch the torrents from the sky,
It is the place of Government
To see we waste not heaven’s supply.

Good Bishop Moorhouse wisely said,
Preserve what falls from overhead,
Canals and rivers, creeks and dams,
And all the catchments we devise,
Are something more than paltry shams,
If we but catch and store supplies.

The late McColl spoke truth and sense,
When he advised a storage course,
And we may say in his defence
‘Tis pity ’twas not put in force.

Nine years of drought should teach us sense
And all the cost would be a myth
If we could say in our defence,
The rain that falls we’ll save forthwith.

Wm Verdon Clayton

Bendigo Advertiser, 27 December 1902, page 2 [image below]



‘Droughts and Floods’ from the Bendigo Advertiser in 1902 [TROVE], invokes the spiritual authority of James Moorhouse, Bishop of Melbourne, to assert the idea that water storage will stave off future pain. The poem’s message—dam or be damned—remains an important element of settler drought culture today.

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