“The Union Buries Its Dead” is a story written by Henry Lawson, who is an Australian writer and poet. This work cemented Lawson’s status as an author who has shaped Australia’s national mythology. “The Union Buries Its Dead” was published in 2014. It takes place in Bourke, is a small town in New South Wales, and narrates the burial of a union laborer, who drowned in a river. The people there, who the narrator calls Bushfolk, have respect for the dead but also want to comfort themselves, which Lawson describes in his trademark dry and sardonic humor.
The story itself is narrated by someone who is unnamed, but may be Lawson himself. He and his party are boating on the Darling River, which is deep enough to drown someone, according to a member of the narrator’s group. A young man who is riding his horse is driving some other horses along the river, and he is told that it is too deep for him to cross safely, and he continues up the river. During the next day, there is a funeral for the young horseman, and that is when religion, unionism, and alcoholism start to conflict.