Results tagged “George Essex Evans”

In Time of Drought by George Essex Evans

Drought and ruin hold the land:
   Round our homes their hosts have met;
On our hearths their thrones are builded;
   On our hearts their seals are set,
But with steadfast heart and hand
   Witness of our race we bear
That hath never bowed its manhood
   To the Sceptre of Despair.

Lo, within the souls of men
   Bitterness has written deep,
Want is with them in their labour,
   Care is with them in their sleep.
O, the gallant hearts and true
   Toiling on without a sign!
O the weary woman faces
   Fighting in the battle-line!

And my heart grows hot within
   For the scattered ranks and pres't,
For the legions of the army
   That is fighting in the West --
For the star that still endures
   Through the blackness of the night,
For the will that does not falter,
   And the splendour of the fight.

'Twas not ease and smooth-won gain
   Made the mighty men of old.
Iron-seared, the souls of Nations
   Learnt to suffer and to hold,
In the surfeit of abundance
   Lurks the canker of decay :
From the discipline of hardship
   Grows the power to mould and sway.


With threads of pain and bitterness
   God Weaves upon the loom of Fate:
In furnace-fires of suffering
   He makes a nation great.

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 13 September 1902;
and later in
The Queenslander, 4 October 1902.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also 

Eland's River by George Essex Evans

4th to 16th August, 1900.

This engagement has been described by English officers as the most gallant fight of the whole war, and has been specially recommended by Conan Doyle as the finest subject that an Australian balladist could wish for.

It was on the fourth of August, as five hundred of us lay
In the camp at Eland's River, came a shell from De La Rey ---
         We were dreaming of home faces,
         Of the old familiar places,
And the gum-trees and the sunny plains five thousand miles away ---
         But the challenge woke and found us
         With four thousand rifles round us;
And Death stood laughing at us at the breaking of the day.

Hell belched upon our borders, and the battle had begun.
Our Maxims jammed: We faced them with one muzzle-loading gun.
         East, south, and west, and nor'ward
         Their shells came screaming forward    
As we threw the sconces round us in the first light of the sun.
         The thin air shook with thunder    
         As they raked us fore and under,
And the cordon closed around us, and they held us --- eight to one.

We got the Maxims going, and the field-gun into place   
(She stilled the growling of a Krupp upon our southern face);
         Round the crimson ring of battle
         Swiftly ran the deadly rattle
As our rifles searched their fore-lines with a desperate menace;
         Who would wish himself away
         Fighting in our ranks that day
For the glory of Australia and the honour of the race?

But our horse-lines soon were shambles, and our cattle lying dead
(When twelve guns rake two acres there is little room to tread),
         All day long we heard the drumming
         Of the Mauser bullets humming,
And at night their guns, day-sighted, rained fierce havoc overhead.
         Twelve long days and nights together,
         Through the cold and bitter weather,  
We lay grim behind the sconces, and returned them lead for lead.  

They called us to surrender, and they let their cannon lag;
They offered us our freedom for the striking of the flag ---
         Army stores were there in mounds,
         Worth a hundred thousand pounds,
And we lay battered round them behind trench and sconce and crag.
         But we sent the answer in,
         They could take what they could win ---
We hadn't come five thousand miles to fly the coward's rag.  

We saw the guns of Carrington come on and fall away;
We saw the ranks of Kitchener across the kopje grey ---
         For the sun was shining then
         Upon twenty thousand men ---
And we laughed, because we knew, in spite of hell-fire and delay,
         On Australia's page for ever
         We had written Eland's River ---
We had written it for ever and a day!

First published
in The Argus, 3 August 1901;
and later in
The Brisbane Courier, 10 August 1901;
The Queenslander, 17 August 1901;
The Secret Key and Other Verses by George Essex Evans, 1906;
The Collected Verse of G. Essex Evans by George Essex Evans, 1928; and
Fighting Words: Australian War Writing edited by Carl Harrison-Ford, 1986.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also

A Lay of the North by George Essex Evans

Where the blue M'Kinlay Mountains stretch their wide majestic girth,   
Locking in their bosoms treasures time and progress shall unearth!
Far within their rocky fastness in a ravine wild and steep,
Breathing softly as an infant, lay a miner fast asleep.
He had travelled many a district searching for the precious ore.
Many a hardship, many a failure, had he braved and borne before;   
Now the fickle Goddess Fortune frowned no more upon her slave.
But, with fair and smiling features, what he long had sought forgave.
There within his grasp lay riches, wealth beyond his utmost hope;
There she placed no stern obstructions for his energy to cope;
In a few days he could gather what would bring him wealth and ease.
Then good-bye to Northern Queensland--hey for home across the seas!
So he slept: and in his dreaming he was home again once more.
Home again in Merry England, standing at his father's door.   
Now they cluster all around him--old friends grasp him by the hand,
Then the teardrops from his eyelids trickled fast upon the sand

. . . . . . .

Where the blue Mackinlay Mountains stand like sentinels alway,   
In a gorge within their fastness, still the murdered miner lay;   
In the search for wealth and treasure, after toilings, after strife.  
He had lost a gem far purer -- lost the precious stone of life.
Still he lay -- his fixed eyes staring upwards at the starry skies;
Blood for blood --- his blood appealing for the vengeance Heaven denies;
All around him stretch the mountains, and o'er head the azure height,
And for shroud kind Nature wrapped him in the mantle of the night.
At that home in Merry England, at the porch beside the door,
They are waiting, they are watching, but they ne'er will see him more;
Hope is buoyant, hope is stronger than the marshalled host of fears,
But hope deferred is agony and bitterness and tears.

First published in The Queenslander, 25 July 1885

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also

The Girls We Loved -- But Didn't Marry! by George Essex Evans

Oh! golden are the dreams of youth
   By ardent fancy brightly painted;
But broken dreams they prove, forsooth,
   As we with life grow more acquainted.
And thou, staid Benedict and meek,
   Who now at home by night must tarry,
Upon one theme thou durst not speak--
   "The girls we loved --- but didn't many."

O long array of peerless forms!
   O faultless faces, bold or tender!
O days of ardour, sighs in storms,   
   And unconditional surrender!
Surely their eyes were every hue;
   Their thrilling glances none could parry;
O fools! -- we loved, and thought them true ---
   The girls we loved --- but didn't marry.

Amelia swore, with brimming eyes,
   To love for ever and for ever;
And Agnes murmured thro' her sighs
   That Death alone our hearts could sever.
Where is the faithless Fanny gone?
   And where the captivating Carry!   
O bane deceivers --- false --- forsworn!
   The girls we loved --- but didn't marry.

How oft Georgina gave the hand
   A lingering pressure ere we parted!   
Sweet were the moments when we fanned
   False Bess, who left us broken-hearted.
Georgina now is Mrs. Pott,
   And Bess has wedded old Glengarry.
Alas! They found out what was what ---
   Those girls we loved --- but didn't marry.

Ah well! The plaited braid of hair,
   The faded scrawl on tinted paper,
The trinkets that we kept with care,
   The tiny glove, once white and taper.
Alas! 'tis all we have to show
   Romantic notions will miscarry.
They loved and left us --- Let them go ---
   The girls we loved -- but didn't marry!   

Come, fill your glasses to the brim,
   And thank the stars that shine above us
We could not gratify each whim,
   Nor wed with all who swore to love us.   
True freedom dies with single bliss,
   And wedlock's chains are hard to carry.
One toast I pledge you --- Drink to this:
   The girls we loved --- but didn't marry!

First published in The Queenslander, 9 June 1888;
and later in
The Boomerang, 2 April 1892.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

War by George Essex Evans

Imperious Goddess! proud Bellona! stay,
So I may strive to read thy secret heart;
Tear from thy cruel face the mask away;
Come --- let men see thee as thou really art.
That lofty air, that brave yet scornful smile,
But hides the pitiless stern features 'neath
The mask by which thou dost men's hearts beguile
To risk their lives to win thy laurel-wreath.
Thy gorgeous pageantry, thy nodding plumes,
The martial music's glorious stirring swell,
Are but the shrouds for twice a thousand tombs ---
For twice a thousand but Death's solemn knell.
Two hostile hosts ablaze with glittering steel;
The thunder of artillery; the shock
Of charging squadrons; the proud bugle-peal ---
Clear, loud, yet silvery, as tho' to mock
Some dying soldier's agonised appeal
To Heaven for mercy; then the tiny square,
Lost in the dense gray haze of battle-cloud
While charging hordes press round it everywhere,
Still sternly stubborn--and us sternly proud,
Defiant, and immovable--and like the rock
O'er which old Ocean's mountain billows tear,
Break, burst in thunder, yet can not
Move from its native fastnesses one jot.
And men --- with quickened senses as they hear
The bugle-call, the clash as steel meets steel,   
And see their native banner's crest uprear
High o'er them--then can only feel,
As the battalions of the foe appear
In columned grandeur nearer and more near.
Their pulses throb, and the warm life-blood glow,
And care for nought save victory, and the foe.
Thus ever, Goddess! when with naked sword
Thou standest crying "Glory --- onward go!"   
Men have been ready to obey thy word,
Nor count the odds, nor heed that blood must flow.
And so it is, has been, will be thy plan
So long as earth is earth and man is man.

That is one side the picture; but I would ---
If so be that I can a landscape draw --
Depict both light and shade, as artist should,
And paint the shades of awful glorious war.
I see the moonlight on the battle-field
When all is silent and the fight is o'er.
And there Death's harvest! Tis a mighty yield;
Yet hath he reaped such yields full oft before.
And there they lie --- not singly, but in heaps;
In ghastly heaps; the dying with the dead
All intermingled--while the cold wind sweeps
Across and moans their requiem overhead.
And this is War! Great, glorious, awful War! --
Whose praises poets still are wont to sing ---
With all its pomp, and majesty, and awe!   
Yet, to my mind, it seems a gruesome thing
To think that for each wretch maimed, wounded, torn
By shot, and left stark dead upon the plain
Some loving hearts (tho' far away) must mourn --
Must weep in bitterness --= must weep in vain. "
He dies with honour who doth fall in war,"
They say, and count the heroes of the strife.
Can this the loved one to his home restore,
Or fill his nostrils with the breath of life?
A warrior's grave they deck with laurel leaf,
And honour him whose honour knew no stain,
But to his nearest (in their hopeless grief)
The laurel fades-the cypress will remain.
Imperious Goddess! when it is thy plan   
With martial majesty to set the task
For man to battle with his brother man,
Show each thy countenance - without the mask.

First published in The Queenslander, 9 May 1885

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

The Spirit of Unrest by George Essex Evans

Speak! Heart of man! Say! hast thou never felt?
Has never o'er thy calm existence stealt
   The Spirit of Unrest?
Say! hast than never felt thyself to be
The helpless tool --- th' unwilling agency ---
   Of some unbidden guest?
The fiend which haunted Saul is with me now,
His temptings greet my ear, my throbbing brow
   Reels with fine strain.
Vainly I turn, as vainly strive to flee;
His muttered counsels follow after me.
   And echo o'er again,
Speak! Hast thou ever felt that life for thee
Had nought of purpose --- nought of purity!
   One hopeless dreary blank!
Say, hast thou felt like this, yet feared to die
--- Yes --- feared to solve life's solemn mystery,
   And, shuddering, backwards shrank?
Hast thou been driven forth in mad despair
And forced to roam, whither ye knew not where,
   Nor cared indeed to know?
Say, have the tones of all you hold most dear
Meaningless fallen on your leaden ear
   And failed to soothe your woe?
Oh speak! Reply! A tortured brother's cry
Of agony demands thy sympathy.
   From me for e'er hath gone
God's fairest gift --- affection's natural springs ---
And now I look on my life's dearest things
   Indifferent or with scorn.
Oh dreaded demon! Well I know thy power
To thus assail us. In our weakest hour
   An angel's form assume,
And in the borrowed garments of a god
To lead us from the path the just have trod
   And lure us to our doom.
Oh! God Omniscient, from my tortured soul
This awful load of misery unroll!
   Remove! defeat! this fiend,
And cast him howling loud with baffled yell
Back from this hell --- my heart --- to that great hell
   From which he first was weaned.
Oh, God Omniscient, let there never be
A barrier 'twixt thy sinful child and thee!
   Bring Heaven more near,
Lift Earth t'wards Heaven --- bring Heaven closer Earth,
And teach us children of a sinful birth
   To trust and love and fear.

First published in The Queenslander, 14 April 1883 and in The Brisbane Courier on the same day.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

The World's Heroes by George Essex Evans

We see the world's great heroes stand
   With steadfast hearts and shining shields;
Their fame is wafted o'er the land ---
   The victors of a thousand fields.

The victors of a thousand fields
   Where moral courage won the day;
No dimness mars those shining shields ---
   Their fame shall never pass away.

But had I some great poet's lyre   
   To stir the inmost souls of men
With passion's strength, with notes of fire,
   And write high thoughts with poet's pen,

I'd sing not of those names of pride
   Whose fame has o'er the welkin rung,
But of the millions who have died
   Unknown, unnoticed, and unsung.

All the world's heroes! Can we know?
   Those countless throngs who move along
Firm in the path they have to go;
   Who choose the right and spurn the wrong?   

Each noble thought, unselfish deed,
   Can never fade --- can never die;
The world may pass on without heed,   
   But angels write it down on high;

'Tis writ on scrolls of fire above,
   And holy angels gently say:
"The record of each deed of love   
   Can never fade or pass away."

The world rolls on and time declines
   With every day, with every hour;
Truth like a star eternal shines
   And goodness blossoms as a flower.

Yet, though unnoticed and unknown
   Some humble hero sinks to die,
His record stands in heaven alone,
   And heavenly records cannot lie.

First published in The Queenslander, 6 March 1886

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

The Men Upon the Land by George Essex Evans

   The City folk, they whirl about
      In cab, and tram, and train.
   They grumble at the days of drought,
      They grumble at the rain.
   To comfort wed, and easy ways,
      They fear to soil a hand;
But the men who build the Nation are the men upon the land.

   The City calls, the streets are gay,
      Its pleasures well supplied,
   So of its life-blood every day
      It robs the country side.
   To banks, and shops, and offices,
      Men throng, an eager band:
But the hearts that build the Nation are the men upon the land.

   How shall we make Australia great
      And strong when danger calls
   When half the people of the State
      Are crammed in city walls?
   And the wide heritage we hold
      Lies empty and unmanned,
And the strength that makes a nation is not rooted in the land.

   Break off! Strike out! O -- Come away!
      Be master of your lie!
   A home for every heart to-day
      That fears not toil or strife!
   There's music in the axe's ring
      Swung by a strong right hand,
And the men who make the Nation are the men upon the land.

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 2 February 1906;
and later in
The Cairns Post, 6 November 1928.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Greater Britain by George Essex Evans

   Another England's growing in a far-off sunny land,
   Which with the mother country in union firm shall stand,
   Its people with her people, the prosperous and free,
   Shall lend their voice to swell the shout of glorious liberty.
Advance! advance! Australia! Great Empress of the South
Advance! until thy progress shall be told from every mouth.
Prosperity shall bless thy land, and rivalries shall cease,
When all thy states amalgamate in unity and peace.

   The bonds that bind us to the land we love to call our home
   Shall firmer prove than e'en the rocks which break the ocean's foam.
   The blood which courses through our veins so joyously, I ween,
   Is thicker than the water of the sea which rolls between.
Advance, advance, Australia, &c.

   Then, while we drain one bumper more, oh let us not forget
   The dear old land which gave us birth--the mother country yet.
   And let us toast upstanding, like loyal subjects true,
   The Queen, who sways the sceptre o'er the old land and the new.
Advance, advance, Australia, &c.

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 20 January 1883;
and in The Queenslander on the same day.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

The Lion's Whelps by George Essex Evans

                     There is scarlet on his forehead,
                     There are scars across his face
'Tis the bloody dew of battle dripping down, dripping down,
                     But the war-heart of the Lion
                     Turns to iron in its place
When he halts to face disaster, when he turns to meet disgrace,
Stung and keen and mettled with the life-blood of his own
                     Let the hunters 'ware who flout him  
                     When he calls his whelps about him
When he sets the goal before him and he settles to the pace.

                     Tricked and wounded! Are we beaten
                     Though they hold our strength at play?
Ww have faced these things aforetimes, long ago, long ago.
                     From sunlit Sydney Harbour
                     And ten thousand, miles away,  
From the far Canadian forests to the Sounds of Milford Bay,
They have answered, they have answered, and we know the answer now.
                     From the Britains such as these
                     Strewn across the world-wide seas
Comes the rally and the bugle-note that makes us one to-day.

                     Beaten! Let them come against us.
                     We can meet them one and all.
We have faced the World aforetimes, not in vain, not in vain.
                     Twice ten thousand hearths be widowed
                     Twice ten thousand hearts may fall.  
But a million-voices answer: "We are ready for the call
And the sword we draw for Justice shall not see its sheath again,
                     Nor our cannon cease to thunder  
                     Till we break their strength asunder,
And the Lion's whelps are round him and the Old Flag over all."

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 20 December 1899;
and later in
The Queenslander, 23 December, 1899;
The North Queensand Register, 8 January 1900;
The Secret Key and Other Verses by George Essex Evans, 1906; and
The Central Queensland Herald, 23 January 1941.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

The Singer by George Essex Evans

She sang of Hope, of happy days,
   Of glorious spring and summer's prime;
Softer than old-time minstrels' lays
   Uprose that melody sublime.

She sang of Faith, of firm resolve,
   Of strong unwavering constancy;
To trust and live till death should solve
   The problem of life's mystery.

She sang of Death -- that spectre grim --
   Of pain, and age, and faltering gait;
Of eyes once bright, now faint and dim;
   Of hearths and homes made desolate.

She sang of Love; and as she sang
   Her colour came and went again;
No words can tell how clearly rang
   The cadence of that sweet refrain.

She sang no more; for on that night
   There came a shadow and a gloom
Which hid the singer from our sight,
   And hung around a darkened room.

And now she sings where angels sing
   A nobler song in spheres above;
Where Death no more can enter in,
   And Hope and Faith are lost in Love.

But from the echoes of the past
   Her voice comes ringing back again,
To tell the hearts who knew her last
   That Hope and Faith and Love remain.

First published in The Queenslander, 23 October 1886

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

The Women of the West by George Essex Evans

They left the vine-wreathed cottage and the mansion on the hill,
The houses in the busy streets where life is never still,
The pleasures of the city, and the friends they cherished best:
For love they faced the wilderness-the Women of the West.

The roar, and rush, and fever of the city died away,
And the old-time joys and faces-they were gone for many a day;
In their place the lurching coach-wheel, or the creaking bullock chains,
O'er the everlasting sameness of the never-ending plains.

In the slab-built, zinc-roofed homestead of some lately-taken run,
In the tent beside the bankment of a railway just begun,
In the huts on new selections-in the camps of man's unrest,
On the frontiers of the Nation, live the Women of the West.

The red sun robs their beauty, and, in weariness and pain,
The slow years steal the nameless grace that never comes again;
And there are hours men cannot soothe, and words men cannot say
The nearest woman's face may be a hundred miles away.

The wide Bush holds the secrets of their longings and desires,
When the white stars in reverence light their holy altar-fires,
And silence, like the touch of God, sinks deep into the breast--
Perchance He hears and understands the Women of the West.

For them no trumpet sounds the call, no poet plies his arts--  
They only hear the beating of their gallant, loving hearts.
But they have sung with silent lives the song all songs above
The holiness of sacrifice, the dignity of love.

Well have we held our fathers' creed. No call has passed us by.
We faced and fought the wilderness, we sent our sons to die.
And we have hearts to do and dare, and yet o'er all the rest
The hearts that made the Nation were the Women of the West.  

First published
in The Argus, 7 September 1901;
and later in
The Queenslander, 21 September 1901;
The Brisbane Courier, 14 September 1901;
The North Queensland Register, 23 September 1901;
The Secret Key and Other Verses by George Essex Evans, 1906;
An Anthology of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1907;
School Paper for Classes V and VI, July 1909;
The Golden Treasury of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1909;
The School Paper for Grades VII and VIII, May 1922;
The Daily Mail, 10 August 1924;
A Book of Queensland Verse edited by J.J. Stable, and A.E.M. Kirwood, 1924;
Selections from the Australian Poets edited by Bertram Stevens, 1925;
The School Paper: Grades VII and VIII, December 1927;
The Victorian Reading-Books: Eighth Book, 1928;
The Queenslander, 5 October 1938;
The Victorian Reading-Books: Eighth Book, 1940;
Australian Bush Songs and Ballads edited by Will Lawson, 1944;
Favourite Australian Poems edited by Ian Mudie, 1963;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964;
Along the Western Road: Bush Stories and Ballads, 1981;
This Australia, Spring 1982;
A Treasury of Colonial Poetry, 1982;
The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse compiled by Beatrice Davis, 1984;
My Country: Australian Poetry and Short Stories, Two Hundred Years edited by Leonie Kramer, 1985;
A Treasury of Bush Verse edited by G. A. Wilkes, 1991;
The Penguin Book of 19th Century Australian Literature edited by Michael Ackland, 1993;
The Romance of the Stockman: The Lore, Legend and Literature of Australia's Outback Heroes, 1993;
The Penguin Book of Australian Ballads edited by Elizabeth Webby and Philip Butterss, 1993;
The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse compiled by Beatrice Davis, 1996;
Classic Australian Verse edited by Maggie Pinkney, 2001;
Our Country: Classic Australian Poetry: From the Colonial Ballads to Paterson & Lawson edited by Michael Cook, 2004; and
The Book of Australian Popular Rhymed Verse: A Classic Collection of Entertaining and Recitable Poems and Verse: From Henry Lawson to Barry Humphries edited by Jim Haynes, 2008.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Queen of the North by George Essex Evans

Stand forth, O Daughter of the Sun,   
   Of all thy kin the fairest one,   
It is thine hour of Jubilee.  
   Behold, the work our hands have done
Our hearts now offer unto thee.
   Thy children call thee; O come forth,
         Queen of the North!  

Brow-bound with pearls and burnished gold
   The East hath Queens of royal mould,
Sultanas, peerless in their pride,
   Who rule wide realms of wealth untold,
But they wax wan and weary-eyed:
   Thine eyes, O Northern Queen, are bright
         With morning light.

Fear not thy Youth: it is thy crown --
   The careless years before Renown
Shall load its tines with jewelled deeds
   And press thy golden circlet down
With vaster toils and greater needs.
   Fear not thy Youth: its splendid power
         Awaits the hour.  

Stand forth, O Daughter of the Sun,
   Whose fires through all thine arteries run,
Whose kiss hath touched thy gleaming hair --
   Come like a goddess, Radiant One,  
Reign in our hearts who crown thee there,
   With laughter like thy seas, and eyes
         Blue as thy skies.  

Ah, not in vain, O Pioneers,
   The toil that breaks, the grief that sears,
The hands that forced back Nature's bars
   To prove the blood of ancient years
And make a home 'neath alien stars!
   O Victors over stress and pain
         'Twas not in vain !  

Jungle and plain and pathless wood --
   Depths of primeval solitude --
Gaunt wilderness and mountain stern --
   Their secrets lay all unsubdued.
Life was the price: who dared might learn.
   Ye read them all, Bold Pioneers,
         In fifty years.  

O True Romance, whose splendour gleams
   Across the shadowy realm of dreams,
Whose starry wings can touch with light
   The dull grey paths, the common themes:  
Hast thou not thrilled with sovereign might
   Our story, until Duty's name
      Is one with Fame!  

Queen of the North, thy heroes sleep
   On sun-burnt plain and rocky steep.
Their work is done: their high emprise
   Hath crowned thee, and the great stars keep
The secrets of their histories.
   We reap the harvest they have sown
         Who died unknown.

The seed they sowed with weary hands
   Now bursts in bloom through all thy lands;  
Dark hills their glitt'ring secrets yield;  
   And for the camps of wand'ring bands --
The snowy flock, the fertile field.  
   Back, ever back, new conquests press  
         The wilderness.  

Below thy coast line's rugged height
   Wide caneflelds glisten in the light,  
And towns arise on hill and lea,
   And one fair city where the bright
Broad winding river sweeps to sea.
   Ah! could the hearts that cleared the way
         Be here to-day!  

A handful: yet they took their stand
   Lost in the silence of the land.
They went their lonely ways unknown
   And left their bones upon the sand.  
E'en though we call this land our own
   'Tis but a handful holds it still
         For good or ill.  

What though thy sons be strong and tall,
   Fearless of mood at danger's call;
And these, thy daughters, fair of face,
   With hearts to dare whate'er befall --
Tall goddesses and queens of grace --
   Fill up thy frontiers: man the gate
         Before too late!  

Sit thou no more inert of fame,
   But let the wide world hear thy name.
See where thy realms spread line on line --
   Thy empty realms that cry in shame
For hands to make them doubly thine!
   Fill up thy frontiers: man the gate
         Before too late!    

Prepare, ere falls the hour of Fate
   When death-shells rain their iron hate,
And all in vain thy blood is poured --
   For dark aslant the Northern Gate
I see the Shadow of the Sword:
   I hear the storm-clouds break in wrath --
         Queen of the North!

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 7 August 1909;
and later in
The Times (London), 7 August 1909;
The Queenslander, 14 August 1909; and
Queen of the North: A Jubilee Ode by George Essex Evans, 1909.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Three Years Ago by George Essex Evans

Not many years have passed away
   Since last I saw that gentle face;
         Not many years!
To those whose hearts are light and gay
   The time of such a little space
        Swift disappears.
But those few years have been to me
A weary blank eternity.

Three years ago! I knew you then,
   You were the fairest of the fair
         Three years ago!
Your beauty stirred the hearts of men;
   They said none could with your's compare.
         I loved you so,
I felt with pride my bosom swell
To hear her praised I loved so well.

Where beauties grew like comely flowers,
   Your stately grace outshone them all,
         Like some sweet rose
Which from the sheltering leafy bowers
   Has climbed the garden wall,
         And lovelier grows;
Blooms Queen amongst the roses there,
Sweet like her sisters, but more fair.

You thought it was a boyish dream
   That future years would drive away;
         Three years have past.
That years like centuries can seem,
   That weeks seem years, an hour a day,
         I know at last;
But still my "boyish dream" remains,
And in my heart thine image reigns.

"Come what come may!" I know that now
   For ever thou art lost to me,
         In three short years.
To Fate's relentless law I bow.
   And wish all happiness to thee,
         Till death appears
With lightning stride or footstep slow;
I love you as "Three Years Ago."

First published
in The Queenslander, 12 July 1884

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

"Love's Young Dream" by George Essex Evans

There is no love like "love's young dream,"
   The purest first, and best;
No other love so sweet can seem --
   To strangely stir the breast
When Cupid's dart first strikes the heart,
And we awake with sudden start
   To find the boy our guest.

Deep in the chambers of the soul
   This buried treasure lies,
Our spirits brook its sweet control,
   Its influence never dies;
         And in the strife
         Of after life
   Its memory strength supplies.

For many a worn storm-beaten man
   Teased on Life's troubled sea,
Who strives to do the best he can,
   Yet bows to destiny,
Hath, graven on his heart of hearts,
An image which fresh hope imparts,
         Cheering his way
         From day to day;
The influence of that love, far from the loved one's sight,
Shall like a guardian-angel guide his steps aright.

Oh! scoff not, then, at "love's young dream,"
   Though love may unrequited be;
For to have loved has changed a stream
   Of meanness to nobility.
You may have done so at a cost
   Which grieves you. --- Hear the poet's call!
"'Tis better to have loved and lost,
   Than never to have loved at all."

First published in The Queenslander, 24 May 1884;
and later in
The Queanbeyan Age, 24 October 1884.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Ode on the Australian Centennary by George Essex Evans

      Girt with the wreathing mists
         And shadows of the night,
      Dark-robed, Australia lay
         And waited for the light;
And heard the night wind whisper soft and clear,
"Land of the Southern Cross, the Dawn is near!
      The Dawn is near!"

      Soft in the Eastern skies,
         Flushing the summer sea,
      She saw her morning rise --
         The morn of Liberty.
Then sang the wind across the ocean's foam,
"Land of the Southern Cross, the Dawn has come,
      The Dawn has come!"

      Blest with God's grace divine,
         Queen of the Southern Sea!
      Bright shall thy glory shine,
         Great shall thy future be.
Our hope, our faith, our love, on Him we cast.
"Land of the Southern Cross, the Dawn is past,
      The Dawn is past!"

      Past with its quivering rays ---
         Forecasts of things to be!
      But to the riper days
         Of larger Liberty!
Then sing, ye summer seas that guard our home:   
"Behold! The Dawn is past! The Day has come,   
      The Day has come!"  

First published in The Queenslander, 7 April 1888

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Australian Poets #11 - George Essex Evans


George Essex Evans (1863-1909)

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

A Grave by the Sea by George Essex Evans

No white cloud sails the lonely sky,
Thro' the gaunt trees no breezes sigh,
   Thro' the lush grass no fall of feet;
No song of bird in all the land,
   But, floating faint and dreamily,
The distant dirge of waves that beat
   In discontent upon the sand.

Here, where all Nature seems aswoon,
   Time, languid as a summer stream,
Drifts down the soft sweet afternoon;
   And Death, discrowned of terror, brings
Surcease to souls that wake not soon,
   And casts above Life's fevered dream
Cool shadows of Immortal Wings.

Here, by the old graves overgrown,
A bare mound, without wreath or stone,
   Marks where he sleeps 'mid grasses long,
Who sought not things that others seek,
   Who fought in silence and alone,
Who in his weakness was so strong
   And in his strength so weak.

The shining years shall glide and go,
The human tides shall ebb and flow,
   And Love make sweet the days to be,
And Death make smooth the brow of pain,
   But no such heart again shall glow,
And no such friend shall come to me
   Thro' all the cycles that remain.

Some pass and perish with their breath;
He liveth still and quickeneth,
   As scent of roses on the wind
Recalls the bygone Summer's day;
   He leaves this side the seas of Death
The fragrance of a noble mind:
   He dies, but passes not away.

First published in The Queenslander, 2 March 1895

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Ode for Commonwealth Day by George Essex Evans

Awake! Arise! The wings of dawn
    Are beating at the Gates of Day!
The morning star hath been withdrawn,
    The silver vapours melt away!
Rise royally, O Sun, and crown
    The shoreward billow, streaming white,
The forelands and the mountains brown,
        With crested light;
Flood with soft beams the valleys wide,
    The mighty plains, the desert sand,
Till the New Day hath won for bride
        This Austral land!

Free-born of Nations, Virgin white,
    Not won by blood nor ringed with steel,
Thy throne is on a loftier height,
    Deep-rooted in the Commonweal!
O Thou, for whom the strong have wrought,
    And poets sung with souls aflame,
Born of long hope and patient thought,
        A mighty name ---
We pledge thee faith that shall not swerve,
    Our Land, Our Lady, breathing high
The thought that makes it love to serve,
        And life to die!

Now are thy maidens linked in love
    Who erst have striven for pride of place;
Lifted all meaner thoughts above
    They greet thee, one in heart and race:
She, in whose sun-lit coves of peace
    The navies of the world may rest,
And bear her wealth of snowy fleece
        Northward and West;
And she, whose corn and rock-hewn gold
    Built that Queen City of the South,
Where the lone billow swept of old
        Her harbour-mouth;

And the blithe Sun-maid, in whose veins
    For ever burns the tropic fire,
Whose cattle roam a thousand plains
    With opal and with pearl for tire;
And that sweet Harvester who twines
    The tender vine and binds the sheaf,
And the young Western Queen, who mines
        The desert reef,
And she, against whose flowery throne
    And orchards green the wave is hurled ---
Australia claims them; They are One
        Before the World!

Crown Her --- most worthy to be praised ---
    With eyes uplifted to the morn;
For on this day a flag is raised,
    A triumph won, a nation born!
And Ye, vast Army of the Dead,
    From mine and city, plain and sea,
Who fought and dared, who toiled and bled,
        That this might be,
Draw round us in this hour of fate ---
    Here, where thy children's children stand ---
With unseen lips, O consecrate
        And bless the land!

Eternal Power, benign, supreme,
    Who weigh'st the nations upon earth;
Without whose aid the Empire dream,
    And pride of states is nothing worth
From shameless speech, and vengeful deed,
    From license veiled in freedom's name,
From greed of gold and scorn of creed,
        Guard Thou our fame!
In stress of days that yet may be
    When hope shall rest upon the sword,
In Welfare and Adversity,
        Be with us, Lord!

First published in School Paper for Classes V and VI, no.26 December 1900,
and later in:
The Advertiser, 1 January 1901;
The Brisbane Courier, 1 January 1901;
The Australian Town and Country Journal, 5 January 1901;
The Bulletin, 5 January 1901;
The Coo-ee Reciter: Humourous, Pathetic, Dramatic, Dialect, Reciations and Readings compiled by William T. Pyke, 1904; and
The Secret Key and Other Verses by George Essex Evans 1906.

Author: George Essex Evans (1863 - 1909) was born in England and migrated to Australia in 1881. He is generally considered one of Queensland's best ever poets.  A memorial to him was raised in Toowoomba after his death.

Notes: "In 1901 [Essex Evans] won first prize in the New South Wales Government's Competition for a commonwealth ode with a poem that had been edited by Alfred Deakin prior to the competition."* The competiton was run to mark the inauguration of the Federation of the Commonwealth of Australia on January 1, 1901.
* - see the "Toowoomba's Literary History" webpage.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.


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