On this perfect playing day --
Spofforth, Murdoch, Bannerman,
Each at master in his way?
Where are those that cheered them on
From the packed pavilion?
Shod in white with linen hat,
How they held our hearts in thrall --
Massey with his shining hat,
Turner with his cunning ball!
Hark again the shouts of old --
"Bravo! Middle stump! Well bowled!"
Where is now that human hive
That rent Heaven with cheers to see
Bonnor's most Homeric drive,
When he lifted mightily
High and still more high the ball
Over clock and tower and all?
Many years have passed since then,
Since that most amazing sight;
Boys, who saw it, grown to men
Still recall it, pipes alight,
As companioned well they walk
Lost in old-time cricket talk.
Ah, the joy, the thrill intense,
Watching from the crowded hill,
"Fourers" to the picket fence,
"Fivers" over! Ah, the chill
Or the loud, triumphant shout
When the umpire nodded -- Out!
State and Test -- what joys they were
When the game was in its prime!
How the blood in us would stir
Into ecstasy what time
Cutting, driving, hard and sweet,
Some hold batsman saved defeat!
How the noise roared round the town,
Making good the passing hours,
When the Vics. went tumbling down,
And we knew the match was ours!
How we drooped downcast, ashamed,
When the Vics. the victory claimed!
Where are they, the blithe, the bold,
Whom it was our joy to watch?
Some are grey and all are old,
Some have played their final match --
Shouldered bats and gravely gone --
To the packed Pavilion.
Gone, too, are the watching throng;
Now no more their plaudits rise.
All is silent save the song
Of a lone lark in the skies;
And -- the sole life of the scene --
Swallows skim across the green.
First published in The Bulletin, 30 November 1916
Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library