"Nice for a holiday," said a Mallee woman recently, after inspecting the hustle and show of the city for the first time. "But to live in," she continued, "give us the Mallee."
Home's best (she said), and the tale Of the hungering soil and the flail Of the sun and the shuddering threat Of the heat, and more heat yet; Of more than a woman can stand, Almost, in that merciless land, With its lifelong, lingering strife, For the Mallee mother and wife. Oh, I've seen all the spurious zest Of the city, and yet, home's best; The sweep of the plain's vast verge, And the calling of Life and the urge To struggle and hope in vain, Then struggle and hope again -- That, and the faith that clings For the solving of human things. Home's best (she said). I have seen The glamor of cities, the sheen Of the silken garments rare -- And they spell for me despair; Despair for the woman who cleaves To luxury's yellowing leaves -- Despair for the weakening race, Who, faltering, fall from grace. Life, as I know it is stern; And the seed of my seed must learn That nothing has life to give Save a man must labor to live -- Struggle and ache and toil For the gifts that come of the soil, Since every treasure of worth Comes of the hard, kind earth. Home's best (she said), and the dust And the finger of God out-thrust, Saying, "You toil, or die Under this pitiless sky." Even as long since said To the Parents of Man long dead; Even as 'twas decreed In Man's first, passionate need. Home's best. For what do they know, Who cleave to glitter and show, And strive in a strange excess Of pleasure for happiness? What do they know of worth Of the secret lure of the earth, And the peace, and the exquisite ache of the battle -- For my man's sake?
|Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2003|