The Circus by Mabel Forrest

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A circle canvas roofed, with thousands of eager eyes
Turned to the roped enclosure, and outside the moonless skies
Gemmed with white stars that speak to some of rest and Paradise.
In the wide outer tent, where still the torches redly flare,
An angry tiger's shuddering cough cuts thro' the heavy air.

Now, high above the trampled ring, the choking sawdust whirl,
All eyes are fixed on the trapeze, where swings a round-limbed girl.
As she with free uplifted hand pins close a straying curl,
A woman screams, and hides her eyes; some coarse-faced seamen laugh;
Paquita blows a kiss to them, amid a storm of chaff.

Paquita! Queen of the Trapeze! Up higher still she goes,      
And now we see her laughing face, as fresh any rose;    
And yet -- a slip -- a sudden fear -- and who among us knows,          
How near death to Paquita in her airy triumph stands.    
She holds her life as lightly as the slim ropes in her hands.   
 
Outside, along the cool green parks, winds play among the trees,
Beyond, within the chapel walls, the nuns are on their knees,
And here we watch a woman's life a-swing on the trapeze! 
The pagan Roman lives to-night -- these dust choked tents for choice;
Not out of place the quavering cough of that lean tiger's voice!

First published in The Australasian, 22 October 1904

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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Fairy Music by Myra Morris

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I passed beside the haunted hill
   When all the mushroom caps were white.
I heard a music on the air -
   It filled each crevice of the night!

It filled each crevice of the night,
   And played the wandering wind upon;
More sweet that singing Israfel.
   It called to me and then was gone.

It called to me, and then was gone!
   I waited by the brown reeds, stark.
There only was the dying moon --
   And the wind blowing in the dark --

And the wind blowing in the dark,
   And tears upon my lids like rain.
God help me! I can joy no more
   Until I hear those sounds again!

First published in The Australasian, 21 October 1922

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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Old Sundays by Kathleen Dalziel

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Ah, those sweet old Sundays, walking to the meetings,
   Through the homestead paddocks, across the fescue grass;
Summer down the rutted tracks, neighbours' smiles and greetings,
   Glimmering in my memory like clear-spun glass!

Deep the sleepy golden light along the valley glowing;
   Deep in lush green herbage the cattle stood at ease,
Lifting up their lustrous eyes to watch our going,
   Underneath the dappled red and russet of the trees.

Then my frilly frock would sweep its thick white clover,
   Then my mop of brown hair had a scarlet ribbon tie;
All the bush birds whistled us, over still and over,
   Tags and snatches of the joy of earth and air and sky.

Through the open window a lost bee blundered,
   Cooler grew the shadows with the closing hymn.
"Will he see me home to-night, wait for me?" I wondered,
   When behind my mother's back I used to smile at Jim.

Heigh-ho for lads' love, the old times are over!
   Still on summer dawnings, when the light is breaking dim,
Often I will wonder, when the wind blows off the clover,
   Where is she that once was I, and what's become of Jim?

First published in The Bulletin, 20 October 1927

Author reference site: Austlit

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The Early Coach by Mabel Forrest

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A star still swims in the pearly east,
   Where the morning lights encroach.
To us it is only a world of dreams
Of sleep-haunted scrubs and of mist-wreathed streams    
   On the early morning's coach.

The red road winds through a belt of pine,
   And the horses' hoofs ring hard
Past the edge of the scattered town,
Out to the ridges bare and brown,
   On by the still graveyard.

We cross the culverts above the creek,
   And on to the black soft plain;
We hear the birds in the myall grove,
And think of youth and a boyish love,
   And feel we are young again.

Crack! through the air goes the driver's whip;
   A jolt o'er a broken rail.
Press down the brake-as we skid the hill-  
In the slab hut they are sleeping still
   As we sort out the cocky's mail.

A golden flame sets the world a-fire
   To usher a summer morn;
It flushes the length of the chained lagoon
More like to the heart of the afternoon
   Than the early rose of dawn.

A moment more, and the day has come
   Through the gates of the world's approach;
Forget the night that has gone before --
'Tis good to be on the roads once more
   By the early morning's coach.

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 19 October 1904

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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In a Garden by Zora Cross

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In this old garden where I walk 
   Laughter and tears I find 
Pursue me, and in silence talk 
   Sweet memories in my mind. 

Here are red roses dropping blood! 
   I see Adonis fly, 
And hear from every crimson bud 
   Warm Cytherea sigh. 

And there are lilies lost in thought 
   Whose leaves divinely grieve, 
As in each chalice closely-caught 
   I mark the tears of Eve. 

I move along from flower to flower 
   And pluck them wonderingly, 
When sunset chimes the golden hour 
   Of twilight's reverie. 

I twine the lily and the rose 
   With sprays of milky may, 
And violets whose odor flows 
   Fresh from the Appian Way. 

A sigh breaks from the ruby rose, 
   I hear a step all-light 
Ring rapture where the evening glows 
   Upon the heart of night. 

It nears, and from the garden spring 
   Delicious dreams and true. 
I stand in Eden marvelling, 
   Yet knowing it is you. 

I pause....I wait....The minutes die 
   And drop out one by one. 
Your step, film-footed, falters by 
   As it has ever done. 

Blind-eyed with tears the shadows crowd 
   Upon my helpless head. 
I make the flowers my bridal shroud.... 
   Joy lives and yet is dead. 

The mirthful stars spin bliss above. 
   I weep in agony, 
Weaving the pall of hopeless love 
   Here in Gethsemane.

First published in The Bulletin, 18 October 1917

Resurrections by Mabel Forrest

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When the white roses die, they make a cloud,
Threading the wind with fragrance pure and sweet,
When the pink roses die, they trail the sun,
And faint in carmine wreaths about his feet;
But where the pansies huddle from the light
They merge in death, into the purple night,
Filched from the sun of some high summer's noon,
Their hearts have left us many a yellow moon.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 October 1931

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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The Voices by Kathleen Dalziel

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Voices on the wind in the far waste pleas,
   Echoing on the forward breeze, dying down behind,
Bring dreams of desert ways and strange, wild faces,
   Blown along the blue waste, those voices on the wind.

Strange, wild voices that are past understanding,
   Keening through the tattered reeds round the creek-bed dry.
Out above the flapping bark, the deal trees standing
   By the dry watercourses where the wind rides high.

Only ghostly voices now, lost to all things mortal;
   The first lone-handed pioneers, the prospector alone,
And the wandering dusky people that have passed beyond the portal;
   Dust about the desert and the sandhills blown.

Voices of the faraway, I hear the echoes fleeting.
   A whip-crack breaks the silence, a careless rider sings;
Then latest, down the roads of air an engine's beating.
   And dark against the sun set the wide thrumming wings.

From hollows high with grasses in the green good seasons,
   From tall urn and frontage in the cool river rain,
From the iron hills, the torment of the red drought's treason,
   So they came and so they went and will not come again.

Airman, tramp, explorer and the lone out-riders,
   Their names are writ in water, scrawled in sand or carved in stone,
And the wild flowers are above them and the weaving siders,
   But Australia holds their secrets and Australia keeps her own.

First published in The Bulletin, 16 October 1929

Author reference site: Austlit

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The Little Girl and the Thrush by Myra Morris

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Walking down the windy valley,
   Where the flowers were flung like spray
In the glimmering myrtle valley,
   Soon I tossed my hat away --
Laughed down places dark and shady,
   Clambered through the underbrush,
Till a voice came sweet, reproving,
Where the myrtle boughs were moving,
   "Be a lady,"
   Sang the thrush.

There was none to see or hear me --
   Off I pushed my cramping shoes --
Danced down leafy pathways near me
   Toward the valley's distant blues;
Danced down vistas damp and shady,
   Bare feet in the grasses lush,  
Where the earth was starred with yellow,
Still that voice came mocking, mellow,
   "Be a lady,"
   Sang the thrush.

First published in The Australasian, 15 October 1932

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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The Hills by Kathleen Dalziel

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Take me to the hills again,
   Back where I belong;
Let me hear the wind's refrain
   And the river's song,
Hear the runnels in the rain
   When the nights are long;

Dream by morning waters cool,
   Fringed with green morasses,
Swaying reed and amber pool
   When October passes
Golden-eyed and beautiful
   Through the feathery grasses.

Not for me the blue allure
   Of the wide sea-lanes,
Creaming reef or shingled shore,
   White steeds' flying manes;
Where I left my heart of yore
   Still my heart remains.

Not for me  the jostling whirl,
   Cold and careless faces.
Where the dusty breezes swirl
   Round the market places;
Better far the glens of pearl
   That the cloud embraces.

I could never watch the rose,
   Jade and jasper render
Radiance to the evening's close
   Veiled with purples tender
With the houses, rows on rows,
   Shutting out the splendor.

First published in The Bulletin, 14 October 1926

Author reference site: Austlit

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Lazyvale by Zora Cross

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Along the road to Lazyvale,
   Half way to Half Past Nine, 
I found a little daisy dale,
   And sat down there to dine; 
With 20,000 fairy men
From Nowadays till Then.
We each one had a crazy pall
   Of such a wondrous wine,
The bees make in that daisy dale
   Half way to Half Past Nine. 
It tasted like brook water clear 
To lips of Just One Year.
A pedlar out from Lazyvale
   Cried, "Buy! Come, buy my wares!" 
And at that little mazy sale
   I bought me joys for cares. 
With 20,000 fairy men
From Nowadays till Then. 
This really is a hazy tale,
   But would it not be fine 
To loiter back to Lazyvale,
   Half way to Half Past Nine, 
And in a dainty daisy dale 
Find fairy wares for sale?

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 October 1934

The She-Oak Tree by Myra Morris

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The she-oak tree outside my door,
   Is like some sombre Nun who stands,  
Upon a cold mosaic floor,

Chanting her prayers in sanctity.
   I hear the beads slip through her hands,
The while she drones her Rosary.

Her rusty-black, wind-lifted veil  
   Conceals the contour of her form;    
I see her face, austere and pale.  

And when the night is full of moan
   I hear her voice blown through the storm,
Praying for them who walk alone.    

And then I think she prays for me,  
Counting each Holy Mystery.
I hear the beads slip through her hands,  
The while she chants her Rosary.  

First published in The Australasian, 12 October 1918

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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October Tales by Mabel Forrest

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How many years we might live, yet have missed
   The meaning of October! O ye trees
All yellow blossom, and the amethyst
   Of jacarandas bowing to the breeze!

A hundred years one might live, keen to see
   And taste the beauty of recurring years,
Yet only touch the edge of mystery
   And only guess the rhythm of the spheres!

How short a time we have to watch you
   (Dear blossomy of Spring!) and fruit and die --
But dreams can follow wheresoe'er you go,
   And Fancy is as wide as any sky!

So we shall keep you safe, October gold,
   Touching with memory purple, blue and red.
A human heart has room enough to hold
   A living flower when the bloom is dead!

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 11 October 1927

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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Little Town by Zora Cross

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All so blue and green and brown,
The lazy, lonely little town
Invited nothing much when I
Came down the hill to hurry by.

And then I heard a pixie sing. 
Was it a child upon a swing?
A woman waved from a white door, 
Or Spring in flowery pinafore?

My heart grew light. I know not why, 
And I sang, too, as I passed by 
That lazy, lonely little town,
All so blue and green and brown.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 October 1938

When I Was Born by Mabel Forrest

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When I was born they might have closed the windows of the room,
Have shut out gardens deep enrosed, and glossed magnolia bloom;
The warm white buds that on their lips, altho' the day was done, 
Still keep the thin gold arrow-tips they have filched from the sun, 
The love of suns, of greeting springs, was birthright to my soul.

When I was born they might have drawn a curtain o'er the pane,  
For in the blue sky till the dawn a full white moon did reign;
A large-eyed Venus is the moon clasped round by cloud above,  
She gives to babes a doubtful boon, the gift of passionate love.  

When I was born they might have stilled that wild brown bird that sings,  
His reckless heart by music filled, with rhythm on his wings,  
Ere, fitting to the lattice sill, thro' the warm, moon-washed air,  
Down to my ear he bent to trill and dropt a feather there;  
And made me his, by no calm choice -- soul-fettered and fate-bound,  
Wringing my heart for that true note which but by pain is found.  

When I was born a trumpet bloom cast forth it's almond breath,
A blossom pale against the gloom, a slim white perfumed death;  
Great Java lily buds that start, far in the jungled south,  
Would they had pressed its poisoned heart above my helpless mouth!  

When I was born they might have closed the windows of the room,  
Have shut out garden walks enrosed and glossed magnolia bloom;  
Have shut out hints of dewy morn, the pulsing green and blow,  
For all my days I feel the thorns, who loved the roses so;  
But open was the room to skies and heavy life-filled air,  
And in the grass were fire-flies and flowers everywhere.  

My mother liked the shutters wide, she liked to smell the flow'rs;  
She liked to see the planets ride thro' the long waiting hours;
She liked to see the stir begin about the gates of morn;
She did not know that grief slipped in, the night that I was born.

First published in The Australasian, 9 October 1909

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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Dunkeld by Kathleen Dalziel

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Did I dream while the flames leaped up and the cinders fell, 
   And a frozen wind fingered the window pane? 
Did the silence flee at the sound of a distant hell? 
   Was there no wind under the eaves, no wandering rain --
Only the hazy hush of a long summer's day 
   Simmered in gold, and the wattle honey-smelled, 
And I heard a bullock-bell in the ranges say, 
   "Dun-keld! Dun-keld! Dunkeld!" 

Peak beyond peak the Grampians marched away 
   To the world's end, it seemed, and the river sang. 
Mile beyond mile the fernclad uplands lay 
   Warm to the noon, and the noonday music rang 
Hesitating and high in the hills again, 
   In a rhymeless monotone, for the morning held 
No sound so insistent as the slow refrain 
   Of the bullock-bells in the distance at Dunkeld. 
I saw the cloud and the eagle's circling flight, 
   And the blue deeps back of the rocky, wandering stair, 
Where the heat waves shimmer to silver out of sight, 
  And the red-gums' banners droop in the drowsy air. 
Was it fairy land or only a day in spring, 
   With the bees abroad and the late heath crimson-belled, 
And the river in flood, and my heart remembering, 
   And the white dust thick by the roadway at Dunkeld?
 
The blue smoke curled from a far-away camp fire, 
   The unforgettable incense of grass-tree burning; 
The dews that threaded their beads on the fencing wire 
   Winked in the sun and were gone till the dew's returning. 
The old glory is over the morning still, 
   And the old magic, potent as that which held 
Enchantment ever by valley and ridge and hill 
   When it's spring again in the ranges at Dunkeld.
 
The blossoming tea-tree sprinkled its fairy frost 
   Over the mosses tinder the mantled trees; 
The lizards basked on the reef, and a wavering lost 
   Call of a cuckoo floated along the breeze. 
All was as ever it Was, and a carillon 
   Of magpies shattered the silence, silver-belled, 
Letting their warbling strains drift one by one 
   Till the silvery echoes grew silent at Dunkeld. 

There is wind at the door and sleet on the window pane; 
   Low burns the flame -- have I been dreaming at whiles? 
I thought that spring shook down its blossomy rain, 
   And minty warm was the wind down the long bush miles.
I dreamed -- did I dream? It was surely a summer's day 
   When the heavy censers of blossom sway, honey-smelled, 
And all the bullock-bells in the ranges say 
   "Dun-keld! Dun-keld! Dun-keld!" 

First published in The Bulletin, 8 October 1930

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

October by Mabel Forrest

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This opal-hearted month is laced with gold,
Her yellow robes sweep thro' the dust of flowers;
She has her slow, sweet nights, her mist-blue hours
Of twilight, and her amber arms enfold
Spring blooms and summer! -- Mystic month, I see
A sprig of Hope amid your blossomry!  

First published in The Courier-Mail, 7 October 1933

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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