Winter Eves by Zora Cross

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Who does not love on Winter eves to walk
   By leafy path and cool secluded way,
Where not one loiterer remains to talk
   Nor lyre-bird stays to play
With noisy murmur, when the leaf and stalk,
   Each in communion grey,
Tap no regretful legend to the past,
   Sing no distressful lay, nor shadow cast,
Nor sighing make for Autumn flown so fast?

I do. I love the silence of the hills,
   And the deep peace made browner by repose,
And the seed rustling underfoot that thrills
   My blood until it glows
With mellow memories that haunt the rills
   Running where Childhood blows
Her bubbles of reflection, still as cool
   As when we blew then with her after school,
With reeds for pipes, beside the swimming-pool.

Who does not love on Winter eves to walk
   Down gullies steep and valleys full of rest,
Where neither man nor Nature seems to balk
   The ease within the breast
While the oak flowers like powdered golden chalk
   Scatter for earth's old nest?
Who does not love these pleasures to command
   When the trees sleep like brothers hand-in-hand,
He has not known my love nor my dear land.

First published in The Sydney Mail, 26 July 1922

Hidden Valley by Myra Morris

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Grey, grumbling carts go down the hidden valley,
   Lop-sided 'neath their loads of piled-up boughs.
Along the slope the sheep, slow-moving, rally
   From hollows where the winds of autumn drowse.
And down the road thick-barred with inky shadow,
   Trail home the quiet cows.

Tall fences lean above the straw and rubble,
   Dim farmhouse-roofs float airily in dream.
Beyond the blunted spears of shining stubble
   The ploughman walks behind his straining team.
Against the grass, against the purple furrows,
   The blades like silver gleam.

Blue smoke hangs where the sunlight dapples,
   Old orchards grey with gaunt and leafless trees.
The piercing scent of green, late-garnered apples
   Comes waveringly with every earthy breeze
There is no sound in all the hidden valley,
   But the loud hum of bees.

But the loud hum of bees uprising, falling
   In places filled with secret yellow comb,
And clear and wild the song of magpies calling
  From windy gums that toss a blossomed foam.
Here in the hidden valley peace has fashioned
   Its own abiding home!  

First published in The Australasian, 25 July 1936

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

To Editha by Mabel Forrest

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Editha! out by the sandy bar, 
   Out by the shining line of beach, 
Somewhere away in the south you are, 
   Mermaid and seashore, each to each.

Out on the rocks where the seashell lies 
   Editha dreams in the noonday rest, 
Where waves dance blue as a woman's eyes, 
   And foam lies white as a woman's breast. 

To his ears her voice, as a syren song,   
    Perhaps rings to-day in the sea-girt south; 
Perhaps he already has waited long 
   For an answering smile from her rose-leaf month. 

But the songs I heard in the past are here, 
   As tenderly true or as gaily bright; 
And I find the voice of my dreams as dear, 
   Though I hear it but in my heart to-night.

First published in The Queenslander, 24 July 1897

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Spring by Zora Cross

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Since I must die, let not a knell be mine
   Quietly tolled in autumn, when leaves fall 
Lighter as love for the swift summer's pall;
Nor yet in winter, when the bare, cold vine 
Of my wistaria no more may twine
   With its green arms the sunny garden wall,  
   But sleeps, forgetful of life's happy call, 
Like an old poet dreaming of good wine. 

No! let dear spring, when delicately dight
   In rose and white her birds throng every tree,  
Shake out the perfumed banner of her hair 
With blossoms thick upon my shadowy sight,
   Till, blind with beauty, deaf with melody, 
   I pass amid her clamour with no care.

First published in The Australasian, 23 July 1921

Sunday Bells by Kathleen Dalziel

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Dew on the grassy uplands stretching forward,
   Bloom of the grape on brown hills far away, 
And blown above the blue waves sparkling shoreward, 
   The Sunday bells across Corio Bay.

All in the golden quiet of the morning 
   Knee-deep in wildflower weed and feathery grass, 
Only the sapling's crown my roof adorning, 
   I hear the airy echoes pause and pass. 

Down the low wind the silver clamor surges, 
   Swells to its full, and faintly ebbs away, 
One with the infinite fields of azure merges 
   The sound of bells across Corio Bay. 

Phantasies old of other years awaking 
   Fragments of lost delight and morning prime; 
Strung on a strand of silver numbers shaking
   All the warm airs of drowsy summer time. 

There was a year we used to walk together 
   Through the tall grasses by a ferny brae, 
Hearing adown the fairy golden weather    
   The Sunday bells across Corio Bay.

I wonder if your happy ghost goes straying 
   Over the headlands to the grassy hill? 
The sleepy things the sighing pines are saying 
   To the soft waters, are you hearing still 

Where harps AEolian with the waters blending 
   Make muted interludes among the trees? 
I cannot tell, I only know the ending 
   That left me lonely with my memories.
 
The bells grow silent and the last note lingers, 
   Down the green aisles the echo dies away; 
Surely I felt the touch of unseen fingers 
   Hearing the bells across Corio Bay.

First published in The Bulletin, 22 July 1926

Author reference site: Austlit

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Lute Strings by Mabel Forrest

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He played his lute at drowsy noon
   In the shadows of the towers;
Some cried he brought the lilt of birds
   And wind among the flowers;
And every gaffer swore that he
Had strung the lute with witchery!

The children heard no note of grief
   They danced upon the cobbled way
And laughed the strings were woven by
   Bright fairies making holiday --
But old folk, heeding close and long,
Thought there was weeping in the song.

One vowed the strings a woman's hair
   Of unforgotten gold;
One whispered of a wer-wolf's thews
   Torn from the churchyard mould:
But one pale maid, who stood apart,
Knew them drawn from her breaking heart.

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 21 July 1925

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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Barbara Jane by Myra Morris

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When I walked through the paddocks
   With cuddly Barbara Jane, 
She said she saw a robin,
   All wet with shining rain, 
That sat upon a thistle,
   And talked to her quite plain.

When I walked through the paddocks 
   With laughing Barbara Jane, 
She looked at me all scarey,
   And said she saw quite plain 
A snake among the grasses,
   Beside the gurgling drain.

When I walked through the paddocks
   And romped with Barbara Jane, 
She showed me tumbled tussocks,
   Where a fairy queen bad lain.
"Her wings were shut," she whispered,
   "But I saw her face quite plain."

As I walked through the paddocks 
   With dancing Barbara Jane, 
I wondered was she fibbing,
   But dared not ask again;
For queer things sometimes happen
   That no one can explain!

First published in The Australasian, 20 July 1929

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Old-Time Flowers by Zora Cross

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Make me a garden of old-fashioned flowers --
Sweet William, wallflower, pink, and mignonette 
With here and there a purple violet
And four o'clocks that tell the tea-time hours.
 
Border it all with bachelors' buttons bold, 
Set red geranium that needs no weeding,
Leave a tiny corner for love-lies-bleeding
And a few daffodils, yellow as gold.  

Sow blue forget-me-nots and pale sweet peas, 
Nasturtium, candytuft, and Canterbury bell. 
And to remind me lest I love too well,
Prithee! Do not forget to plant heartsease.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 July 1938

Beyond the Oil Refineries by Kathleen Dalziel

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Thistles, dry thistles, down Altona way,
A network of needles, a city of swords;
The silver and purple that summer accords,
And autumn enhances, has vanished away;
Atrophied armies still armed to the teeth,
Alerted and dangerous even in death.

Stone fences run, and stumble and fall
Spreadeagled under a scrabble of weeds.
Here where a hoof-hollowed cattle-track leads,
Skirting a ruin where once was a wall,
A twangling sea-wind ascends and suspires,
Plucking laments from the telegraph wires.

Towers, round towers, of industry rise
Up from the edge of the water and seem
Like to some curious Martian dream:
Mushrooming columns set minaret-wise,
Catwalk and pipeline and balconied steel,
Concrete and solid -- and somehow unreal.

Flickers of steam must have frightened the birds
Kestrel and gull (that have looked upon
So many a mounting Babylon)
But, out of the low cloud that lurches towards 
The west, already the larks are at
Spring choir-practice across the flat.

For soon, in the shelter of daggers and dirks,
The larks will be nesting, as ever they did
Before Egypt had thought of a pyramid,
Showering the waste land at back of the Works
With sweet unchangeable songs of joy
Even as once beyond windy Troy.

First published in The Bulletin, 18 July 1956

Author reference site: Austlit

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The Top of a Hill by Mabel Forrest

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If we could find the top of a hill
   From which, miles off one sees the sea, 
A bald-topped mountain, very still,  
   The bushes girded to its knee;
And yet, clean, blue, and everywhere 
The sunny miles of smokeless air! 

If we could find a path that went
   Between the bushes on the grade,
Hot grasses whispering their content 
   With only drifting cloud for shade;
Where one pale gleam on distant downs 
Remained the only hint of towns.

If we could find an April day
   The birds had roused from starry sleep, 
A flight of butterflies that sway
   Like wind-blown petals up the steep -- 
Alone ... with only hills and sky,
We might touch God as he went by!

First published in The Australasian, 17 July 1920

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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An Apology by Myra Morris

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Dear, if I did not have these precious things
Gold-misted dreams and white imaginings --
My heart had never known the need of wings.

I should be touched with peace, content to stay,
Living my little life from day to day,
With feet not questing for the far-away.

But I should never feel my heart beat fast 
To see white-billowing clouds go sailing past
A robin's breast, a rose, a leaning mast.

I should not weep with foolish joy, and thrill
To watch the dark pines crown the lonely hill,
The wintry trees stand ashen-pale and still.

I should not fill that hidden heart of me
With people as I picture them to be,
And weep when these are vanished, secretly.

Dear, this is I - a mass of futile things,
Of golden dreams and white imaginings,     
Yet I would lose all else, and keep my wings!

First published in The Australasian, 16 July 1927

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

A Death Knell by Zora Cross

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Good-bye! Good-bye! the soft winds sigh,
   When the rosy sun sinks low.
Good-bye! Good-bye! moans the roaring sea
   As it tosses the foam from its brow.
      So mortals sigh, so mortals moan,
         Yet ever say Good-bye,
         Yet ever say Good-bye.

Good-bye! Good-bye! the friends dear part,
   And meet no more in court.
Good-bye! Good-bye! thou dear old realm,
   Where paper battle are fought.
      And mortals pass and mortals pass,
         O, ever say Good-bye,
         O, ever say Good-bye.

That sweet, sad word, that echoing knell,
   Of my poor weary heart,
With tones so like a muffled toll,
   "We part! We part! We part!"
      So "aged" says, so "aged" says,
         And ever moans Good-bye,
         And ever moans Good-bye.

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 15 July 1908

The Fairy Ring by Myra Morris

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      "Oh to find a fairy ring!"
      That is what I loved to sing! 

Here up on the broken ground,
   Past the pine-wood's purple gaps, 
Whitening all the grass around,
   Peep the pearly mushroom-caps! 

Twenty-seven pink and sweet,  
   In a ring you couldn't miss, 
Round about my careful feet!  
   I have come for this, for this! 

Who was dancing in the night,
   Where the boles black-shrouded stood? 
Who tripped out from dark to light, 
   Winding from the murky wood?

      ("Let me find a fairy ring!" 
      I had always loved to sing!) 

In this magic ring at last,
   Surely I shall, waiting, see  
Wonders from a childhood past, 
   Dancing, dancing out to me! 

Magpies chortle from the hill!
   Downward bent is every blade! 
But the golden air is still,
   And my heart beats sore afraid!

Magic is no longer here!
   All the tripping feet are gone! 
There is naught of faery near--
   I have lost it striding on!    

      Never, never more I'll sing,   
      "Oh to find a fairy ring!"

First published in The Australasian, 14 July 1923

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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Flower Seeds to Sow Now! by Mabel Forrest

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Flower seeds to sow now! Cineraria?
Launch the tiny vessels holding freight so fair,
Butterfly delphiniums in their capes of blue,   
Marigold-dissenters of an orange hue!
Stocks of Old Virginia, mauve and pink and white,
Making sweet a garden old by day and night;   
Such a grey old garden terraced to the sea,
With the land wind bringing many a lucky bee;
Fussing its gold pit, staking out a claim; 
Viola and pansy, gillyflower of flame!
Sun among the larkspurs, vain and ruffling things,
Slim, usurping pages in the cloaks of kings!
Cornflowers, shy plebeians coming up to town,
From the country meadows, in a Sunday gown!
Oriental poppies, wonderfully dressed,
As a languid beauty by a king caressed.
Heavy with some secret no one ever tells, 
Swing to silent music Canterbury bells;     
While among the grasses, tasselled and unshorn,
Of the Wind and Sunshine, many a rhyme is born!    

Far off sails like silver on the silver seas,
One brown island rising to a crest of trees; 
Or the hunchbacked wavelets, sighing up the sand,
Passion for the roses, married to the land!   

Do I own a garden lying by the sea?
Do I dream a garden grown by witchery?   
No, my sleeping beauty, into life you're kist
Only by magic of the seedsman's list!

First published in The Australasian, 13 July 1918

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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Mile-Stones by Kathleen Dalziel

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Just a cradled babe asleep
Where the vine-tree shade is deep,
And the larkspurs vigil keep.

Eyes of blue and tangled locks --
Just a child in muddy socks
With a bunch of "four o'clocks."

Just a schoolboy and his mate
Coming through the garden gate
When the afternoon grew late.

Just a lad who went away,
Courage high and heart so gay,
On a long-lost Summer day.

Nothing further, only these
Ragged ends of memories.

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 12 July 1927

Author reference site: Austlit

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The Letter by Mabel Forrest

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A victory! We hear across the seas
How they press on, our brave Australian boys,
Pitted against the reivers of the world.
Pitted against the flower of the Huns,
These lads, yet green in battle, make a name
To stand forth in the ranks of Caesar's Guard
And grim battalions of old conquerors!
Did they not right nobly on the Somme?
At Pozieres they lifted high their flag --
Bapaume and Vimy! Off-shoots of the tough
Old British Stock. This mother shears her son
Has gained his D.S.O., and this a bar,
And that a special mention. I the while,
Who am no mother -- and for ever maid --
Have this much to my hand of victory --
My last unopened letter to my love. 

The little silly words I cooed to him,
Through the cold medium of a pen and ink,
Small chronicles of that calm life he knew,
A snapshot of myself in my new gown,
My hand upon the head of his pet dog,
Showing the ring he gave me. I can trace
The merry words I wrote when life was fair,
With budding promise -- for my dear yet lived.
"when you come back" -- I wrote, and then I paused
To let him fill the blank, perhaps with whiff
Of orange blossom blowing down the years,
And the soft rustle of a wedding gown.

The newsboys shriek of "Victory" in the street;
The quick trams grate towards Victoria bridge;
A girl is poring o'er a pencilled page
Thumb-marked with Flanders mud, scrawled from a trench;
But I have only my own letter back,
And stamped upon the flap the word "Deceased."

First published in The Sydney Mail, 11 July 1917

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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