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