To August by Myra Morris

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Stand on tiptoe, August! --
   Elfin August, slim and proud,
With the pale clematis blossom
   Like a shroud,
   A filmy shroud
That the flying winds have woven
   Out of the tangled threads of cloud!

Dance down every gully
   Where the green-hoods are in bloom,
Where the hillside heath is rosy
   In the gloom!
   Oh, no more gloom!
For your rain-wet feet are dancing,
   Dancing wild on Winter's tomb!

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 21 August 1928

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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Street Singer by Kathleen Dalziel

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The thrush that sings so finely
   These August evenings, 
Repeating such divinely
   Inconsequential things, 
Has left an airy dwelling
   In early spring, to say
He has a tale worth telling
   This world of work-a-day. 

Told so serenely, purely,
   So lacking pain's alloy,
You'd think his office surely
   Ambassador of joy.
You'd think his song in order
   To make us understand 
We tread the very border
   Of an enchanted land.

And how, with earth's renewal,
   That country far to find,
Where sun nor wind is cruel,
   And all the gods are kind.
From one bleak stunted elm, he--
   Hemmed in with brick and stone-- 
Is singing of a realm we
   Have never, never known. 

Careless of hoot and whistle,
   The traffic's come and go, 
The factory's harsh dismissal,
   The milling crowds below: 
The roar the peak-hour raises
   To yet a louder key
Still, still that small voice praises
   Spring-time in Arcady. 

Alas for his elation,
   Alas the darling theme,
By subway, bridge, and station
   The heedless humans stream
As carelessly as ever,    
   And nobody believes
The tale the thrush tells over
   These chilly August eves.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 August 1938

Author reference site: Austlit

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The Mountain Stream by Mabel Forrest

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O river that ripples by rushes and roadways, 
O river that murmurs a threat and a song, 
There is sough of the pines in the whip of your eddies,
There is earth in your tided as you scamper along! 
Though you flee to the sea as if demons had chased you, 
And never quite rest in the mud, or the morn, 
I know you remember the lair in the Mountains, 
The rent in the rock where your ripples were born.
 
Oh, you may pretend you are kin to the ocean, 
Oh, you may pretend that your prize is the sea; 
But I know how you wince at a sail on your surface, 
I know how you yearn just to mirror a tree. 
The pines have a lilt that is sorrowful, lonely,
They reach their dark arms o'er the trail a stream, 
And they lavish the store of their cinnamon needles
To thread their regrets like a sob through a dream.
 
O river, I know how you feign your forgetting, 
When the day gilds your bosom with treasure of noon; 
Or, with make-believe suns in your innocent shallows, 
You steal from the planets to mock at the moon, 
And spread on the plains in a trick at lagooning 
Of something you learned from a mirage asleep --
A mask for the memory of ridges' responses, 
Or brawling in canyons black shadowed and deep.
 
You may sweep to the reef at the bar of the harbor, 
You may mix with the wave in the friendliest way, 
And the blue sea may welcome with gratified laughter 
The stream that is veined with the ochres of clay; 
You may stifle your moan on the breast of the ocean, 
And wide as the sky-line your kingdom may be; 
But, belted with seaweed and buskined with coral, 
You belong to the Mountains though lost in the sea! 

And the vague valleys know it, the hill flowers know it;
The little ferns, lisping, protest to the rills;
The dry mountain breezes, the hawk-haunted eyries, 
The Nearness to God that you left in the hills. 
When I look in the deep, where you ruffle and rumble 
Between a sheer gorge to a white pool below, 
Though you strive to dissemble in delicate foaming, 
I see the earth stain in your sick heart....and know.

First published in The Bulletin, 19 August 1915

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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Women's Eyes by Zora Cross

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I like to think Eve's eyes were eyes of blue --
   Two dewy violets as clear as morn --
And garden-wise, girl-shy, she wandered through
   Blue turquoise-tinted Eden azure-born.

Lucretia Borgia's eyes were eyes of black --
   Hate-swift and cold; each wild impassioned glance
Poisoned the very soul as she flung back
   Revenge more cruel than a tyrant's lance.

Gold-headed Helen had soft, dove-grey eyes --
   I will not have them blue though Grecian bright!
The sea, the sky, the happy Summer skies
   Swam in their depths like a far holy light.

I think great Cleopatra's eyes were brown,
   Full, large and strong, and at their queenly glance
The slave bowed down, the king renounced his crown --
   Brown eyes were ever eyes of old romance.

But none had eyes that can compare with these,
   Dancing beneath the fire of golden curl --
Such eyes bring me a captive on my knees
   To you, new Eve, my little baby girl.

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 18 August 1925

Street Decorations by Mabel Forrest

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Each drooping leaf in its loose-bound sheaf, 
Each wilted bough in the gas lamps' flare, 
Tells of the stillness of night-bound trees,
Of the fresh, sweet breath of the wattle breeze, 
Of mountain ranges afar and fair.

A pleasant thing is the whiff of Spring 
As I stand alone by the river bridge;
Poor exiled branches I have to thank,
You showed me the pine trees rank on rank, 
And the sandy patch by Stony Ridge.

The dusty track of the drover's pack,  
The forest aisles that the dawn mists keep;
Crushed gum leaves odorous, and rustling grass, 
And a girl's face watching us as we pass, 
Bound for the coast with travelling sheep.

First published in The Queenslander, 17 August 1904

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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Come to the Corner by Myra Morris

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Come to the corner and smell the leaves!
   The gold is thick on the ground;
The white trees in a mist of wonder,
Deep in the gold they have shaken under --
   Hark! not a sound, not a sound!

Come to the corner and smell the leaves,
   And toss them up in your hair!
Never a smoky censer swinging
Gave such incense, rich and clinging,
   Out on the purple air!

Back to the house and back to the fire,
   I'll sit with my chin in my hand --
And smell all night with a grand completeness
Drifts of the dead leaves' bitter-sweetness,
   And watch how the white trees stand!

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 16 August 1927

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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Tinker Time by Zora Cross

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Tinker Time is a merry old man, 
Winding by with his creaky van, 
         Shouting, "Ho," 
         As the people go, 
"Richman, poorman, beggarman, thief. 
Bring out your burdens and your world old Grief. 
Work is long and my hours are brief." 

Out they run with their plagues unpacked. 
Hope ahead with her kettle cracked. 
         Folly last 
         With his bells held fast, 
Tuneless twanging by his tattered cap. 
Young folk, old folk, hear the hammers tap! 
Heap your troubles in the Tinker's lap! 

Who's this running with a broken pot? 
Fortune beggared of her last, lean jot, 
         Jogging by 
         To a pauper's sigh; 
Luck beside with a cup to mend. 
Come, all my hearties. with a dream to spend! 
Cares aboard for the rainbow's end! 

Here is Love with a heart in twain. 
Youth repairing it with tears in vain. 
         Fiddling Song 
         In the jostling throng 
Waves the ribbon of a broken bow. 
Tailor, sailor. passing to and fro, 
Time is swift, bring your wares of Woe! 

Down the road to a rollicking cry. 
Off he goes with a winking eye. 
         Singing "Ho" 
         As the seasons go, 
Soldier, sailor, beggarman, thief, 
I've got a solder for your care and grief. 
Joy wears long and your tears are brief.

First published in The Bulletin, 15 August 1918

The Lost Ideal by Mabel Forrest

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You passed through my life like a breeze in spring 
That through woodland ways goes wantoning; 
'Tis strange to remember so slight a thing 
   With a memory all undying --
Just a glimpse of white and a gleam of gold, 
And the rose's heart when the leaves unfold, 
The brow and hair, and the lips' sweet mould,
   And a smile unsatisfying.   

You fled away like the dew at dawn, 
Or the evening's amber, or rose of morn -- 
Too fair a thing for a man to scorn, 
   Yet naught to repay the holding -- 
With a laugh that was lost in a stifled sigh, 
While I stretched vain hands with a yearning cry, 
For your wings swept low, as you fluttered by, 
   All the warmth of their white unfolding. 

I shall seek for ever by mount and plain, 
But never on earth shall I find again, 
Tho' I toil through sunshine, or strive thro' rain,
   Or drift to a hopeless goal; 
For it maddens a man who but once has seen 
The hanging hair with the eyes between, 
Who has drunk of the draught of the Lotus Queen 
   That springs from the golden bowl.

First published in The Queenslander, 14 August 1897

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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Shower of Rain by Kathleen Dalziel

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Out came the sun, 
   And sullen morning melted 
To sparkling laughter 
   And bright tears again, 
As from the cloud 
   The shower backward pelted 
A slanting handful 
   Of white splintered rain. 

A flurry of jewels, 
   Star-gold scattered at noon, 
In irised beads 
   And iridescent spears, 
Till earth is a treasure trove 
   Thickly bestrewn 
With sapphire sprays 
   And rounded turquoise tears.
 
Down the wet hillside 
   Comes the haunting scale 
Of the cuckoo, lost 
   In the magpie's liquid note. 
Pouring soft warblings 
   Through the sun-warmed vale, 
A pain of ecstasy 
   From his golden throat. 

Ere the pearls have slipped 
   From the broad nasturtium leaf, 
And the trees have ceased 
   To drip green diamonds, 
Heaven and earth 
   Are reflected in the brief 
Broken mirrors 
   Of little gathered ponds. 

The winds have shaken 
   The pointed gumtips dry, 
And the sun pours forth 
   His ardent gold again. 
And back to her boundless 
   Coffers of blue the sky 
Has gathered the ransomed 
   Treasury of the rain.

First published in The Bulletin, 13 August 1930

Author reference site: Austlit

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Because of These by Myra Morris

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Because of purple boughs on windy trees,
And quiet roofs against an evening sky 
Because of little lulls that dreaming lie,   
And summer-blowing roses filled with bees, 
I shall go gladly all my days! -- 
Because of these!

Because of beauty, and of love's unease,
And hatred of the things that curb and bind-  
Because of lonely hours times out of mind, 
And children's laughter, I shall date to seize  
The joy that closest lies! -- 
Because of these!

First published in The Australasian, 12 August 1922

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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Baby by Zora Cross

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I thought God passed like mist before the world
   And there was no more sun;
And a babe crowed and its pink fist uncurled,
   And laughed, it seemed, for fun.

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 11 August 1925

The Miracle by Kathleen Dalziel

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Oh, stupid folk and most unwise,
   Within the cityward rushing train, 
With faces blank and tired eyes
   That to the printed pages strain.
Out where the spreading sunlight glows
   On huddled yards and sordid walls, 
Or red tiled villas, rows on rows,  
   A miracle to-day befalls.
And Resurrection sets a sign,
   That all those having eyes may see, 
Where loveliness is like a shrine
   About the sanctity of a tree.
Oh, stupid folk and most unwise,
   It fills my heart with sweetest pain 
And praise. Like blooms from Paradise,
   The white-starred almond buds again.

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 10 August 1929

Author reference site: Austlit

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August Augury by Zora Cross

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Already her baptismal month is here --
August-heavy with fragrant wattle bloom,
Wooing her softly from the cold green gloom 
Of chill July up bracken tracks austere. 
Shy as a bush-child over gullies drear, 
Timidly now she steps. Earliest bloom
Wakes wondering warm beauty, to relume, 
And hesitating heath-bells half in fear  
At her light touch set trembling ring again. 
Wild violets bud round her bare white feet,  
Frail rosy fern fronds redden ... So comes Spring,
Surely I know, for searching not in vain     
This morn, I found in a mossy retreat 
The first pink orchid palely blossoming.  

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 August 1938

Queensland's Jubilee by Mabel Forrest

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Fifty Long Years

She stood beside the winding river-ways, where sand-tits build high in the flood-scarred bank,
Shading with one slim hand her musing gaze, watching tho Years-To-Be pass rank on rank;
Some were full-faced, red-tuniced, prosp'rous years, and some were lean, Drought-stricken, shambling by, 
And some were worn and leaden-cheeked with tears, and some went shambling with defiant eye. 
Behind them she could hear the waggons creak; the oxen organ note resonant, deep,  
And baby laughter bubbling glad and weak, mixed with the plaintive call of trav'lling sheep;   
She heard the shears click in the bark-roofed shed, the ringer's boastful words the tar-boy's cry;
The fall of dice when stars were overhead, a restless chorus as the years went by.  
She heard the pack-horse hoot-beats in the night, saw tossing heads upon the cattle camp, 
And the peaked survey tents gleam dusky-white by the blazed line along the reedy swamp; 
She knew the empty acres of the North, the miles and miles of sea washed broken beach; 
And watching where the Pioneers went forth, she felt the lure of Things Still Out of Reach. 
She saw the flitting shadow on the track, the arm upraised, the poising of the spear, 
The naked bodies crouching lithe and black, the haunted darkness, and the dogging fear;   
She saw the matted moss no foot had trod, the dingo prowl, the shy-eyed kangaroo; 
She saw the great tree felled, the first-turned sod, the first smoke rising to the peerless blue; 
She saw the city set by Moreton Bay, a village then upon its heaped brown hills;   
Saw the scrub fringe recede from day to day, and busy streets where once rushed mountain rills; 
And then, where spread the gracious black soil Downs, once empty grassy sweeps, she heard arise 
Insistent, eager hum of growing towns, and lush and green the wheatfield charmed her eyes, 
She heard the farmer whistling on his way, and, blown upon the dew-sweet summer breeze 
There ever came a scent of new mown hay, with the rich underbreath of wattle trees. 
As rose, the church and chapel on the hill, and wire fences crossed the daisied plain; 
She heard the mutter of the crushing mill and the full thunder of the laden train;   
She strained her eyes to where Pandanus palms throng to the sands along the northern slopes, 
She saw the cotton fling, its tufted arms and sweat-dark miners tolling on the stopes; 
She saw the glint of gold, the black of tin, wolfram, antimony, and gleaming ore; 
She saw the mighty treasures gathered in, yet knew the jealous earth-breast guarded more,   
And, glancing red and white between the boles of shapely black-butt trees, on ridges brown, 
And loit'ring by the lilied water-holes, the heavy beasts move on towards the town;       
She saw the wool bales bound with rope and hide, swaying adown the tracks from north to south, 
By station home, by salt-bush levels wide, towards the railway and the river mouth,      
She heard the swift machines whirr in the sheds, she breathed the freshness of the new washed wool; 
Where harvesters flash by their green and reds, to the tall corn beyond the willowed pool --
The stalks of sorghum and the emerald cane, the golden sunflow'rs in trim gardens set, 
And when the full blue day began to wane soft ev'ning drew the souls from mignonette. 

Fifty Long Years! 

She stands to-day a perfect woman grown, her firm feet planted on her rock-bound shore; 
She stands and smiles on all she loves to own, on all she dreamed those fifty years before. 
She hears with hopeful heart the fact'ries' hum, sees a proud army rise to her command, 
Her flag flies high o'er miles of grass and gum and wheat crests ruffle in a pleasant land.     
She looks, she finds her gazing very sweet, her eyes grow soft, such tender mem'ries throng;       
Her children cast their laurels at her feet, the leaves they pluck in Science, Art, and Song; 
She spreads her arms across the sunlit land -- upon her fingers glints the opal's fire, 
Matrix and pearl enclasp each mother hand, she knows the rapture of fulfilled desire. 
And flings her brown hair from her forehead's snow, while flashes forth (those dusky locks between), 
Loose links of silver, virgin gold aglow, and shapen stones of clearest olivine,             
Her bosom rises with her clarion call, it echoes from palm height to sapphire sea, 
"Give me your hands in greeting one and all -- Oh! Sister States, acclaim my Jubilee!" 

First published in The Sunday Times, 8 August 1909

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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Winter Morning by Myra Morris

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A smoky silver lifts 
Above the plain.
The cows move through dissolving drifts 
Distorted and immense, and stand
By the black pools where ice has lain.
Broken the ice like splintered globes of glass 
Among the needle-reeds and water-grass. 
Clotted in white the frog-spawn floats.
The duck-weed crusts stems old and drowned. 
And hark, with a round 
Of notes
The butcher-birds rejoice,
And the sharp-edged, metallic sound 
Of a driven cross-saw cuts
The frosty air to ribbons and becomes 
The morning's lusty voice!

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 August 1943

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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An Autumn Day by Kathleen Dalziel

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The glory of God in the morning is over it all --
The blue of the sky, and the pile of the fleecy white cloud, 
From the sentinel mountains, so beautiful, stately, and tall, 
To the song of the magpie, now trilling and calling aloud. 

The glory of God in the morning is over it all 
Ere the dew is yet dry, and the emerald slopes are a-blaze 
With a million white gems, when the orchard leaves flutter and fall, 
And the Earth is at peace in the Autumn's soft, wonderful days. 

From the haze of the range. the stretch of the far forest trees, 
The murmuring sound of the river's soft echoing fall, 
The Earth is at peace in the laugh of the soft, sighing breeze --
The glory of God in the morning is over it all. 

First published in The Bulletin, 6 August 1903 

Author reference site: Austlit

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A Box of Dead Flowers by Mabel Forrest

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Where did your little ghosts slip out 
From underneath the lid?
A dainty wraith in heliotrope
And cream and white, to mount the cope 
No more in petals hid.
Did you, along the upper air,
Hang poised, to help the rainbow there? 

Or were you lost in some pink cloud, 
Some sunset-ravelled edge of night,
This cardboard box had made your shroud,  
Your dry stalks lap you all about.
The hands that picked you could not know
That I should come to find you so!

Travelling towards the Queensland side,   
What racing, through the rattling hours! 
Amongst the mail-bags on the train, 
Sliding down grades, to rise again, 
A weary journey for the flowers!
Until at last, cooped close inside,
Their courage left them and they died! 

But o' from the wadded rolls
The careful swaddling clothes they wear, 
I know a float of scented souls
Fared forth to find the starlit air, 
By some black tor that cut the sky
And watched the shrieking train go by! 

Where did your little ghosts slip out? 
Withered, you lie along my hand;  
Was it somewhere in New South Wales, 
Or by New England's daisied dales, 
Or in your own Victorian land?
Homing, the breathless hours thro'
To some green garden that you knew?

First published in The Australasian, 5 August 1922

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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