A Child's Song by Zora Cross

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Somebody died in our house last night
While the little moon looked through the curtains white.
Somebody died that I loved so well
I am almost too frightened and sad to tell.

I dug the grave in the yard myself,
With the spade that I keep on the nursery shelf.
Nobody knew I was out of bed,
So they don't even guess that there's someone dead.

Only my toys and my dollies know,
For they hear me sob in the darkness so;
"No more to-morrows with six-times-three,
Now it's seven-times-one that is here with me."

First published in The Bulletin, 22 December 1921

The Toiler by Mabel Forrest

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I stand beside her grave; the sod is brown,
   Long hours of sunshine o'er the mound must pass,
And winds must blow and gentle rains come down,
   Ere Nature spreads her woven mat of grass 
Above the rest that she has found at last;
   Above the spot where toil cannot encroach, 
Where busy Care is crushed and overpast,
   Where clutching shapes of Greed dare not approach.

I do not grieve as one who mourning stands;
   I do not bow the head or bend the knee;
I see in fancy those poor work-worn hands,
   I think how very tired she used to be!
I think of weary feet that onward pres't,
   The look of anxious care she always wore;
I know how good to her is this long rest,
   And pray that it is sleep for evermore!

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 21 December 1904

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

After the Party by Zora Cross

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Perhaps I have been selfish as is sin.
   A thief of beauty, I have stolen flower
   And fragrance, fruit, and colour hour by hour,
And in my greedy heart close locked it in, 
Perhaps when many duties called in voices thin
   I turned aside to dream in some rich bower  
   Of Poesy I made from stars that shower 
Their mysteries where images begin.

I know all this; and see against my name
   The many marks tumultuously crowd.
For these in bitter pangs doubtless I'll pay.
But when the reckoning is done, and shame
   Lies in her own poor home-spun little shroud,  
   Say that I gave a child one happy day.

First published in The Australasian, 20 December 1924

A Queensland Girl by Mabel Forrest

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A Queensland girl-- not a beauty;   
   But, oh! the dear, deep eyes of her!     
A man might forget his duty, 
   Find his brain in a hopeless whirr, 
Where Love and Hate and Longing whirl,       
All because of that Queensland girl!                              

For she had a way of looking at you,   
   With her eyes as brown as a grass-tree's spears,   
Till your soul fell shuddering thro' and thro',     
   So near to laughter; so close to tears!         
'Twas as though she took your heart in her hand, 
   And turned and looked at it, pressed it close, 
And left you a god with a world's command,               
   Or helpless, rudderless, all morose!    
     
She wanted the dingo's skin for her room     
   As a tawny mat for her trim arched feet;         
So I followed him through the green scrub gloom,   
   And I lost him northward with hack dead beat.       
But I hurried back to the river gate,     
   And I caught and saddled the outlaw brown,         
And by storm-red dawning and star-shine late,           
   With a sure white anger I tracked him down!             
So I carried the pelt to her at last,           
   Sweet, tanned, and soft for her rosy feet,       
And the one swift, flickering smile she cast     
   Chained me to her chariot wheels complete!   
  
She wanted a cluster of water-buds,   
   Blooms that rise on the grey "Dead Man's" lagoon;    
Just a few were left since the Autumn floods,     
   And I rode to pluck them one afternoon.     
A treacherous place with a weed-pack old,     
   Weed that twists and twines round the swimmer's limbs   
Till it grips him close in each slimy fold,         
   And bad luck to the man who weakly swims!       
With a hearing chest I had dragged them up,   
   Slippery snake-stalk and dripping flower,   
Of pale fragile petal and golden cup,   
   That would wilt and die in one sun-warm hour.     
But I splashed by swamp and by crackling reed   
   From the spot where the nesting black duck wake,   
And the brown's side showed how good horses bleed   
   For a foolish whim and a woman's sake.     
But the lingering touch from her sun-kissed hand--     
Oh! men who have loved, can you understand?
       
Had she sighed at night for the first wan star   
   That high in the gallery of planets woke,     
I vow I had climbed to my neck's risk, far                           
   On the bending boughs of the silky oak--     
I had stretched my fingers, all desperate,     
   I had strained my arms o'er Death's very brink,    
Tho' the blue star, hanging by Heaven's gate,     
   Would ever as distant and bluely blink--     
Had she asked me to fetch a northern pearl,      
   Where the coral reef thro' the surf strikes down,           
I had spurned the waves for that Queensland girl     
   To the myriad crab-walks winding brown --     
Where the black shark cuts thro 'the amber gleam   
   Of the emerald-hued, sun-filtered sea,         
And the mermaids rock in a long day dream             
   With their flax hair falling from brow to knee. 
I had dared it all for the promised bliss               
   Of her soul and her body's white for mine, 
For the jewel rare of her slow, fond kiss,   
   And the wife-caress and the arms that twine.   
But she loved me not, and at last I knew,             
   And I vowed myself for the barren West,         
With love that writhed and a grief that grew,         
   And the hate of rivals within my breast.     
There were other suitors who came to woo, 
   Fine and honest men for a woman's mate       
Oh! you who have loved will have mem'ry, too,         
   Of the way that a jealous man can hate! 

For she had a way of looking at them, 
   With eyes as brown as the grass-tree spears;   
With deep-down the glint of a hidden gem, 
   That would never melt into gentle tears, 
For the laughter came like a shaft of sun, 
   And stayed in her eyes like a wreath of stars 
When the sunset pales and the sky grows dun 
   Out above the line of the black belars. 

And they told me that one had wealth for her,       
   A treasure of jewels and tracts of land;     
But she still would smile and a space demur 
   Ere she gave forever that slim brown hand.     
But the end was sure; he was tall and straight;   
   Blue-eyed as a sapphire Queensland sky;      
Just the man for a slight, dark woman's mate, 
   And no rough bush-wooer, tongue-tied as I!   
So I went at dusk to her window ledge   
   And I laid my gift on her window-sill         
Of a fern frond pulled by the river's edge,         
   And some heart-sweet hoya from up the hill.   
Then I turned away where the white gate swings, 
   And the quivering gum trees arch and sigh,   
And I heard the brush of a night hawk's wings 
   That swooped and struck as it hastened by.   
"It is done," I said. "'Tis my one good-bye,       
   And at dawn I ride to the sun-parched West."   
Then I heard a sound like a plover's cry,     
   And it seemed that leaf fell on my breast.     
Not a leaf-- a hand! Does my brain still swirl!     
   It was Death -- but she -- she has made it life,   
For my arms were holding my Queensland girl, 
   "My Queen, my maiden, my love, my wife!" 

For she has a way of looking at you,             
   With her eyes as brown as the grass-tree spears,         
Till your sour falls shuddering thro' and thro',           
   Half in rippling, laughter and half in tears.     
And she took my heart in her tender hand,       
   And she read it truly, and held it near,   
Till I was a god with a world's command,   
   Till I was the King whom the Queen found dear!      
                       
A Queensland girl-- not a beauty;             
   But, oh! the dear deep eyes of her!         
A man who forgets his duty,     
   Find his brain in a hopeless whirr,   
Where Love and Hate and Madness whirl,        
All because of that Queensland girl!        

First published in The Sunday Times, 19 December 1909

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

In the Dandenongs by Kathleen Dalziel

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High noon flooded the mountain-side
   In summery silence deep.
All on a sudden the valley sighed,
   And the wind awoke from sleep. 
All on a sudden the wind awoke
   Whispering far and near.
Tree-top with rustling tree-top spoke,
   And the saplings leaned to hear.

It broke the spirals of blue wood-smoke,
   The scents of the Bush unbound,
Till all the world was a leafy cloak
   Of murmur and light and sound.
Then, letting the sun-drenched fragrance fall
   To earth like a drift of rain,
Tired at the mountain's misty wall
   It sank into sleep again.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 December 1937

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

Oliver's Hill by Myra Morris

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As I went up by Oliver's Hill,
The sea lay under me, blue and still, 
With the curving sand and the tea-tree laid
In a marbled pattern of light and shade.

As I went up by Oliver's Hill,
I whistled a tune that was blithe and shrill;
No happier thing, there moved than I 
Under the matchless morning sky! 

As I looked out from Oliver's Hill 
Over the sea world, blue and still, 
I saw a ship with a wisp of grey 
Moving out on the far-away.

As I came down from Oliver's Hill 
My heart lay grieving, cold and still!
How to stay while that ship rode free,
To breast the tides of some unknown sea!

First published in The Australasian, 17 December 1927

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Guard the North by Mabel Forrest

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We, the haters of war,
   Its folly and its waste;
Cry to the builders of ships, 
Cry to the makers of guns:
   Haste!
Lest the words, "It is ours!"
   Be but an empty boast --
Empty the sunlit miles,
   Empty the dreaming coast.
If you would keep your land,
   Pinewood, and gum and palm, 
We, the haters of war,
   Cry to the nation, "Arm!"
Let our air fleets gather and wing
   High in the dazzling blue;
Defence, for the homes we love,
   The creeds that our fathers knew 
Lest over the peaceful seas,
   Over the coralled coast,
Threaten the alien hordes,
   Threatens the robber host! 
Tall are our city towers,
   Pride to our hearts they give: 
Ours is the right to own,
   Ours be the right to live! 
We, the haters of war!
   Its horror, its bitter waste,
Cry to the builders of ships, 
Cry to the makers of guns:
"Haste!"

First published in The Courier-Mail, 16 December 1933

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Child Dreams by Zora Cross

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Where are the dreams of our lost infancy 
That lit with colour every grey, old day? 
Where the romance that filled our morning way 
And made a castle of a fallen tree?
Shall treasure ships go out no more to sea 
Whose masts lie rank in some forgotten bay? 
Shall no red pirates man the deck of play? 
Nor green-eyed goblins down the forest flee? 

Ah! child, that dreamed in lands of make-believe, 
Building fern bridges for the fairies' feet, 
Hiding in caves from some pale phantom fear, 
Remembering still, I laugh. How can I grieve? 
My childhood's faith in all things still is sweet; 
I build its castles yet since Love is here.

First published in The Sydney Mail, 15 December 1920;
and later in 
The Register, 19 February 1921.

Sabbath Eve by Kathleen Dalziel

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We both walked slowly o'er the yellow grass  
   That spread long leagues beneath late afternoon.
We saw the coloured sunset pale and pass,
   The tilted curving of a crescent moon
Swing in the after glow when clouds were curled.
   Far off the church bells chimed, serene and slow,
And Sabbath peace and calm were o'er the world
   That evening, long ago.

Now, when the grasses turn from green to gold
   And shadows lengthen on the sunset plain,
One walks the path that two had trod of old,
   One dreams the old dreams over once again.
But ah! the world has grown so grey, so grey,
   And haunting memory seems to hurt me so,
The echoes of the hour you went away
   That evening, long ago.

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 14 December 1929

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

Compensations by Myra Morris

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These things are left to me;
The magic of the sea
Blackbirds that sing at dawn,
Frilled daisies round a dappled lawn!

No matter what has been,
Still have I worlds of green,
Sunsets that flame and die,
Blown boughs against a wintry sky!

If I have reached no place
That I had hoped to grace,
This have I known and known --
Earth's beating heart against my own!

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 13 December 1927

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Dark Girls by Zora Cross

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Soft brown eyes fringed in lashes black as jet, 
Dark girls are so mysterious, 
I think They are fit subject for a triolet.
Soft brown eyes hinged in lashes black as jet. 
Bright blondes, maybe, are fruit flowers pink and white;
But secret as a dim magnolia night.
Soft brown eyes hinged in lashes black as jet, 
Dark girls are so mysterious I think.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 December 1938

Back on the Station by Mabel Forrest

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'Twas all very well away back on the station, 
   In the long lazy days by the weedy lagoon, 
When one wearied a little of self-contemplation, 
   And welcomed a change as a heaven-sent boon!

'Twas all very well when you brought me that wattle 
   All golden with sun and the scent of a dream, 
Or let me admire while you cut out cattle, 
   And tried to get thrown--just to see if I'd scream! 

'Twas all very well in the garden at even, 
   When the heavy night air warmed the heart like new wine, 
When the wide sleeping world seemed much nearer to heaven,     
   To look " Yes" to your eyes when they pleaded "Be mine." 

But you must remember times do not get better, 
   The station is mortgaged, the cattle are dead; 
You have only your hands now--would you forge a fetter 
   When what the heart asks is not urged by the head? 

Your overdraft rankles, I know; and while single 
   You're only yourself in the homestead to-day, 
And often, you know, when two loving hearts mingle 
   There's little to eat, and the devil to pay! 

So forget, if you can, all that passed on the station-- 
   The kisses we've had, and the days that were dear-- 
It is all for the best, so keep on your one ration, 
   And--l'll marry for money the end of the year!

First published in The Queenslander, 11 December 1897

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Morning Glory by Kathleen Dalziel

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When Mary hushed her Son to sleep
   Beneath the trees at even fall --
The dusky cedars used to keep
   Green watch and ward above it all.

And all that hour was filled with grace,
   And every flower looked up with joy
To see the light on Mary's face
   While crooning to the drowsy Boy.

But ere the stars are blossom-white
   In fields of heaven, one sad, closed flower
('Tis said) crept by her garments bright
   And caught their color from that hour --

The holy blue of Mary's gown;
   And, sad no more, to morning skies
Flung forth triumphant, over-blown
   With all the blues of Paradise,

The morning glory, still to keep
   Her blossoming mantle mystical,
Though thrones have crumbled in a heap,
   And into dust those idols all....
Since Mary hushed her Son to sleep
   Beneath the trees at even-fall.

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 10 December 1929

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

Junket-Time in Fairyland by Zora Cross

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It's junket-time in Fairyland. Who's coming to the feast?   
Here's Puck with all his pixie band and fifty gnomes at least     
Tugging a million flower-cups of dainty morning dew.     
Where every little fairy sups I'm going. Oh, aren't you?     

A petal for an aeroplane -- be quick, now, Lazy Ned!     
The moonlight falls like silver rain, the peach blooms out of bed.     
It's Springtime on the old brown earth, and that's the time to climb  
To Fairyland by Light of Mirth in jolly junket-time.     

Tie up the 'plane with moonbeams three to any waiting star.     
Now, here we go. Ho! merrily, in Mab's own blossom-car.     
My lips can taste the dainty fare. Fast, fast the minutes spin.       
Tip-tippety-toe upon the stair, for this is Goblin Inn.       

The feast is ready -- bring your plates of plum and apple bloom.       
There's merry Mab and all her mates dancing about the room.       
The witches wait upon us here, and every child may change         
For sixty smiles a single tear, and not one soul is strange.     

Oh, ho! What music, music blows! Oh, ho! What minstrels play!       
Each blade of grass that greenly grows is here a pipe all gay;       
And piping, piping, piping up the floor and back again,       
As lightly as the fairies sup, Titania leads her train.       

Oh, brightly, lightly, off they go, with a trip, trip, trip, trip, trip!     
Who'll dance with me once heel and toe before we pause to sip     
Of syrup sweet and honeys fine and cakes of elfin spice,     
Served up with honeysuckle wine and bread as white as rice?    

First published in The Sydney Mail, 9 December 1925

The Unknown Island by Mabel Forrest

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"Have you never travelled?" "No; never, Sir; I am the native born.
And my journeys lie in Australian nights to the red Australian morn.
I know the path of the leopard gum and the trail of the kumquat ridge,
And the way I go to the east and west is over a fancy bridge.
I am shut in by my turquoise sea, and walled in by my coral strand;
Oh, tell the tales of your journeying, and your lilt of a further land."

He looked at her with his world-wise eyes, and he smiled with a practised lip.
And he let the pearls of a polished tongue o'er the records of mem'ry slip,
And he told her legends of Irish lakes of heather and Scottish highland,
But the one she loved the best of all was the tale of the unknown island.

For he was king of that magic land, he was lord of the story,
And he painted fields of unfading flow'rs; skies of unclouded glory,
Till the gum trees drooped to blinded eyes, and the badge of the Queensland spring
In the wattle tufts on the scrubland edge was only a tarnished thing.
He loosed his rein, and he rode away, away to the cloud-cloaked highland,
And now she knowns 'tis a sea of tears that girdles the unknown island.

First published in The Sydney Mail, 8 December 1909

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Wind by Kathleen Dalziel

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The wind leaped up from the sea, strong voiced and exultant.  
   Tearing the pride of the blossom to tatters of pearl,
And the white gulls are scattered like petals about, and to windward
   The grey ribboned wrack wreaths unfurl.

Crazing the she-oaks again with its aeons old malice,
   Spurring the waves on their useless and passionate quest,
Till, like a thousand pale roses slow fading and fallen,
   Day withers away in the west.

Over the darkness a silvery pallor already
   Tinging the tops of the waters, where veiled and in vain,
Over the sea wall, white shapes leap up through the unsteady 
   Flurry of wandering rain.

Round, red, and wonderful, over the tumbling riot,
   Rises the moon, in the mist of her vapours entwined,
And night's dusky realm is suddenly rocked into quiet
   With the low fallen hush of the wind.

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 7 December 1929

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

Exile by Myra Morris

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The rolling pasture-land slid green
      On every side.
The Cape-weed with its golden sheen
      Flaunts far and wide.
A depthless blue the floating sky! --
      Day after day
The bird sing joyously; but I
      Am far away,
Am far away from all the things
      I love most dear --
Wet, sweeping sands and flashing wings,
      Ships far and near;
Pale little Summer seas that break
      In golden bays;
Salt-bitten secret flowers that break
      Down windless ways!
I am far off! The old things call!
      I dare not hear!
The sound of seas that break and fall
      Rings in my ear
Like ghostly voices. Yet at night
      In dreams I tread
Those beaches lying warm and bright,
      Nor know them fled!
Pale tides and filmy flowers of foam,
      White waters heap
Around me then .... I am come home
      Only in sleep!

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 6 December 1927

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

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