Sails at Brixham by Myra Morris

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I walked alone, a stranger I,
   To weald and wold and lea,
But when I saw the rust-red sails
   Beside the Brixham quay,
I felt within my veins the blood
   Rise up in ecstasy.

The sails along the Brixham sea,
   Flecked while with feathery foam,
Wore every shade of red that ran
   Through all the Devon loam--  
And Devon earth and Devon airs
   Cried me a welcome home.

The sturdy Brixham fishermen,  
   With faces weather-stung,
Talked to me where the fishing nets
   Along the harbour hung,
And oh, I listened half-entranced--
   I knew their Devon tongue.

A stranger I from far away,
   With ne'er a memory,
Yet when I saw those Brixham sails
   Take up the wind for me,  
I knew that through my blood there ran
   The salty Devon sea.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 October 1931

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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October Morning by Kathleen Dalziel

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Above the golden meadow  
   Crying his joy aloud,
The skylark is a shadow
   That slants across a cloud,
A very little shadow upon a vasty cloud

That leans against the splendid  
   Blue battlements of day,  
In sunny airs suspended,  
   As silver-white as spray,
As white as are the tea-tree buds  
   On frosted branch and spray.

The soft October morning  
   Is mantled like a bride;  
For, mile on mile adorning  
   The scented countryside,  
The tea-tree strews a million stars
   Along the countryside.

The pines put forth new candles,
   New gum-tip tapers burn,
A march of golden vandals
   Among the bracken fern,  
The capeweed's countless hordes invade
   The hillsides and the fern.

This soft October morning
   Shall have its way, and I,  
My petty troubles scorning,  
   Shall turn and put them by.
Be glad with all the golden day  
   And let the world go by.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 October 1937

Author reference site: Austlit

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Old Sister Mary Martha by Myra Morris

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Old Sister Mary Martha walks
   Behind the convent gate,
A-down the only path she knows.
Past blossoming tree and budding rose,
Counting her trembling steps, she goes,
   And makes the turn at eight.

Frail as a Winter bloom is she,
   And old, so very old.
Her eyes are like pale, frosted glass,
Her rusty skirts above the grass
Make scarce a whisper as they pass,
   Scarce stir the leafy mould.

Old Sister Mary Martha halts
   Beside the plum's white lace,
And for one moment fragrant things
From sweet, remembered, far-off Springs
Merge with the rush of angels' wings
   And lie along her face!

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 29 October 1929

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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The Secret by Mabel Forrest

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Did the wide world know you loved me would it seen the kinder for it?
   Did the wide world know you loved me -- loved me best --
Would the searching light of day In the yearning soul abhor it?
   Or would the glad winds cry abroad the rapture in my breast?

Ah, no! keep the knowledge hidden, for the secret love is sweeter --
   Sweet to know it when they pass me in the hurrying, busy mart,
For it makes the link diviner, and the dream itself completer,
   While I carry all my secret safely hidden in my heart.

First published in The Queenslander, 28 October 1899

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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Birds of the Bush by Kathleen Dalziel

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I heard a blackbird in the hush of dawn, and started at the sound,
The echoes of that golden bell pealed from some kingdom that might well
Be still enchanted ground.

And all the world was somehow changed, it even seemed that, overseas,
All on a sudden it should be May, as well as August's break-o'-day,
In the Antipodes.

There were no blackbirds in the bush, among the gums and sassafras
Of those lost days the rocky tiers that rounded off my childhood years,
The plains of tussock grass.

Only the native birds, I wish that I could hear them now.
The wattle-doves that fall and rise all morning with their plaintive cries
About some golden bough.

Down gullies where the tree-ferns raised green arches and umbrellas,
At dusk the bronze-wing pigeon cooed and many a lively brotherhood
Of little green rosellas

Fled forth at morning on the wings of any wind that blew;
And from the sombre hills would sail, with melancholy screech and wail,
The strange black cockatoo.

Ground-larks ran through the tussock-tufts and played at hide-and-seek
In tawny reeds where, cold as ice, quicksilver springs would suddenly rise
And race to catch the creek.

The Whistling Dicks, from slope to slope called sweetly, lover to lover,
Sang their incomparable song, and wooing owls said all night long
The same thing, over and over.

Before the Derwent Jackass set his jester's-bells a-jingle,
The butcher-bird, Duke William sang, till the enchanted gullies rang
With echoes, double and single.

Where winking fairy waterfalls fluttered in silver inches
Blue-caps and redbreast robins would splash and sometimes one would catch a flash
Of hurrying fire-tail finches.

The magpies in a ringbarked gum bereft of bark or sheath
Warbled like souls in Kingdom-come; sang like seraphs from the dumb
Ivory-tower of death.

Oh blackbird on the blossoming rod sing once again; assuage
Dull days with hints of worlds to come, half-promise and half-premise; some
Improbable Golden Age!

Sing to me, alien bird, and if old songs have been denied
So long, as long as you can raise past magic with that matchless phrase
I shall be satisfied!

First published in The Bulletin, 27 October 1954

Author reference site: Austlit

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The Poet's Vow by Zora Cross

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Beloved! O beloved one. 
   I write this this to tell you, dear, 
That earth and sky and sea and sun, 
   Are all of mine when you are near. 
My love for you is, as a fire 
   That burns with scented incense fine, 
A thing beyond all base desire, 
   Exquisite, holy, chaste, divine. 
Your eyes are humid pools of light, 
   There is a fragrance in your hair, 
And even in this silent night 
   I feel your presence everywhere. 
Adored of all, good-night, mine own, 
   The very stars your grace adore; 
      Believe me, 
         Ever thine alone... 
Alicia, Effie, Rose -- O Lor'! 
Whichever did I mean this for?

First published in The Bulletin, 26 October 1916

At the Concert by Mabel Forrest

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All the time in this crowded hall I am thinking of the sea --
   A wave with its sudden tinkling fall,
And a gull's wing flying free,
   And a night sky like a wall,

With tiny cracks where the stars look through
   When the young moon lifts her blind
And runs all naked down the blue,
   The kiss of earth to find.

All the time in this crowded hall I am thinking of the sea,
   Where the yellow lights burn hot and bright
And the crowd move restlessly --
   Oh! the warble of the waters and the comfort of the night!

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 25 October 1927

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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Old Lace by Zora Cross

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I love old lace, tea-brown on Auntie's sleeves,
   The while she crochets mats and d'oileys white
In rose and shell and lilies lost in leaves.
   Her needles gleam like rapiers courtier-bright.
Oh, Auntie, very straight and stern of face,
Makes me see ruffled ladies sweet with grace,
Because she wears old lace.

My mother had a cloak of sapphire blue
   Lined with soft folding silk of mellow gold.
She wore it at a ball when I was two.
   Its satin decked with yellow lace and old.
When from my girlhood's dreams my spirit wake
She made it mine, and trie Love stopped to stroke
My mother's sapphire cloak.

Grandma, whose father was a Spanish bold,
   With swashing sea-brown locks and sunburnt eyes
Blue as the skies, black lace, demure and old,
   Sewed on her bonnet. Ah, I still can prize
Memories of violets amid black lace
Rustling with age -- her stately old embrace,
And no curl out of place.

I made my small pink dear a dolly's dress
   Of brown and yellow lace I found to-day,
Hidden away within a cedar press
   Choked with old treasures of a bygone play.
And while she watched I panged with sudden fear,
Seeing great Grandmamma in white lace peer
Out of my small pink dear.

First published in The Sydney Mail, 24 October 1923

Sun-Child by Myra Morris

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I am the sun's dark child!
   Who can follow
My joyous way through the teeming wild,
   O'er hill and hollow?
I am the sun's dark child!
   None can follow --
None but the wind, warm-breathed and shy;
None but the flashing swallow! --
Only the blue, dissolving sky,
Only the wind can follow!

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 23 October 1928

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

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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