January 2011 Archives

The Lure of Trees by C. J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
"Would anyone really enjoy living where trees were non-existent?" asks the Chairman of the Victorian Forests Commission in a speech explaining why the community owes a great debt to its forests.

I honour all trees well; but, best of all,
I love those scarred old veterans, proud and tall,
      Gazing from eminences, kingly wise,
      Across great sweeps of changing earth and skies;
Gazing with seeming scorn upon the race
Of midgets who despoil this forest place --
      The restless race of men who, with edged tools,
      With fire, have come to serve the end of fools.

Well these patricians know their own high worth;
Well know their task in serving Mother Earth:
      Beckoning rain-clouds sailing overhead
      That earth may drink and living things be fed,
Clutching with myriad roots the precious soil
The sun or sudden flood else would despoil,
      Bending to tempests, spreading to the sky,
      Remote, untamed, unconquered till they die.

I know them in the rose light of the dawn,
Sharp-etched upon the hill-tops, boldly drawn
      Against the light. I know them at high noon,
      Their gleaming arms held up, as for the boon
Of life they offer thanks; know them at night
When, out against the moon's enriching light,
      Some bold phalanger launches from their tops
      And, like a falling leaf, swings down and drops.

And still come stupid men with axe and fire
Scattering death to serve some brief desire.
      "More than our lives are forfeit," says the tree,
      "For as we go, so man's prosperity
Goes with us, till this once green, gracious hill
Shall thirst in vain, when you have wrought your fill."
      I love, I honour all those forest kings;
      They are such wise, such proudly scornful things.

First published in The Herald, 31 January 1935

Author reference sites: C.J. Dennis, Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

January by A. J. Rolfe

| No TrackBacks
Epigraph: 'Beneath each cloud is a silver lining.' (Longfellow)

Over the peaceful earth the early dawn
   With tender tints breaks slowly, and the world
Again begins its toil with waking morn;
   E'en as a stately ship with sails unfurled
Glides from the harbour to the seas' unrest.
   Morning wears on to noontide, and the air
Is calm and still: the Sun God from his breast
   Shoots down his scorching shafts on flowers fair
Till they begin to droop; but soon the sky
   Is overshadowed and the mighty rain
Falls, and the thunders roar relentlessly,
   But early dawn brings peacefulness again.
So after toil and trouble in this life
The "silver lining" calmly ends the strife.

First published in The Queenslander, 30 January 1892;
and later in:
A Sheaf of Sonnets by A. J. Rolfe, 1892

Note: this poem in the first in a sequence of poems that the author wrote about each month of the year.  The rest of the poems will be reprinted by date, as they were first published.

Author: Little is known about this author.  The collection of sonnets mentioned above is the author's only known book.

Author reference sites: Austlit

See also.

The Larrikin Gang by Fred McCabe

| No TrackBacks
Mr. Fred Maccabe, who is a great traveller and goes about the world with eyes wide open, says that one of the signs of evil times to come in Victoria and New South Wales is the prevalence and toleration of larrikinism. The magistrates of these colonies, he says, are afraid to attempt to suppress by drastic punishment this colonial form of ruffianism. A short time ago, however, one sensible man who had been promoted to the bench, had the courage to send some larrikins to gaol, wheneupon Mr. Maccabe burst into poetry and penned the following lines, which he will sing at his farewell performances next week.  

When I was a boy I did enjoy
Strong health in a sinewy frame;
But I did not know
How to get a show
ln the rush of a rowdy game.
Till I found a pal
Who says, "You shall
Indulge in a push and a fight,
I've got some chums
Down in the slums
Who will join us with delight;
And they'll all agree,
With the greatest glee
To row with a slang and a bang.
Let us organise   
And the town surprise
With the pranks of a larrikin gang.
We enjoyed the charm
Of doing harm
To decent women and men,
And oh! t'was a treat
When we made a street
Like a regular wild beast's den.
And we didn't cease
When the stupid p'lice
Began to interfere
And the magistrates,
Who we all hates
Declared it would cost us dear
And they says "Look here
It seems quite clear
Since larrikins we can't hang
We must all combine
To inflict a fine
When we deal with a larrikin gang
So they connived
As we contrived,
By subscribing a bob or a crown,
When a pal was fined
We didn't mind,
'Cos we plonked the money down;
But a cove on the bench
His fist did clench,
And he says, "I'll let them know
That these young blokes
Can't play their jokes
With a curse and a kick or a blow,
With a sentence clear
And very severe
I'll draw the ruffian's fang.
They shall go to gaol
And I'll take no bail -
That settles the larrikin gang."
Since I've been in jail
I've dropped my tail,
And chucked up the larrikin gang.

First published in The West Australian, 29 January 1892

Author: Nothing is known about this author other than the notes printed at the top of this poem.

Death of "The Last of His Tribe" by David Flanagan

| No TrackBacks
They watched o'er the flight of his wandering soul
   To the realm of the gone-before;
For they knew he was nearing the coveted goal, ---
   That he stood at the open door:
   At the verge of the open door.

And they tenderly bent o'er his languishing head
   To catch what his lips might say;
Ere the soul of "the last of his tribe" had fled   
   To the land of eternal day:
   Of a lovely eternal day.

They caught at the half-uttered murmurs that fell,
   Like the drops from a failing source;
And still as they hearkened could randomly tell
   Where his wandering thoughts held their course:
   Their restless and volatile course.

He was far away back in his youthful days,
   In the spring of a manful might;   
Once more in the battle he won the praise
   Of his tribe as the foe took flight ---
   From his nullah and spear took flight.

Again he was far from his tropical home,
   In search of a happier spot;
Now eastward; now westward; still home he would come;
   For a cheerier place there was not:
   A home like his own there was not.

And he joined in the chase of the swift kangaroo;
   And he speared the shy fish in the stream;
But he suddenly started --- his journey was through, ---
   And he smiled like a child in a dream:
   Like an innocent child in a dream.

And the watchers knew as the smile died away,
   That the old man's spirit had fled;
And the spear and the boomerang useless lay ---
   For "the last of his tribe" was dead:   
   Of the tribe he had mourned was dead!

* Having had the pleasure, not long ago, of reading the late Henry Kendall's fine poem, "The Last of His Tribe," the thought struck me that he might have written also about the death of that unlucky representative of his dying race.

First published in The Queenslander, 28 January 1888

Author: nothing is known about the author of this poem.

Note: you can read the text of Henry Kendall's poem here.

Cricket is a Serious Thing by "Dido" (Edward Dyson)

| No TrackBacks
The Argus reports cricket matches at far greater length and with a gravity it never quite attains in dealing with any other matter on earth.

In politics there's room for jest;
   With frequent gibes are speeches met,
And measures which are of the best
   Are themes for caustic humor yet.
   E'en though the pulpiteer we fret
With sundry quiddities we fling,
   We pray you never to forget
That cricket is a serious thing.

The crowd assembles at a Test,
   And Hobbs at length is fairly set,
Though Gregory rocks 'em in with zest;
   The barrackers may fume and fret
   When Parkin has contrived to get
Five men of ours - we feel the sting,
  And give expression to regret,
For cricket is a serious thing.

They have the lead; we would arrest
   A sort of rot.  No epithet
Is proper, though they've got our best
   For next to nothing, and your bet
   Is good as lost.  Don't sit and sweat;
Due reverence to the problem bring.
   We have a pile of runs to net -
Ah, cricket is a serious thing.

            ENVOY.
We have to meet a heavy debt,
   And Howell makes the leather swing;
Australia's pride is sore beset -
   Yea, cricket is a serious thing!

First published in The Bulletin, 27 January 1921

Author: Edward Dyson (1865-1931)  was born near Ballarat, Victoria into a family that would also produce the artist Ambrose Dyson, and the writer and artist Will Dyson. Dyson was a very prolific poetry and short story writer, utilising his early life in the Victorian goldfields and on the road with his father to great effect.  Struck down by a bout of encephalitis after the 1919 influenza pandemic he went into decline and died in 1931.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

The Corner Man by A. B. "Banjo" Paterson

| No TrackBacks
I dreamed a dream at the midnight deep,
   When fancies come and go
To vex a man in his soothing sleep
   With thoughts of awful woe --
I dreamed that I was a corner-man
   Of a nigger minstrel show.

I cracked my jokes, and the building rang
   With laughter loud and long;
I hushed the house as I softly sang
   An old plantation song --
A tale of the wicked slavery days
   Of cruelty and wrong.

A small boy sat on the foremost seat --
   A mirthful youngster he;
He beat the time with his restless feet
   To each new melody,
And he picked me out as the brightest star
   Of the black fraternity.

"Oh father," he said, "what WOULD we do
   If the corner-man should die?
I never saw such a man -- did you?
   He makes the people cry,
And then, when he likes, he makes them laugh."
   The old man made reply --

"We each of us fill a very small space
   In the great creation's plan,
If a man don't keep his lead in the race
   There's plenty more that can;
The world can very soon fill the place
   Of even a corner-man."

     .    .    .    .    .

I woke with a jump, rejoiced to find
   Myself at home in bed,
And I framed a moral in my mind
   From the words the old man said.
The world will jog along just the same
   When its corner-men are dead.

First published in The Bulletin, 26 January 1889 and again in the same magazine on 27 August 1930;
and later in
Saltbush Bill, J.P., and Other Verses by A.B. Paterson, 1917;
The Collected Verse of A.B. Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1982;
Singer of the Bush, A.B. (Banjo) Paterson: Complete Works 1885-1900 compiled by Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie, 1983; and
A Vision Splendid: The Complete Poetry of A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1990.

Author: Andrew Barton Paterson (1864-1941), also known universally as "Banjo", sits in the top rank of Australian poets, especially those of the "bush" era.  His early life was spent near Orange in New South Wales and after some home-schooling he was sent to Sydney to matriculate.  He failed a University of Sydney scholarship exam but entered a solicitor's office as a clerk and was admitted to the bar in 1886.   He started writing poetry in 1885 and ten years later published his first collection, The Man from Snowy River and Other Verses, which was full of, by then, iconic Australian poems. He worked as a journalist for a number of years, being a newspaper correspondent during the Boer War, and, after further travels to China and England, quit his legal practice in 1902.  He continued to write until his death in Sydney in 1941.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Australian Poets #4 - Roderic Quinn

| No TrackBacks
roderic_quinn.jpg

Roderic Quinn (1867-1949)

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Old and New by Emily Bulcock

| No TrackBacks
O singers of this later day -- the harvest is not reaped.
New fields are yours for gleaning in fuller radiance steeped.
Science brings daily marvels stirring the sluggish mind,
Opens new gates to wider thought -- so tarry not behind.

Leave Lovelace to his Phyllis, Wordsworth his Lucy meek,
Beauty still loves to linger on girlish lip and check.
Deem not all splendid things are said -- though many a harp was strung,
Though pioneers of poesy such varied songs have sung.

All wonders that were theirs are yours, and doubly yours to-day.
The magic harps they played on more fully stringed ye play,
And nature though she gave them rich spoil of virgin years  
Still keeps some new, late secrets -- meant only for your ears.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 January 1930

Author: Emily Bulcock (1877-1969) was born near Maryborough, Queensland.  She was the older sister of the distinguished author Vance Palmer. She married Robert Bulcock in 1903 and later became a foundation member of the Queensland Country Women's Association and the Queensland Authors' and Artists' Association.  Emily Bulcock died in Brisbane on 4 September 1969.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.
Great God be thank'd, that there are men like thee,
Who ever rise, in sovereignty of mind,
Lifting against the oppressors of our kind
The voice of genius, -- still most sovereignly,
When boldest waxeth their arch-villainy,
Who, with the tyrant's purpose, are combined;
I thank Almighty God, who intertwined
Justice and truth with man's nobility,
For such as thou, true poet! Nothing can
Enhance the gusts of joyance now that thrills me,
In knowing how thy heart beats in this cause;
Or what I owe thy kindness, Halloran,
Would mingle in the feeling which so fills me
With happy thankfulness, and pure applause.

First published in The Australasian Chronicle, 24 January 1843;
and later in
The Empire, 12 April 1851;
Murmurs of the Stream by Henry Parkes, 1857; and
The Bulletin, 17 December 1881.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

[Note: you can read Henry Halloran's original sonnet here.]

His Love by Norman Lilley

| No TrackBacks
He said his love was like a red, red rose,
   As if the phrase had been his own invention;
And as I marked his style and red, red nose,
   I pitied her, with thoughts I needn't mention.

He said she always played a cheery part --
   Had many virtues, each one eighteen-carat;
Then staggered on, and clasped her to his heart --
   His love indeed, a bottle of old claret.

First published in The Bulletin, 23 January 1913

Author: Norman Lilley (ca1875-1941) worked as a journalist for The Bulletin, and the Argus in Melbourne.  He published and edited the short-lived Lilley's Magazine, which only lasted for 5 issues in 1911.

Author reference sites: Austlit
How we wish the clever writers
   Of our prose and of our verse
For their characters would take a wider range!
There are some which keep recurring
   Like a decimal -- we curse
Their recurrence, and we're aching for a change.

We are weary of the legend
   Where the sergeant of police
Loves the fascinating sister of a "crook,"
And condones a lot of felonies
   And breaches of the peace,
And won't prosecute when cattle have been "shook."

People say, "It's so Australian!"
   And some similar event
May have happened long ago as in the tale,
But police are not romantic
   Now - at least to that extent -
And the "crooks" they cop are handed to the gaol.

There's the big, gum-booted digger --
   Crimson-shirted, with the sash
Which he wore when Ballarat first played the game.
And he's nearly always doing
   Something venturesome and rash
When he isn't "slinging mullock" in his claim.

All the writers since the "'fifties"
   Have delighted in this type,
Who is always big and masterful and flash.
And, whatever he is doing --
   Diggin' - dancin' - stewin' tripe -
Why, he always wears the shirt and boots and sash.

There's the beauteous bush maiden --
   Though her father keeps a pub,
In the local estimation she is IT! --
And she rides unbroken "brumbies"
   Through impenetrable scrub,
An exasperating female, you'll admit.

She is cultured and accomplished,
   And with virtue she's supplied
In accordance with a lavish kind of scale.
So, when tempted by the squatter,
   She prefers to be the bride
Of a humble chap who runs the local mail.

Ah! these types are too familiar,
   They disturb our peace of mind;
But the one which makes us actually ill,
Is that weird, elusive bushman --
   He's in every tale you'll find
And he bears the simple sobriquet of "Bill."

The great prevalence of William
   Makes our indignation boil --
Every reader of Australian fiction knows
How he praces through the poems
   Which are "racy of the soil,"
While he positively permeates our prose.

He's a shepherd, he's a shearer,
   He's a breaker-in of nags,
And he always swims some river in a flood.
But he wrecks our nervous system,
   And reduces it to rags,
'Till we really feel we want to have his blood.

He's a stockman, he's a drover --
   He's on any kind of "lay"
Which may chance to suit the man who slings the ink --
But he always plays the hero
   In an offhand kind of way --
That's enough to make a reader take to drink.

There is game and there is glory
   To be gathered by the bard,
Or the fiction manufacturer who will
Write a stirring backblock story
   (Oh! we know it will be hard!)
Or a poem that is innocent of Bill.

First published in The Bulletin, 22 January 1914;
and later in
The Macmillan Anthology of Australian Literature edited by Ken L. Goodwin and Alan Lawson, 1990.

Author: George Herbert Gibson (1846-1921) was born in Plymouth, England, in 1846 and emigrated, first to New Zealand in 1869, and then to Sydney, New South Wales, in 1874.  He was well-known for his humorous poetry in The Bulletin and published four collections of that poetry during his lifetime.  He died in Lindfield, NSW, in 1921.

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.
Joy be with thee, Elder Sister, on thy proud Centennial Day ---
All thy stalwart sons about thee, and thy daughters, dear as they,
And the sheaves of thy Thanksgiving gladdening with their golden glow
Lands that lay a glebe unbroken but a hundred years ago!

Thou hast crowned thyself with cities --- and no stone is set on Wrong;
Freemen tend thy flocks at pasture, freemen dwell thy hills among.
Never Ural, never Andes, held such wealth as is thine own --
By no sweat of serfdom tainted, purchased by no bondman's groan.

Nor for gain alone thy striving, nor to sit in place of pride;
Whilst thy roof-tree still was lowly, thou didst lodge, in chambers wide,
Learning, Charity, Religion--of thy bard-won store bestowed.
In each steep by thee surmounted thou host hewn for them a road.

On the heights of wave-washed Sydney stand her stately College towers;
Far and wide full many a Hospice waits to soothe Misfortune's hours;   
From the Altar-fires thou kindledst there be brands already borne
To illume the Earth's dark places and to comfort the forlorn.

Joy be with thee, O Our Sister! --- we thy Kin are glad with thee
For the greatness of thy Present --- for the glory that shall be
When the Noblest of the Nations --- She we all alike hold dear ---
Calls thee not alone her Daughter, but for evermore her Peer.

First published in The Queenslander, 21 January 1888

Author: Mary Hannay Foott (1846-1918) was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1846 and emigrated to Melbourne with her family in 1853.  She trained as a teacher and taught in various schools in Victoria and New South Wales before marrying Thomas Wade Foott in 1874 in Bourke, NSW.  She later moved to Queensland where she became editor of the women's page in The Queenslander.  She died in Bundaberg, Queensland, in 1918.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Old Qld Poetry

See also.

The Poets of Australia by Will M. Fleming

| No TrackBacks
They are rising in endless numbers
   From ways that are wide and lone,
Dream-eyed with the fire that slumbers
   And feeds on the heart, unknown;
Deep-souled, but with lips grown scornful,
   And shallow to careless eyes,
With hearts that are tender -- mournful
   Those cynical writers rise.

From realms of a restless roaming,
   From creeks where the camp-fires glow,
From flash of the waters foaming,
   From plains where the night-winds blow;
From dreams of a mighty longing
   To deeds of a sordid world,
From the memories softly thronging
   To lips that are grimly curled.

By shadow and star, in sadness,
   By dusk and the lonely moon,
By moan of the midnight madness,
   By calm of the deep mid-noon;
Pale-browned o'er their sun-brown faces,
   Hard-handed and soft of heart,
All reckless, the squadron paces,
   And each in his soul apart.

And what are the hopes they cherish?
   And what are the dreams they dream
When cynical scornings perish,
   And lawless the lovelights gleam?
Bent low o'er the sweat-stained bridle
   They rise, with a careless hold;
Each with his broken idol,
   Each with his dream untold.

First published in The Bulletin, 20 January 1900

Author: William Montgomery Fleming (1874-1961) was born in the Wimmera district of Victoria but undertook his schooling in New South Wales.  He was a member of the NSW State Legislative Assembly from 1901 to 1910 when he resigned to contest and win a seat in Federal Parliament.  He volunteered for the First World War and served as a driver with Australian Army Service Corps.  He again took up politics after his return to Australia but lost his seat in 1922 and was never re-elected. He died in Terrigal, New South Wales, in 1961.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

A Ballad of Eureka by Victor J. Daley

| No TrackBacks
Stand up, my young Australian,
In the brave light of the sun,
And hear how Freedom's battle
Was in the old days lost -- and won.
The blood burns in my veins, boy,
As it did in years of yore,
Remembering Eureka,
And the men of 'Fifty-four.

The old times were the grand times,
And to me the Past appears
As rich as seas at sunset,
With its many-coloured years;
And like a lonely island
Aglow in sunset light,
One day stands out in splendour --
The day of the Good Fight.

Where Ballarat the Golden
On her throne sits like a Queen,
Ten thousand tents were shining
In the brave days that have been.
There dwelt the stalwart diggers,
When our hearts with hope were high.
The stream of Life ran brimming
In that golden time gone by.

They came from many countries,
And far islands in the main,
And years shall pass and vanish
Ere their like are seen again.
Small chance was there for weaklings
With these man of iron core,
Who worked and played like Giants
In the year of 'Fifty-four.

The Tyrants of the Goldfields
Would not let us live in peace;
They harried us and chased us
With their horse and foot police.
Each man must show his licence
When they chose, by fits and starts:
They tried to break our spirits,
And they almost broke our hearts.

We wrote a Declaration
In the store of Shanahan,
Demanding Right and justice,
And we signed it, man by man,
And unto Charles Hotham,
Who was then the Lord of High,
We sent it; Charles Hotham
Sent a regiment in reply.

There comes a time to all men
When submission is a sin;
We made a bonfire brave, and
Flung our licences therein.
Our hearts with scorn and anger
Burned more fiercely than the flame,
Full well we knew our peril,
But we dared it all the same.

On Bakery Hill the Banner
Of the Southern Cross flew free;
Then up rose Peter Lalor,
And with lifted hand spake he: --
"We swear by God above us
While we live to work and fight
For Freedom and for justice,
For our Manhood and our Right.'

Then, on the bare earth kneeling,
As on a chapel-floor,
Beneath the sacred Banner,
One and all, that oath we swore;
And some of those who swore it
Were like straws upon a flood,
But there were men who swore it
And who sealed it with their blood.

We held a stern War Council,
For in bitter mood were we,
With Vern and Hayes and Humffray,
Brady, Ross, and Kennedy,
And fire-eyed Raffaello,
Who was brave as steel, though small
But gallant Peter Lalor
Was the leader of us all.

Pat Curtain we made captain
Of our Pikemen, soon enrolled,
And Ross, the tall Canadian,
Was our standard-bearer bold.
He came from where St Lawrence
Flows majestic to the main;
But the River of St Lawrence
He would never see again.

Then passed along the order
That a fortress should be made,
And soon, with planks and palings,
We constructed the Stockade.
We worked in teeth-set silence,
For we knew what was in store:
Sure never men defended
Such a feeble fort before.

All day the German blacksmith
At his forge wrought fierce and fast;
All day the gleaming pike-blades
At his side in piles were cast;
All day the diggers fitted
Blade to staff with stern goodwill,
Till all men, save the watchers,
Slept upon the fatal hill.

The night fell cold and dreary,
And the hours crawled slowly be.
Deep sleep was all around me,
But a sentinel was I.
And then the moon grew ghostly,
And I saw the grey dawn creep,
A wan and pallid phantom
O'er the Mount of Warrenheip.

When over the dark mountain
Rose the red rim of the sun,
Right sharply in the stillness
Rang our picket's warning gun.
And scarce had died the echo
Ere, of all our little host,
Each man had grasped his weapon,
And each man was at his post.

The foe came on in silence
Like an army of the dumb;
There was no blare of trumpet.
And there was no tap of drum.
But ever they came onward,
And I thought, with indrawn breath,
The Redcoats looked like Murder,
And the Blackcoats looked like Death.

Our gunners, in their gun-pits
That were near the palisade,
Fired fiercely, but the Redcoats
Fired as if upon parade.
Yet, in the front rank leading
On his men with blazing eyes,
The bullet of a digger
Struck down valiant Captain Wise.

Then "Charge!" cried Captain Thomas,
And with bayonets fixed they came.
The palisade crashed inwards,
Like a wall devoured by flame.
I saw our gallant gunners,
Struggling vainly, backward reel
Before that surge of scarlet
All alive with stabbing steel.

There Edward Quinn of Cavan,
Samuel Green the Englishman,
And Haffele the German,
Perished, fighting in the van.
And with the William Quinlan
Fell while battling for the Right,
The first Australian Native
In the first Australian Fight.

But Robertson the Scotchman,
In his gripping Scottish way,
Caught by the throat a Redcoat,
And upon that Redcoat lay.
They beat the Scotchman's head in
Smiting hard with butt of gun,
And slew him -- but the Redcoat
Died before the week was done.

These diggers fought like heroes
Charged to guard a kingdom's gate.
But vain was all their valour,
For they could not conquer Fate.
The Searchers for the Wounded
Found them lying side by side.
They lived good mates together,
And good mates together died.

Then Peter Lalor, gazing
On the fight with fiery glance,
His lion-voice uplifted,
Shouting, 'Pikemen, now advance!'
A bullet struck him, speaking,
And he fell as fall the dead:
The Fight had lost its leader,
And the Pikemen broke and fled.

The battle was not over,
For there stood upon the hill
A little band of diggers,
Fighting desperately still,
With pistol, pike, and hayfork,
Against bayonet and gun.
There was no madder combat
Ever seen beneath the sun.

Then Donaghey and Dimond,
And Pat Gittins fighting fell,
With Thaddeus Moore, and Reynolds:
And the muskets rang their knell.
And staring up at Heaven,
As if watching his soul's track,
Shot through his heart so merry,
Lay our jester 'Happy Jack'.

The sky grew black above us,
And the earth below was red,
And, oh, our eyes were burning
As we gazed upon our dead.
On came the troopers charging,
Valiant cut-throats of the Crown,
And wounded men and dying
Flung their useless weapons down.

The bitter fight was ended,
And, with cruel coward-lust,
They dragged our sacred Banner
Through the Stockade's bloody dust.
But, patient as the gods are,
Justice counts the years and waits --
That Banner now waves proudly
Over six Australian States.

I said, my young Australian,
That the fight was lost -- and won --
But, oh, our hearts were heavy
At the setting of the sun.
Yet, ere the year was over,
Freedom rolled in like a flood:
They gave us all we asked for --
When we asked for it in blood.

God rest you, Peter Lalor!
For you were a whiteman whole;
A swordblade in the sunlight
Was your bright and gallant soul.
And God reward you kindly,
Father Smith, alive or dead:
'Twas you that give him shelter
When a price was on his head.

Within the Golden City
In the place of peace profound
The Heroes sleep. Tread softly:
'Tis Australia's Holy Ground.
And ever more Australia
Will keep green in her heart's core
The memory of Lalor
And the men of 'Fifty-four.

First published in The Bulletin, 19 January 1911;
and later in
Old Ballads from the Bush edited by Bill Scott, 1987;
Bugger the Music, Give Us a Poem! edited by Keith McKenry, 1998;
The Turning Wave: Poems and Songs of Irish Australia edited by Colleen Burke and Vincent Woods, 2001;
An Australian Treasury of Popular Verse edited by Jim Haynes, 2002; and
Two Centuries of Australian Poetry edited by Kathrine Bell, 2007.

Note: the subject of this poem concerns the Eureka Rebellion in Ballarat, Victoria, in 1854.

Author: Victor Daley (1858-1905) was born in Armagh, Ireland, and arrived in Australia in 1878 where he worked as a journalist and poet.   He was very prolific, using the pen-name of Creeve Roe as well as his own name to produce a large number of poems, mainly for The Bulletin.  He died of tuberculosis in 1905.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Australian Poets #3 - Zora Cross

| No TrackBacks
zora_cross.jpg

Zora Cross (1890-1964)

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Old Qld Poetry

See also.

A Reflection on Lawson's Poems by J. Le Gay Brereton

| No TrackBacks
Seasons bloom and seasons wither; dark or bright, they cannot last.
Must we try with floods of bitter teas to vivify the past?
Vainly chase the brown and broken blossoms blown along the blast?

Shall we scorn the flowers around us -- red, or blue, or white as snow --
Flowers giving loads of fragrance unto all the winds that blow
Must we hide our eyes and falter: "O, the days of long ago!"

Never stop to look behind you, if the blaze of glory there
Blinds you to the splendour stretching round about and everywhere.
True, the past was pleasant, Lawson, but the present is as fair.

I, too, love the days when heroes, seeking treasure, seaward sped;
Days of Drake, when English sailors followed where their leaders led;
Days when Marlowe trod the glowing clouds, that thundered to his tread.

Even then, though, there were cowards, traitors, swindler, "business men,"
Plot and murder, slave and master, secret sneer, and wounding pen;
And the poets thought the present vile and barren even then.

And their comrades were no better than some modern mates we meet --
Even though they don't go wearing tights and feathers in the street;
And the girls are dear as ever, and their kisses just as sweet.

Sing the present; drop the drivel of the "days evanished," please!
Though you pray until your pants are burst or baggy at the knees,
You can't bid the sun go backward -- no, not even ten degrees.

First published in The Bulletin, 18 January 1896, and later in the same magazine on 29 January 1980.

Author: J. Le Gay Brereton (1871-1933) was born in Sydney in 1871. His father John Le Gay Brereton who was a minor poet, and Bererton appears to have used his first initial in order to differentiate his work from that of his father's.  Brereton graduated from the University of Sydney, he worked in the university's library and was later appointed as professor of English.  He was active in the Sydney literary circles of his time - he was friends with Henry Lawson and Christopher Brennan - and published 6 collectons of his work during his lifetime.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

At Wiseman's Ferry by Ella McFadyen

| No TrackBacks
The old road north of Wiseman's
   Climbs up by cliff and ledge,   
On great, grey, lichened buttresses,
   Above the river's edge;
For faithfully they packed the stone,
   In Solomon his day,   
And wearily the builders wrought,   
   Who never drew their pay.  

To right the roofs of Windsor
   Are glinting in the sun,   
The mist is on the crossing place,
   The day is now begun --   
A long, long day of liberty,   
   With sun and road and sky --
Ah, pity their captivity,
   Who toiled in days gone by!  

The yellow of the cornland,
   The cliff's enpurpled state,   
The old stone house, where Wiseman dwelt,   
   With gryphon-guarded gate --   
I wonder here what viewless ghosts
   Tramp through the heat of noon,   
If down the road the clank of chains
   Is heard beneath the moon?  

Or if the ferry cable
   Creaks ghostly in the night,   
To bear across the phantom gang  
   That may not bide the light?   
Light hearts to whom this happy land
   Is free and blessed abode,   
Pass on your way, but, passing, bless
   The makers of the road!
   
First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 January 1925

Author: Ella McFadyen (1887-1976) was a poet, journalist and children's author.  She worked for the Sydney Mail newspaper from 1918-1938.

Author reference sites: Austlit

See also.

The Golden Vein by C.G.A. Colles

| No TrackBacks
Some sing the songs of the storied past, and some of the lights-o'-love;
Some chant refrains of the underworld, and some of the world above,
Let each man sing of the things he feels in a voice that is clear and strong,
That each shall achieve the work of his heart and add to his nation's song.

For there's often a twist of the master-hand in the build of a hodman's brain
That his fellows may fail to understand if he speak not the trite and plain;
And an inexpensive and puerile wit may gird at the thought in rhyme,
Unaware of the message enwrapt in it, addressed to a broader time.

For many a body is like a hearse -- its passenger dead within;
And there's many a mouth to gibe at a verse with a sneering, cynical grin,
While its fellow, bred on the same coarse fare, must suffer the jeers inane,
For beneath the grime of his sordid life is a shoot of the golden vein.

Yea, a man may stand in a dingy bar and traffic in beer and rum,
And the soul of the man go wand'ring far -- though the voice of his soul be dumb --
Apart from the barman's meaner self, a thing of another sphere,
Abhorring the stale tobacco smoke, and loathing the smell of beer.

For there's many a good sea-song been writ in a city garret bare;
And some have scaled the Olympian heights at the head of a creaky stair;
And some have sat on an office stool and dreamed of the deeper things,
While the chrysalis-soul of the man's desire bides ever with folded wings.

Let each man sing of the things he feels, in a voice that is sure and strong,
That each shall achieve the work of his heart, and add to his nation's song;
That the dream of a miner touch the stars, and a barman hear the bees,
And the cabman's soul go out to the bush, and the pawn-broker's to the seas! 

First published in The Bulletin, 16 January 1908

Author: Little is known about the author C.G.A. Colles, other than he lived in Hawthorn, Victoria where he was a local bank manager for a number of years.

Author reference sites: Austlit

January 1916 by Zora Cross

| No TrackBacks
Leaves of another year bud on the hills;
   Songs of another year sing in our hearts;
Good luck, good cheer, and recompense for ills,
   Each new-born flower some wistful wish imparts.
      
See where the mellow sun sheds golden tears  
   A yellow rosebud nods her smiling head;    
And these tall grasses, like a school of seers,   
   Repeat the prayer the wind so lately said.  

So carolling adown the scented way;
   New life, new resolutions everywhere;  
My spirit bows before the shrine of day,
   Swearing allegiance to a thing so fair.

First published in The Argus, 15 January 1916

Author: Zora Cross (1890-1963)  was born in Brisbane and trained and worked as a primary school teacher before the birth of her first child. She married actor Stuart Smith in 1911 but the marriage was dissolved some 11 years later.  She lived with the author David McKee Wright in a de facto relationship and the couple had two children. A pioneering female poet,  she was very prolific and published 4 collections of her work.  She also wrote a number of novels which were serialised in The Queenslander,

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Old Qld Poetry

See also.

The First Emigrant Ship by Minette Roy

| No TrackBacks
'Twas evening --- and the sun had sunk beyond the ocean wave,
Whose azure rippling waters Australia's white sands lave;
But the light still lingered in the sky, as if it sorrowed to give place
To dark-robed night, that onward strode, with sad and solemn pace.

To the west the sky was overspread with a tint of roseate hue;
To the east the silver stars were bright in a vault of the deepest blue;
The foliage of the stately gum was swayed by the summer breeze,
And the mournful cry of the curlew came from the fragrant wattle trees.

Upon that lonely shore a single figure stands,
With the deadly boomerang and long spear in his hands.
His skin was black, and a scarlet band around his head was bound,
And from his shoulders an opossum rug hung trailing on the ground.

His form was tall, and his large dark eyes were fixed in a steady gaze
Upon the outline of a ship seen dimly through the haze;
While crouching down beside him on the seaweed were two hounds,
Who helped to chase the kangaroo with wide and agile bounds.

Oh! who can tell the strange wild thoughts that swelled within his breast,
As he watched that unknown shadowy shape upon the ocean's crest;   
While the sound of distant music come floating to the ear,
And faintly o'er the echoing waves was borne a British cheer.

Though sunk in the lowest depths of vice, and doubly dyed with sin,
Who, who, shall say no seeds of goodness were found within?
Perchance he loved his country; methinks none would be found
Who did not love the place where his feet first trod the ground.   

Did he see the mountain ranges where so long he'd idly roamed,
And the lordly sheeted Murray where the sparkling cascade formed?
Did he see them given to the white man -- his tribe grow few and small
As these strangers with still stranger arts lorded it over all?

Did he see the noble forests cut down in their strength and pride,   
And from their smoking ashes fair smiling homesteads rise?
Did he see the flocks and herds where the emu built her nest;
And waving golden grain upon the mountain's crest?

And did he see the vice that followed in their rear ---
The deadly sin of drunkenness upon his blood-stained bier,
That fiends in human form would give the cup to him to drain;
That would sink him deeper in the gulf, and prove his direst bane?       

And rising above all, did he see the heaven-born light
That would show the loathsome forms of sin, and pierce his nation's night.      
When the morning brightly broke the black had gone his way,   
And the stately ship with flowing sails stood in for Holdfast Bay.

And when the blue waves leaving, that brave pioneer band,
With hearts rejoiced and thankful, leaped on the whitened sand,         
They blessed and praised His guiding hand who brought them without failure
To the fruitful hills and valleys and broad plains of Australia.  
   
First published in The South Australian Advertiser, 14 January 1865

Note: nothing is known about the author of this poem.

The Martyrs of Fortune by Charles Harpur

| No TrackBacks
Want ground the faces of the Prophets old;     
Our greatest Bards were only rich in song;       
The golden-hearted ever wanted gold;
And they who wronged not ever suffered wrong.
Such, in this unintelligible World,
Seems still the Patriot's, Sage's, Poet's fate!
The mountain of its scorn upon them hurled,
Or grinds to misery, or constrains to hate!
To hate sometimes -- but with a perfect will
To this superior they should ever be;
Though sacrificed, like Jesus, loving still
The injured Spirit of Humanity:
For God's beholding patience makes it plain,
That so to suffer, and to die, are GAIN.

First published in The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser, 13 January 1847,
and later in:
The Poetical Works of Charles Harpur edited by Elizabeth Perkins, 1984.

Author: Charles Harpur (1813-68) was born on the Hawkesbury River, New South Wales to parents who had both been transported: his father from Ireland and his mother from England. Harpur was a very prolific writer - his volume of collected poems runs to over 1000 pages - and is considered by many to be the first great Australian-born poet.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

To an Old Pocket Book by Henry Parkes

| No TrackBacks
The star which brightens through the breaking storm,
In solitary beauty, hath a charm,
For him whose eye discovers its pale speck
From off the writhing vessel's sea wrench'd deck --
A charm which o'er reviving sense will dart,
And almost master manhood's resolute heart,
Recalling, with the magic of its beam --
Sudden and vivid -- dreams of childhood's dream;
The home, the very self-same home he left,
The lights and shadows which were wont to shift
Before his eyes, years, many years ago,
When oft he wonder'd in the starlight's glow,
('Ere his lone heart the wide world's ills had proved,)
With those who loved him, and were his beloved!
And, like that star, my friend's old pocket book,
   (Though gone thy outward glass, and worthless thou,)
Up-turn'd unthinkingly, -- thy time-worn look
   Breaks through the tempest of my bosom now,
And brings bright pictures of the past to mind,
Faces all smiles, and hearts for ever kind.
Yes! we were happy when I first saw thee,
Both -- he who had thee then in keeping, he
Who now will keep thee, as his parting gift!
But that brief season of the soul flew swift;
Both had our troubles ere we parted -- both
Bore hearts of unmatured and wither'd growth   
Away in heaviness; though sun and rain,
For him, may now have brought the flowers again.
Such is my prayer and hope -- that Misery
Left him with Fortune when she follow'd me!
But oh! the sight of thee recalls the sunny
Moments which flew, uncursed by strife for money.

First published in Australasian Chronicle, 12 January 1841

Author: Henry Parkes (1815-1896) was born into rather meagre circumstances in Warwickshire England in 1815.   After a series of financial difficulties he and his wife left England for New South Wales, arriving in Sydney on 25 July 1839.  Although dogged with business problems, Parkes became increasingly involved with the literary and political life of the colony and entered Parliament in 1854. He served five terms as Premier of the colony between 1872 and 1891.  In later years he actively campaigned for the Federation of Australia but failed to live to see his dream fulfilled in 1901.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Australian Poets #2 - Henry Kendall

| No TrackBacks
henry_kendall.jpg

Henry Kendall (1839-1882)

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Adam Lindsay Gordon by Lance Fallaw

| No TrackBacks
Where the gum-trees' long shadows are spearing
   The highway's red zone,
There passes athwart the thin clearing
   A rider alone.
Head bowed over breast, forehead smitten
   By fortune his foe --  
So we see, who have read what is written,
   The Gordon we know.

No! racing apace, not at canter
   We see him to-day.
We hear not the quip or the banter
   Of comrades at play.
But slow in his saddle goes leaning
   The stockrider sick,
And the thinker who sought for life's meaning
   Is tired of the trick.

Around him new lands, but within him
   Old fancies, old themes.
No thunder of horse-hoofs could win him
   From making of dreams.
Let others sweep past us with chorus,
   Exultant of eye.
A hush of grey sunsets comes o'er us
   As Gordon goes by.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 January 1930

Note: the subject of this poem is the poet Adam Lindsay Gordon (1833-1870).

Author: Lance Fallaw (1876-1959) was born in England and arrived in Australia some time around 1907. He edited regional newspapers in Queensland and Victoria, and was, for a time, associate editor of The Sydney Morning Herald (1929-1936).

Author reference sites: Austlit

See also.

Bannerman of Dandenong: An Australian Ballad by Alice Werner

| No TrackBacks
I rode through the Bush in the burning noon,
   Over the hills to my bride, --
The track was rough and the way was long,
And Bannerman of the Dandenong,
   He rode along by my side.

A day's march off my Beautiful dwelt,
   By the Murray streams in the West; --
Lightly lilting a gay love-song
Rode Bannerman of the Dandenong,
   With a blood-red rose on his breast.

"Red, red rose of the Western streams"
   Was the song he sang that day --
Truest comrade in hour of need, --
Bay Mathinna his peerless steed --
   I had my own good grey.

There fell a spark on the upland grass --
   The dry Bush leapt into flame; --
And I felt my heart go cold as death,
And Bannerman smiled and caught his breath, --
   But I heard him name Her name.

Down the hill-side the fire-floods rushed,
   On the roaring eastern wind; --
Neck and neck was the reckless race, --
Ever the bay mare kept her pace,
   But the grey horse dropped behind.

He turned in the saddle -- "Let's change, I say!"
   And his bridle rein he drew.
He sprang to the ground, -- "Look sharp!" he said
With a backward toss of his curly head --
   "I ride lighter than you!"

Down and up -- it was quickly done --
   No words to waste that day! --
Swift as a swallow she sped along,
The good bay mare from Dandenong, --
   And Bannerman rode the grey.

The hot air scorched like a furnace blast
   From the very mouth of Hell: --
The blue gums caught and blazed on high
Like flaming pillars into the sky; . . .
   The grey horse staggered and fell.

"Ride, ride, lad, -- ride for her sake!" he cried; --
   Into the gulf of flame
Were swept, in less than a breathing space
The laughing eyes, and the comely face,
   And the lips that named HER name.

She bore me bravely, the good bay mare; --
   Stunned, and dizzy and blind,
I heard the sound of a mingling roar --
'Twas the Lachlan River that rushed before,
   And the flames that rolled behind.

Safe -- safe, at Nammoora gate,
   I fell, and lay like a stone.
O love! thine arms were about me then,
Thy warm tears called me to life again, --
   But -- O God! that I came alone! --

We dwell in peace, my beautiful one
   And I, by the streams in the West, --
But oft through the mist of my dreams along
Rides Bannerman of the Dandenong,
   With the blood-red rose on his breast.

First published in The Bulletin, 10 January 1891,
and later in :
The Bulletin, 24 March 1900;
An Anthology of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stephens, 1907;
The Golden Treasury of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stepehens, 1909
School Paper: Grades V and VI, March 1926;
The North Queensland Register, 16 July 1928;
On the Track with Bill Bowyang: With Australian Bush Recitations edited by Dawn Anderson, 1991-92; and
Two Centuries of Australian Poetry edited by Kathrine Bell, 2007.

Author: Alice Werner (1859-1935) was born in Trieste, Italy in 1859 and moved with her family to Dunedin, New Zealand the same year.  She later became an expert in African Languages and dialects, teaching at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities.

Author reference sites: Austlit

The Shearing at Cuppacumbalong by Anonymous

| No TrackBacks
Before I tells my story, if you asks me who I are,
I'm the shearer from the Billybong who never called for tar:
And on this first occasion I came out very strong,
Stripping off the fleeces at Cuppabacumlong.

Good shearing there, you bet; no man might tomahawk;
For if he did, he got the sack, and from the shed might walk;
Indeed a few poor fellows, their hearts it well nigh broke,
When they found they could not slash along the Murrumbidgee stroke.

Now I'm a steady hand, and do not try to go too fast,
And proved that careful shearing pays better at the last;
For when well nigh a month is lost, by reason of the rain,
It surely must be worth the while our rations free to gain.

And so it proved: for while the two great ringers got the sack
I shore all through, and in return a decent cheque got back.
And as I settled with the boss, he said, almost in tears,
"My bully boy, your tucker's free, and you may take your shears."

There's one remark I'd wish to make for which I have good reasons --
And that's to make more roomy sheds in case of rainy seasons;
For many a man I think would go more easy to his bed,
If he knew his next day's sheep were safe and drily in the shed.

I never seed such rain before, my word, what work we had:
To finish before Christmas day we wired in like mad;
We rose with dawn at four o'clock, and freshened with our sleep,
We thronged the pens like eaglehawks to dart upon the sheep.

You know the price we got this year; 't was three and six the score;
The same they got at Tuggranong: and though we tried for more,
The boss held out, and in a tone that seemed by half too knowing,
He said that shearers might be scarce but rather guessed it blowing.

"And how about the grub ?" I knew you'd ask that vital qusestion,
For none can work ten hours a day, upon a a bad digestion;
'T was mainly good, the beef was fat, we'd doughboys pretty often,   
And now and then a good plum duff, our labours helped to soften.

Well now we've done; on Christmas-eve we finished the last cobblers,
And galloped off to Queanbeyan, to take some social nobblers;
I stay at Land's: so join me, mate, I'm scarcely ever out;
The shearer from the Billybong is always free to shout.

First published in The Queanbeyan Age, 9 January 1873

Note: the author of this poem is unknown.

Life's Overland by Will H. Ogilvie

| No TrackBacks
Grey-lying miles to the nor'ward of Nor'ward,
Red-leaping leagues to the westward of West,
Further than keenest of sight follows forward,
Further than boldest of hearts ever guessed;
Still with its secret to Man unimparted,
Still with its beckoning wealth unattained,
Lies the dim goal that has Never been Charted,
Down the long Road that has Never been Chained.

Day after day, and from morrow to morrow,
Pointing the way where the wide road begins,
Sweep the red scorpion scourges of Sorrow,
Lashing her children out West for their sins;
Beef wood and white wood, and redgum and wilga,
Lead them and goad them, and guide them and guard,
Till hidden in tangle of sandal and mulga,
The gates to the East and the Southward are barred.

Westward and Nor'ward! and fainter behind them
The roll of the waggons, the roar of the whips,
The towering red dust-storms that waltz down and wind them,
The blue mocking mirage that rise to their lips;
Beyond the last camp of the furthest-west drover,
Beyond the last team-track, the last rotting steer,
Beyond the last foot-pad the camels crossed over,
Beyond the lone grave of the last pioneer.

Westward and Westward! Out past the last horror
Of thirst and starvation, of lorn lives and lost,
The bleaching white bones of the boldest explorer,
The scrubs and the plains that have never been crossed, --
Where the heat haze no lunger in mockery dances,
Where no more the sand-drift whirls brown on the blue,
Where the pitying Sun lays at rest his red lances,
With white flags of truce where his war banner flew.

The last birds have waked them -- they sleep now no longer!
The last dark has lifted -- they take no more rest!
For the aching feet heal and the tired heart grows stronger
As every league bears them a league to the West.
Gold ! Did they hear her sweet voice as they started?
Now she is dumb to them, scorned and disdained,
And their goal is a Goal that has Never been Charted;
Their route is a Road that has Never been Chained.

Westward and -- Homeward! Brown hands at the back of them;
Far in the distance white hands -- and the rest;
One by one, outward, we lose the last track of them,
All the world wending its way to the West;
One after one, till the last shall have started,
Yet no more the last than the first shall have gained
In the lore of the Goal that has Never been Charted,
Down the long Road that has Never been Chained.

First published in The Bulletin, 8 January 1898;
and later in:
Fair Girls and Gray Horses and Other Verses by Will H. Ogilvie, 1898

Author: Will H. Ogilvie (1869-1963) was born in Scotland and travelled to Australia in 1889, due, in part, to his love of the horses and the poetry of Adam Lindsay Gordon. He spent the next 12 years working in the bush and took to writing poetry that would later put him in the company of the best of bush balladists, especially the "horse poets".  He returned to Scotland in 1901 and stayed there until his death in 1963.  He continued to write poetry for Scottish publications throughout his life.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Dead Old Year by Douglas B. W. Sladen

| No TrackBacks
Come, soul, and bury the dead old year;
   Time was when she was fair,
Though now her body be shrunk and sere,
   Gone the gold of her hair.

In the cathedral of memory
   Set up escutcheon meet,
And with her sisters --- the years gone by ---   
   Give her embalming sweet.

A warm tear over her ashes drop --
   True wife was she to you;
She bore you many a darling hope,
   And blessings not a few.

First published in The Queenslander, 7 January 1882; and again in the same newspaper on 23 December 1882.

Author: Douglas Brooke Wheelton Sladen (1856-1947) was born in London and studied at Trinity College Oxford before arriving in Australia in 1879.  Following his BA from Oxford he took a law degree at the University of Melbourne before settling in Sydney after being appointed the first lecturer in modern history at the University of Sydney.  He returned to England in 1884 but maintained an interest in Australian poetry, especially that of Adam Lindsay Gordon.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Harvest by "J. G."

| No TrackBacks
See the golden corn is waving,
   Fann'd by every gentle breeze;
And the sun's fierce rays are shining,
   Shining through the tall gum trees.

Yonder see a group of reapers,
   Resting in a tree's cool shade;
Rest they want -- for well they earned it --
   Toiling with the sickle's blade.

Soon as dawn's first light appeared
   They to labour came away,
Shaking off, the silvery dewdrops
   'Ere the heat of the noonday.

Now the spell-time it is over,
   They to work again must go,
Like a band of sturdy soldiers,
   Setting forth to meet a foe.

Now the evening shades are closing,
   Homeward see the reapers steer,
Wash their sunburnt hands and faces,
   Then partake their evening cheer.

God of goodness, we would thank thee
   For thy gifts in times gone by,   
And for this abundant harvest
   We would waft thy praises high.

First published in The Queanbeyan Age, 6 January 1874

Author: the actual identity of "J. G." is unknown at this time.

The Army of the Mind by Roderic Quinn

| No TrackBacks
There rolled a rumour round about the world;
And as it rolled, stormlike, its import gained,
Foretelling bloody tales of flags unfurled,
Of battle-winds and clouds that redly rained.

The sleepless spirits of the nations stood
Upon the outer walls to watch the foe:
How breaks the dawn? "In smoke and skies of blood."
What hope for man? "No hope but endless woe."

The black disease of fear ranged tower and town,
And hope took sick and languished where it spread;
Souls lost their faith-holds and went tumbling down
To Godless depths; for even God seemed dead.

The builders building up the glowing dome --
The dome it took ten thousand years to make,
Ceased work and waited for the shock to come,
The battle-thunder and the chaos-quake.

Men dreamt old Self had risen from the dust,
Re-donned his skins and clutched his club and knife,
And brought again the reign of blood and lust,
The ancient code of midnight stealth and strife.

The hearts of men grew startled as a word,
And sane eyes filled with fierce, insensate light;
For foot to foot, and gleaming sword to sword,
The nations stood for one world-pending fight.

The rumour grew: men cursed the evil star
That wrought malicious influence at their birth;
Their fear-assaulted minds were gripped by war,
War, war, and naught but war upon the earth.

Desire lay slain: lost ardours left the heart
A place of ashes, dreary and agloom;
Farewells were said, and lovers drew apart
And, surged by terror, fixed their eyes on doom.

The Painter's work was done; the Poets song
At end; the hour's eclipse made all things dim:
A cloud of doom, a fear of future wrong
Dulled ear and eye and heart, lamed brain and limb.

Long time the rumour gnawed the hearts of men;
Long time they stooped abjectly 'neath its power;
When hark! what breaks upon the watchers' ken?
What say the watchers on the Eastern tower?

"'Tis smoke, 'tis dust, 'tis glory, it is morn!
Morn's army hither comes, a golden host --
Their rise and fall the rise and fall of corn
Wind-swept, or as the sea-roll on a coast.

Not yon the light of cannon in the sky;
'Tis but a mirror-flash that tells afar
All time's achievement cannot, shall not die;
We march from peace to peace -- not peace to war.

This is the glowing army of the mind,
Long sought for by war-weary souls and wise;
With lifted swords and bugles on the wind
They march to battle with battalioned lies.

They seek the sated Dragon of the Smoke,
The black heart-wrecker from fell regions brought,
A splendour not of steel marks each sword-stroke,
For every sword is but a lifted thought."

Thus march they on, and thus their numbers grow,
Just here and there set back by fire and blood;
But time is theirs, and where their legions flow
They stay and flourish, and their work is good.

First published in The Bulletin, 5 January 1901; and later in the same magazine on 5 April 1906.

Author: Roderic Quinn (1867-1949) was born in Sydney, and met the future poets Christopher Brennan and E.J. Brady during his school years.  Considered by many during his lifetime to be a poet of talent, he described himself as "a pleasant minor poet". 

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Australian Poets #1 - Henry Lawson

| No TrackBacks
henry_lawson.jpg

Henry Lawson (1867-1922)

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library, The Poetry of Henry Lawson website

See also.

The Grave of the Year by Ione (George J. Macdonald)

| No TrackBacks
In the spring time of summer, all blooming with life,
   While hope's gayest blossoms look smilingly forth,
When the spirit of storms hath ceased from his strife,
   And the hoar frost lies bound round the ice of the north --
In the pride of earth's verdure, its beauty and all,
   Time stays not his pinions, but with rapid career
Wings in silence his flight, while death's funeral pall
   In a sunbeam is thrown o'er the grave of the year!

As the fall of a giant in the strength of his might,
   Is the death of the year in our southern clime;
In the freshness of life, in the fullness of light,
   It is hurried away by resistless time!
Who would cling to a world that thus passes away --
   Where life's fondest pleasures death can dim with a tear?
For the sun that sets bright on its children to-day
   On the morrow will rise o'er the grave of the year!

Then trust not the smile that in youth glads the brow,
   In the noontide of brightness we may mourn its close;
Soon the eyes of affection their last look may throw
   Ere the cold brow is pillow'd in death's calm repose --
Ere the green sod is laid o'er its mouldering clay,
   Or the flowers of summer lie strewed o'er his bier !
And how many's the one who's thus passing away
   To his last dreary home, like the grave of the year !

But, yet, there's a world where a change is unknown,
   Where summer eternally gladdens the soul,
Where death has no power, where the spirit above
   Tastes "the fullness of joy" that can ne'er feel control:
There for ever the brow with gladness is brighten'd,
   When illum'd by the bliss of that heavenly sphere,
Which the sunbeam of love so immortally's lighten'd,
   That it there ne'er will set on the grave of a year!

First published in The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 4 January 1845;
and later in:
Port Philip Patriot, 22 January 1845

Author: George J. Macdonald (1805-51) was born in England and arrived in Sydney in 1826. He appears to have spent the bulk of his adult life in public service.  He died in the Swan Hill area of Victoria but details of his death are unclear.

Author reference sites: Austlit

Will Yer Write It Down For Me? by Henry Lawson

| No TrackBacks
In the parlour of the shanty where the lives have all gone wrong,
When a singer or reciter gives a story or a song,
Where the poet's heart is speaking to their hearts in every line,
Till the hardest curse and blubber at the thoughts of Auld Lang Syne;
Then a boozer lurches forward with an oath for all disguise --
Prayers and curses in his soul, and tears and liquor in his eyes --
Grasps the singer or reciter with a death-grip by the hand:
"That's the truth, bloke! Sling it at 'em! Oh! Gorbli'me, that was grand!
Don't mind me; I've got 'em. You know! What's yer name, bloke! Don't yer see?
Who's the bloke what wrote the po'try? Will yer write it down fer me?"

And the backblocks' bard goes through it, ever seeking as he goes
For the line of least resistance to the hearts of men he knows;
And he tracks their hearts in mateship, and he tracks them out alone --
Seeking for the power to sway them, till he finds it in his own,
Feels what they feel, loves what they love, learns to hate what they condemn,
Takes his pen in tears and triumph, and he writes it down for them.

First published in The Bulletin, 3 January 1903;
and later in:
When I was King and Other Verses by Henry Lawson, 1905;
Humorous Verses by Henry Lawson, 1941;
The Collins Book of Australian Poetry compiled by Rodney Hall, 1981; and
A Fantasy of Man: Henry Lawson Complete Works 1901-1922 edited by Leonard Cronin, 1984.

Author: Henry Lawson (1867-1922) vies with "Banjo" Paterson for the title of Best Known Australian Poet.  Prolific, both as a poet and short story writer, Lawson battled poverty, deafness and alcoholism for most of his adult life, finally dying destitute at the age of 55.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library, The Poetry of Henry Lawson website

See also.

January 2nd by C. J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
How many have you broken up till now?
I know that yesterday you made a vow,
   And most solemnly 'twas spoken;
   But how many have you broken?
Oh, you kept 'em for an hour or two - But How?

You swore at twelve o'clock or thereabouts,
Most resolutely, scorning any doubts,
   That the glad New Year would find you
   With your vices all behind you.
And you'd be the very best of good boy scouts.

But you fell.  And, oh, how quickly did you fall!
And now you're feeling low, and mean, and small;
   For, despite all your devising,
   You have come to realising
That you're really only human after all.

Ah, well, at least you had the will to try;
And you may reform some day before you die,
   And there's this small consolation
   On the road to reformation:
There's another New Year coming by and by.

First published in The Herald, 2 January 1931

Author: C. J. Dennis (1876 - 1938) was born in Auburn, South Australia and moved to Melbourne in 1908.  Best known for his verse novel The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke (1915), he started writing occasional pieces for the Melbourne daily newspaper, The Herald, in the mid-1920s before taking on a more permanent, regular role as staff poet for that same paper in 1927. This position continued until his death in 1938.

Author reference sites: C.J. Dennis, Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Ode for Commonwealth Day by George Essex Evans

| No TrackBacks
Awake! Arise! The wings of dawn
    Are beating at the Gates of Day!
The morning star hath been withdrawn,
    The silver vapours melt away!
Rise royally, O Sun, and crown
    The shoreward billow, streaming white,
The forelands and the mountains brown,
        With crested light;
Flood with soft beams the valleys wide,
    The mighty plains, the desert sand,
Till the New Day hath won for bride
        This Austral land!

Free-born of Nations, Virgin white,
    Not won by blood nor ringed with steel,
Thy throne is on a loftier height,
    Deep-rooted in the Commonweal!
O Thou, for whom the strong have wrought,
    And poets sung with souls aflame,
Born of long hope and patient thought,
        A mighty name ---
We pledge thee faith that shall not swerve,
    Our Land, Our Lady, breathing high
The thought that makes it love to serve,
        And life to die!

Now are thy maidens linked in love
    Who erst have striven for pride of place;
Lifted all meaner thoughts above
    They greet thee, one in heart and race:
She, in whose sun-lit coves of peace
    The navies of the world may rest,
And bear her wealth of snowy fleece
        Northward and West;
And she, whose corn and rock-hewn gold
    Built that Queen City of the South,
Where the lone billow swept of old
        Her harbour-mouth;

And the blithe Sun-maid, in whose veins
    For ever burns the tropic fire,
Whose cattle roam a thousand plains
    With opal and with pearl for tire;
And that sweet Harvester who twines
    The tender vine and binds the sheaf,
And the young Western Queen, who mines
        The desert reef,
And she, against whose flowery throne
    And orchards green the wave is hurled ---
Australia claims them; They are One
        Before the World!

Crown Her --- most worthy to be praised ---
    With eyes uplifted to the morn;
For on this day a flag is raised,
    A triumph won, a nation born!
And Ye, vast Army of the Dead,
    From mine and city, plain and sea,
Who fought and dared, who toiled and bled,
        That this might be,
Draw round us in this hour of fate ---
    Here, where thy children's children stand ---
With unseen lips, O consecrate
        And bless the land!

Eternal Power, benign, supreme,
    Who weigh'st the nations upon earth;
Without whose aid the Empire dream,
    And pride of states is nothing worth
From shameless speech, and vengeful deed,
    From license veiled in freedom's name,
From greed of gold and scorn of creed,
        Guard Thou our fame!
In stress of days that yet may be
    When hope shall rest upon the sword,
In Welfare and Adversity,
        Be with us, Lord!

First published in School Paper for Classes V and VI, no.26 December 1900,
and later in:
The Advertiser, 1 January 1901;
The Brisbane Courier, 1 January 1901;
The Australian Town and Country Journal, 5 January 1901;
The Bulletin, 5 January 1901;
The Coo-ee Reciter: Humourous, Pathetic, Dramatic, Dialect, Reciations and Readings compiled by William T. Pyke, 1904; and
The Secret Key and Other Verses by George Essex Evans 1906.

Author: George Essex Evans (1863 - 1909) was born in England and migrated to Australia in 1881. He is generally considered one of Queensland's best ever poets.  A memorial to him was raised in Toowoomba after his death.

Notes: "In 1901 [Essex Evans] won first prize in the New South Wales Government's Competition for a commonwealth ode with a poem that had been edited by Alfred Deakin prior to the competition."* The competiton was run to mark the inauguration of the Federation of the Commonwealth of Australia on January 1, 1901.
* - see the "Toowoomba's Literary History" webpage.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2010 is the previous archive.

February 2011 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Powered by Movable Type 4.23-en