February 2011 Archives

Snowy on the Spree by C. J. Dennis

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For the second time in two months the swollen Snowy River, which rises at Mt. Kosciusko, has disastrously flooded the Orbost plains.

Now, a stream may be a lady,
   Gleaming, dreaming placidly
Now 'twixt sunlit banks, now shady,
   Singing down to greet the sea;
Or, with passions curbed and bounded,
   Prone perchance a well-bred gent
By his code's restraints surrounded,
   Lest he should wax turbulent.

But the wild, wild Snowy River,
   He's a rough, tough mountain "bloke";
Nought can bind this fierce loose-liver
   On his periodic "soak".
Drinking deep of heady waters,
   By his Kosciusko home,
All his kindlier creed he slaughters
   When mad Snowy starts to roam.

Roaring, raving down the mountain,
   Forth fares he, on drunken legs,
Swilling more at each strong fountain
   Till he drains it to the dregs.
Eastward first he weaves and wobbles,
   Cursing, crazy, stained with clay,
Avidly he gizzles, gobbles
   Every drop that comes his way.

Southward now he makes a sally,
   Tearing at the trees and scrubs;
Down thro' many a peaceful valley,
   Calling in at all the "pubs".
On he rages, boasting, brawling,
   Till he sinks with fuddled brain,
In a drunken stupor sprawling
   Flat across the Orbost plain.

Blind to all the ill he rendered,
   Blocking many a plain-land path,
Here he lies, a sot surrendered
   To his orgy's aftermath;
Then he wakes, and, in meek fashion,
   Shamefaced, sneaks away, till he
Cools the embers of his passion
   Headlong in the healing sea.

Now a stream may be a lady
   Or a gentleman serene
Who, by sunlit ways or shady,
   Graces many a sylvan scene.
But that wild, wild woodsman, Snowy,
   Crude uncultured, swift to rage,
He's a hill "bloke", flash and showy,
   Roaring down on his rampage.

First published in The Herald, 28 February 1934

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

See also.

An Exile's Vigil by Henry Parkes

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How hush'd this lovely night, no sound
   Of mortal agency,
Save only the slip's gentle bound
   Disquieting the sea.
Falls on the heart -- a solitude
In which all nature seems subdued.

And yet a joy, to nature true,
   Touching the heart with pain,
Wakes 'mid the lonely waters blue,
   And feelings come again
Which made the light of childhood's brow,
And come at sorrow's bidding now.

Who ever looked in love to heaven,
   So starry and so still,
And felt not then that hollowing leaven
   Above all sense of ill;
Which joy both mingled in life's cup,
The surface sparkling gladdening up?

Man's better nature must have scope,
   In solitude like this;
And dreamings will have birth from hope
   Of untouched stories of bliss --
Despite the ruin of the past --
But all too beautiful to last.

Ah me! on my poor wounded heart
   The softening influence falls,
To admit still deeper sorrow's smart;
   Each beauty but recalls
The pictures fair, which passed away
Beneath my grasp, in life's young day.

The breeze springs up, the white sails dip
   Into the shadowy night;
And gallant rides the convict ship,
   Exulting in her bright
And billowy track -- with her go forth
Sin's exiles to the ends of earth.

A year ago, fond hearts there were,
   Whose breaking this had been!
I bless thee, Death, for taking her
   Who bore me ere she'd seen
The evil of my heart, or deemed
My spirit darker than it seemed.

I go unto that southern land,
   Where mounts remorseless crime
In penal misery, 'mid the bland
   Luxuriance of the clime;
'Mid scenes of nature's fairest bloom,
Making a deep unnatural gloom.

I go unwept for mercy's sake!
   So much of ill I've dared;
And aught of good, which might rewake
   Man's love, so little shared.
I go, without a wish to avert
My doom, yet would myself desert.

This solitariness of grief,
   In retribution's hour,
To writhing guilt is some relief;
   It leaves not man the power
To mark the change, nor link remaining
In the broken chain that's worth regaining.

Farewell; a word I might unsay,
   Since human heart heeds not
Its utterance as I pass away;
  Mine is the felon's lot!
Yet childhood's home, farewell, farewell!
Though 'midst thy smiles the stranger dwell.
   
First published in The Australasian Chronicle, 27 February 1841

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

See also.

Time by David McKee Wright

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The years go slowly up the hill,
And pause to glance and stay to talk,
Like an old man on a morning walk,
Until they reach the crown;
Then with the speed of a boy's will
They run on and down.

O years, if you were young as fair,
Running on and up the hill,
With swift feet that were ever still,
You might pause a while on the crown
And let the old man breathe the air
As he walked slowly down.

But you are old and life is young,
And time and joy go ill together;
You speed a man like a wind-tossed feather,
And draw a boy like a weight of lead.
And ever and ever the song sung
Is a mourning for days dead.

The velvet wind, the silken day
And all the little laughing grasses
cry shame on Time because he passes
With a jest on his foolish tongue;
But he has come so far, they say,
And he has so far to go, they say,
He is old before he is young.

First published in The Bulletin, 26 February 1925

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Proof Readers by Nina Murdoch

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We sit all day, my mate and I,
   With wan eyes fixed on proof and screed,
While all the world goes streaming by,
   In mad procession as we read.

With wan eyes fixed on proof and screed,
   Ah, who would guess the things we see
In mad procession, as we read
   From morn till night, unceasingly?

Ah, who would guess the things we see!
   The lives and loves of all the earth,
From morn till night, unceasingly -
   Their tragedies and dreams and mirth!

The lives and loves of all the earth,
   We murmur in a lifeless drone,
Their tragedies and dreams and mirth
   Are tempered in a monotone.

We murmur in a lifeless drone,
   The throbbing lynotypes below
Are tempered to a monotone;
   The copy boys run to and fro.

The throbbing lynotypes below
   With us are neither sad nor gay;
The copy boys run to and fro,
   My mate and I no haste display.

With us are neither sad nor gay
   The deeds of men and clowns and kings;
My mate and I no haste display
   Though the world laughs or weeps or sings.

The deeds of men and clowns and kings
   (Through dreams and hopes and fears disproved,
Though the world laughs or weeps or sings)
   We watch with weary eyes unmoved.

Through dreams and hopes and fears disproved
   We sit all day, my mate and I:
We watch with weary eyes, unmoved,
   While all the world goes streaming by.

First published in The Bulletin, 25 February 1915

Author:  Madoline (Nina) Murdoch (1890-1976) was born in Carlton in Melbourne before moving with her family to Sydney when she was young.  She was educated at Sydney Girls' High School and began writing poetry there before marrying James Duncan Mackay Brown and moving back to Melbourne.  She began work on The Sun-News Pictorial before being retrenched during the Depression.  She travelled through Europe in the 1920s and 30s and wrote a number of travel books which were very well received.  Work at ABC radio saw her begin the famous Argonauts Club for children but her writing output slowed as she was forced to nurse her sick mother and husband.  Nina Murdoch died in Melbourne in 1976.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Lay of the Motor-Car by A.B. "Banjo" Paterson

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We're away! and the wind whistles shrewd
   In our whiskers and teeth;
And the granite-like grey of the road
   Seems to slide underneath.
As an eagle might sweep through the sky,
   So we sweep through the land;
And the pallid pedestrians fly
   When they hear us at hand.

We outpace, we outlast, we outstrip!
   Not the fast-fleeing hare,
Nor the racehorses under the whip,
   Nor the birds of the air
Can compete with our swiftness sublime,
   Our ease and our grace.
We annihilate chickens and time
   And policemen and space.

Do you mind that fat grocer who crossed?
   How he dropped down to pray
In the road when he saw he was lost;
   How he melted away
Underneath, and there rang through the fog
   His earsplitting squeal
As he went ----  Is that he or a dog,
   That stuff on the wheel?

First published in The Evening News, 24 February 1905;
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;
Song of the Pen, A.B. (Banjo) Paterson: Complete Works 1901-1941 edited by Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie, 1983;
The Penguin Book of Australian Humorous Verse edited by Bill Scott, 1984;
A Vision Splendid: The Complete Poetry of A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1990;
Selected Poems: A. B. Paterson compiled by Les Murray, 1992;
A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson: Bush Ballads, Poems, Stories and Journalism edited by Clement Semmler, 1992; and
The Collected Verse of Banjo Paterson edited by Clement Semmler, 1993.

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

See also.

The Slain by Victor Daley

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I followed in an awful dream,
   With no desire, or hope, or plan,
The winding of a silent stream
   That through a shadowy woodland ran.

No voice of leaves above I heard,
   No voice of gladness or distress,
There was no song from any bird
   To stir that dreadful silentness.

And as that gloomy path I trod,
   I found within a place remote
The body of a fair dead God
   With marks of fingers on his throat.

Who slew that Being all divine,
   And from his eyes the life-light stole?
Ah, me the finger-marks were mine,
   And mine the murder of my soul!

First published in The Bulletin, 23 February 1901

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

See also.

Australian Poets #8 - A. B. "Banjo" Paterson

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A. B. "Banjo" Paterson (1864-1941)

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

See also.

The Martins' Place by Zora Cross

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The Martins' place I love the best;
   They all have names I like,
That Mrs. Martin calls them lest
   She might mix Tom with Mike.

There's Silver Hair and Little Mum
   And Old Man in the Corner;
And Cherry Ripe and Little Tom Thumb
   And Humpty Dumpty Horner.

At home I'm just called Lucy May;
   My sisters name is Nell;
But Mrs. Martin says, "Good day,
   Snow-white and Bonnie Bluebell."

And that's why I like Martin's Place,
   Because it's fun to be
Snow-white and sometimes Daisy Face,
   And not just freckled Me.
   
First published in The Sydney Mail, 22 February 1928

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

See also.

Blue Haze by Ruth M. Bedford

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I know what makes that soft blue haze
On summer days --
The fragile veil that hangs between
The hot skies and the fading green,
So magically frail, it seems
All made of dreams.

It is the locusts' piercing song
So sharp, so strong,
That simply tears the air in two,
To little shreds and wisps of blue
That, vaguely floating, make a haze
On summer days.

First published
in The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 February 1925

Author: Ruth Marjory Bedford (1882-1963) was born in Sydney and began writing poetry in her teens.  She was a lifelong friend of fellow poet Dorothea Mackellar, co-authoring two novels with her in the 1910s.  Mainly known as a "children's poet" she published seven collections of her work and wrote several plays.  She died in Sydney in 1963.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

February by A. J. Rolfe

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Epigraph: 'Lonely and lovely, a single star/ Lights the air with a dusky glimmer.' (Longfellow)

The air is still, and as the golden Morn
   Starts on her Journey, Nature's flowers fair
Waking from sleep, and fields of waving corn
   In serried ranks, give fragrance to the air.
And e'en as murmuring music slowly swells,
   Then louder peals with overwhelming sound,
Falling as slowly as it rose, and tells
   Of joys and sorrows that our lives surround;
So in the morn, from Zephyr's gentle lips
   Breezes are wafted, till the noonday sun
Scorches the plains: then flaming Phoebus dips
   His fiery plumage, when the day is done.   
And in the twilight from the skies afar
In lordly grandeur shines the Evening Star.

First published in The Queenslander, 20 February 1892;
and later in:
A Sheaf of Sonnets by A. J. Rolfe, 1892

Note: this poem in the second in a sequence of poems that the author wrote about each month of the year.

Author reference sites: Austlit

See also.

The Gate of Dreams by M. Burkinshaw (Mabel Forrest)

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Here I stand at the Gate of Dreams,
   With its stern black bars and its stubborn key,
While through the hinges' chink there gleams
   The golden light that is beckoning me.

All around is the lowering night,
   And my way is crossed by these iron bars,
And overhead is the line of light
   Of the Milky Way with its million stars.

The beaten paths are all left behind
   Where we have gained and have lost so much;
And only the Gate of Dreams I find,
   Which opens not to my eager touch.

Then pity me! as a soul who stands
   Shut out from sleep's tend'rest witchery,
Longing to see those slim young hands
   Open the Gate of Dreams to me!  

First published in The Queenslander, 19 February 1898

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Buck-Jumping! by R.W.S.

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"Snake!" how the word ever serves to recall
   That pony, all sinew and muscle,
Who gave me one tremendous fall,
   And many a terrible tussle!

Strong limbs, and lupple, his head set on
   In a way that was just perfection,
With a curve in his neck (like the neck of a swan)
   In exactly the right direction.

Such a back and loins, and beautiful crest,
   And a barrel round as an apple;
And I know I can scarcely say, of the rest,
   With which it was hardest to grapple.

For I've sat on his neck, behind his ears,
   And I've sat behind my saddle,
And I found him, with kicks, and bucks, and rears,
   A most awkward canoe to paddle.

Dark lustrous eyes, with a menacing frown;
   No woman's were ever more splendid,
More bright, or more beautiful liquid brown,
   Or more with wickedness blended.

I used to think of the beggar by day,
   And I used to dream of him nightly,
And how I longed to be able to say,
   "At last I can ride you rightly."

And with every day I used to find
   The fascination grew stronger;
Till at last I finally made up my mind
   That I would delay no longer.

I remember the morning, cold and gray,
   And how I tried to dissemble
That the nasty cold raw feel of the day
   Was the reason that made me tremble.

"Charlie" and "Bungaree," darkies two,
   Sat up on the stockyard railing,
And said an occasional "Budgery you!"   
   To prevent my heart from failing.

(Poor fellows! Now to "kingdom come"
   I hear they have both departed;
One died of a cold, the other from ram;
   But the pair were really good-hearted.)

I remember well the whistling snort
   That shook my self-reliance,
As you boldly faced around, old sport,
   And bade me a cool defiance.

As I looked in your face I shall never forget
   The evil look that you gave me,
And the "strike" you struck at my head, and yet
   After all you did but shave me.

You stood like an image as I drew tight
   Much girth almost to the bursting;
You were thinking, no doubt, of the coming fight,
   For which I believe you were thirsting.

I carefully tightened the near side rein,   
   Till your nose was touching my shoulder;
And I thought, as I grasped a lock of your mane,
   That, you villain, you only looked bolder.

And as I got up with the utmost care,
   And you never attempted to "hook it,"
My goodness! how those darkies did stare
   To see how quiet you took it.

But I knew very well 'twas an ominous sign,
   And I felt my face grow whiter;
And I said to you, "Yes, this is all very fine,"
   As I set myself down a bit tighter.

Four miles we had gone; I was watching you;
   Could it be that your manners were mended?
The blackboys laughed, and I laughed too;
   But the laugh was mighty soon ended.

What happened exactly I never could say,
   But all that I'd seen before me
Had gone, in a most mysterious way
   As through the bushes you tore me!

A sudden stop, and a furious bound,
   Our course exactly reversing,
Brought me uncommonly close to the ground;
   I'm afraid that I started cursing.

Now, I felt on my face your waving mane,
   And then, such a shock behind me;
I can ride that ride here over again,
   Where changes of circumstance find me.

Backwards, forwards, dashing around,
   I shall never forget the feeling,
Nor the rattle of buckles and straps, and the sound
   Of the devil beneath me squealing.

By the mane, by the saddle, the bridle, all,
   I was clinging in desperation;   
I'd have collared the tail to have saved a fall,
   But for its wrong situation.

"Budgery ride, by Golly! hey!"   
   Together the darkies shouted;
I knew, in spite of all they might say,
   The end they never had doubted.

To be riding "all over," from head to tail,
   A horse that is perfectly frantic,
Is a game that I must say soon becomes stale,
   And it certainly isn't romantic.

But all things end --- the worst and the best.
   So far I'd stuck to the leather;
"Snake" very suddenly ended the rest,
   For we both came down together.

Side by side for a moment we lay,
   There wasn't much time for talking;
With a bound and a kick he darted away,
   And left me behind him --- walking.

Well! well! I look back and think of his hate --
   It's well to be honestly hated;
He was always to me a dangerous mate
   As ever the Lord created.

But I'll say of him, though he became my slave,
   And for years I used to ride him,
That at least, though wicked, he still was brave;
   So may no ill betide him.

And if of this life he's ended his lease,
   So that there the whole thing ceases,
I would possibly wish he might rest in peace ---
   Only probably now he's in pieces.

One thing in the lines that compose this lay,
   And perhaps their small merit enhances ---
Is, only, that I can truthfully say
   That they simply are facts, and not fancies.

First published in The Queenslander, 18 February 1882

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

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

The Ballade of the Stumped by Edward Dyson

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I've sung of ladies dark and fair,
   Of blue, and black and hazel eyes;
Of golden, brown and raven hair;
   Of maidens simple, maidens wise;
   Of small, slim dames, and dames who rise
To manly heights: the thin and stout.
   Now, Muse, what more can you devise --
What is there left to rhyme about?

I've rhymed of happy lovers where
   The wind-blown, golden blossom flies;
I've told of fierce-eyed loves who share
   A passion for some wild emprise;
   I've sung of love that shrewdly lies
And love that has no kind of doubt;
   Of love that blights or sanctifies --
What is there left to rhyme about?

Too oft in writing here and there
   A tender song did I devise
Of lovers in a rosy lair,
   Where vengeance came in grimmest guise.
   Of loves who weep and agonise,
Of loves who jubilantly shout
   Their joyance to the smiling skies --
What is there left to rhyme about?

ENVOY.

Erato, give thy slave a prize --
   New views of love a bard may spout:
Of love that lives or love that dies --
   What is there left to rhyme about?

First published in The Bulletin, 17 February 1921

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

See also.

Watson's Bay, Sydney by Alice Ham

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Dropt down between the bases of the hills,
   The quaint old village banking in the sun
Shines white, with old-world towers and water-wheels,
   And winding ways that climb the ramparts dun.  

The great black cannon with its gruesome mouth
   Looks seaward, silent, but a menace still;
The riven cliffs stand guardian north and south,
   Foam-freted. On the margin of the hill   

The ancient church uplifts its sun-tipt spire,
   The low-roofed houses touch the harbour's brim;
And scarlet blooms or white, still mounting higher,   
   Make fair the crags that else were somewhat grim.

Skyward the lighthouse rears its kindly dome,
   The outer billows raven 'neath its base;
But safely now the ships sweep outward and sail home.
   I too depart, but keep with me the beauty of this place.

First published in The Queenslander, 16 February 1889

Author: Alice Ham (1854-1928) was born in Kew, Victoria, and worked as a teacher in various schools in Brisbane and Toowoomba.  She succeeded Mary Hannay Foott as editor of the women's and social pages of The Queenslander and the Brisbane Courier. She died in Brisbane in 1928.

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

Australian Poets #7 - Will H. Ogilvie

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Will H. Ogilvie (1869-1963)

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

O Lady of the Dazzling Flowers by John Shaw Neilson

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O, lady of the dazzling flowers
And the frock so white and fine,
How hopeless is thy prettiness
And that cool heart of thine!

Thou has not been to the rude field
Where men and women war;
Thou hast not found what a woman's mouth
And a man's full heart are for.

Thy speech is all of a thin calm,
Of sleep and slow sunshine:
Oh, hopeless is thy happiness
And that pale heart of mine!

Through the love-feud and the love-thirst
Thou hast not fought and smiled;
Thou hast not heard the strings that speak
In the crying of a child.

Thou has not seen where tears lie hot
And words can only run,
Thou has not cried to the bare night
Nor prayed for the white sun.

First published in The Bookfellow, 15 February 1914;
and later in
Green Days and Cherries: the early verses of Shaw Neilson edited by Hugh Anderson and Leslie James Blake, 1981; and
Selected Poems edited by Robert Gray, 1993.

Author: John Shaw Neilson (1872-1942) was born in Penola, South Australia.  His father, John Neilson was also a published poet who earned his living on the land, mostly as an itinerant labourer after his farm in Victoria failed.  Shaw Neilson had little schooling but did have a flair for poetry and began publishing in the early 1870s in local papers such as the Nhill Mail.  He graduated to appearing in major periodicals such as The Bulletin and Bookfellow, and published 6 collections of his work during his lifetime.  Since his death his reputation has only continued to grow. He died in Melbourne in 1942.

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

See also.

Bullock-Drivin' by Edward S. Sorenson

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Whey, come here Rattler! Gee back, Brown!
I've half a mind to knock you down,
   You skulkin', half-bred cow!
Why can't you keep the bloomin' road,
'S a bullock ought, without a goad?
You've only got a half a load
   For some old Darling scow.

Heave, bend and bust her! Stand up, Roan!
You crawlin' swine, I'll make you groan!
   Get to it, damn yer eyes!
Until the camp's in easy hail,
The most y' do is switch yer tail;
Unless I'm near you with the flail,
   You're only killin' flies.

Get over, Brindle! Strike me pink!
You 'fraid ye'll strain a blanky link
   By tuggin' at the chain?
Come, bend yer necks an' dip yer toes,
An' up she rises -- screamin' woes!
A turn or two an' down she goes
   Right to her naves again!

Now, then, you beauties, shoulders up;
Hang to her like a scrappin' pup--
   Pull till yer muscles crack!
Whoa, Blucher! Blast you, help yer mate,
Or square yer yoke, at any rate;
There ain't no time to meditate
   On this bog-blinded track.

Gee up there, Ginger! Whoa-back, Spot!
You wobblin' cow, I'll make it hot
   For you. Now, step it out,
'An' never mind the shady tree,
Or lookin' at the scenery.
It's in the cask you ought to be,
   There's not the slightest doubt.

Up, Billy! Gee, you scabby hound!
You sneakin' rat, come, scratch some ground,
   An' win the blanky war!
Another hill of sand an' sod --
Heave ho, my loves! Another rod,
An' here's the camp at last (thank God!)
   Where all the good things are.

First published in The Bulletin, 14 February 1918

Author: Edward Sylvester Sorenson (1869-1939) was born near Casino in New South Wales and spent the bulk of his life on the land as either a farm worker, stock-rider, rouseabout or general handyman. As well known for his short stories as his poetry, Sorenson contributed to a number of magazines and journals.  He was a member of the Fellowship of Australian Writers, as well as the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales and the Royal Ornithologists' Union.  He died in Sydney in 1939.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Ashes by Max A.

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It is over; the rubber's decided;
   The ashes are here.
Old England with fate has collided,
   And tumbled down sheer.
For the sake of the hard course she guided
   Let's give her a cheer.

In the wet when we sarted to trundle,
   And bowled in the mud,
What wonder her team "dropped its bundle"
   With a desperate thud?
Yet this luckless last match wasn't won till
   Our batsmen showed blood.

There are two most successful Australians
    Who played once and again --
Two foes to all strangers and aliens,
   Two givers of Pain,
Whose deeds shine with wonderful salience --
   The Sun and the Rain.

On the Adelaide ground with the heat at
   A hundred and ten,
The climate ('ts well to repeat it)
   Fought hard for us then;
Then in Melbourne the rain flung defeat at
   Those sorrowing men.

It wasn't her best England lent us --
   But we're glad that thye came;
For the fact that we beat em has lent us
   More love for the game;
They have taught us enough to content us
   With our cricketing fame.

The Ashes are ours; safe on dry land
   We'll keep them with care;
Till a team will set sail from this spry land,
   With its tail in the air,
To cross to the foggy old island
   And fight for them there,

First published in Melbourne Punch, 13 February 1908

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

Author reference site:
Austlit

See also.

Blow the Man Down by E. J. Brady

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As I was a-walking down Winchester-street --
Hey-ho! Blow the man down! --
A pretty young girl I happened to meet --
Oh, give some time to blow the man down!
So we'll blow the man up, and we'll blow the man down --
Hey-ho! Blow the man down!
We'll blow the man up, and we'll blow the man down --
Oh, give some time to blow the man down!


She lived with a lady who lived with a bloke,
And when I got back to me ship I was broke --
Oh, blow the man down!
Six months had I bullied the salt seas about,
I did it all in and they cleaned me right out --
Blow the man down!
I hadn't enough for a cold morning's shout,
So we'll blow the man up, and we'll blow the man down.
Oh, give some time to blow the man down!

A wife in New York and a woman in 'Pool,
They say a sailorman's born a damn fool --
Oh, blow the man down!
So hitch up your breeches and turn in your cheek
The quid you've been chewing for over a week,
And blow the man down!
Me tongue was so dry that I hardly could speak --
Oh, blow the man up and blow the man down;
They'll give us some time to blow the man down.

There's old Billy Buntline that ought for to be
Much better behaved than a young chap like me --
Hey, blow the man down!
There's silly old Billy, who's sixty-and-four,
Last night he goes looking for pleasure ashore --
Comes back to the ship in his short and no more,
We'll blow the man up and we'll blow the man down.
Come, lend us a hand to blow the man down!

We hauls on the sheets, and we lays on the yard --
Salt beef does for Johnny and biscuits are hard --
Oh, blow the man down!
Oh, blather the bos'n and blither the mate!
'Tis all in the way of a sea-gangster's fate,
And blow the man down --
From Ratcliffe Highway and round to the Gate
We'll blow the man up, and we'll blow the man down.

Frank Drake was a sailor and Nelson was too;
They died in the Sarvice, like sailormen do --
Come, blow the man down!
Gold braid on their shoulders and monuments tall,
And poor merchant Johnny was nothing at all!
Oh, blow the man down!
A dirty mean trader and nothing at all,
But blow the man up and blow the man down,
We've lent them a hand to blow the man down!

We've lent them a hand in the way we were made
To build up the Empire for traffic and trade --
Oh, blow the man down!
A reef in her topsails and let her gang free,
The port of old London's the Port of the Sea --
Now, blow the man down!
For ever and ever and ever to be,
The port of old London's the port of the sea.
We'll blow the man up and we'll blow the man down --
Oh, give us some time to blow the man down!

First published in The Bulletin, 12 February 1925

Author: Edwin James Brady (1869-1952) was born at Carcoar, New South Wales, and later attended the University of Sydney, but did not graduate.  He worked on the wharfs in Sydney as a time-keeper, an occupation that was to have a profound effect on his poetry. His first work was published in The Bulletin in 1891 and during his lifetime he published four collections of his verse.  He moved to Mallacoota, Victoria, around 1912 and spent the rest of his life in that area, though he also travelled extensively.

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

See also.

At Morn, At Noon, At Eve by F. C. Urquhart

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I said to my love at the dawning:
      "Arise, love, and come with me
   To gather the flowers of morning
      That are fresh and fair like thee."
And the lark was carolling far above
His song of happiness, joy, and love;
And the music fell from the vault on high
As a welcome to her from the morning sky.

   I said to my love at the noonday:
      "O stay, love, and rest thee here
   In this fair green glade by Nature made
      For the child she holds most dear."
And the sunlight glinted beneath the shade   
As she rested with head on her nosegays laid,
And the bright beams played with her golden hair
As if they had found their sisters there.

   I cried to my love at evening:
      "O, love, leave me not alone!
   O plead for me to be joined with thee
      In bliss near the Great White Throne!"
And the cypress is waving to and fro
O'er the grave where my hopes are lying low,
And an angel is echoing far away
The song of the skylark at break of day.  

First published in The Queenslander, 11 February 1888

Author: Frederic Charles Urquhart (1858-1935) was born at St-Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex, England, and migrated to Australia in 1875.  He worked in the sugar and cattle industries, and as a telegraph linesman, before joining the Queensland Native Mounted Police Force in 1882.  He rose to the rank of police commissioner in Queensland (1917-21) before taking on the role of administrator of the Northern Territory.  He died in Brisbane in 1935.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

Shearing at Castlereagh by A.B. "Banjo" Paterson

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The bell is set a-ringing, and the engine gives a toot,
There's five and thirty shearers here are shearing for the loot,
So stir yourselves, you penners-up, and shove the sheep along,
The musterers are fetching them a hundred thousand strong,
And make your collie dogs speak up -- what would the buyers say
In London if the wool was late this year from Castlereagh?

The man that 'rung' the Tubbo shed is not the ringer here,
That stripling from the Cooma side can teach him how to shear.
They trim away the ragged locks, and rip the cutter goes,
And leaves a track of snowy fleece from brisket to the nose;
It's lovely how they peel it off with never stop nor stay,
They're racing for the ringer's place this year at Castlereagh.

The man that keeps the cutters sharp is growling in his cage,
He's always in a hurry and he's always in a rage --
"You clumsy-fisted mutton-heads, you'd turn a fellow sick,
You pass yourselves as shearers, you were born to swing a pick.
Another broken cutter here, that's two you've broke to-day,
It's awful how such crawlers come to shear at Castlereagh."

The youngsters picking up the fleece enjoy the merry din,
They throw the classer up the fleece, he throws it to the bin;
The pressers standing by the rack are waiting for the wool,
There's room for just a couple more, the press is nearly full;
Now jump upon the lever, lads, and heave and heave away,
Another bale of golden fleece is branded "Castlereagh".

First published in The Bulletin, 10 February 1894;
and later in
The Man From Snowy River and Other Verses by A.B. Paterson, 1895;
Salt Vol 3 No 2 April 1942;
The Boomerang Book of Australian Poetry edited by Enid Moodie Heddle, 1956;
The Collected Verse of A.B. Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1982;
Singer of the Bush, A.B. (Banjo) Paterson: Complete Works 1885-1900 edited by Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie, 1983;
The Banjo's Best-Loved Poems edited by Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie, 1989;
A Vision Splendid: The Complete Poetry of A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1990;
A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson: Bush Ballads, Poems, Stories and Journalism edited by Clement Semmler, 1992; and
Selected Poems: A. B. Paterson compiled by Les Murray, 1992.

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

See also.

The Street of Joy by Roderic Quinn

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As I whistling walked the street,
   Blithesome as a boy,
Life went by with dancing feet,
   Linking arms with Joy.

Shone the sun in cloudless skies,
   Fragrant flowed the air,
Laughing eyes met laughing eyes,
   Bliss breathed everywhere.

Hucksters stood in square and mart,
   Decked with flower and spray.
"Whistle, whistle," sang my heart,
   "Ne'er was such a day."

Hands outstretched with friendly grips
   Gave me greeting brave;
Beggars begged with laughing lips,
   Careless of who gave.

Lissome, light-of-foot youth,
   Age beside me strolled;
Rages and tatters seemed, in truth,
   Silks and cloth-of-gold.

Young again, with hearts aglow,
   Wandered dame and sire,
Children hurried to and fro,
   Clad in bright attire.

Hucksters stood in square and mart,
   Decked with spray and flower.
"Whistle, whistle," sang my heart,
   "Ne'er was such an hour."

Oh, but life was fair and sweet,
   Gay with golden gleams,
As I whisted down that street
   In the Town o' Dreams.

First published in The Bulletin, 9 February 1922

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

See also.

Australian Poets #6 - Charles Harpur

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Charles Harpur (1813-68)

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Lovable Characters by Henry Lawson

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I long for the streets but the Lord knoweth best,
   For there I am never a saint;
There are lovable characters out in the West,
   with humour heroic and quaint;
And, be it Up Country, or be it Out Back,
   When I shall have gone to my Home,
I trust to be buried 'twixt River and Track
   Where my lovable characters roam.
 
There are lovable characters drag through the scrub,
   Where the Optimist ever prevails;
There are lovable characters hang round the pub,
   There are lovable jokers at sales
Where the auctioneer's one of the lovable wags
   (Maybe from his "order" estranged),
And the beer is on tap, and the pigs in the bags
  Of the purchasing cockies are changed.

There are lovable characters out in the West,
   Of fifty hot summers, or more,
Who could not be proved, when it came to the test,
   Too old to be sent to the war;
They were all forty-five and were orphans, they said,
   With no one to keep them, or keep;
And mostly in France, with the world's bravest dead,
   Those lovable characters sleep.

I long for the streets but the Lord knoweth best,
   For there I am never a saint;
There are lovable characters out in the West,
   with humour heroic and quaint;
And, be it Up Country, or be it Out Back,
   When I shall have gone to my Home,
I trust to be buried 'twixt River and Track
   Where my lovable characters roam.

First published in The Bulletin, 8 February 1917 ;
and later in
A Fantasy of Man: Henry Lawson Complete Works 1901-22 edited by Leonard Cronin, 1984

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

See also.

Mountain Mist by Abbey Stone

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Soft vapour encloses the blue open space,
And veils with a touch the hard rocky face;
The clouds from below billow up unaware,
The mists on the mountain and the rain in my hair.

The birds in their cover are hidden away,
Each one with its lover till break of day;
Alone on the hill-top I wander, apart,
The mist's on the mountain, and the ache in my heart.    

The trees softly bending, half seen through the gloom,
Enclose with leaves a sweet sylvan room,
Where mothers lean over, caressing and wise,
The mist's on the mountain, and tears in my eyes.

Deep silence around, ethereal and rare,
Brings joy without sound, and stills earthly care;  
The clouds circle on in their heavenly scroll,  
The mist's on the mountain, and peace in my soul.  

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 February 1925

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

Palm Beach. The Rock Pool by Ethel Turner

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God in a delicate mood parted these headlands,
   Bade His unwearying waters fret Him a bay.
All the bright breakers sang at the chance to adore Him,
   All the blue breakers rolled from His feet to obey.

Cream as the clouds curves the sand where the light foam races,
   Green, all a-patterned with grey is the gown of the land,
The land stepping down, austere, from the hill-top places
   The sky in her hair and her silver feet in the sand.  

There is a pool by the cliffs that the waves wash over,
   A clean-cut pool where a child may dive and play.
Low on the rocks it lies, like a sky-dropped mirror,
   Never a light but it catches the live-long day.

For I have waked with the sun not over the headland,
   All of the sea sun-grey, with one thrust of jade,
And in the heart of the pool, like a jewel lying,
   One point of light from the cold green thrusting made.

Nearer the top of the hill, the slow sun struggles,
   Primrose drifts on the sea with one purple stain,
And now in the pool's pale silver, is lying, lovely.
   Violet, amethyst, amethyst, violet again.

Wild rose in the pool, white clouds and the sunset's rainbow,
   A moon in the pool, a shy moon, bathing alone,
And, as I sleep, the stars sown in millions around me,
   One shoots down and drowns in it like a stone.

God, in a delicate mood, parted these headlands,
   God let the breakers fret Him this delicate bay,
Man made the pool, the clean-cut pool in the boulders,
   God, in a delicate mood, glances its way.      

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 February 1926

Author: Ethel Mary Turner (1870-1958)  was born at Balby, Yorkshire, England and migrated to Australia with her mother and sisters in 1879.  By that time her mother had been widowed twice - the second husband provided Turner with her professional writing name.  After an education at Sydney Girls' High School, Turner had her first short story published in The Bulletin in 1893, with her best known work, the children's novel Seven Little Australians, appearing in 1894.   Although best known as a writer for children Turner wrote some poetry, though she was by no means prolific in that form.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

A Contrast by M. Burkinshaw (Mabel Forrest)

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Across the road I see the rain
Against my neighbour's window pane,
And weary-eyed she looks in vain
      Adown the street.
And I, who have found what I seek,
Lean my hot cheek against your cheek,
So happy that I dare not speak ---   
      Silence is sweet!      

First published in The Queenslander, 5 February 1898

Author: Mabel Forrest (1872-1935) was born on the Darling Downs in Queensland.  She was, in the main, home-schooled by her mother as the family moved from station to station, following the father's managerial work.  She married John Frederick Burkinshaw in 1893 but the marriage was an unhappy one - with Burkinshaw moving to Perth in 1896, and the couple being divorced in 1902; she married John Forrest a few months later.  She had begun writing during her first marriage and her prolific output was maintained up till her death in Brisbane in 1935.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Loneliness of Heart by Charles Harpur

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(Composed while wandering over a beautiful scene on the Banks of the Hunter.)

Oh, who would bear a lonely heart
   'Mid nature's summer mirth?
Oh, who would walk from Love apart,
   On this so lovely earth?
Though Fate should signalise our lot
   With Glory's trumpet tone,
Yet, if some sweet soul mirror'd not
   The sweetness of our own,
Even joy to madness were but kin,
   And hope too like despair;
A weary, weary load within --   
   The burthen that I bear.

The hills are green, the stream is bright,
   The azure heavens above
Bend ready to distil delight,
   Where'er they bend o'er love:
But where its effluence may not flow
   From woman's eyes the while,
To give all brightest shapes to glow
   The brighter for her smile,         
Even poesy is but a din,
   And taste itself a care:
A weary, weary load within --
   The burthen that I bear.   

Yet love I crave not for the zest   
   It lends to passion's gust,   
But that I might on nature's breast
   Repose with blander trust;
That I might gaze with homlier mind
   On all beneath the sun,   
And love the whole of human kind
   The more in loving One.     
Then say not that it tastes of sin,   
   This fond -- this clinging care
To east the weary load within --
   The burthen that I bear.  

First published in The Australasian Chronicle, 4 February 1843

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Last of the Land by R. Spencer Browne

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A loom of the land with the light of our love on it,
   Fading to gray in the mists of the sea;
Setting, the sun throws a ray from above on it ---
   Sunlight of hope to the heart of the free.

Sombre, the shadow of sight throws a pall on it;
   Fainter its outlines go down on our lee.
Give one last longing, loving look on it,
   Land of our love as it sinks in the sea.

Gray and all gray, with the glint of the moon on it,
   Spreads the great ocean, and south is the star ---
Faintly and sweetly its soft lustres swoon on it,
   Land of our love that is fading afar.

Let that sweet star be our messenger fair to it,
   Beacon of love with a sigh and a tear,
Spirit of comfort to sad hearts out then on it --
   Hearts of our hearts, the most true and most dear.

Then with that thought which we throw to the loom of it,
   Fair Austral land with its mountain and plain,
Take the last sign of the sadness and gloom of it,
   Light of our land in our hearts shines again.

Fresh blows the breeze o'er the sea, and the waves of it
   Dance in tbe moonlight and flash in our wake.
Stand, then, like sentinel, sons of the braves of it,
   Part of the wall that no foeman can shake.

Gone is our land from our sight; but the thought of it
   Strengthens our hearts for the task to be done.
"Steadfast" and "True" are the countersigns wrought of it,
   Wrought for the good of the cause to be won.

First published in The Queenslander, 3 February 1900

Author: Reginald Spencer Browne (1856-1943) was born in Appin, New South Wales, and took to the profession of journalism at an early age.  After working on newspapers in Deniliquin, Albury, Townsville and Cooktown he moved to Brisbane in 1881 to be editor of The Observer.  He moved to The Brisbane Courier the next year and held the position of associate editor of The Queenslander for some years.  Active in the armed services he saw service in South Africa during the Boer War and was at Gallipoli during World War I.  He died in Brisbane in 1943.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

A Song of Nights by David McKee Wright

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The summer evening rudely fell,
A red sun crying "All is well"
To fifty breezes worn and spent
That limped across a continent,
And lurching past the leaf and weed
Bore far the soaring thistle seed
On easy and adventurous flight
Up the brown avenues of night.
A moon bewitched had sailed on high
To thinly light the smoky sky.
Her crescent boat upon the flood
Of darkness was as red as blood,
Where, haloed in a fiery glow,
She gossiped to the trees of woe.

In at my open window flew
The ghosts of nights that once I knew,
Cold goblin wraiths of ancient looks
Escaped from brown forgotten books
With pallid cheek and rigid stare
And cold blood matted in their hair.

I saw the night Macbeth had slain
Stalk in with eyes of haggard pain,
The night of Richard's last distress
Wild with a nightmare loneliness,
The night that heard the awful cry
Of Illion's woman-agony,
And that black night so slow to pass
When, wearied, round Leonidas,
Staggering and proud and drunk with death,
Tall Spartans drew a dreadful breath
And watched the fatal eastern sky
For light to lift their shields and die.

I saw the nights that came and went
O'er ragged hosts with battle spent,
The slaughtered chief, the broken city
That left the ages choked with pity,
While war across the maddened years
Washed out with blood the trace of tears.

I saw the night, moon-white and still,
The hoary olives on the hill,
The city wall, the guarded tower,
Where, helmeted with brazen power,
Great Rome stood watch and watch to keep
The city, restless in its sleep.
Sleep ill, sleep well, it came to me
On the long sigh, "Gethsemane" --
A garden by a kiss betrayed
In the sweet disk its leaves had made.

I saw the night when stark and still
A king lay dead on Senlac hill,
The beaconed night when fear walked free
To tell of Spain upon the sea,
The night when shrieking winds and loud
Tore London's grey, hag-ridden cloud
And broken tile and tortured vane
Looked on a morning wild with pain,
While, in a street below, one cried
That in the tempest Cromwell died.
I saw the night when quiet came
After long noise and battle-flame,
And, awed with victory, strong men knew
The dread and hope called Waterloo.
I saw the night when suden hate
Burst headlong through the Belgian gate,
And, with a catching of the breath,
The startled lands looked stark on death.

All these in long procession came,
And bat-winged nights that bore no name,
Nights cowled with plague or naked-cold
With the sea's sorrows manifold.
But as my blood grew thick with doom
A music trembled in my room;
The air was like the breath of spring
In happy ways of leaf and wing;
And through it, ere my heart could beat,
Stept a blue night on silver feet.

"What happy bride is this," I said,
"That walks behind the nights long dead,
The nights that all my brown books show,
The nights of weariness and woe,
The nights of blood, the nights of tears,
The nights of all the withered years?"
A little wind with whispers shrill
Came stealing softly up the hill.
It stirred the fern, it brushed the tree
And then it wisely answered me:
"It is the night of wait-and-see."

And I am waiting quietly,
While the low wind sings in the tree.
Whatever days or change may bring,
Whatever dirge the darkness sing,
whatever chance, whatever fall,
The night that comes is worth it all!

First published in The Bulletin, 2 February 1922

Author: David McKee Wright (1869-1928) was born in Ballynaskeagh, County Down, Ireland, and migrated to New Zealand in 1887.  He studied for the ministry but this career foundered due to his pro-Boer sentiments and his later bankruptcy.  He worked on various New Zealand newspapers before migration to Sydney in 1910.  He edited the Bulletin's Red Page from 1916 to 1926 and was a prolific contributor to that magazine, publishing some 1600 poems there between 1906 and 1927 under a variety of pen-names.  He lived with the poet Zora Cross from 1918 until his sudden death in 1928.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Australian Poets #5 - Victor Daley

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Victor J. Daley (1858-1905)

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

See also.

A King in Exile by Victor J. Daley

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O the Queen may keep her golden
   Crown and sceptre of command!
I would give them both twice over
   To be King of Babyland.

Sure, it is a wondrous country
   Where the beanstalks grow apace,
And so very near the moon is
   You could almost stroke her face.

And the dwellers in that country
   Hold in such esteem their King,
They believe that if he chooses
   He can do --- just anything!

And, although his regal stature
   May be only four-feet-ten,
Think him tallest, strongest, bravest,
   Noblest, wisest, best of men.

Ah, how fondly I remember
   The good time serene and fair,
In the bygone years when I, too,
   Was a reigning monarch there!

But my subjects they discrowned me
   When they'd older, colder, grown;
And they took away my sceptre,
   And upset my royal throne.

Yet, although a King in Exile,
   Without subjects to command,
I am glad at heart to think I
   Once was King of Babyland.

First published in The Bulletin, 1 February 1896;
and later in
At Dawn and Dusk by Victor Daley, 1902; and
The Children's Treasury of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens and George Mackaness, 1913

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

See also.

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