May 2011 Archives

Over the Stockyard Rails by Edward S. Sorenson

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Hard by the bells are jingling,
   The nags are feeding near,
The quaint bush sounds come mingling
   With memories that are dear;
The warm night-wind caresses
   As o'er the grass it sails,
Like Nelly's soft brown treeses
   Across the stockyard rails.

She was a "free selector,"
   Her beau a station swell,
And "Dad" was the objector
   When I went courting Nell;
But Nelly met me slyly,
   Though he was hard as nails --
And, oh! she kissed me shyly
   Across the stockyard rails!

Now, many years have vanished,
   And many girls I've kissed;
Some long from memory banished,
   Some dear ones sadly missed;
And these come gaily trooping
   From 'yond the yester veils,
And once again I'm stooping
   Across the stockyard rails.

Ah, girls will love a rover --
   And pretty lips are met,
On every track a drover
   Has ever wandered yet.
So Love must wait and languish
   Where wand'ring life entails
A parting kiss of anguish
   Across the stockyard rails.

Now in the autumn mellow
   Sweet faces come in train,
All smiling round a fellow
   Who may not kiss again!
But, oh! the fire burns brightly,
   And Memory gladly hails
The kisses Nell kissed nightly
   Across the stockyard rails.

First published in The Bulletin, 31 May 1902

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

On the Range by Barcroft Boake

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On Nungar the mists of the morning hung low,
The beetle-browed hills brooded silent and black,
Not yet warmed to life by the sun's loving glow,
As through the tall tussocks rode young Charlie Mac.
What cared he for mists at the dawning of day,
What cared he that over the valley stern 'Jack',
The monarch of frost, held his pitiless sway? -
A bold mountaineer, born and bred, was young Mac.

A galloping son of a galloping sire -
Stiffest fence, roughest ground, never took him aback;
With his father's cool judgement, his dash and his fire,
The pick of Monaro, rode young Charlie Mac.
And the pick of the stable the mare he bestrode -
Arab-grey, built to stay, lithe of limb, deep of chest,
She seemed to be happy to bear such a load
As she tossed the soft forelock that curled on her crest.

They crossed Nungar Creek, where its span is but short
At its head, where together spring two mountain rills,
When a mob of wild horses sprang up with a snort -
'By thunder!' quoth Mac, 'there's the Lord of the Hills.'

Decoyed from her paddock, a Murray-bred mare
Had fled to the hills with a warrigal band.
A pretty bay foal had been born to her there,
Whose veins held the very best blood in the land -
'The Lord of the Hills', as the bold mountain men,
Whose courage and skill he was wont to defy,
Had named him; they yarded him once, but since then
He'd held to the saying 'Once bitten twice shy.'

The scrubber, thus suddenly roused from his lair,
Struck straight for the timber with fear in his heart;
As Charlie rose up in his stirrups, the mare
Sprang forward, no need to tell Empress to start.
She laid to the chase just as soon as she felt
Her rider's skilled touch, light, yet firm, on the rein.
Stride for stride, lengthened wide, for the green timber belt,
The fastest half-mile ever done on the plain.

They reached the low sallee before he could wheel
The warrigal mob; up they dashed with a stir
Of low branches and undergrowth - Charlie could feel
His mare catch her breath on the side of the spur
That steeply slopes up till it meets the bald cone.
'Twas here on the range that the trouble began,
For a slip on the sidling, a loose rolling stone,
And the chase would be done; but the bay in the van
And the little grey mare were a surefooted pair.
He looked once around as she crept to his heel
And the swish that he gave his long tail in the air
Seemed to say, 'Here's a foeman well worthy my steel.'

They raced to within half a mile of the bluff
That drops to the river, the squadron strung out.
"I wonder," quoth Mac, "has the bay had enough?"
But he was not left very much longer in doubt,
For the Lord of the Hills struck a spur for the flat
And followed it, leaving his mob, mares and all,
While Empress (brave heart, she could climb like a cat)
Down the stony descent raced with never a fall.

Once down on the level 'twas galloping-ground,
For a while Charlie thought he might yard the big bay
At his uncle's out-station, but no! He wheeled round
And down the sharp dip to the Gulf made his way.

Betwixt those twin portals, that, towering high
And backwardly sloping in watchfulness, lift
Their smooth grassy summits towards the far sky,
The course of the clear Murrumbidgee runs swift;
No time then to seek where the crossing might be,
It was in at one side and out where you could,
But fear never dwelt in the hearts of those three
Who emerged from the shade of the low muzzle-wood.

Once more did the Lord of the Hills strike a line
Up the side of the range, and once more he looked back,
So close were they now he could see the sun shine
In the bold grey eyes flashing of young Charlie Mac.

He saw little Empress, stretched out like a hound
On the trail of its quarry, the pick of the pack,
With ne'er-tiring stride, and his heart gave a bound
As he saw the lithe stockwhip of young Charlie Mac
Showing snaky and black on the neck of the mare
In three hanging coils with a turn round the wrist.
And he heartily wished himself back in his lair
'Mid the tall tussocks beaded with chill morning mist.

Then he fancied the straight mountain-ashes, the gums
And the wattles all mocked him and whispered, "You lack
The speed to avert cruel capture, that comes
To the warrigal fancied by young Charlie Mac,
For he'll yard you, and rope you, and then you'll be stuck
In the crush, while his saddle is girthed to your back.
Then out in the open, and there you may buck
Till you break your bold heart, but you'll never throw Mac!"

The Lord of the Hills at the thought felt the sweat
Break over the smooth summer gloss of his hide.
He spurted his utmost to leave her, but yet
The Empress crept up to him, stride upon stride.
No need to say Charlie was riding her now,
Yet still for all that he had something in hand,
With here a sharp stoop to avoid a low bough,
Or a quick rise and fall as a tree-trunk they spanned.

In his terror the brumby struck down the rough falls
T'wards Yiack, with fierce disregard for his neck -
'Tis useless, he finds, for the mare overhauls
Hi slowly, no timber could keep her in check.

There's a narrow-beat pathway that winds to and fro
Down the deeps of the gully, half hid from the day,
There's a turn in the track, where the hop-bushes grow
And hide the grey granite that crosses the way
While sharp swerves the path round the boulder's broad base -
And now the last scene in the drama is played:
As the Lord of the Hills, with the mare in full chase,
Swept towards it, but, ere his long stride could be stayed,
With a gathered momentum that gave not a chance
Of escape, and a shuddering, sickening shock,
He struck on the granite that barred his advance
And sobbed out his life at the foot of the rock.

Then Charlie pulled off with a twitch on the rein,
And an answering spring from his surefooted mount,
One might say, unscathed, though a crimsoning stain
Marked the graze of the granite, but that would ne'er count
With Charlie, who speedily sprang to the earth
To ease the mare's burden, his deft-fingered hand
Unslackened her surcingle, loosened tight girth,
And cleansed with a tussock the spur's ruddy brand.

There he lay by the rock - drooping head, glazing eye,
Strong limbs stilled for ever; no more would he fear
The tread of a horseman, no more would he fly
Through the hills with his harem in rapid career,
The pick of the Mountain Mob, bays, greys, or roans.
He proved by his death that the place 'tis that kills,
And a sun-shrunken hide o'er a few whitened bones
Marks the last resting-place of the Lord of the Hills.

First published in The Bulletin, 30 May 1891
and later in
Where the Dead Men Lie and Other Poems by Barcroft Boake, 1897;
Old Ballads from the Bush edited by Bill Scott, 1987;
A Collection of Australian Bush Verse, 1989;
Barcroft Henry Boake edited by Hugh Capel, 2002;
Where the Dead Men Lie: The Story of Barcroft Boake, Bush Poet of the Monaro: 1866-1892  by Hugh Capel, 2002;
Barcroft Boake: Collected Works, Edited, with a Life edited by W. F. Refshauge, 2007; and
Two Centuries of Australian Poetry edited by Kathrine Bell, 2007.

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

See also.

Ships That Never Return by E. J. Brady

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Sailing an ocean that has not been chartered,
   Sailing an ocean that knoweth no shore,
Argos of life for ever departed,
   Outgoing Agos, returning no more.

Short-freighted with joy, over-burthened with sorrow,
   O'er a dim skyline, unnumbered, they fade,
Bound for the ports of a timeless to-morrow,
   Bound for the harbor of Silence and Shade.

Each anxious captain, commanding his shallop,
   Maketh his passage as best to him seems,
Held by dull calms, or, anon, as they gallop,
   Driven amain by the winds of his dreams.

What matters the voyage once it is over?
   And over for all one day it must be.
Mayhap it will matter what cargo the rover
   Renders to Him who is Lord of the Sea.

First published in The Bulletin, 29 May 1929

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

See also.

Sunrise "Out Back" by Alice Ham

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With Apologies to Rudyard Kipling

There's never a flower for fifty miles;
But only the gidyea tree,
And the saltbush gray, and the coolibah,
But an ocean of Grass I see;
And out of the desert "Back of Beyond"
The wind blows eerily!

The coach-wheels whirl on the team-worn road,
Due South from the railway track,
The road that was made in the Days of Old
By the grand Pioneers, the Brave and the Bold
Who opened the way to the "Back of Beyond" ---
Who went there --- but never came back.

From a curtain of Rose and of Apricot
Of a sudden outflames the Sun!
And 'tis "Gee-up, Laddie!" and "Ho! Conrad!"
And the five-in-hand plunge like one! ---
But the Kangaroo steers for the "Back of Beyond,"
For he knows that his day is done.
But ours? Well, ours has just begun!

First published in The Queenslander, 28 May 1898

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

A Midsummer Noon in the Australian Forest by Charles Harpur

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Not a bird disturbs the air!
There is quiet everywhere;
Over plains and over woods
What a mighty stillness broods.

   Even the grasshoppers keep
Where the coolest shadows sleep;
Even the busy ants are found
Resting in their pebbled mound;
Even the locust clingeth now
In silence to the barky bough:
And over hills and over plains
Quiet, vast and slumbrous, reigns.

   Only there's a drowsy humming
From yon warm lagoon slow coming:
'Tis the dragon-hornet - see!
All bedaubed resplendently
With yellow on a tawny ground -
Each rich spot nor square nor round,
But rudely heart-shaped, as it were
The blurred and hasty impress there,
Of vermeil-crusted seal
Dusted o'er with golden meal:
Only there's a droning where
Yon bright beetle gleams the air -
Gleams it in its droning flight
With a slanting track of light,
Till rising in the sunshine higher,
Its shards flame out like gems on fire.

   Every other thing is still,
Save the ever wakeful rill,
Whose cool murmur only throws
A cooler comfort round Repose;
Or some ripple in the sea
Of leafy boughs, where, lazily,
Tired Summer, in her forest bower
Turning with the noontide hour,
Heaves a slumbrous breath, ere she
Once more slumbers peacefully.

O 'tis easeful here to lie
Hidden from Noon's scorching eye,
In this grassy cool recess
Musing thus of Quietness.

First published in The Empire, 27 May 1851, and again in the same periodical on 28 January 1858 and on 31 July 1862;
and later in
Poems by Charles Harpur, 1883;
The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse edited by Walter Murdoch, 1918;
An Australasian Anthology: Australian and New Zealand Poems edited by Percival Serle, R. H. Croll and Frank Wilmot, 1927;
A Book of Australian Verse edited by Judith Wright, 1956;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964;
Silence into Song: An Anthology of Australian Verse edited by Clifford O'Brien, 1968;
The Penguin Book of Australian Verse edited by Harry Heseltine, 1972;
Australia Fair: Poems and Paintings edited by Douglas Stewart, 1974;
A Treasury of Colonial Poetry, 1982;
The Poetical Works of Charles Harpur edited by Elizabeth Perkins, 1984;
My Country: Australian Poetry and Short Stories, Two Hundred Years edited by Leonie Kramer, 1985;
Favourite Australian Poems, 1987;
Cross-Country: A Book of Australian Verse edited by John Barnes, 1988;
The Macmillan Anthology of Australian Literature edited by Ken L. Goodwin and Alan Lawson, 1990;
Voice of a Land: Three Australian Songs for Young Voices and Piano or Orchestra, 1991;
A Treasury of Bush Verse edited by G. A. Wilkes, 1991;
An Anthology of Australian Literature edited by Ch'oe Chin-yong and Cynthia Van Den Driessen, 1995;
The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse compiled by Beatrice Davis, 1996;
The Arnold Anthology of Post-Colonial Literatures in English edited by John Thieme, 1996;
Australian Verse: An Oxford Anthology edited by John Leonard, 1998;
Our Country: Classic Australian Poetry: From the Colonial Ballads to Paterson & Lawson  edited by Michael Cook, 2004;
Two Centuries of Australian Poetry edited by Kathrine Bell, 2007;
The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry by John Kinsella, 2009;
Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature edited by Nicholas Jose, Kerryn Goldsworthy, Anita Heiss, David McCooey, Peter Minter, Nicole Moore and Elizabeth Webby, 2009; and
The Puncher & Wattmann Anthology of Australian Poetry edited by John Leonard, 2009.

Note: a number of versions of this poem exist; Harpur appears to have worked on it over the years.  The first version contained 28 lines, but by 1862 this had grown to 42.  You can read more about this on the poem's Austlit page.  I have used the version as printed in The Poetical Works of Charles Harpur edited by Elizabeth Perkins, which appears to be the definitive text.  Your mileage may vary.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

I Met Her on the Railway by Henry Halloran

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I met her on the Railway, in the joyous month of May,
And of her beauty did I think throughout the livelong day; --
That beauty which all hearts subdues, majestic and yet mild --
The dignity of Woman, with the sweetness of the Child.      

I know not what some people think of this bright world of ours
To me it seems a paradise, and Woman first of flowers;
Whose love makes sweet the Summer air, and cheers the Winter sky;
Our safety when we spring to life -- our solace when we die!

Pass on thy way, fair innocence! enough that I have had
One smile from those bright eyes of thine to make my bosom glad.  
We may not meet again, perchance, but to my heart I fold  
That sunbeam smile, and prize it more, than miser can his gold.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 May 1856

Author: Henry Halloran (1811-93) was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and arrived in Australia in1822, after spending his childhood in England.  He traveled to Australia with his family to join his father who had been transported for forgery.  Halloran worked mainly in the New South Wales civil service, attaining the position of chief clerk.  He was active in the literary community of Sydney and was friendly with Henry Parkes and Henry Kendall. He died in Ashfield, New South Wales, in 1893.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Call of the City by Victor J. Daley

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   There is a saying of renown ---
   "God made the country, man the town."
   Well, everybody to his trade!
   But man likes best the thing he made.
   The town has little space to spare;
   The country has both space and air;
   The town's confined, the country free ---
   Yet, spite of all, the town for me.

For when the hills are grey and night is falling,
   And the winds sigh drearily,
I hear the city calling, calling, calling,
   With a voice like the great sea.


   I used to think I'd like to be
   A hermit living lonesomely,
   Apart from human care or ken,
   Apart from all the haunts of men:
   Then I would read in Nature's book,
   And drink clear water from the brook,
   And live a life of sweet content,
   In hollow tree, or cave, or tent.

   This was a dream of callow Youth
   Which always overleaps the truth,
   And thinks, fond fool, it is the sum
   Of things that are and things to come.
   But now, when youth has gone from me,
   I crave for genial company.
   For Nature wild I still have zest,
   But human nature I love best.

   I know that hayseed in the hair
   Than grit and grime is healthier,
   And that the scent of gums is far
   More sweet than reek of pavement-tar.
   I know, too, that the breath of kine
   Is safer than the smell of wine;
   I know that here my days are free ---
   But, ah! the city calls to me.

   Let Zimmerman and all his brood
   Proclaim the charms of Solitude,
   I'd rather walk down Hunter-street
   And meet a man I like to meet,
   And talk with him about old times,
   And how the market is for rhymes,
   Between two drinks, than hold commune
   Upon a mountain with the moon.

   A soft wind in the gully deep
   Is singing all the trees to sleep;
   And in the sweet air there is balm,
   And Peace is here, and here is Calm.
   God knows how these I yearned to find!
   Yet I must leave them all behind,
   And rise and go --- come sun, come rain ---
   Back to the Sorceress again.

For at the dawn or when the night is falling,
   Or at noon when shadows flee,
I hear the city calling, calling, calling,
   Through the long lone hours to me.


First published in The Bulletin, 25 May 1905;
and then later in
Wine and Roses by Victor J. Daley, 1911;
The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse edited by Beatrice Davis, 1984;
My Country: Australian Poetry and Short Stories, Two Hundred Years edited by Leonie Kramer, 1985; and
The Penguin Book of Australian Ballads edited by Elizabeth Webby and Philip Butterss, 1993.

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

See also.

Australian Poets #18 - Peter Airey

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Peter Airey.jpg

Peter Airey (1865-1950)

Author reference sites:
Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

"Love's Young Dream" by George Essex Evans

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There is no love like "love's young dream,"
   The purest first, and best;
No other love so sweet can seem --
   To strangely stir the breast
When Cupid's dart first strikes the heart,
And we awake with sudden start
   To find the boy our guest.

Deep in the chambers of the soul
   This buried treasure lies,
Our spirits brook its sweet control,
   Its influence never dies;
         And in the strife
         Of after life
   Its memory strength supplies.

For many a worn storm-beaten man
   Teased on Life's troubled sea,
Who strives to do the best he can,
   Yet bows to destiny,
Hath, graven on his heart of hearts,
An image which fresh hope imparts,
         Cheering his way
         From day to day;
The influence of that love, far from the loved one's sight,
Shall like a guardian-angel guide his steps aright.

Oh! scoff not, then, at "love's young dream,"
   Though love may unrequited be;
For to have loved has changed a stream
   Of meanness to nobility.
You may have done so at a cost
   Which grieves you. --- Hear the poet's call!
"'Tis better to have loved and lost,
   Than never to have loved at all."

First published in The Queenslander, 24 May 1884;
and later in
The Queanbeyan Age, 24 October 1884.

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

See also.

Sunrise From Bourke's Statue by Henry Parkes

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A youth rein'd in his graceful steed
   On Bourke's proud-statued hill,
And bent his eye, with passionate heed,
   Where day was breaking still;
He watch'd the glorifying gleams
   Sent through the cloud-shapes grand,
And gazed until the god all beams
   Burst on his native land.

And like a god, indeed, he rose,
   That bright Australian sun,
Swift through the gorgeous phantom shows,
   Which flamed, -- are changed, -- are gone,--
Like battle-pomps of many a legion
   When first their bright ranks close;
Or burning city in a region
   Of dim and distant snows.

Ay, glorious more than dream of things
   All beauty, joy, and power,
Broke forth his world illuminings,
   His splendours of that hour.
And blissful as may ever seem
   This thorny world of ours,
The palaced shore and harbour-stream
   Glow'd in his beamy showers.

The young Australian press'd his steed
   Onward, with throbbing heart:
Wild, thrilling thoughts, which none might read,
   Rich hopes new-born, were part
Henceforth of his impassioned life;
   And ever in his breast,
By day, by night, in calm, in strife,
   That picture seem'd to rest.

That glorious picture he had seen
   From infancy till then;
But it a shining blank had been, --
   No thought of freeborn men
Had flash'd upon his spirit, there
   No prescience of the fame
And greatness of a land so fair
   E'er smote him, as with flame.

But ever hence shall he behold,
   That picture at all hours,
With thoughts more rich than virgin gold,
   With hopes more bright than flowers.
And, 'mid the soul-fret of the mart,
   And in the ball-room's glee,
His country shall be next his heart --
   A nation great and free.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 May 1850;
and later in
The Empire, 4 September 1851; and
Murmurs of the Stream by Henry Parkes, 1857.

Note: the statue referred to above is dedicated to Sir Richard Bourke (1777-1855) who was governor of the colony of New South Wales from 1831-37.

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

See also.

Look Out Below by Charles R. Thatcher

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A young man left his native shores,
   For trade was bad at home;
And to seek his fortune in this land
   He crossed the briny foam.
And when he went to Ballarat
   His face was in a glow,
To hear the sound of the windlasses
   And the cry "Look out below!"

Where'er he turned his wandering eye
   Great wealth he did behold;
There were peace and plenty hand in hand
   By the magic power of gold.
Says he then, "I am young and strong,
   Gold digging I will go;
For I like the sound of the windlasses
   And the cry 'Look out below!'"

So amongst the rest he took his place,
   At first his luck was vile,
But by dint of perseverance
   At length he made his pile.
Says he, "I will a passage take,
   And back to England go,
And I'll bid adieu to the windlasses
   And the cry 'Look out below!'"

He arrived safe in England;
   His money he quickly spent,
And into every gaiety
   And dissipation went.
At length he reasoned with himself --
   "Oh! why did I return?
For the diggings and independent life
   I now commence to yearn;
For here the rich the poor oppress;
   Out there it is not so:
You can hear the sound of the windlasses
   And the cry "Look out below!"

Says he, "I will go back again,
   With a charming little wife,
For there's nothing that you can compare
   With a jolly digger's life."
Ask him if he'll return again,
   He'll quickly answer, "No;
For I'd miss the sound of the windlasses
   And the cry, "Look out below!"

First published in Australian Town and Country Journal, 22 May 1897;
and later in
Colonial Ballads edited by Hugh Anderson, 1962;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964;
The Penguin Australian Song Book edited by J. S. Manifold, 1964;
Old Australian Ballads: An Anthology edited by W. N. Walker, 1967;
Old Bush Songs and Rhymes of Colonial Times edited by Douglas Stewart, 1976;
Complete Book of Australian Folklore edited by Bill Scott;
A Collection of Australian Bush Verse, 1989; and
The Penguin Book of Australian Ballads edited by Elizabeth Webby and Philip Butterss, 1993.

Author: Charles Robert Thatcher (1831-78) was born in Bristol, England, and arrived in Australia in 1852 following the goldrush.  He soon joined the orchestra of the Royal Victoria Theatre in Bendigo and spent most of the rest of his stay in Australia traveling around the goldfields of Victoria and touring New Zealand. He left Australia in 1870 and returned to England with his family. He later died of cholera in Shanghai, China, while traveling in that country buying Asian curios for his business.

Author reference sites:
Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

A Song for Pioneers by C. J. Dennis

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The youth of a man have I known,
   And the youth of a land.
I have witnessed a wilderness sown,
   And a destiny planned.
The labor of stout pioneers
   It was mine to behold,
And the harvest that came with the years.
   And now I grow old.

And whatever for me lies before---
   Disillusion or bliss--
No future that fate has in store
   Can rob me of this:
I have dreamed and known dreaming come true;
   I have earned, I have spent;
I have watched a race grow as I grew;
   And I am content.

No land may for ever keep young,
   Or a nation apart;
When the songs of its youth have been sung,
   Change comes to its heart.
In the welter of war have we groaned,
   And in sorrows untold,
For the sins of an old world atoned;
   And our land has grown old.

All men for no more than a span
   Toil, dream and are gone;
For kind death is gentle with man;
   But a nation lives on.
And if we have built truly and well
   For this great continent,   
As the men who come after shall tell,
   Let us keep our content.

First published in The Herald, 21 May 1931;
and later in
Advertiser and Register, 23 May 1931.

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

See also.

The Days Were Golden! by P. Luftig (Peter Airey)

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The clouds had each a rainbow rim,
   The gracious clouds and golden;
The stars we knew were never dim,
   The songs were quaint and olden;
With glamor-glow before our eyes
We left the land of worldly-wise,
We watched the suns of glory rise
   (Ah, then the Days were golden!)

The lips we loved were ruby-red
   (Ah, sweet the murmurs olden!)
The hair was haloed round the head
   (The gracious locks and golden!)
The eyes were always tender-true,
The tale they told was always new,
The wreaths of rose had naught of rue
   (Ah, then the Days were golden!)

We loved the glance of flowers a-gleam,
   The green that kissed the golden!
Our waking life was drowsy dream
   In that dear land and olden;
Our speech ran o'er with words of wine,
Our shade was shot with silver shine,
Our Human sank in Deeps Divine
   (Ah, then the Days were golden!)

We heard the vault in rapture ring
   Through many a cycle golden;
We heard the Sons of Morning sing
   In mystic chorus olden;
We heard the voice of vale and crest,
The bird that sang beside the nest,
The bird that sang within the breast --
   (Ah -- then the Days were golden!)

When heart to heart was gently leal,
   When Love was fresh and golden,
When Laughter rang in silver peal,
   (The peerless Laughter olden!)
When bosoms proud were in their prime
When clust'ring Joys were in their clime,
When Life was all a rippling rhyme --
   Ah -- then the Days were golden!

First published
in The Bulletin, 20 May 1899

Author:  Peter Airey (1865-1950) was born in Dalton-in-Furness, Lancashire, England and arrived in Australia in 1875. Airey worked for the Queensland Education Department before being elected to the state parliament in 1901.  He later went on to become Queensland Home Secretary and Treasurer before being defeated at an election in 1909.  He then went into semi-retirement, living off his writing and investments, though he was still involved in Queensland political life.  He died in Brisbane in 1950.

Author reference sites:
Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Bush Pictures: A Dead Forest by Henry O'Donnell

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Oh! ashen comrades of the years too brief,
   Grim, shrivelled skeletons, ungainly things,
Like beggars now ye stand, in silent grief,
   Where, but a decade since, ye reigned as kings.

I fled the haunts of men, with ye to be,
   In days when I had mirth, and ye were strong,
But, though superb in mighty majesty,
   Not for your might I loved ye, but your song.

When she, the sunlight of my wayward days,
   Went forth with me, to bid my heart rejoice,
She, with her lute, from you caught such rare lays
   As never raptured minstrel tongue could voice.

And when we told our loves -- ah, me! the tale --
   And lingered long adown the shady lea,
Ye bent your plumes, and over hill and dale
   Proclaimed our secret in a symphony.

With plighted troth when once again we strolled
   To seek the solace of your kindly bowers,
No organ diapason ever rolled
   A wedding march that faintly echoed ours.

And when, aweary of this war for breath
   Too soon she grew, and wrung my only tear,
Ye sang in whispers, in the teeth of death,
   The only requiem I loved to hear.

And now that night is menacing my day,
   Your matchless nocturne, madrigal and glee,
Your crested heads, that kept the storm at bay,
   In memory alone can live with me;

For all your withered tongues are cold and mute
   As riven chords in hearts of adamant,
And, like my vanished love with broken lute,
   To me a dirge of silence now ye chant,

To tell, perchance, to soothe the after years,
   Dead trees, dead loves and songless birds may be --
As we would know but for our deafened ears --
   The deeper tones of Nature's harmony.

First published in Melbourne Punch, 19 May 1904

Author reference site: Austlit.

See also.

A Song for the Night by Daniel Henry Deniehy

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O the Night, the Night, the solemn Night,
   When Earth is bound with her silent zone,
And the spangled sky seems a temple wide,
   Where the star-tribes kneel at the Godhead's throne;
O the Night, the Night, the wizard Night,
   When the garish reign of day is o'er,
And the myriad barques of the dream-elves come
   In a brightsome fleet from Slumber's shore!
      O the Night for me,
      When blithe and free,
Go the zephyr-hounds on their airy chase;
      When the moon is high
      In the dewy sky,
And the air is sweet as a bride's embrace!

O the Night, the Night, the charming Night!
   From the fountain side in the myrtle shade,
All softly creep on the slumbrous air
   The waking notes of the serenade;
While bright eyes shine 'mid the lattice-vines,
   And white arms droop o'er the sculptured sills,
And accents fall to the knights below,
   Like the babblings soft of mountain rills.
      Love in their eyes,
      Love in their sighs,
Love in the heave of each lily-bright bosom;
      In words so clear,
      Lest the listening ear
And the waiting heart may lose them.

O the silent Night, when the student dreams
   Of kneeling crowds round a sage's tomb;
And the mother's eyes o'er the cradle rain
   Tears for her baby's fading bloom;
O the peaceful Night, when stilled and o'er
   Is the charger's tramp on the battle plain,
And the bugle's sound and the sabre's flash,
   While the moon looks sad over heaps of slain;
      And tears bespeak
      On the iron cheek
Of the sentinel lonely pacing,
      Thoughts which roll
      Through his fearless soul,
Day's sterner mood replacing.

O the sacred Night, when memory comes
   With an aspect mild and sweet to me,
But her tones are sad as a ballad air
   In childhood heard on a nurse's knee;
And round her throng fair forms long fled,
   With brows of snow and hair of gold,
And eyes with the light of summer skies,
   And lips that speak of the days of old.
      Wide is your flight,
      O spirits of Night,
By strath, and stream, and grove,
      But most in the gloom
      Of the Poet's room
Ye choose, fair ones, to rove.

First published in The Bulletin, 18 May 1895;
and later in
An Anthology of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1907; and
A Treasury of Colonial Poetry, 1982.

Author: Daniel Henry Deniehy (1828-1865) was born in Sydney, the son of parents who had both been transported convicts.  He studied law and was admitted as a solicitor in 1851.  He published his first literary work, a novelette, in 1845 and his love of literature and poetry continued to grow.  As did his interest in politics, which resulted in being elected to the NSW Parliament in 1857.  His parliamentary career was only short, ending in 1860, and Deniehy and his family moved to Melbourne in 1862 where he edited the Victorian.  After the failure of the paper in April 1864 he returned to Sydney but soon moved to Bathurst in an attempt to resurrect his legal practice. Deniehy died in Bathurst in 1865 after a fall in the street resulted in a major head injury. 

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

Moon-Mirth by Zora Cross

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Dip me a gallon of golden mirth
   Out of your well, my maiden moon,
Bubbling, doubling over the earth --
   Dimpled joy of a starry noon.

Ladle me laughing bowls of light
   Giddily glad from pools of bliss,
Winking, blinking beads of delight --
   Weal and wine of a woman's kiss.

Dear little moon, when the world goes wrong
   I and my love look up to you,
Flowering, showering laughter and song
   Over the land the long night though.

Oh, for a glass of your gaiety,
   Fair little moon, to spill o'er men,
Pearling, whirling all of them free,
   Making them lovers like us again.

First published in The Bulletin, 17 May 1917

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

See also.

Freedom on the Wallaby by Henry Lawson

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Australia's a big country
   An' Freedom's humping bluey,
An' Freedom's on the wallaby
   Oh! don't you hear 'er cooey?
She's just begun to boomerang,
   She'll knock the tyrants silly,
She's goin' to light another fire
   And boil another billy.

Our fathers toiled for bitter bread
   While loafers thrived beside 'em,
But food to eat and clothes to wear,
   Their native land denied 'em.
An' so they left their native land
   In spite of their devotion,
An' so they came, or if they stole,
   Were sent across the ocean.

Then Freedom couldn't stand the glare
   O' Royalty's regalia,
She left the loafers where they were,
   An' came out to Australia.
But now across the mighty main
   The chains have come ter bind her -
She little thought to see again
   The wrongs she left behind her.

Our parents toil'd to make a home -
   Hard grubbin 'twas an' clearin' -
They wasn't crowded much with lords
   When they was pioneering.
But now that we have made the land
   A garden full of promise,
Old Greed must crook 'is dirty hand
   And come ter take it from us.

So we must fly a rebel flag,
   As others did before us,
And we must sing a rebel song
   And join in rebel chorus.
We'll make the tyrants feel the sting
   O' those that they would throttle;
They needn't say the fault is ours
   If blood should stain the wattle!

First published in The Worker, 16 May 1891, and again in the same paper on 29 September 1894;
and later in
Freedom on the Wallaby: Poems of the Australian People edited by Marjorie Pizer, 1953;
Songs from Lawson by Henry Lawson, 1957;
The Penguin Australian Song Book edited by J. S. Manifold, 1964;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964;
The World of Henry Lawson edited by Walter Stone, 1974;
A Treasury of Colonial Poetry, 1982;
The Essential Henry Lawson edited by Brian Kiernan, 1982;
A Camp-Fire Yarn: Henry Lawson Complete Works 1885-1900 edited by Leonard Cronin, 1984;
The Penguin Book of Australian Ballads edited by Elizabeth Webby and Philip Butterss,  1993;
Waltzing Matilda and Other Nursery Rhymes edited by Richard Magoffin, 1998; and
Our Country: Classic Australian Poetry: From the Colonial Ballads to Paterson & Lawson edited by Michael Cook, 2004.

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

See also.

Moving On by A. B. "Banjo" Paterson

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In this war we're always moving,
   Moving on;
When we make a friend another friend has gone;
Should a woman's kindly face
Make us welcome for a space,
Then it's boot and saddle, boys, we're
   Moving on.

In the hospitals they're moving,
   Moving on;
They're here today, tomorrow they are gone;
When the bravest and the best
Of the boys you know "go west",
Then you're choking down your tears and
   Moving on.

First published in The Kia-ora Coo-ee, 15 May 1918;
and later in
Aussie: The Australian Soldiers Magazine, 15 April 1920;
Song of the Pen, A.B. (Banjo) Paterson: Complete Works 1901-1941 edited by Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie, 1983;
A Vision Splendid: The Complete Poetry of A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1990;
An Australian Treasury of Popular Verse edited by Jim Haynes, 2002;
From Gallipoli to Gaza: The Desert Poets of World War One edited by Jill Hamilton, 2003;
The Bush Poems of A.B. (Banjo) Paterson by A. B. Paterson, 2008; and
The Battlefield Poems of A.B. (Banjo) Paterson by A. B. Paterson, 2010.

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

See also.

The Quest by Emily Coungeau

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Lo! I have sought thee, Happiness,  
   Beneath the sun,
Whose golden core doth Earth caress
   Till day is done.
Where scintillating stars appear,
   Breathing of thee,
As quivering in the vault of air
   They seem to see.
And where pearl girdled proud Selene,  
   With queenly grace,
Climbeth the stairs of Heaven, serene
   With smiling face.
And where in grove and woodland dell,
   So sweetly meek,
Shy, drooping dew crowned violets dwell
   Did I seek.
There at length I thee have found
   In solitude,
Where but echoes soft resound,
   Zephyr wooed.
And with books of hero lore
   There thou art,
And the chaplets which they bore,
   And my heart.
Happiness, I would not lose
   Thou so dear;
All may find thee if they choose
   Ever near.

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 14 May 1913;
and later in
Rustling Leaves: Selected Poems by Emily Coungeau, 1920.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Witchery by Will H. Ogilvie

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Witchery_illo.jpg

Rich bay with a star on the face
   And white on the off hind-foot,
With a beautiful temper and plenty of pace,
   And keen as a hawk to boot,
With a shoulder as clean as a stag's,
   And loins that would carry a ton,
There's nothing so kindly goes down to the flags
   As Witchery -- fourteen-one !

She's a wonder at getting away,
   And, give her a length on the grass,
They can bid a good-day to the swift little bay,
   For there's nothing can catch her or pass;
She fights for her head to the ball,
   For the ponies are fond of the fun,
And, oh! but she loves to be leading them all,
   Does Witchery --- fourteen-one!

Do I touch her at times with the spur?
   It is little my beauty will care,
And the blood on her mouth does not matter to her
   She has plenty of "blood" and to spare!
And the ladies will pet her and praise
   When the last merry quarter is done,
And she likes it -- I don't care what anyone says  --
   Does Witchery --- fourteen-one!

A barbarous sport? Well, I yield!
   But if this be a crime, let us sin;
For the goal flags are flying, the crowd's on the field,
   And the ponies are mad to begin.
Savages? Yes, if you like!
   But the musical mallet's begun
And she's biting the bit to get down for a strike
   Is Witchery -- fourteen-one!

Girth up, and ride out to the fray!
   For our foemen in crimson and white,
They are demons to play and they mean it to-day;
   We shall have to hit hard and sit tight.
And we've got to take risks of our own
  When the coin has been spoken and spun,
And the hard knocks, remember, are not all alone
   For Witchery --- fourteen-one!

First published
in The Bulletin, 13 May 1899

Note: the poem was originally published with the illustration shown here.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Australia by D. Fenton (Bernard O'Dowd)

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Last sea-thing dredged by sailor Time from Space,
   Are you a drift Sargasso, where the West
   In halcyon calm rebuilds her fatal nest?
Or Delos of a coming Sun-god's race?
Are you for Light, and trimmed, with oil in place,
   Or but a Will o' Wisp on marshy quest?
   A new demesne for Mammon to infest?
Or lurks millenial Eden 'neath your face?

The cenotaphs of species dead elsewhere
   That in your limits leap and swim and fly,
      Or trail uncanny harpstrings from your trees,
Mix omens with the auguries that dare
   To plant the Cross upon your forehead sky,
      A virgin helpmate Ocean at your knees.

First published in The Bulletin, 12 May 1900, and again in the same magazine on 1 February 1950;
and later in
The Golden Treasury of Australia Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1909;
The Bookfellow, 15 November 1913;
The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse edited by Walter Murdoch, 1918;
An Australasian Anthology: Australian and New Zealand Poems edited by Pervical Serle, R.H. Croll and Frank Wilmot;
New Song in an Old Land edited by Rex Ingamells, 1943;
Spoils of Time: Some Poems of the English Speaking Peoples edited by Rex Ingamells, 1948;
The Penguin Book of Australian Verse edited by John Thompson, Kenneth Slessor, and R.G. Howarth, 1958;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964;
The Penguin Book of Australian Verse edited by Harry Heseltine, 1972;
Cross-Country: A Book of Australian Verse edited by John Barnes and Brian McFarlane, 1988;
The Macmillan Anthology of Australian Literature edited by Ken L. Goodwin and Alan Lawson, 1990;
The Arnold Anthology of Post-Colonial Literatures in English edited by John Thieme, 1996;
Sunlines: An Anthology of Poetry to Celebrate Australia's Harmony in Diversity edited by Anne Fairbairn, 2002;
100 Australian Poems You Need to Know edited by Jamie Grant, 2008;
The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry edited by John Kinsella, 2009; and
Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature edited by Nicholas Jose, Kerryn Goldsworthy, Anita Heiss, David McCooey, Peter Minter, Nicole Moore and Elizabeth Webby, 2009.

Note: the poem was published by The Bulletin as the winner of a sonnet competition.  The judges had this to say of the poem: "...there was no difficulty in adjudging the prize of £2. 2s. to D. Fenton, Supreme Court Library, Melbourne, whose pithy, pregnant verse has frequentely adorned the columns of The Bulletin.  His fine and memorable sonnet heads this page. It urges the question and the doubt which state Australia's present place in the philosophic vista; and it is an intellectual diamond, with a facet flashing in every line."

Author: Bernard O'Dowd (1866-1953) was born in Beaufort, Victoria, and taught in Catholic Schools before joining the Victorian Public Service.  He graduated in arts and law in the 1890s and rose to the rank of Chief Parliamentary Draughtsman for Victoria.  He died in Melbourne, Victoria, in 1953.

Author reference sites:
Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Rain! by C. J. Dennis

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What care I what wins the races?
   What care I for falling stock?
What care I for airs and graces
   Of the flappers on the Block?
All my cares have passed away;
   I'm beyond all dull complaining,
For the skies are leaden grey;
   And it's raining, raining, raining!

Plague me with no pleasant duties
   Of this sunny land of ours,
While the country side and cites
   Are athirst for cooling showers.
All my worries now are sped --
   Now that Sovereign Summer's waning;
And five million folk are fed;
   For it's raining! RAINING! RAINING!

First published
in the Sun News-Pictorial, 11 May 1927

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

See also.

Note: the reference here to "the Block" refers to the Block Arcade in Melbourne at the corner of Collins and Elizabeth Streets.

The Smoker Parrot by John Shaw Neilson

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He has the full moon on his breast,
The moonbeams are about his wing;
He has the colours of a king.
I see him floating unto rest
When all eyes wearily go west,
And the warm winds are quieting.
The moonbeams are about his wing:
He has the full moon on his breast.

First published in The Clarion, 10 May 1909;
and later in
Green Days and Cherries: the early verses of Shaw Neilson edited by Hugh Anderson and Leslie James Blake, 1981;
Cross-Country: A Book of Australian Verse edited by John Barnes, 1984;
My Country: Australian poetry and Short Stories, Two Hundred Years edited by Leonie Kramer, 1985;
John Shaw Neilson: Poetry, Autobiography and Correspondence edited by Cliff Hanna, 1991; and
Selected Poems edited by Robert Gray, 1993;
Our Country: Classic Australian Poetry: From the Colonial Ballads to Paterson & Lawson edited by Michael Cook, 2004;
Hell and After: Four Early English Language Poets of Australia edited by Les Murray, 2005.

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

See also.

The Misplaced Men by Edward Dyson

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He sagged upon the tender grass
   Where twinkling butterflies
Coquetted with the scented mass
   Of gum bloom. In his eyes
A dreamy speculation lay;
   His hat was knocked about;
His clothes were old, and fell away,
And from his broken boots in play
   His curling toes peeked out.

"I ort 'ave bin a dook," said he,
   "Or else a noble earl.
'Ard work ain't possible to me;
   I wasn't born to whirl
A nax, or swing a navvy's pick,
   Or even shake a sword.
For all that, I'm amazin' quick
With hard old drink, or soft young chick.
   I ort 'ave bin a lord.

"I 'ate coarse clo'es 'n' bread 'n' cheese;
   I'd love a royal bed,
With linen sheets 'n' tapestries
   Hung close above me 'ead.
I 'ave no gifts; I'm positive
   I cannot do a thing,
'N' through the changin' year to live
I have to take what others give.
   I ort 'ave bin a king.

"'N' there are dooks, 'n' lords, 'n' earls
   Who do not want to lie
'N' watch the lily where it curls
   Agin the driftin' sky.
They're up 'n' doin', so I'm told,
   As long as they can see.
What good to them uncounted gold?
The gift of ease they do not 'old --
   They orter have bin me.

"This world is all a sorry mess.
   It has its idle poor
Who can't enjoy their idleness,
   But suffer and endure.
It has its wealthy class that feels
   For work a fearful itch.
Yet to the worthless poor it deals
Out endless stoush, but never weals
   The undeservin' rich!"

First published in The Bulletin, 9 May 1918

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

See also.

"Yesterdays" by M. Burkinshaw (Mabel Forrest)

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Sweetheart, clasp close your loving arms,
   And let us dream of yesterdays,
Of winter's snows and summer's balms,
   And all the unforgotten ways.

Sweetheart, let dusky love-locks play
   Unheeded o'er your forehead's white;
Let love re-dawn that bygone day,
   And flash a glory through the night.

Sweatheart, before we twain must part,
   Let fancy touch the golden lyre
That trembled through each passionate heart
   And fanned the ever holy fire.

And just because we two must go
   Alone, upon diverging ways,
Forget "tomorrows" draped in woe,
   And let us dream of "yesterdays."

First published in The Queenslander, 8 May 1897

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

May, MDCCCXCII by A. J. Rolfe

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The moon and its broken reflection
   And its shadows shall appear
As the symbol of love in heaven,
   And its wavering image here.


Longfellow.

The dying light pales slowly in the west;
   The shadowy silent presence of the night
Is stealing on to still the world's unrest,
   And one by one the myriad stars shine bright,
From her dim realm in calm serenity,
   The goddess of the night with peaceful grace
Lifting her pallid, gleaming shield on high,
   In regal grandeur takes her silent place.
And through the dimness vast, Night seems to say
   In, whispers low, "Fear not my shadow, Death;
For as from earth I bear thy thoughts away
   To dreamland for a space; so when thy wreath
Of life is wrought, cold Death shall close thine eyes
   And bear thee to eternal Paradise."

First published in The Queenslander, 7 May 1892;
and later in:
A Sheaf of Sonnets by A. J. Rolfe, 1892

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

Author reference sites: Austlit

See also.

Old River Days by Will Lawson

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On Murrumbidgee the sunrise flashes,
   The moonlight glitters on Darling-side;
Where parrots scream and the wild duck dashes,
   Old Murray's reaches are long and wide.
From the Snowy Ranges, far-off and lonely,
   From Queensland borders the waters come
Three thousand miles; yet each mile is only
   Another step that will lead us home.
Back to the winding watercourses,
   Back to the steamer-roads again
Where the whistles startled the station horses
   And the women waved to the steamer men.

Through the mists of years you can see them going,
   With paddles beating and funnels loud,
With steam that bursts from the furnace glowing
   On the river mist's grey, ghostly shroud.
The Princess Royal, the fast Freetrader,
   The Rothbury, the Eliza Jane,
The Telegraph and the old Crusader,
   The 're steaming out on the floods again.
They blow for the wood-piles down the river,
   Racing to get to Mannum first,
Though the wood in their planks may creak and quiver,
   Though sandbars threaten and boilers burst.

There is something grand in the river stories,
   There was something brave in the steamer days,
When the morning gleam and the sunset glories
   Shone on the changing waterways.
To thrashing of paddles and lights and laughter,
   Love and dancing and voices strong;
Heedless of fate and of what came after,
   They lived men's lives as they stormed along.
Bound for the narrow Murrumbidgee,
   Daring the Darling's fickle tide,
They travelled out where the sand and gidya
   Baffled the boats when the flood-streams died.

What were the miles, when they laughed at distance?
   The river was home enough for them.
Oh! the lazy push of their powerful pistons,
   Driving out to the desert's hem.
Men of the rivers! Men of the steamers!
   From the long West Coast of New South Wales,
To Goolwa bar, in the land of dreamers.
   We see you pass and we hear your hails,
And your whistles calling on Darling and Murray.
   Where do you steer and where do you hide?
In the engine's scream and the smooth wheel's hurry
   We hear the dirge of a world that died.

First published in The Bulletin, 6 May 1936;
and later in
Australian Bush Songs and Ballads by Will Lawson, 1944;
Bush Verses by Will Lawson, 1945; and
Paddle-Wheels Away by Will Lawson, 1947.

Author: William Lawson (1876-1957) was born in Durham in England and migrated to New Zealand with his family in 1880.  He then moved to Brisbane in 1884, and then back to Wellington, New Zealand in 1890, where he stayed for the next 20 years.  He worked as a clerk for an insurance company there, contributing verses to various Australian periodicals. In 1912 he took up a post as a journalist on the Sydney Evening News.  He published 6 collections of his poetry during his lifetime, as well as writing 14 novels.  He died in Randwick, New South Wales in 1957.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Parson and the Prelate by Creeve Roe (Victor Daley)

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I saw a Parson on a bike --
   A parody on things --
His coat-tails flapped behind him like
   A pair of caudal wings.

His coat was of a shiny green,
   His hat was rusty brown;
He was a weird, wild sight, I ween,
   Careering through the town.

What perched him on a wheel at all,
  And made him race and rip?
Had he, perchance, a sudden call
   To some rich rectorship?

He'd no such call; he raced and ran
   To kneel and pray beside
The bedside of a dying man,
   Who poor as Peter died.

I saw a Prelate, plump and fine,
   Who gleamed with sanctity;
He was the finest-groomed divine
   That you could wish to see.

His smile was bland; his air was grand;
   His coat was black, and shone
As did the tents of Kedar and
   The robes of Solomon.

And in a carriage fine and fair
   He lounged in lordly ease --
It was a carriage and a pair --
   And nursed his gaitered knees.

And whither went he, and what for,
   With all this pomp and show?
He went to see the Governor,
   And that is all I know.

But in a vision of the night,
   When deep dreams come to men,
I saw a strange and curious sight --
   The Prelate once again.

He sat ungaitered, and undone,
   A picture of dismay --
His carriage was too broad to run
   Along the Narrow Way!

But, with his coat-tails flapping like
   Black caudal wings in wrath,
I saw the Parson on the bike
   Sprint up the Shining Path.

First published in The Bulletin, 5 May 1904;
and later in
The Penguin Book of Australian Humorous Verse edited by Bill Scott, 1984;
Anthology of Australian Religious Verse edited by Les Murray, 1986;
An Australian Treasury of Popular Verse edited by Jim Haynes, 2002; and
Two Centuries of Australian Poetry edited by Kathrine Bell, 2007.

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

See also.

The Phantom Mob by Will M. Fleming

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Yes; I'm Harry Black - "Mad Harry" - and I often hear 'em say :
"Oh he's off poor chap; don't heed him - he has seen a better day.
He was king of all the drovers on a dry and dusty track;
He tried it once too often; it's Mad Harry - Harry Black."

I had got a mob of cattle out beyond the back Paroo,
When stock routes were the paddocks and fences far and few,
And the track was dry as wisdom, and the days were scorching hot,
The beasts were dropping off like flies - I thought we'd lose the lot.

And my mates were turning cranky - day and night without a drink -
But I kept 'em to the music, and I never slept a wink.
I had to keep 'em goin', or the beggars, beast and man,
Would have perished like a bettle in an empty billy-can.

I woke and found, one mornin', there was not a hoof alive,
But I rode around the bodies and started on to drive.
They were bloomin' hard to manage, but I kept 'em all the same,
For whoever knows Mad Harry will admit that he is game.

And I took 'em on my lonely, kept 'em movin' on the track,
Till the fellows who had left me one by one came sneakin' back.
And I never swore or cursed 'em - simply let 'em take a hand,
Till the curious way they watched me brought me round to understand.

I was drivin' ghosts o' cattle - not a live hoof in the lot! -
And they'd never camp a moment, though the day was blazin' hot.
And at night they never rested, always movin', movin' round,
With a restless sort o' movin' and a moanin' sort of sound.

Till at last I swore at Murphy, cursed Joe Cowly to his teeth,
And I saw their lips a-grinnin' and a skeleton beneath!
I cursed 'em both as useless, and then all at once I saw
They had travelled with the cattle, and were livin' men no more.

Ghost o' men and ghosts o' cattle, I could see 'em through the day
In a strange and curious fashion and a hazy sort o' way.
And at night they gathered round me till my flesh was all a-creep,
And at last - I couldn't help it - while they watched I fell asleep.

Then they went and left me sleepin' - went and left me where I lay,
And I swore an oath I'd find 'em if I looked till Judgment Day!
Yes, I'm Harry Black - Mad Harry - and I never can forget
Those pikers from the back Paroo - I'm lookin' for 'em yet!

First published in The Bulletin, 4 May 1905;
and later in
A Collection of Australian Bush Verse, 1989.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Australian Poets #17 - C. J. Dennis

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C. J. Dennis (1876-1938)

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

See also.

The Aurora Australis by Mary Hannay Foott

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A radiance in the midnight sky
No white moon gave, nor yellow star;
We thought its red glow mounted high
Where fire and forest fought afar.

Half fearing that the township blazed,
Perchance, beyond the boundary hill;
Then finding what it was, -- we gazed
And wondered, till we shivered chill.

And pondered on the sister glow,
Of our Aurora, -- sending lines
Of lustre forth, to tint the snow
That lodges on Norwegian pines.

And South and North alternate swept,
In vision, past us, to and fro;
While stealthy winds of midnight crept
About us, whispering fast and low.

The North, whose star burns steadily, --
Night set in Heaven long ago;
The South, new risen on the sea, --
A tremulous horizon-glow.

We thought, "Shall there be gallant guests
Within our polar hermitage,
As on the shore where Franklin rests, --
And others, -- named in glory's page?"

And "Shall the light we look on blaze
Above such battles as have been, --
In other countries -- other days, --
The Giants and the Gods between?"

Till one declared, "We live to-night
In what shall be the poet's world;
Those lands 'neath our Aurora's light
Are as the rocks the Titans hurled.

"From southern waters ice-enthralled
Year after year the rays that glance
Shall see the Desert shrink appalled,
Before the City's swift advance.

"Shall see the precipice a stair, --
The river as a road. And then
There shall be voices which declare
'This work was wrought by manly men.'"

And so our South all stately swept,
In vision, past us, -- to and fro;
While stealthy winds of midnight crept
About us, -- whispering fast and low.

First published in Australian Town and Country Journal, 3 May 1873;
and later in
Where the Pelican Builds and Other Poems by Mary Hannay Foott, 1885.

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

See also.

The Song of the Shingle-Splitters by Henry Kendall

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In dark, wild woods, where the lone owl broods,
   And the dingoes nightly yell--
Where the curlew's cry goes floating by--
   We Splitters of Shingles dwell.
And all day through, from the time of the dew,
   To the hour when the mopoke calls,
Our mallets ring where the woodbirds sing
   Sweet hymns by the waterfalls.
And all night long we are lulled by the song
   Of gales in the grand old trees;
And in the breaks we can hear the lakes,
   And the moan of distant seas.

         For afar from heat, and dust of street,
            And hall; and turret, and dome--
         In forests deep, where the torrents leap,
            Is the Shingle-splitters' Home.

The dweller in town may lie on down,
   And own his palace and park;
We envy him not his pleasant lot,
   Though we sleep on sheets of bark.
Our food is rough but we have enough--
   Our drink is litter than wine;
For cool creeks flow wherever we go,
   Shut in from the hot sunshine.
Though rude our roof, it is weather-proof;
   And, at the end of the days,
We sit and smoke over yarn and joke,
   By the bushfire`s sturdy blaze.

         For away from din, and sorrow, and sin,
            Where troubles but rarely come,
         We jog along, like a merry song,
            In the Shingle-splitters' Home.

What though our work be heavy, we shirk
   From nothing beneath the sun;
And toil is sweet to those who can eat,
   And rest when the day is done.
In the Sabbath-time we hear no chime--
   No sound of the Sunday-bells;
But Heaven smiles on the forest aisles,
   And God in the woodland dwells.
We listen to notes from the million throats
   Of chorister-birds on high;
Our psalm is the breeze in the lordly trees,
   And our dome--the broad blue sky.

         O, a brave, frank life, unsmitten by strife,
            We live wherever we roam;
         And hearts are free as the great strong sea
            In the Shingle-splitters' Home.

First published in Australian Town and Country Journal, 2 May 1874, again in the same newspaper on 7 April 1888;
and also in
The Eagle, 19 October 1895;
The Oxford Book of Australian Verse edited by Walter Murdoch, 1918;
Australian Bush Songs and Ballads edited by Will Lawson, 1944;
Selected Poems of Henry Kendall edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1957; and
Our Country: Classic Australian Poetry: From Colonial Ballads to Paterson & Lawson edited by Michael Cook, 2004.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Robe of Grass by J. Le Gay Brereton

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Here lies the woven garb he wore
Of grass he gathered by the shore
   Whereon the phantom waves still fret and foam
And sigh along the visionary sand.
"Where is he now?" you cry; "What desolate land
   Gleams round him in dull mockery of home?"
 
You knew him by the robe he cast
About him, grey and worn at last.
   "It fades," you murmur, "changes, lives and dies.
Why has he vanished? Whither is he fled?
And is there any light among the dead?
   Can any dream come singing where he lies?"
 
Ah peace! lift up your clouded eyes,
Nor where this curious relic lies
   Grope in the blown dust for the print of feet.
Dim, tottering, ghastly sounds are these; but he
Laughs now as ever, still aloof and free,
   Eager and wild and passionate and fleet.
 
Because he has dropped the part he played,
Shall love be baffled and dismayed?
   Let the frail earth and all its visions melt,
And let the heart that loves, the eye that sees,
Seek him amid immortal mysteries,
   For lo, he dwells where he has ever dwelt.

First published in The Lone Hand, 1 May 1913;
and later in
The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse edited by Walter Murdoch, 1924; and
An Australasian Anthology: Australian and New Zealand Poems edited by Percival Serle, R. H. Croll and Frank Wilmot, 1927.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

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