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.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on May 25, 2011 8:14 AM.

Australian Poets #18 - Peter Airey was the previous entry in this blog.

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