July 2011 Archives

I Spoke to the Violet by John Shaw Neilson

| No TrackBacks
Shy one, I said, you can take me away in a breath,
But I like not the coat that you come in -- the colour of death.  

The silence you come with is sweeter to me than a sound,
But I love not the colour -- I saw it go into the ground.            

And, though you haunt me with all that is health to a rhyme,
My thoughts are as old as the native beginning of Time.  

Your scent does encompass all beauty in one loving breath,
But I like not the coat that you come in -- the colour of death.        

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 July 1937;
and later in
Beauty Imposes: Some Recent Verse by John Shaw Neilson, 1938;
A Book of Australian Verse edited by Judith Wright, 1968;
Cross-Country: A Book of Australian Verse edited by John Barnes, 1984; and
John Shaw Neilson: Poetry, Autobiography and Correspondence edited by Cliff Hanna, 1991.

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

See also.

The Old Whim Horse by Edward Dyson

| No TrackBacks
He's an old grey horse, with his head bowed sadly,
And with dim old eyes and a queer roll aft,
With the off-fore sprung and the hind screwed badly,
And he bears all over the brands of graft;
And he lifts his head from the grass to wonder
Why by night and day the whim is still,
Why the silence is, and the stampers' thunder
Sounds forth no more from the shattered mill.

In that whim he worked when the night winds bellowed
On the riven summit of Giant's Hand,
And by day when prodigal Spring had yellowed
All the wide, long sweep of enchanted land;
And he knew his shift, and the whistle's warning,
And he knew the calls of the boys below;
Through the years, unbidden, at night or morning,
He had taken his stand by the old whim bow.

But the whim stands still, and the wheeling swallow
In the silent shaft hangs her home of clay,
And the lizards flirt and the swift snakes follow
O'er the grass-grown brace in the summer day;
And the corn springs high in the cracks and corners
Of the forge, and down where the timber lies;
And the crows are perched like a band of mourners
On the broken hut on the Hermit's Rise.

All the hands have gone, for the rich reef paid out,
And the company waits till the calls come in;
But the old grey horse, like the claim, is played out,
And no market's near for his bones and skin.
So they let him live, and they left him grazing
By the creek, and oft in the evening dim
I have seen him stand on the rises, gazing
At the ruined brace and the rotting whim.

The floods rush high in the gully under,
And the lightnings lash at the shrinking trees,
Or the cattle down from the ranges blunder
As the fires drive by on the summer breeze.
Still the feeble horse at the right hour wanders
To the lonely ring, though the whistle's dumb,
And with hanging head by the bow he ponders
Where the whim boy's gone - why the shifts don't come.

But there comes a night when he sees lights glowing
In the roofless huts and the ravaged mill,
When he hears again all the stampers going -  
Though the huts are dark and the stampers still:
When he sees the steam to the black roof clinging
As its shadows roll on the silver sands,
And he knows the voice of his driver singing,
And the knocker's clang where the braceman stands.

See the old horse take, like a creature dreaming,
On the ring once more his accustomed place;
But the moonbeams full on the ruins streaming
Show the scattered timbers and grass-grown brace.
Yet he hears the sled in the smithy falling,
And the empty truck as it rattles back,
And the boy who stands by the anvil, calling;
And he turns and backs, and he "takes up slack".

While the old drum creaks, and the shadows shiver
As the wind sweeps by, and the hut doors close,
And the bats dip down in the shaft or quiver
In the ghostly light, round the grey horse goes;
And he feels the strain on his untouched shoulder,
Hears again the voice that was dear to him,
Sees the form he knew - and his heart grows bolder
As he works his shift by the broken whim.

He hears in the sluices the water rushing
As the buckets drain and the doors fall back;
When the early dawn in the east is blushing,
He is limping still round the old, old track.
Now he pricks his ears, with a neigh replying
To a call unspoken, with eyes aglow,
And he sways and sinks in the circle, dying;
From the ring no more will the grey horse go.

In a gully green, where a dam lies gleaming,
And the bush creeps back on a worked-out claim,
And the sleepy crows in the sun sit dreaming
On the timbers grey and a charred hut frame,
Where the legs slant down, and the hare is squatting
In the high rank grass by the dried-up course,
Nigh a shattered drum and a king-post rotting
Are the bleaching bones of the old grey horse.

First published in The Bulletin, 30 July 1892;
and later in
Rhymes From the Mines and Other Lines by Edward Dyson, 1896;
An Anthology of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1907;
The Golden Treasury of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1909;
Favourite Australian Poems edited by Ian Mudie, 1963;
This Land: An Anthology of Australian Poetry for Young People edited by M. M. Flynn and J. Groom, 1968;
The Collins Book of Australian Poetry compiled by Rodney Hall, 1981;
The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse edited by Beatrice Davis, 1984;
New Dimension, June 1987;
A Collection of Australian Bush Verse, 1989;
Classic Australian Verse edited by Maggie Pinkney, 2001;
Two Centuries of Australian Verse edited by Kathrine Bell, 2007; and
100 Australian Poems You Need to Know edited by Jamie Grant, 2008.

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

See also.

Winterlight by Furnley Maurice (Frank Wilmot)

| No TrackBacks
Oft have I seen at evening by the lake
   The swans sail past the willow-hooded boat,
Where broken light and spreading ripples make
   A comet-train behind them as they float.

I have absorbed great artistry; song has wrought
   Its magic upon me: often I have come
Out of a trance of passionate reading fraught
   With power of vision to draw the faint hills home.

These and their company take me, magic, immense;
   Yet in the morning equivalent wonders unfold
When the sun pours through the breaks in a paling fence
   To stencil a frosted pavement with jagged gold.

First published in The Bulletin, 29 July 1936

Author: Frank Leslie Thompson Wilmot (1881-1942) was born in Collingwood, Victoria, and left school at 13 to work in E. W. Cole's Book Arcade.  He began writing poetry while still in his teens but struggled to get any accepted by The Bulletin until he submitted under the pseudonym 'Furnley Maurice', a pen-name he continued to use throughout this life.  He rose to the position of manager of the Book Arcade until it closed in 1929.  He later became the first full-time manager of the Melbourne University Press and Bookroom in 1932. He died in Melbourne in 1942.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Faces in the Street by Henry Lawson

| No TrackBacks
They lie, the men who tell us in a loud decisive tone
That want is here a stranger, and that misery's unknown;
For where the nearest suburb and the city proper meet
My window-sill is level with the faces in the street --
   Drifting past, drifting past,
   To the beat of weary feet --
While I sorrow for the owners of those faces in the street.

And cause I have to sorrow, in a land so young and fair,
To see upon those faces stamped the marks of Want and Care;
I look in vain for traces of the fresh and fair and sweet
In sallow, sunken faces that are drifting through the street --
   Drifting on, drifting on,
   To the scrape of restless feet;
I can sorrow for the owners of the faces in the street.

In hours before the dawning dims the starlight in the sky
The wan and weary faces first begin to trickle by,
Increasing as the moments hurry on with morning feet,
Till like a pallid river flow the faces in the street --
   Flowing in, flowing in,
   To the beat of hurried feet --
Ah!  I sorrow for the owners of those faces in the street.

The human river dwindles when 'tis past the hour of eight,
Its waves go flowing faster in the fear of being late;
But slowly drag the moments, whilst beneath the dust and heat
The city grinds the owners of the faces in the street --
   Grinding body, grinding soul,
   Yielding scarce enough to eat --
Oh!  I sorrow for the owners of the faces in the street.

And then the only faces till the sun is sinking down
Are those of outside toilers and the idlers of the town,
Save here and there a face that seems a stranger in the street,
Tells of the city's unemployed upon his weary beat --
   Drifting round, drifting round,
   To the tread of listless feet --
Ah!  My heart aches for the owner of that sad face in the street.

And when the hours on lagging feet have slowly dragged away,
And sickly yellow gaslights rise to mock the going day,
Then flowing past my window like a tide in its retreat,
Again I see the pallid stream of faces in the street --
   Ebbing out, ebbing out,
   To the drag of tired feet,
While my heart is aching dumbly for the faces in the street.

And now all blurred and smirched with vice the day's sad pages end,
For while the short `large hours' toward the longer `small hours' trend,
With smiles that mock the wearer, and with words that half entreat,
Delilah pleads for custom at the corner of the street --
   Sinking down, sinking down,
   Battered wreck by tempests beat --
A dreadful, thankless trade is hers, that Woman of the Street.

But, ah! to dreader things than these our fair young city comes,
For in its heart are growing thick the filthy dens and slums,
Where human forms shall rot away in sties for swine unmeet,
And ghostly faces shall be seen unfit for any street --
   Rotting out, rotting out,
   For the lack of air and meat --
In dens of vice and horror that are hidden from the street.

I wonder would the apathy of wealthy men endure
Were all their windows level with the faces of the Poor?
Ah! Mammon's slaves, your knees shall knock, your hearts in terror beat,
When God demands a reason for the sorrows of the street,
   The wrong things and the bad things
   And the sad things that we meet
In the filthy lane and alley, and the cruel, heartless street.

I left the dreadful corner where the steps are never still,
And sought another window overlooking gorge and hill;
But when the night came dreary with the driving rain and sleet,
They haunted me -- the shadows of those faces in the street,
   Flitting by, flitting by,
   Flitting by with noiseless feet,
And with cheeks but little paler than the real ones in the street.

Once I cried:  `Oh, God Almighty! if Thy might doth still endure,
Now show me in a vision for the wrongs of Earth a cure.'
And, lo! with shops all shuttered I beheld a city's street,
And in the warning distance heard the tramp of many feet,
   Coming near, coming near,
   To a drum's dull distant beat,
And soon I saw the army that was marching down the street.

Then, like a swollen river that has broken bank and wall,
The human flood came pouring with the red flags over all,
And kindled eyes all blazing bright with revolution's heat,
And flashing swords reflecting rigid faces in the street.
   Pouring on, pouring on,
   To a drum's loud threatening beat,
And the war-hymns and the cheering of the people in the street.

And so it must be while the world goes rolling round its course,
The warning pen shall write in vain, the warning voice grow hoarse,
But not until a city feels Red Revolution's feet
Shall its sad people miss awhile the terrors of the street --
   The dreadful everlasting strife
   For scarcely clothes and meat
In that pent track of living death -- the city's cruel street.

First published in The Bulletin, 28 July 1888 and again in the same magazine on 29 January 1980;
and later in
In the Days When the World Was Wide and Other Verses by Henry Lawson, 1900;
Freedom on the Wallaby: Poems of the Australian People edited by Marjorie Pizer, 1953;
Songs from Lawson by Henry Lawson, 1957;
Favourite Australian Poems edited by Ian Mudie, 1963;
Poems of Henry Lawson edited by Walter Stone, 1973;
The World of Henry Lawson edited by Walter Stone, 1974;
The Collins Book of Australian Poetry compiled by Rodney Hall, 1981;
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 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;
The Penguin Book of Australian Ballads edited by Elizabeth Webby and Philip Butterss,  1993;
200 Years of Australian Writing: An Anthology edited by James F. H. Moore, 1997; and
Harbour City Poems: Sydney in Verse, 1788-2008 edited by Martin Langford, 2009.

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

See also.

Old Friends by Will M. Fleming

| No TrackBacks
They ride into the sunset,
   The years we used to know,
Their eyes alight with wisdom,
   Their easy hands held low;

Bowed heads but hearts undaunted,
   The harvest of their day
They leave for those who follow
   To gather as they may.

For them has been the tilling,
   And their's has been the toil
That makes forever fruitful
   The waiting virgin soil.

They pass into the sunset,
   We watch them riding slow.  
As friends they will be waiting
   The years we used to know.  

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 July 1929

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Australian Poets #24 - Christopher Brennan

| No TrackBacks

Christopher John Brennan (1870-1932)

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

See also.

An Aboriginal Mother's Lament by Charles Harpur

| No TrackBacks
It will be remembered that, a few years back, a party of stockmen (several of whom were afterwards executed for the crime) made wholesale massacre of a small tribe of defenceless Blacks, to the number, it is believed, of more than a score, heaping their bodies as they slaughtered them, upon a large fire kindled for the purpose. Of this doomed tribe, one woman only, with her infant as it appeared subsequently on evidence, escaped the Whiteman's vengeance. And this woman, after having fled to a considerable distance from the scene of the massacre, and when wearied and overtaken by the night is supposed to make the following lament.

Oh, I would further fly my child,
   To make thee safer yet
From the unsparing Whiteman's
   Dread hand, all murder-wet!
Yet bear thee on, as I have borne,
   So stealthily and fleet,
But darkness shuts the forest,
   And thorns are in my feet!
Oh, moan not! I would give this braid
   That once bound Hibbi's brow,
But for a single palmful
   Of water for thee now.

Ah, spring not to his name! -- no more
   To glad us may he come!
Afar his ashes smoulder
   Beneath the blasted Gum --
All charred and blasted by the fire
   The Whiteman kindled there,
To burn our murdered kindred,
   And scorch us to despair!
Oh, moan not! I would give this braid
   That once bound Hibbi's brow,
But for a single palmful
   Of water for thee now.

And but for thee, I would their fire
   Had eaten me as fast!
Hark! do I hear death cry?
   Yet drowning up the blast?
But no! -- when his bound hands had signed
   The way that we should fly,
Thrown on the pyre fresh bleeding,
   I saw thy father die!
Oh, moan not! I would give this braid,
   His first fond gift to me,
But for a single palmful
   Of water for thee now.

No more shall his loud tomahawk
   Be plied for our relief;
The streams have lost for ever
   The shadow of a chief;
The fading track of his fleet foot
   May guide not as before;
And the echo of the mountains
   Shall answer him no more.
Oh, moan not! I would give this braid,
   Thy father's gift to me,
But for a single palmful
    Of water now for thee.

First published in The Weekly Register of Politics, Facts and General Literature, 26 July 1845;
and later in
The Bushrangers, a Play in Five Acts and Other Poems by Charles Harpur, 1853;
Australian Ballads and Rhymes: Poems Inspired by Life and Scenery in Australia and New Zealand edited by Douglas Sladen, 1888;
A Treasury of Colonial Poetry, 1982;
The Poetical Works of Charles Harpur edited by Elizabeth Perkins, 1984; and
Family Ties:Australian Poems of the Family edited by Jennifer Strauss, 1998.

Note: this poem is also known by the title A Wail from the Bush.  It references the Myall Creek massacre of 1838.

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

See also.

Mulga Bill's Bicycle by A. B. "Banjo" Paterson

| No TrackBacks
'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze;
He turned away the good old horse that served him many days;
He dressed himself in cycling clothes, resplendent to be seen;
He hurried off to town and bought a shining new machine;
And as he wheeled it through the door, with air of lordly pride,
The grinning shop assistant said, "Excuse me, can you ride?"

"See here, young man," said Mulga Bill, "from Walgett to the sea,
From Conroy's Gap to Castlereagh, there's none can ride like me.
I'm good all round at everything as everybody knows,
Although I'm not the one to talk - I hate a man that blows.
But riding is my special gift, my chiefest, sole delight;
Just ask a wild duck can it swim, a wildcat can it fight.
There's nothing clothed in hair or hide, or built of flesh or steel,
There's nothing walks or jumps, or runs, on axle, hoof, or wheel,
But what I'll sit, while hide will hold and girths and straps are tight:
I'll ride this here two-wheeled concern right straight away at sight."

'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that sought his own abode,
That perched above Dead Man's Creek, beside the mountain road.
He turned the cycle down the hill and mounted for the fray,
But 'ere he'd gone a dozen yards it bolted clean away.
It left the track, and through the trees, just like a silver steak,
It whistled down the awful slope towards the Dead Man's Creek.

It shaved a stump by half an inch, it dodged a big white-box:
The very wallaroos in fright went scrambling up the rocks,
The wombats hiding in their caves dug deeper underground,
As Mulga Bill, as white as chalk, sat tight to every bound.
It struck a stone and gave a spring that cleared a fallen tree,
It raced beside a precipice as close as close could be;
And then as Mulga Bill let out one last despairing shriek
It made a leap of twenty feet into the Dean Man's Creek.

'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that slowly swam ashore:
He said, "I've had some narrer shaves and lively rides before;
I've rode a wild bull round a yard to win a five-pound bet,
But this was the most awful ride that I've encountered yet.
I'll give that two-wheeled outlaw best; it's shaken all my nerve
To feel it whistle through the air and plunge and buck and swerve.
It's safe at rest in Dead Man's Creek, we'll leave it lying still;
A horse's back is good enough henceforth for Mulga Bill."

First published in The Sydney Mail, 25 July 1896;
and later in
Rio Grande's Last Race and Other Verses by A.B. Paterson, 1902;
New Song in an Old Land edited by Rex Ingamells, 1943;
Favourite Australian Poems edited by Ian Mudie, 1963;
The Collected Verse of A.B. Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1982;
Singer of the Bush, A.B. (Banjo) Paterson: Complete Works 1885-1900 compiled by Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie, 1983;
The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Humour edited by Michael Sharkey, 1988;
The Book of Australian Ballads, 1989;
A Collection of Australian Bush Verse, 1989;
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;
The Macquarie Bedtime Story Book edited by Rosalind Price and Walter McVitty, 1990;
The Advertiser, 27 January 1992;
A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson: Bush Ballads, Poems, Stories and Journalism edited by Clement Semmler, 1992;
Selected Poems: A. B. Paterson compiled by Les Murray, 1992;
The Collected Verse of Banjo Paterson edited by Clement Semmler, 1993;
Banjo Paterson: His Poetry and Prose compiled by Richard Hall, 1993;
Big Rig and Other Poems, 1995;
Classic Australian Verse edited by Maggie Pinkney, 2001;
An Australian Treasury of Popular Verse edited by Jim Haynes, 2002;
Our Country: Classic Australian Poetry: From the Colonial Ballads to Paterson & Lawson edited by Michael Cook, 2004;
Mulga Bill's Bicycle and Other Classics by A.B. Paterson, 2005;
The Bush Poems of A.B. (Banjo) Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 2008; 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.

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

See also.

Back O' Beyond by A. S. Reilly

| No TrackBacks
The vast and open spaces;
   They are calling me again;
The many sun-tanned faces;
   The life upon the plain;
      Back o' beyond.

The call comes loud and stronger,
   Till the longing seems to burn
For the homestead down by Wonga,
   Just when will I return?
      Back o' beyond.

First published
in The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 July 1926

Author: nothing is known about the author of this poem

Sorrow-Crown'd on the Day Before by J.Galliard Barker

| No TrackBacks
Spectral faces flit to and fro,
Haunting and wistful and sad to-nigh
Springing up with the afterglow,
Stately forms that onward go,
Gliding, mystic, silent, slow.

Fancied voices, breathing song
Singing weird words to a weird refrain
Singing a fiend's impassioned song,
Singing all night, the whole night long,
Singing dead words of a long dead song.

Rippling mirth, so haunting to-day;
Gruel peals of a girlish voice;
Graveyard laughs that are light and gay
Raising the dreams of that golden May,
Fatal old dream that passed away.  

First published in The Queenslander, 23 July 1898

Author: John Galliard Barker (1865-1941) was born in Brisbane, Queensland and may have been tutored by J. Brunton Stephens as a child.  Little else is known about the author.  He was a cousin of Australian novelist Rosa Praed.

Author reference site: Austlit

Spring Dirge by Victor J. Daley

| No TrackBacks
A child came singing, through the dusty town,
   A song so sweet that all men stayed to hear;
   Forgetting, for a space, their ancient fear
Of evil days and death and fortune's frown.

She sang of Winter dead and Spring new-born
  In the green fields beyond the far hills bound;
   And how this fair Spring, coming blossum-crowned,
Would cross the city's threshold on the morn.

And each caged bird in every close anigh,
   En' as she sang, caught up the glad refrain
   Of Hope and Love, fair days come again,
'Till all who heard forgot they had to die.

And all the ghosts of buried woes were laid
   That heard the song of this sweet sorceress;
   The Past grew to a dream of old distress,
And merry were the hearts of man and maid.

So, at the first faint flush of tender dawn
   Spring stole with noiseless steps through the gray gloom,
   And men knew only by a strange perfume
Which filled the air that she had come and gone.

But, ah, the lustre of her violet eyes
   Was dimmed with tears for her sweet singing maid,
   Whose voice would sound no more in shine or shade
To charm men's souls at set of sun or rise.

For there, with dews of dawn upon her hair,
   Like a fair flower plucked and flung away,
   Dead in the street the litte maiden lay
Who gave now life to hearts nigh dead of care.

Alas, must this be still the bitter doom
   Awaiting those, the finer souled of earth,
   Who make for men a morning song of mirth
While yet the birds are dumb amid the gloom?

They walk on thorny ways with feet unshod;
   Sing one last song, and die as that song dies.
   There is no human hand to close their eyes,
And very heavy is the hand of God.

First published
in The Sydney Mail, 22 July 1882;
and then later in
At Dawn and Dusk by Victor J. Daley, 1902.

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

See also.

Sweethearts and Wives by Douglas B. W. Sladen

| No TrackBacks
Who will not drink the toast of wives and sweet hearts?
   Who will not pledge "Our sweethearts and our wives?"
What greater boon is deigned us than to greet hearts
   Destined to sway the current of our lives
With influence, like a good star, benignant,
   With magnet-power drawing men to home;
And counter-spells to break the spell malignant,
   The curse of Cain, that tempts us all to roam?

Your healths, great-hearted, staunch, devoted women,
   Ready, for sake of home, to live the life
Of serfs, in duty fearless as are few men,
   Who if Death stood amidst the path of wife
Would swerve not to the left side or the right side,
   But walk straight on into his cold embrace;
Who carry your life-exile from life's bright side
   Branded indelibly upon your face.

Your healths, stout-hearted, cheery, little women,
   With little homes, small means, and little spheres,
Who manage with your small lights to illumine
   Lives not too full of this world's gifts and cheers;
Who smiling share the struggle for subsistence,
   And laughing lighten many a hard day;
And all without one glimmer in the distance
   To give you hope that clouds will clear away.

Your healths, brave sufferers in the early trials
   Of genius in uncongenial straits,
Who feel that, when ill-fate has drained her vials,
   Veiled in the future somewhere glory waits:
Wives of Carlyles and sisters loved of Wordsworths,
   Who fight the good fight spite of toils and strains,
Confident that your hero has whole herds worths
   Of ordinary mortals' aims and brains.

Your healths, refined, appreciative, women,
   Graceful and bright, easy in circumstance,   
Who make it yours to cheer all good and true men
   Upon their high emprize with kindly glance;
Women with yearnings noble and poetic,
   Women with worship for heroic deeds,
Longing to make oblation sympathetic
   Or all your witchery for great men's meeds.

Your health, O much revered and Royal Woman
   Sitting aloft on empire's dazzling heights,
Crowned with a halo almost superhuman,
   And thrown into relief with such strong lights;
And yours, Princess, whose days have ever found you
   Offering some fresh word or act of grace
To the poor folk who love to throng around you
   To gaze upon the fairness of your face,

Who will not drink the toast of wives and sweet hearts?
   Who will not pledge "Our sweethearts and our wives?"
Bright hearts and brave hearts, gentle hearts and great hearts,
   Deigned to be stars or flowers of our lives;
Beautiful, graceful, love-inspiring lovers,
   Dutiful, dauntless, uncomplaining mates?
Each woman that I meet to me discovers
   Some new gift to alleviate our fates.

First published in The Queenslander, 21 July 1883

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Steeds of the Mist by Will H. Ogilvie

| No TrackBacks
Steeds, O steeds of the morning mist,
Whose halters none but the wind may twist,
Whose soft white flanks may feel no spur
But the breeze that is setting the woods a-stir;
O beautiful, silent, steeds of grey,
I will give you my heart to carry away!

As I stoop in the curve of your arching manes
I shall feel the tug of your silver reins;
I shall see the foam on your rosy breasts
As the dawn dips under your splendid crests;
Though I know that your step is firm and fleet
I shall hear no sound of your gliding feet!

You shall carry me over the mountain bar
To the land where your breeding pastures are,
Beyond where your squadrons blind the sun,
To the fields where the glitterng moon-mists run,
To the forge where your hoofs are silver-shod
'Neath the anvil sparks of the stars of God!

O beautiful silent steeds of grey,
You shall carry my wistful heart away;
As your shadows are lost on the mountain wall
So the shadow of grief from my heart shall fall,
And the peace of the skies shall be mine to share
When you cover my heart from its world of Care!

First published in The Bulletin, 20 July 1911

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Autumn Moonlight by Kathleen Dalziel

| No TrackBacks
A low roof, a sky, and a gold light that showers
   Over a river, patterned with fallen leaves --
These are the things I remember when the sunset flowers
   To colourful flame these lonely autumn leaves.

The crooning of crickets under the orchard trees,
   The cry of an owl haunting the dark scrub's rim;
Moths in the silver grasses, and old memories
   Flitting like moths do in the moonlight dim.

Very desolate under the trees that lean to hide her,
   The old house stands forlorn, and the weeds sprout high
Through the gaping hearthstone, left to the bat and the squatting spider,
   And kindly dews, and the cold, wide sky.

Only the wandering cattle where once the garden grew.
   Only the wattle, hiding the roof tree old,
Only the moon and the stars, peeping the night through
   The panes where the lamp spilt its homely gold.  

Something listening, listening, where none will listen again,
   For a step that never falls where the pathway runs,
Not in any autumn or whispering springtime rain.
   Not in the light of any moons or suns.

A grey roof, a lighted pane, and a starbright dome
   And airs smelling of roses and coming rain,
And these are the things I remember when I remember home,
   And the moths flit under the autumn moon again.

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 19 July 1930

Author reference sites: Austlit

See also.

The Kingdom by David McKee Wright

| No TrackBacks
I have a dream of a quiet State
   Where a goodly king would rule,
With a house of books at the palace gate
   And a little white-walled school.
There trees would grow before the wall
   And flowers about the trees;
And the queen would go in cap and shawl
   To tend her hens and bees.

A wheel would spin at an open door
   And a loom would click near by;
And a man of might at the threshing floor
   Would make the white chaff fly.
There would be sheep on the hills above
   And corn in the fields below;
And each would have room to seek and love
   The thing that was good to know.

The king would go out with a team to plough
   And a prince would harrow the soil;
And a statesman come with a thoughtful brow
   And a spade for his daily toil.
And one would draw a fiddle-bow
   And one would make a song;
And a man and a maid would softly go
   In the dusk and think no wrong.

The boys at their play would run and shout
   And the girls dance round in a ring;
And a father-thought would wrap them about
   And a mother-thought would sing
To their brave hearts always in shine or shade,
   Till the youngest child must know
How the dimpled fairy steps have made
   The path where their feet may go.

There would be pride in the walk of the king
   And pride in the craftsman's hand;
And all the wealth that the years could bring
   Would lie in the sweet of the land.
Fine green words would the tall trees say
   Below the moon and the sun;
And a man would bless the shining day
   For joy of his work begun.

Out of the treasure of written books
   And the magic of spoken song
Would the people gather their golden looks
   From a dream that was fine and long;
And laughter would blow like a merry wind
   To ruffle the thoughts of men;
For the breathing soil would be very kind
   And kinder the breathing pen.

And there would we sing God save the King
   And the royal race he bore,
While the good earth's tribute we loved to bring
   And lay at his palace door.
The word that he spoke would be our word,
   And his fear would be our fear;
And the land would whiten to one keen sword
   If the step of the foe drew near.

First published in The Bulletin, 18 July 1918

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Gray Years: A Mood by Frank Morton

| No TrackBacks
"Yet ah, that Spring should vanish with the Rose!
That Youth's sweet-scented manuscript should close!
   The Nightingale that in the branches sang,
Ah whence and whither flown again, who knowst!"

Omar Khayyam.

We have passed our flood, and ceaseless makes the steady ebb, and slacker
   Grows the spring of life within us; with uncertain feet we tread;
And the shadows lengthen daily, ever broader, ever blacker,
   And the joys of life pall sadly, and the rest of life has fled,

And the lamp of life burns feebly, and the prospects when environ
   Are depressingly unlovely and of dead-gray dubious tone;
Dull the eye which erst flashed brightly, flaccid too those thews of iron;
   Nerves of steel have lost their temper; poignant memory alone

Tells us ever what we once were, when our hot hearts thrilled ecstatic
   To the subtle-tinted music of a thousand golden strings
Struck by gleeful gods and graces in a melody chromatic,
   Voicing love and lust and laughter, and delicious nameless things.   

Oh! but blood was thick in those days, and rushed turbulently, madly,
   Through the veins that throbbed and quivered to the glory of its flow!
And though penitence came sorely, yet we spent our Morning gladly,
   And we will not sulk in sackcloth now the once-swift pulse goes slow.

For our memory, though poignant, is not wholly chill and bitter:
   Solace mingles with its sadness, and its archives are intact.
Not for us warm exploits, these days; but we can (and this is fitter)
   Taste again in recollection joys we may not face in fact.

We have drunk our meed of Pleasure till no drop remains for drinking,
   And we mourn in weary leisure what we drained in needless haste.
But the emptied chalice still is not ill-seeming to our thinking,
   And we keep some touch of sweetness in the fragrant after-taste.

Ah! we charm no smile from Beauty now --- the gifts to charm have perished;
   No soft lips reach forth responsive to the breathing of our vows
As they once did; which is proper, for the beauties whom we cherished
   Bear the brand of Time's coarse finger on their one-time perfect brows.

Ichabod! No Song Celestial glads us now. The clay is clinging
   Close about our hearts and senses. We can never know again
Deeds that move the soul to frenzy, thoughts that set the spirit singing,
   Passion's march of tense emotions, Love's exuberance of pain!

And to her whom once we worshipped we can frame no fit orison;
   These our feet shall never press again the path our feet have trod.
But -- the soft pale face of Death shines forth above the near horizon:
   We are willing now to meet him, even eager.-- Ichabod!

Brothers! dusk has come, and ceaseless makes the steady ebb, and slacker
   Grows the spring of life within us. Hope has lost all nutriment . . .
But the shadows lengthen daily, ever broader, ever blacker:
   Soon shall come the closing darkness -- and nepenthe
      Be content!

First published in The Queenslander, 17 July 1897

Author: Frank Morton (1869-1923) was born in Kent, England and arrived in Australia in 1885.  He began his working life as an engineering apprentice, and served on a ship in 1899, before leaving it in Hong Kong.  He taught in Singapore before taking a job on the staff of the Straits Times.  That was followed by work on a number of Indian newspapers before returning to Australia in 1894.  He then moved about the country and to New Zealand working as a journalist and editor on a series of newspapers before settling in Sydney in 1914.  He died there in 1923.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Play by C. J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Wot's in a name? -- she sez . . . An' then she sighs,
An' clasps 'er little 'ands, an' rolls 'er eyes.
"A rose," she sez, "be any other name
Would smell the same.
Oh, w'erefore art you Romeo, young sir?
Chuck yer ole pot, an' change yer moniker!"
Doreen an' me, we bin to see a show --
The swell two-dollar touch. Bong tong, yeh know.
A chair apiece wiv velvit on the seat;
A slap-up treat.
The drarmer's writ be Shakespeare, years ago,
About a barmy goat called Romeo.
"Lady, be yonder moon I swear!" sez 'e.
An' then 'e climbs up on the balkiney;
An' there they smooge a treat, wiv pretty words
Like two love-birds.
I nudge Doreen. She whispers, "Ain't it grand!"
'Er eyes is shining an' I squeeze 'er 'and.
'Wot's in a name?" she sez. 'Struth, I dunno.
Billo is just as good as Romeo.
She may be Juli-er or Juli-et --
'E loves 'er yet.
If she's the tart 'e wants, then she's 'is queen,
Names never count ... But ar, I like "Doreen!"
A sweeter, dearer sound I never 'eard;
Ther's music 'angs around that little word,
Doreen! ... But wot was this I starts to say
About the play?
I'm off me beat. But when a bloke's in love
'Is thorts turns 'er way, like a 'omin' dove.
This Romeo 'e's lurkin' wiv a crew --
A dead tough crowd o' crooks -- called Montague.
'Is cliner's push -- wot's nicknamed Capulet --
They 'as 'em set.
Fair narks they are, jist like them back-street clicks,
Ixcep' they fights wiv skewers 'stid o' bricks.
Wot's in a name? Wot's in a string o' words?
They scraps in ole Verona wiv the'r swords,
An' never give a bloke a stray dog's chance,
An' that's Romance.
But when they deals it out wiv bricks an' boots
In Little Lon., they're low, degraded broots.
Wot's jist plain stoush wiv us, right 'ere to-day,
Is "valler" if yer fur enough away.
Some time, some writer bloke will do the trick
Wiv Ginger Mick,
Of Spadger's Lane.
'E'll be a Romeo,
When 'e's bin dead five 'undred years or so.
Fair Juli-et, she gives 'er boy the tip.
Sez she: "Don't sling that crowd o' mine no lip;
An' if you run agin a Capulet,
Jist do a get."
'E swears 'e's done wiv lash; 'e'll chuck it clean.
(Same as I done when I first met Doreen.)
They smooge some more at that. Ar, strike me blue!
It gimme Joes to sit an' watch them two! '
E'd break away an' start to say good-bye,
An' then she'd sigh
"Ow, Ro-me-o!" an' git a strangle-holt,
An' 'ang around 'im like she feared 'e'd bolt.
Nex' day 'e words a gorspil cove about
A secret weddin'; an' they plan it out.
'E spouts a piece about 'ow 'e's bewitched:
Then they git 'itched ...
Now, 'ere's the place where I fair git the pip!
She's 'is for keeps, an' yet 'e lets 'er slip!
Ar! but 'e makes me sick! A fair gazob!
E's jist the glarsey on the soulful sob,
'E'll sigh and spruik, a' 'owl a love-sick vow --
(The silly cow!)
But when 'e's got 'er, spliced an' on the straight
'E crools the pitch, an' tries to kid it's Fate.
Aw! Fate me foot! Instid of slopin' soon
As 'e was wed, off on 'is 'oneymoon,
'Im an' 'is cobber, called Mick Curio,
They 'ave to go
An' mix it wiv that push o' Capulets.
They look fer trouble; an' it's wot they gets.
A tug named Tyball (cousin to the skirt)
Sprags 'em an' makes a start to sling off dirt.
Nex' minnit there's a reel ole ding-dong go ---
'Arf round or so.
Mick Curio, 'e gets it in the neck,
"Ar rats!" 'e sez, an' passes in 'is check.
Quite natchril, Romeo gits wet as 'ell.
"It's me or you!" 'e 'owls, an' wiv a yell,
Plunks Tyball through the gizzard wiv 'is sword,
'Ow I ongcored!
"Put in the boot!" I sez. "Put in the boot!"
"'Ush!" sez Doreen ... "Shame!" sez some silly coot.
Then Romeo, 'e dunno wot to do.
The cops gits busy, like they allwiz do,
An' nose around until 'e gits blue funk
An' does a bunk.
They wants 'is tart to wed some other guy.
"Ah, strike!" she sez. "I wish that I could die!"
Now, this 'ere gorspil bloke's a fair shrewd 'ead.
Sez 'e "I'll dope yeh, so they'll think yer dead."
(I tips 'e was a cunnin' sort, wot knoo
A thing or two.)
She takes 'is knock-out drops, up in 'er room:
They think she's snuffed, an' plant 'er in 'er tomb.
Then things gits mixed a treat an' starts to whirl.
'Ere's Romeo comes back an' finds 'is girl
Tucked in 'er little coffing, cold an' stiff,
An' in a jiff,
'E swallows lysol, throws a fancy fit,
'Ead over turkey, an' 'is soul 'as flit.
Then Juli-et wakes up an' sees 'im there,
Turns on the water-works an' tears 'er 'air,
"Dear love," she sez, "I cannot live alone!"
An' wiv a moan,
She grabs 'is pockit knife, an' ends 'er cares ...
"Peanuts or lollies!" sez a boy upstairs.

First published in The Bulletin, 16 July 1914, and again in the same magazine on 1 February 1950 and 29 January 1980;
and later in
The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke by C. J. Dennis, 1915;
Favourite Australian Poems edited by Ian Mudie, 1963;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964;
Australian Kaleidoscope edited by Barbara Ker Wilson, 1968;
Selected Works of C. J. Dennis by C. J. Dennis, 1988;
Favourite Poems of C. J. Dennis by C. J. Dennis, 1989;
The Language of Love: An Anthology of Australian Love Letters, Poetry and Prose edited by Pamela Allardice, 1991;
The Penguin Book of Australian Ballads edited by Elizabeth Webby and Philip Butterss, 1993;
The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse compiled by Beatrice Davis, 1996;
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;
Sixty Classic Australian Poems edited by Geoff Page, 2009;
The Puncher & Wattman Anthology of Australian Poetry edited by John Leonard, 2009;
The Sentimental Bloke: The Poems of C. J. Dennis by C. J. Dennis, 2010; and
100 Australian poems of Love and Loss edited by Jamie Grant, 2011.

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

See also.

Living Dream by Zora Cross

| No TrackBacks
That day was the last of realities.
Life now is but a living dream. These trees,
These flowers, these grasses that I used to know
Seem but some memory of long ago.

That day I doubted that your love was true;
And, doubting, lost you as poor mortals do
Lose the Bright gleam of Ideality.
You were the link between my God and me.

This morning I was glad for all of this.
Death's fears like a far flower are all dispelled.
In my eternal dream e'en in a kiss
For ever and for ever you are held.

First published in The Sydney Mail, 15 July 1925

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of BiographyOld Qld Poetry

See also.

The Brown Old River by Will Lawson

| No TrackBacks
There's a river to the nor'ard,
   And a breeze across a bay,
And the breeze is on my forehead,
   Though I'm scores of leagues away.
There is mud there, black and clinging,
   When the tide is half or low,
But I hear the river singing
   River-songs I used to know;
And 'tis calling me, that river --
I can see the ripples shiver
On its breast, and see the quiver
   Of the moon deep down below.

There's a river, and I hear it
   Telling stories to the breeze,
And I'm longing to go near it
   O'er the weary, plunging seas.
When you swing around Cape Moreton,
   Where the silver sandbanks are,
Where the rollers trip and shorten
   Ere they sprawl across the bar;
Then you'll see the river streaming
As I see it now, day-dreaming,
And the Pile Light's lazy gleaming,
   Like an earth-attracted star.

There's a river, and it's muddy,
   But its banks are always green,
And its dark-brown stream is ruddy
   In the sunset's bronzelike sheen.
And 'tis always softly singing
   To fond favored ones like me,
As it takes its course a-swinging
   To the bay that woos the sea,
With a greeting to the bridges
And the mud-banks' rosy ridges
Where the rusty, ugly dredges
   Clank and clatter noisily.

There's a river, haunt of dreamers,
   Black and silver 'neath the moon,
Where the yellow-lighted steamers
   Thrub and hum an ocean-tune.
I can hear the rollers sprawling
   As they stumble o'er the bar,
And I hear the river calling,
   Calling, calling, faint and far.
I can see the moonbeams shiver
On that muddy, brown old river,
And the Pile Light's sleepy quiver
   Like a tired and dozing star.

First published in The Bulletin, 14 July 1900

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Dying Convict's Letter by Henry Parkes

| No TrackBacks
["Among the few who died in June 1794, was a convict of the name of Gillies. His death took place on the morning of the Speedy's arrival from England; by which ship a letter was received addressed to him, admonishing him of the uncertainty of life, recommending him early to think of the end of it, and acquainting him with the death of his wife, a child, and two other near relations. He had ceased to breathe a few moments before this distressful intelligence would otherwise have reached him."- Collins' History of New South Wales, chap. 13.  These verses were suggested by the above paragraph, though it will be seen the writer has not confined himself to the facts, as therein related.]

In mental agony he lifted up
   His voice to him who hears the sufferer's prayer;
"Merciful God! withhold this bitter cup,
   My failing strength, a little while, repair,--
Oh, let me hear once more, before I go,
Of her whom my rash crime has steep'd in shame and woe!"

There was a pause:- he knew by the glad hum
   Of expectation round his squalid couch,
An English ship had anchor'd there was come
   To land, a boat with letters, --- scarce they touch
The beach, when a soil'd missive met the eye
Of one he sent to enquire; --- 'tis his! now read, and die.
"My dear lost son."- they were his father's words,-
   "In grief unbounded I now write to thee;
And oh! I fear my heart's sore-strained chords
   Will break long ere thine answer reaches me;
Only for that I live; --- alas, alas!
How, like the morning dews, our earthly joys all pass!

"O, son, repent thee, while the day is thine,
   Trust not the morrow, -- death may come before;
Let not God's anger smite thee 'midst thy sin,
   Turn, turn, and mercy at his feet implore!
How shall I tell thee, too unhappy son,
Whose head, to warn thy soul, his wrath has fall'n upon?

"She whom thou didst bring home, in life's fair morn
   To sit where sat thy mother, by our hearth;
Whose smiles were of a guileless spirit born.
   Whose sadness seem'd more sweet than others mirth;
She who so clung to thee, when guilt and shame,
Like a foul leprosy, covered thy felon's name!

"Forgive my anguished heart, my son, if hard
   The words I've written:--- she is gone to rest!
Yet fairer should have been her love'e reward,
   Cruel it was to wound that gentle breast
So deeply and so ruthlessly! -- with her
Sleeps thy fair boy; he, too, shares the dark sepulchre."

He ceased to read, his bony hand still clenched
   The opened letter; as he backward fell
Upon his sea weed pillow; death was quenching
   The feeble light in his cold heart, -- 'twas well!
Yet once again, to search that scroll, he strove,
For words he knew were there, of her departed love.

Vain was his dying effort, to unfold
   The written treasure, -- but not all in vain.--
That struggle freed his soul from earth's faint hold,
   His sin and suffering past! the prisoner's chain
Had a light pressure for his pulseless limb;
An ignominious grave in pity closed o'er him!

First published
in The Weekly Register of Politics, Facts and General Literature, 13 July 1844

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

See also.

Australian Poets #23 - Emily Bulcock

| No TrackBacks

Emily Bulcock (1877-1969)

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Three Years Ago by George Essex Evans

| No TrackBacks
Not many years have passed away
   Since last I saw that gentle face;
         Not many years!
To those whose hearts are light and gay
   The time of such a little space
        Swift disappears.
But those few years have been to me
A weary blank eternity.

Three years ago! I knew you then,
   You were the fairest of the fair
         Three years ago!
Your beauty stirred the hearts of men;
   They said none could with your's compare.
         I loved you so,
I felt with pride my bosom swell
To hear her praised I loved so well.

Where beauties grew like comely flowers,
   Your stately grace outshone them all,
         Like some sweet rose
Which from the sheltering leafy bowers
   Has climbed the garden wall,
         And lovelier grows;
Blooms Queen amongst the roses there,
Sweet like her sisters, but more fair.

You thought it was a boyish dream
   That future years would drive away;
         Three years have past.
That years like centuries can seem,
   That weeks seem years, an hour a day,
         I know at last;
But still my "boyish dream" remains,
And in my heart thine image reigns.

"Come what come may!" I know that now
   For ever thou art lost to me,
         In three short years.
To Fate's relentless law I bow.
   And wish all happiness to thee,
         Till death appears
With lightning stride or footstep slow;
I love you as "Three Years Ago."

First published
in The Queenslander, 12 July 1884

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

See also.

My Queen of Dreams by Philip J. Holdsworth

| No TrackBacks
In the warm flushed heart of the rose-red West,
   When the great sun quivered and died to-day,
You pulsed, O star, by yon pine-clad crest --
   And throbbed till the bright eve ashened grey --
         Then I saw you swim
         By the shadowy rim
Where the grey gum dips to the western plain,
         And you rayed delight
         As you winged your flight
To the mystic spheres where your kinsmen reign!

O star, did you see her? My queen of dreams!
   Was it you that glimmered the night we strayed
A month ago by these scented streams?
   Half-checked by the litter the musk-buds made?
         Did you sleep or wake? --
         Ah, for Love's sweet sake
(Though the world should fail and the soft stars wane!)
         I shall dream delight
         Till our souls take flight
To the mystic spheres where your kinsmen reign!

First published in The Bulletin, 11 July 1885, and again in the same magazine on 13 June 1896 and 1 February 1902;
and later in
Australian Ballads and Rhymes: Poems Inspired by Life and Scenery in Australia and New Zealand edited by Douglas Sladen, 1888;
A Century of Australian Song edited by Douglas Sladen, 1888;
An Anthology of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1907; and
The Golden Treasury of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1909.

Author: Philip Joseph Holdsworth (1851-1902) was born and educated in Sydney.  He joined the State Treasury office in 1871, and continued in public service until 1893 when the Forestry Department, of which he was secretary, was abolished.  He was associated with Sydney literary circles for most of his adult life and was editor of the Illustrated Sydney News in the 1880s.  He died suddenly in Sydney in 1902.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

Winter Dawn by L. H. Allen

| No TrackBacks
Not yet the red resplendence on the height,
   Through mist the treetops on the slope appear
   More dim, more deep. The grassy base is clear,
Poised delicate by a spell of frosty white.  

The scattered crofts look small and phantom-slight,  
   Smoke swaying to the wind's elusive veer.
   Furrows and pasture fringe the atmosphere
With mirrored hues that catch the growing light.

Some primal moment stills the trembling air,
   The world's held breath ere yet the first-born ray
      Launched from the sworded Tongue and lit the void.  

Till breaks the crimson flooding, brilliant, rare,
   On fields and tilth and all the things of day,
      To ruddy dew on wings exhilarant-buoyed.  

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 July 1926

Author: Leslie Holdsworth Allen (1879-1964) was born in Maryborough, Victoria, and studied at the University of Sydney and at Leipzig.  He was later Professor of English at the Royal Military College Duntroon and lecturer in English at Canberra University College. He published five volumes of poetry during his lifetime and died in Morua, New South Wales, in 1964.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Mount Tamborine, Queensland by Emily Coungeau

| No TrackBacks
How shall I paint in words thine image fair,
   Set in a background of red-winged light,    
Glinting through portieres of soft foliage there,
   Gold-flecked ere fading into deepening night?
List to the music of cascades which pour    
   Their liquid silver tribute down the steep
To moss-clad boulders, where it bubbles o'er,
   And fronoled ferns in verdurous beauty peep.
Breathless I wait near thy pellucid stream
   To view some woodland nymph with flashing feet
And brow, flower-bound for this alluring dream --  
   A witching Flora in this cool retreat.
Pensive I grow until the bell-bird's note --      
   Organ-like, pealing in its grand solemnity- -  
Brings haunting memories, as the deep tones float,
   Of vanished hours -- lost chords of melody.
Crowned in magnificence is thy majestic head,
   Queenly thy royal robe of purple grace,
With tender nuausem o'er dewy verdure spread,        
   Where the Pacific's jasper waves embrace.    
Whether in winnowed raiment of the crystal dawn,
   Or golden mantle of the sun's rich ore,
Or jewelled scarf star studded round thee worn,
   Thy smiles or tears but charm me more and more.
Farewell, thy statey beauty! Stay -- a thought
   Hath touched the deep recesses of my soul --
Thou standest, thou Colossus, tempest wrought,
   A Beacon on Time's sea to mark a shoal!

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 9 July 1913;
and later in
Stella Australis: Poems and Verses and Prose Fragments by Emily Coungeau, 1914; and
Rustling Leaves: Selected Poems by Emily Coungeau, 1920.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Things I Want by Leon Gellert

| No TrackBacks
I want the brawn to brawl
   And the strength to strike;
And I want the right to murder all
   The people I dislike.

I want a girl to love,
   And a bed to lie on;
And (with permission from above)
   A bright young scion.

I want to be a wit
   And extremely clever;
And (should I care to mention it)
   I want to live for ever.

I want my voice to sound
   Like the deepest thunder;
And twelve apostles gathered round
   With eyes full of wonder.

I want a queen to please
   And a king to kick;
And if I'm not content with these
   Then I'm a lunatic.

I want a bag of pelf
   And a spark of hope;
But if I choose to hang myself
   I want sufficient rope.

First published in The Bulletin, 8 July 1936

Author: Leon Maxwell Gellert (1892-1977) was born and educated in Adelaide. He worked as  teracher before enlisting in the AIF. He took part in the Gallipoli landings, was wounded and sent to England to recuperate.  When he returned to Australia in 1916 he published Songs of a Campaign, a collection of war poetry.  He continued to write poetry for the rest of his life and was also literary editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Daily Telegraph.  He died in Adelaide in 1977.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography.

The Pastoral Push by Ernest Favenc

| No TrackBacks
There was a youth whose yearnings had a most ambitious aim,
For they lured him far from pathways, where all things were dull and tame;
They spread before him visions, right beyond the drowsy bush,
For that youngster's burning longing was, to organise a push.

Of the fringe he cultivated, of the rapture of his crowd,
When he learned to whistle through his teeth, discordantly and loud,
I say nothing. For such attributes are commonplace and dead.
He longed to wreck a township and to paint the backblocks red.

So he studied all the papers that discoursed upon the theme;
Of the youths who make a city night one wild, delirious dream.
And he came to the conclusion that the town of Hogan's Flat
Was peculiarly adapted for the game that he was at.

Hogan's Flat was on the Darling, very sleepy, very slow;
There one policeman only did his steady sentry go.
The inhabitants were scanty, and an aged lot and meek,
And very slow and ancient was the Honorary Beak.

He mustered up his followers and told them what he thought,
And discoursed to them quite glibly on the battle to be fought
And he said, "You can believe me, for you know I've learnt the trade,
That on angular blue metal our reliance must be laid.

"We will stone their glass shop-windows, and we'll sack their blooming bars,
And pile our blazing bonfires to the timid, frighten'd stars,
And that solitary Bobby, he will wish himself miles back,
When a well-aimed gibber hits him with a loud, resounding whack."

So they came, these desperate pushites, vowed before they went to bed,
To paint that little township one big sunset glare of red.
And o'er the road for metal they dispersed with wild acclaim --
And were very much disgusted when they could not find the same.

Not a stone, nor flint, nor gibber, not a rock could there be found,
For the Darling's banks are noted an an utter stoneless ground.
And the leader felt no beaten at the failure of his scheme
That he let that single bobby run him in as in a dream.

Where has gone that soaring youngster with his intellectual brow?
As Hans Breitmann would ejaculate, "Whar is dot barty now?"
Is he working for his tucker, and when shearing's at an end,
Does he hump a shabby bluey, and go fishing in the Bend?

Alas, we can't conjecture where all the failures go.
And, after such wild yearnings, tame existence must be slow.
But he lived to paint a moral --- if you wish to cut it grand,
You should find out first for certain the materials are at hand.

First published in The Bulletin, 7 July 1904.

Author: Ernest Favenc (1845-1908) was born in Surrey, England, and arrived in Australia in 1864.  He initially worked on stations in North Queensland before joining an expedition to survey a possible rail link between Brisbane and Darwin.  He married in 1880 and moved to Sydney.  He continued to travel throughout Australia during which he wrote poetry and essays and histories of Australian exploration.  He died in Sydney in 1908.

Author reference sites:
Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Springtides Lost by Christopher Brennan

| No TrackBacks
Spring-ripple of green along the way,
keen plash of aery waves that play,
and in my heart
thy dreamy smart, O distant day!

Oh whisper hidden in the spring
of days when soul and song took wing
beneath her eyes,
twin smiling skies bent listening.

Oh cruel spell the season weaves!
heart-piercing smell of smoky eves,
all, all is old!
ironic gold that but deceives!

Strange spring, wilt only make me mourn?
Ah, for thy grace is overworn!
we are the ghost
of spring-tides lost and singing morn!

First published
in The Australian Magazine, 6 July 1899;
and later in
The Verse of Christopher Brennan edited by A.R. Chisholm and John Quinn, 1960;
Poems [1913] by Christopher Brennan, 1972;
Selected Poems edited by G. A. Wilkes, 1973; and
Christopher Brennan edited by Terry Sturm, 1984.

Note: this poem was also known by the title "Towards the Source: 1894-97: 24".

Author: Christopher John Brennan (1870-1932) was born in Sydney to Irish immigrants.  He survived an early bout of typhoid and was destined for the priesthood until a love of poetry overtook him.  He studied at the University of Sydney, and in Berlin (1892-94) under a scholarship.  Brennan married in 1897 - later dissolved in 1922 - and was appointed to an academic post at the University of Sydney in 1909.  He was dismissed from this post in 1925 due to his "adulterous" behaviour and he took up a teaching job at a private school, where he remained until his death in 1932.

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

See also.

"She Pined in Thought" by Henry Halloran

| No TrackBacks
She has around her sunshine and sweet flowers,
And music which might lull her heart to rest;
But peace has fled for ever from her breast,
And hope can gild no more her joyless hours.

Ah! ye who gaze upon that girlish brow,
So radiant still with beauty's beams unshorn,
Can little guess the anguish it has home,
Or deem what misery wrings it even now.

Look on those eyes where love has reared a throne,
Filling the gazer's soul with tender dread;
Alas! what tears of sorrow have they shed,
How many a sleepless vigil have they known.

That mouth, a paradise of rosy bloom,
Has never uttered one fond word of woe;
Her voiceless sorrow "passes outward show,"
And only hopes for peace within the tomb.

And yet fond bud of beauty, as thou art,
Will not the false, tho' still adored, return!
He will, to mourn above the insensate urn,
Which holds the ashes of a broken heart.

First published in The Weekly Register of Politics, Facts and General Literature, 5 July 1845

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Voice in the Native Oak by Henry Kendall

| No TrackBacks
Twelve years ago, when I could face
   High heaven's dome with different eyes --
In days full-flowered with hours of grace,
   And nights not sad with sighs --
I wrote a song in which I strove
   To shadow forth thy strain of woe,
Dark widowed sister of the grove! --
   Twelve wasted years ago.

But youth was then too young to find
   Those high authentic syllables,
Whose voice is like the wintering wind
   By sunless mountain fells;
Nor had I sinned and suffered then
   To that superlative degree
That I would rather seek, than men,
   Wild fellowship with thee!

But he who hears this autumn day
   Thy more than deep autumnal rhyme,
Is one whose hair was shot with grey
   By Grief instead of Time.
He has no need, like many a bard,
   To sing imaginary pain,
Because he bears, and finds it hard,
   The punishment of Cain.

No more he sees the affluence
   Which makes the heart of Nature glad;
For he has lost the fine, first sense
   Of Beauty that he had.
The old delight God's happy breeze
   Was wont to give, to Grief has grown;
And therefore, Niobe of trees,
   His song is like thine own!

But I, who am that perished soul,
   Have wasted so these powers of mine,
That I can never write that whole,
   Pure, perfect speech of thine.
Some lord of words august, supreme,
   The grave, grand melody demands;
The dark translation of thy theme
   I leave to other hands.

Yet here, where plovers nightly call
   Across dim, melancholy leas --
Where comes by whistling fen and fall
   The moan of far-off seas --
A grey, old Fancy often sits
   Beneath thy shade with tired wings,
And fills thy strong, strange rhyme by fits
   With awful utterings.

Then times there are when all the words
   Are like the sentences of one
Shut in by Fate from wind and birds
   And light of stars and sun,
No dazzling dryad, but a dark
   Dream-haunted spirit doomed to be
Imprisoned, crampt in bands of bark,
   For all eternity.

Yea, like the speech of one aghast
   At Immortality in chains,
What time the lordly storm rides past
   With flames and arrowy rains:
Some wan Tithonus of the wood,
   White with immeasurable years --
An awful ghost in solitude
   With moaning moors and meres.

And when high thunder smites the hill
   And hunts the wild dog to his den,
Thy cries, like maledictions, shrill
   And shriek from glen to glen,
As if a frightful memory whipped
   Thy soul for some infernal crime
That left it blasted, blind, and stript --
   A dread to Death and Time!

But when the fair-haired August dies,
   And flowers wax strong and beautiful,
Thy songs are stately harmonies
   By wood-lights green and cool --
Most like the voice of one who shows
   Through sufferings fierce, in fine relief,
A noble patience and repose --
   A dignity in grief.

But, ah! conceptions fade away,
   And still the life that lives in thee --
The soul of thy majestic lay --
   Remains a mystery!
And he must speak the speech divine --
   The language of the high-throned lords --
Who'd give that grand old theme of thine
   Its sense in faultless words.

By hollow lands and sea-tracts harsh,
   With ruin of the fourfold gale,
Where sighs the sedge and sobs the marsh,
   Still wail thy lonely wail;
And, year by year, one step will break
   The sleep of far hill-folded streams,
And seek, if only for thy sake
   Thy home of many dreams.

First published in The Australian Town & Country Journal, 4 July 1874, and again in the same newspaper on 12 August 1882;
and then later in
Songs from the Mountains by Henry Kendall, 1880;
Selected Poems of Henry Kendall edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1957;
The Poetical Works of Henry Kendall edited by Thomas Thornton Reed, 1966;
Henry Kendall: Poetry, Prose and Selected Correspondence edited by Michael Ackland, 1993.

Note: this poem is related to an earlier work titled "The Voice of the Native Oak" by Charles Harpur, 1851, which you can read here.
The poem by Kendall is also known by the title "The Voice of the Wild Oak".

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

See also.

Noon -- Sydney by Lola Gornall

| No TrackBacks
Noon in Sydney! ... Surely your blue has lain
   Like some rare jewel, hidden in the deep,
Dark chests of pirates, 'till, by chance again
   The Sun-God rifled what they could not keep?

Come now ... Remind me of far other things.
   Of lovely shining things all faintly cool.
The light on sapphires and on peacocks' wings,
   Blue Lotus buds reflected on a pool....

Let me remember the Madonna's shawl,
   In folds above her young, mysterious face;
Woven of colour. He first saw it all --
   The Baby Christ -- there in His resting-place....

Bring to me leagues of the Pacific sea,
   The hue of Lane Cove River, deep and cold.
Bring shades of an Egyptian tapestry,
   And blues that ancient Chinese porcelains hold....

Noon in Sydney! ... What lies within your spell?
   Is it your ardour caught from tropic skies,
The blue of ice, of which explorers tell,
   Or just the cornflower laughter of your eyes?

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 July 1926

Author: Lola Gornall (1884-1969) was born, lived and died in Sydney, New South Wales.  Beyond this nothing is known about the author of this poem.

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

July by A. J. Rolfe

| No TrackBacks
   Ah! if thy fate, with anguish fraught,
   Should be to wet the dusty soi
   With the hot tears and sweat of toil,
   Remember in that perilous hour,
   When most afflicted and oppressed,
   From labour there shall come forth rest.


The sun has set; over the purple hills
   A golden streak of glory slowly dies;
The rustling leaves and gently flowing rills
   Murmur sweet music to the peaceful skies,
And as the last faint gleam of light departs
   The sentinels of heaven peerless shine;
Oblivion soothes the cares of aching hearts
   That for a respite from their sorrows pine.
O restful night, bear on thy silent wings
   A song to soothe our restless souls with peace;
A peace that in our weary wanderings
   Shall lead us to the Land where sorrows cease.
And let thy gem-like stars, Faith, Hope, and Love,
Shine on our road to perfect rest above.

First published in The Queenslander, 2 July 1892;
and later in:
A Sheaf of Sonnets by A. J. Rolfe, 1892

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

Author reference sites: Austlit

See also.

Winged Words by Robert Crawford

| No TrackBacks
The winged words, they pass
   Still everywhere,
Seeds of the spirit-grass
   The dream-winds bear
From that heart-field to this,
Where thought as feeling is;
There's not a seed will miss
   Life, once sown there.
They pass, the faery words,
   In shade and shine,
As they were magic birds
   This heart of mine
Gave shape and colour to,
As in the light and dew
The primal creatures grew
   From germs divine.

First published in The Lone Hand, 1 July 1908;
and later in
Lyric Moods by Robert Crawford, 1909; and
The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse edited by Walter Murdoch, 1918.

Author:  Robert Crawford (1868-1930) was born and lived in Sydney.  He attended the University of Sydney, worked as a clerk in that city and ran a typewriting business.  He died in 1930.

Author reference site: Austlit, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

About this Archive

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

June 2011 is the previous archive.

August 2011 is the next archive.

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


Powered by Movable Type 4.23-en