August 2011 Archives

The Vagabond by Henry Lawson

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White handkerchiefs wave from the short black pier
   As we glide to the grand old sea --
But the song of my heart is for none to hear
   If one of them waves for me.
A roving, roaming life is mine,
   Ever by field or flood --
For not far back in my father's line
   Was a dash of the Gipsy blood.

Flax and tussock and fern,
   Gum and mulga and sand,
Reef and palm -- but my fancies turn
   Ever away from land;
Strange wild cities in ancient state,
   Range and river and tree,
Snow and ice.  But my star of fate
   Is ever across the sea.

A god-like ride on a thundering sea,
   When all but the stars are blind --
A desperate race from Eternity
   With a gale-and-a-half behind.
A jovial spree in the cabin at night,
   A song on the rolling deck,
A lark ashore with the ships in sight,
   Till -- a wreck goes down with a wreck.

A smoke and a yarn on the deck by day,
   When life is a waking dream,
And care and trouble so far away
   That out of your life they seem.
A roving spirit in sympathy,
   Who has travelled the whole world o'er --
My heart forgets, in a week at sea,
   The trouble of years on shore.

A rolling stone! -- 'tis a saw for slaves --
   Philosophy false as old --
Wear out or break 'neath the feet of knaves,
   Or rot in your bed of mould!
But I'd rather trust to the darkest skies
   And the wildest seas that roar,
Or die, where the stars of Nations rise,
   In the stormy clouds of war.

Cleave to your country, home, and friends,
   Die in a sordid strife --
You can count your friends on your finger ends
   In the critical hours of life.
Sacrifice all for the family's sake,
   Bow to their selfish rule!
Slave till your big soft heart they break --
   The heart of the family fool.

Domestic quarrels, and family spite,
   And your Native Land may be
Controlled by custom, but, come what might,
   The rest of the world for me.
I'd sail with money, or sail without! --
   If your love be forced from home,
And you dare enough, and your heart be stout,
   The world is your own to roam.

I've never a love that can sting my pride,
   Nor a friend to prove untrue;
For I leave my love ere the turning tide,
   And my friends are all too new.
The curse of the Powers on a peace like ours,
   With its greed and its treachery --
A stranger's hand, and a stranger land,
   And the rest of the world for me!

But why be bitter?  The world is cold
   To one with a frozen heart;
New friends are often so like the old,
   They seem of the past a part --
As a better part of the past appears,
   When enemies, parted long,
Are come together in kinder years,
   With their better nature strong.

I had a friend, ere my first ship sailed,
   A friend that I never deserved --
For the selfish strain in my blood prevailed
   As soon as my turn was served.
And the memory haunts my heart with shame --
   Or, rather, the pride that's there;
In different guises, but soul the same,
   I meet him everywhere.

I had a chum.  When the times were tight
   We starved in Australian scrubs;
We froze together in parks at night,
   And laughed together in pubs.
And I often hear a laugh like his
   From a sense of humour keen,
And catch a glimpse in a passing phiz
   Of his broad, good-humoured grin.

And I had a love -- 'twas a love to prize --
   But I never went back again . . .
I have seen the light of her kind brown eyes
   In many a face since then.

     .    .    .    .    .

The sailors say 'twill be rough to-night,
   As they fasten the hatches down,
The south is black, and the bar is white,
   And the drifting smoke is brown.
The gold has gone from the western haze,
   The sea-birds circle and swarm --
But we shall have plenty of sunny days,
   And little enough of storm.

The hill is hiding the short black pier,
   As the last white signal's seen;
The points run in, and the houses veer,
   And the great bluff stands between.
So darkness swallows each far white speck
   On many a wharf and quay.
The night comes down on a restless deck, --
   Grim cliffs -- and -- The Open Sea!

First published in The Bulletin, 31 August 1895;
and later in
In the Days When the World Was Wide and Other Verses by Henry Lawson, 1900;
An Anthology of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1907;
The Golden Treasury of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1909;
The World of Henry Lawson edited by Walter Stone, 1974;
A Treasury of Colonial Poetry, 1982;
A Camp-Fire Yarn: Henry Lawson Complete Works 1885-1900 edited by Leonard Cronin, 1984.

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

See also.

Devil-May-Care! by Will H. Ogilvie

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Well-known on the border, strong, handsome and straight,
A reckless, wild liver, but true-hearted mate --
What his name was I'm not in position to swear,
But we called him --- it suited him--- Devil-may-care!

Drink! He drank Bullocky Jim out of breath!
Dance! He could dance the red stars to their death!
Ride! There was nothing in hide or in hair
Too rough to be ridden by Devil-may-care!

Where did he come from? Well! where are they bred
With those laughing blue eyes, that proud lift of the head?
Oh! it's England, and England, and only up there
Where they breed 'em light-hearted, like Devil-may-care!

He was fond of the women! Ay, that you might think;
Love 'o women goes mostly with dancing and drink;
He had eyes for the dark ones and lips for the fair,
And a careless, gay gallant was Devil-may-care!

But there came to our hero, as mostly to those
Who expect to go scatheless, a wound of love's woes,
And an armful of roses and ruddy-gold hair
Set the love-stars a-reeling for Devil-may-care!

It was merely in touch with the fitness of things
And the maxim of "true love" --- which somebody sings
That the gallant went droving all day in the sun,
And the maid was the heiress of Merrida run.

But love laughs at locksmiths, so, somewhere, they say,
And true love tastes sweeter for bars in the way;
And bars must be big ones to part a fond pair
When the one is a rebel like Devil-may-care!

So it chanced that on camp where the tired cattle lay
And the drovers kept double night-watch till the day,
The boss took the road on his ambling bay mare
And a girl in the dim light met Devil-may-care.

When he reined the bay mare at the love-chosen place
It was pure love that shone on his wild, haggard face,
And the men that had drunk with this reckless Lothair
Would hardly have known him as Devil-may-care!

So they met -- so they parted --- a kiss for a troth!
And the earth seemed a fairy land built for them both;
But some late laggard passing caught sight of the mare,
And --- True Heart no longer met Devil-may-care!

And they took her away --- for her good --- to the South
With a rebel's wild kiss on her rosy child-mouth;
And ah! for her good were they right to beware
That she sent no word Northward to Devil-may-care!

And he curses her mem'ry on Merrida Run
Since she cared to make light of the love that she won --
Yet he broods all alone o'er one lock of her hair
Who had wakened a pure love in Devil-may-care!

When the long trip is done, and the cattle safe down,
Then he drinks --- how he drinks! down in Albury Town;
And "Why should I sorrow, it's only my share
Who believed in a woman!" says Devil-may-care!

First published in The Bulletin, 30 August 1902;
and later in
The Overlander Songbook edited by Ronald George Edwards, 1971;
Old Ballads from the Bush edited by Bill Scott, 1987; and
ReCollecting Albury Writing: Poetry and Prose from Albury and District 1859 to 2000 edited by Jane Downing and Dirk H. R. Spenneman, 2000.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Campfires of the Lost by Bernard O'Dowd

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Who will may see, on plains around
   By scanty rivers crossed,
Where none but weedy growths abound,
   The campfires of the Lost.

To fan the blaze, the twigs and cones
   From dying Hopes we tear;
And wolfish Angers gnaw the bones
   Of dead Ideals there.

And effigies of sacred things,
   Or bric-à-brac of Fame,
Anon a stern-lipped watcher flings
   Remorseless to the flame.

To drown your glory in the dark
   O, children of the Light!
The frail, the crushed, the fell, the stark
   Deploy their hosts to-night.

Grim scouts o'erleap your city's walls,
   Cast potions in your wells,
With leprous patches taint your halls,
   And mine your citadels.

Your timid treasures await
   The onset of our need;
The myriad tramp his lonely hate
   Is whetting with his greed.

Your serfs now mocking greet your cries
   Of "honor," "law," and "trust";
Your lily women recognise
   The prowling lips of Lust.

Your veil of Art, by free winds tossed,
   Is rending as you look--
Your Art, which claimed to love the Lost,
   And jeered them, and forsook.

Your brutal Science yields a corps
   Of derelicts, to train
With formulas of lethal lore
   Our nascent rebel brain.

The scavengers of Learning there,
   And outcaste lords of rhyme
Compose us anthems of despair,
   And polygots of crime.

And godless phalanxes assist
   Our priesthood celebrate
A diablic eucharist
   With chalices of hate.

Your system's ripened fruits appear
   In vampire and in sot;
The tiger women wait you here,
   You soiled and left to rot.

See there a squeezed-out sponge of trade,
   Or gambler's child, or wife!
And there a haggard sempstress, speyed
   By Competition's knife!

Within your walls anon there shines
   A wrecker's signal-light;
And falcon-featured Catilines
   Sneak to and fro to-night.

Ah! city-dwellers, fearful wrong
   Entails a fearful cost;
And ye who dare may see who throng
   Those balefires of the Lost.

First published in The Bulletin, 29 August 1896 and again in the same magazine on 23-30 December 1980.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Taedium Vitae by Frank Morton

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The Hope of youth is dead, and whence
Shall such hope glad our hearts again?
Fear still we have, and springing thence
Remorseless faculty of pain.
And constant gloom of penitence.
For life, now hopeless grown, is more
Tawdry --- less lovely --- than of yore;   
And now that youth's rich hope has flown,
Say, where has youth's great courage gone?
And where is youth's high hardihed
Now that the Hope of youth is dead?

The Pride of youth has passed, and we
Are humbled out of harmony.
The heart that cheered us once, elate
In merriest mockery of fate,
The glad gay spirit of our Spring,
Are dead beyond awakening.
We bend our necks and bear the blow   
Would once have set that heart aglow,
And wrought that spirit into flame
Of quick resentment of the same,   
And jarred that pride. . . And so, at last,
We're reputable --- Pride has passed.

And Love --- the love of youth --- gives place
To something impotently prim
And stupidly demure of face,
Which Love knew not. Oh, what of him
Who winged his welcomed arrows then
Where'er he would, while we who bled
Nor made complaint nor moaning fled,
But craved the pleasing wound again?
Ah, now the dull years crowd! In vain   
We seek ('tis all we need in truth)
Again our Love --- the love of youth!   

Dear Hope is dead; fair Pride has passed;
Sweet Love has left us with the years;
And this half-life is salt with tears,
With bitterest longings overcast.
And, all unmindful though we sigh,
Joy flutters, pale, about to fly.
The world grows gray; and oh! that we   
Were buried where our treasures be!  

First published in The Queenslander, 28 August 1897

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Frost Fancies by Alice Ham

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We cannot go to Fairyland, and so
   It comes to us from soundless realms of air,
When elfin fingers of the ice or snow
   Make homeliest things look wondrous strange and fair.

Crystals of emerald and of amethyst
   Transform the violet borders eastward set;
The hills gleam faintly through a silver mist,
   And diamonds flash amongst the mignonette.

Each grass-blade is a knife of pale-green jade
   Sheathed in a scabbard of the clearest glass;
Of Orient pearl the Jonquil cups are made,
   Across the woods half seen white vapours pass.

King Robin Redbreast rules the orchard now,
   His small brown queen his praises chirping shrill;
With scarlet flame he decks the leafless bough
   And shames the gold upon the Daffodil.

And so our childhood's dreams come true at last,
   And airy fairy "castles built in Spain."
The artist of the Frost is fleeting fast;
   But he has brought old fancies back again.

First published in The Queenslander, 27 August 1892

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

Northward by E. J. Brady

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A wind blows up by Conran, with icy sweep and roll,
A Bird of Desolation, snow-feathered, from the Pole;
A stinging sleet behind it, a flying scund before,
It mourns among the forests, it wails along the shore;

When northward from Cape Byron the mangoes and the maize
To gracious breezes anthem a psalm of sapphire days;
When northward yet from Townsville is echoed warm and clear,
A pagan paean pulsing with Summer-all-the-year.

Your cowslips of St. Kilda their daintiness unfold,
Your tulips glad the gardens, your daffodils their gold
Display in florists' windows, soft show'r their blossoms down,
Those orchard trees that flatter the folks of Hobart town.

But North the white magnolias and red hibiscus throw
A gleam of blended glory like mingled flame and snow.
And oh, those Coral Islands along their seas of blue!
And oh, that strong nor'easter among the tall bamboo!

The daisies and the hawthorn in ordered walks of Kew,
The English oaks and beeches are comely sights to view,
'Tis pleasing, too, to frivol along the Esphinade ---
Encased in winter garments --- with some town-talking maid.

But Southern thought is straitened, as Southern skies are cold,
And South your social virtues are measured by your gold;
While North the ice of Custom is melted by the sun,
The waters of Convention in wider channels run.

The manners of Port Phillip would seem uncouth and strange
And somewhat out of focus beyond the Blackall Range;
As curry lacking powder, or custard wanting spice
The virtues of Port Phillip, at Cairns were merely --- vice.

I weary of your winters, their raw winds and their sleet;
Your blue-nosed sons of Business who crowd the hurried street;
Your stately stores and dwellings, bridge parties, functions, shows;
Dull thoughts like housemaids marching from villas all in rows.

Dull lines in ledgers volumed, dull loves and dull intrigues;
The crowded sub-divisions, the closed unpeopled leagues;
New riches furred and feathered, sleek sins and social ills;
The landlords and the "lydies," the beer and butchers' bills.

I weary of your wasters, who loaf in "Pitt" or "Bourke";
The punters picking doubles, the failures out of work,
The gloomy bards and artists who earn infrequent crowns
And browse on counter lunches and curse the luck of towns.

For mean and sordid worries, for jealousy and hate,
The railings at Ill Fortune, the whinings at sour Fate;
For these, or want of money, or over much of wine,
You cannot find, my cousin, a better core than mine:

Pull out, pull out, dear cousin; that narrow-chested crowd
Will dig along without you, nor shall it weep aloud
with grief at your departure; and when the distance drowns
The echoes of the tram-cars, you will not miss the towns.

And oh, the green plantations beneath Australian suns,
And oh, the Wide Australia beyond the cattle-runs,
To give you joy of motion, to give you sense of room
A pack-horse out of Bowen, a lugger out of Broome!

In singlets and cork helmets, in Assam pants arrayed,
We'll trek and travel nor'ward to join the White Brigade,
The Land of Free-and-Easy, where grows the sugar-cane
And rum and black molasses, has called us back again.

We're talking "Thursday pidgin," we're smoking fat cheroots,
With something at our heart-strings that pulls them by the roots.
We're "to our necks," fair cousins, of greedy Melb and Syd.,
The greasy business "guyver," the silly social "kid."

We're nor'ward bound, sweet cousins, unto a tropic clime
Of mangoes, maize and melons and Summer-all-the-time,
We've busted up our dollars. Well, let the gilt go hang,
There's loot in shell and rubber, there's silver in trepang.

The cowslips of St. Kilda, the ordered milks of Kew
Are always sweet and proper -- we leave them all to you;
We've pawned our winter garments, impenitent go forth,
To sword our oysters open, for pearls, along the North.

First published
in The Bulletin, 26 August 1909

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

See also.

Life's Early Joys by Henry Parkes

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Life's early joys! the summer clouds,
   Which hang about the moon,
Are not so beautiful as they,
   And perish not so soon.

We seek the flow'ret's resting place,
   And deem its breath and bloom
Enough to gladden man's estate,
   Ere taught our common doom.

But when we see the spoiler sport
   With the sweet lives of flowers,
We feel the heart, with trembling, wake
   Within their ruin'd bowers.

We wander in the night of snow,
   'Neath winter's thronging stars;
And wing on blessed thoughts away,
   From all which misery mars.

But scarce that joy's pure influence warms
   The bosom, when the world,
In cold and gloomy pictures, back
   O'er the mind's depths is hurl'd.

We meet some gentle one, whose eye
   Speaks of a loving heart;
And joy seems come, with crowning light,
   Now never to depart.

Alas, the earthliness of love!
   A thousand ills o'erwhelm
The spirit, 'neath its guardian's wings,
   In love's own starry realm.

Joys pure and deep may be reserved,
   Yet for life's calm decline;
I know not, and I dare not doubt
   But such may yet be mine!

First published in Australasian Chronicle, 25 August 1840;
and later in
Stolen Moments: A Short Series of Poems by Henry Parkes, 1842.

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

See also.

Amber Wattle by Ivy Moore

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O, golden shine Spring's tresses!
   Her rosy feet are set
Where sparkling dew but stresses  
   The woodland violet.

She smiles! and, glowing yellow,  
   The scented wattles bloom
O'er the wild bushland mellow
   To where great mountains loom.

The land is touched with magic,
   And brown bees gather store
Of honey, in sweet traffic
   With Spring's own mystic lore.

O, golden shine Spring's tresses!
   And round them like a band
The amber wattle blesses
   Our fair Australian land!

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 August 1935;
nd later in
Australian Violets by Ivy Moore, 1937.

Author: Ivy Moore (1889-1956) was born in London and arrived in Australia in 1924, after marrying an Australian-born Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Navy.  Her husband later returned to England leaving behind his wife and young child.  Moore wrote prolifically to support her family and was well known for her articles about the early days of air travel.  She died in Mosman, New South Wales in 1956.

Author reference sites: Austlit

See also.

At the "Twelve Mile" by Kathleen Dalziel

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The little home we used to know stands lonely at the long day's close;
The roof had fallen long ago but for the interlacing rose.

And through the ruined garden fold the lingering light of sunset spills
Its immaterial dusty gold through golden clumps of daffodils.

Through seedy grasses rambling free, the wild raspberries climb and cling;
Still stands the silver wattle tree whose boughs once held the children's swing.

Still falls the magpies' music loud from one old group of knotted gums,
And, feathery as a falling cloud, still bloom the clustered cherryplums;

Like kirtled ladies in a ring, in bracken frondage to the knees,
And all their petals trembling with the little black Australian bees.

I dreamed beneath the flowery yield; the present ceased a little space;
I heard my father in the field, again I saw my mother's face.

And from the river, shallow clear, heard underneath the blackwood's boughs,
Clear voices on the evening air the youngsters bringing up the cows. . . .

The bees had vanished from the bloom when I awakened from my trance.
Only a bronzewing in the gloom crooned muted to the hour's romance.

What is the fatal power the past still keeps for human hearts alway?
The uzseless longing to the last for some lost scene of yesterday?

The freshening evening breezes pelted petals down like fairy rain.
Sudden my heart like wax was melted, and I could not stem my pain.

In mockery they seemed to flout me, Love's surviver lonely here
With all the daffodils about me, in the springtime of the year.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 August 1930

Author reference sites: Austlit

See also.

In the Park by Zora Cross

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The eucalyptus tree upon the green,
Broad platter of the park is surely set
To decorate the day with dreams. And yet,
Sophisticated folk, in modern mien,
Idly against its pensive, grey bole lean,
Nor view the miracle, too often met,
Too seldom to be left with a regret,
Accepted but as part of a dull scene.
They haste to watch the tennis tournament,
While I, in awe, feel round about me pour
Aeons of days when, 'neath the noiseless drift
Of such lead-like, lone leaves, far time was spent...
Suddenly people, court, and park all lift
Into one vast leviathan dinosaur.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 August 1935

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of BiographyOld Qld Poetry

See also.

The Conquest of Matter by Emily Coungeau

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Lapis lazuli, blue with mystery,
Lay ocean, chiming its low symphony,
Waking pale thought of the eternities,
Of 'tranced dawns, and stellar silences
Of night, when planets in their courses ran
Ere the metonic law of life began,
As slowly rose the mitred sovran steeps,
To form the barriers of the Protean deeps.

The centuries pursue the endless quest,
And, 'mid the tumult of the world's unrest,
Potential units, aching with desire,
Look to the great centrifugal white fire,
Till, marvelling and lost in the immense,
They reason: "Whence came the Omnipotence,
Creator, yet Himself the Uncreate,
Who ever was?" The problem, intricate,
Remains unsolved, for none may fathom Him.
The mind is finite -- theories wax dim;
But genesis of matter is not vain,
For microcosms die to flame again.

The seals are broken; science probes the sod,
Tracing God's footprints where no mortal trod;
Scaling the apex of eternal snows,
Poised on gigantic silver wings, and knows
No languor the supernal heights to climb,
Inspired with aerial visionings sublime:
And mind o'er matter in the strenuous race
Flings wide the gateways of cerulean space.
And man applauds, as, with deep, bated breath
It winnows germs of life from husks of death.
Rich voices that had once divinely stirred
The inmost being, now long mute, are heard
In thrilling numbers of mellifluous sound
The while the singer lies in sleep profound.

Thus is unwound the hieroglyphic scroll,
And clear-eyed sapience with eager soul
Peers into dark abysms unrevealed,
Which in earth's withered matrix lie concealed.
Boccaccio's close ne'er heard a stranger tale
From beauty, carmine-lipped and olive pale --
Than queenly charm, now turned to dust and mould,
Which the vast theatres of age unfold,
When opulence and loveliness clasped hands,
Stealing along the desert's burning sands,
Who seeks may find that essence whence we came,
Whose mystery sets pulsing thought aflame;
But, to the lilting of this antique rhyme,
Emerging from dim galleries of time
In blue magnificence, remotely far,
There, on night's forehead, gleams a splendid star.

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 21 August 1926

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Remainders by Louis Esson

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They lie in casual heaps, these lorn, lost books,
   Love lyrics, thrilling tale, historic tome,
Where none but heedless hands and scornful looks
   Take notice of their last neglected home.
A soulless publisher has marked them down
To sixpence each, or eight for half a crown.

"Remainders" now, they have outlived their time,
   Their publisher has cast them out of sight,
Not spareth he the gentle poet's rhyme,
   Nor funny narratives some authors write.
He throws them to the wide, wide world, and eke
The nursemaid's novellete and sage critique.

Here lies "Lord Rudolph's Secret love," and here
   "If Maids but Knew," a passionate romance
That drew from fair frail flappers many a tear,
   Tossed in with Coffyn's "Sermon's," just by chance.
"Roses of Rapture" and "In Chloe's Day"
(Such daring books!) have gone the self-same way.

Here is a name, the pride of yesterday,
   A hundred thousand readers was his score;
His masterpiece, now marked a modest tray,
   None but a passing straggler glances o'er.
Best sellers, like poor blokes without a name,
They drop into the basket just the same.

They lie, poor books, neglected, put to rest,
   "Remainders," now scarce able to entice,
Though lauded loudly as the last and best.
   Reluctant purchasers to risk the price.
This is the end of every author's stocks,
Oblivion in a little dusty box.

First published in The Bulletin, 20 August 1925

Author: Thomas Louis Buvelot Esson (1878-1943) was born in Leith Scotland, and arrived in Australia in 1881.  He studied arts at the University of Melbourne but left Australia in 1904.  He returned in 1906, enthusiastic about drama.  Esson published some poems during his life but was best known for his theatrical works - the annual Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Drama is named after him. He moved to Sydney in the 1930s and died there in 1943.

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

After Johnson's Dance by Charles Souter

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After Johnson's dance --
   Don't you recollects?
I says, "Goin' 'ome?"
   You says, "I expect!"
I says, "So am I!"
   You says, "Not with me!"
I says, "An' for w'y?"
   Blowed if I could see!
      You says, "Go to France!"
      After Johnson's dance.

After Johnson's dance --
   I says, "Em, you might!"
"Might I, tho'!" says you.
   "Garn, you silly fright!"
Then I kissed you, fair!
   (How you did object!)
Towsled all your hair!
   Don't you recollect?
      Took my bloomin' chance --
      After Johnson's dance!

After Johnson's dance --
   Smacked my face, you did!
Then I caught you -- so! --
   Like you was a kid.
"Just do it again --
   Just you do," you says.
You says, "do it!" plain:
   An' of course, I does!
      Who made that advance --
      After Johnson's dance?

First published
in The Bulletin, 19 August 1899;
and later in
To Many Ladies (And Others) by Charles Henry Souter, 1917;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964; and
Along the Western Road: Bush Stories and Ballads, 1981.

Author: Charles Henry Souter (1864-1944) was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, and emigrated to Australia in 1879.  He returned to Scotland to study medicine before settling in South Australia, where he lived in a number of locations around the state.  Mainly known as a "Bulletin" poet, he published four collections of his poetry during his lifetime.  He died in Adelaide in 1944.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Tommy Corrigan: Died 13 August 1894 by A.B. "Banjo" Paterson

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(Killed, Steeplechasing at Flemington.)

You talk of riders on the flat, of nerve and pluck and pace,
Not one in fifty has the nerve to ride a steeplechase.
It's right enough while horses pull and take their fences strong,
To rush a flier to the front and bring the field along;
But what about the last half-mile, with horses blown and beat --
When every jump means all you know to keep him on his feet?

When any slip means sudden death -- with wife and child to keep --
It needs some nerve to draw the whip and flog him at the leap --
But Corrigan would ride them out, by danger undismayed,
He never flinched at fence or wall, he never was afraid;
With easy seat and nerve of steel, light hand and smiling face,
He held the rushing horses back, and made the sluggards race.

He gave the shirkers extra heart, he steadied down the rash,
He rode great clumsy boring brutes, and chanced a fatal smash;
He got the rushing Wymlet home that never jumped at all --
But clambered over every fence and clouted every wall.
But ah, you should have heard the cheers that shook the members' stand
Whenever Tommy Corrigan weighed out to ride Lone Hand.

They were, indeed, a glorious pair -- the great upstanding horse,
The gamest jockey on his back that ever faced a course.
Though weight was big and pace was hot and fences stiff and tall,
"You follow Tommy Corrigan" was passed to one and all.
And every man on Ballarat raised all he could command
To put on Tommy Corrigan when riding old Lone Hand.

But now we'll keep his memory green while horsemen come and go,
We may not see his like again where silks and satins glow.
We'll drink to him in silence, boys -- he's followed down the track
Where many a good man went before, but never one came back.
And let us hope in that far land where shades of brave men reign,
That gallant Tommy Corrigan will ride Lone Hand again.

First published in The Bulletin, 18 August 1894;
and later in
Saltbush Bill, J.P., and Other Verses by A.B. Paterson, 1917;
The Collected Verse of A.B. Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1982;
Singer of the Bush, A.B. (Banjo) Paterson: Complete Works 1885-1900 compiled by Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie, 1983;
A.B. Paterson's Off Down the Track: Racing and Other Yarns by A.B. Paterson, 1986;
A Vision Splendid: The Complete Poetry of A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1990;
A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson: Bush Ballads, Poems, Stories and Journalism edited by Clement Semmler, 1992;
The Collected Verse of Banjo Paterson edited by Clement Semmler, 1993; and
Banjo Paterson: His Poetry and Prose compiled by Richard Hall, 1993.

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

See also.

Rosebud by Peter Airey

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I asked her for a rosebud,
   She quickly answered "No!"
Swept gaily laughing by me,
   And left me grieving so;
Around me sweet are blooming
   A thousand flowers and more,
But not one hath the beauty
   Of the blossom that she bore.

Tho' deeply thou hast wronged me,
   Yet mayst thou never rue,
May joy's dear fount ne'er fail thee,
   Nor soft affection's dew;
And though thy love hath left me
   I may not angry be,
For, deep within my bosom,
   Remembrance pleads for thee.

First published in The Queenslander, 17 August 1895

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Australian Poets #26 - Ruth M. Bedford

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Ruth M. Bedford (1882-1963)

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Ghost Glen by Henry Kendall

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"Shut your ears, Stranger, or turn from Ghost Glen now,
For the paths are grown over, untrodden by men now --
Shut your ears, Stranger," saith the grey mother, crooning
Her sorcery Runic, when sets the half-moon in!

To-night the North Easter goes travelling slowly --
But it never stoops down to that Hollow unholy --
To-night it rolls loud on the ridges red-litten,
But it cannot abide in that forest, sin-smitten!

For over the pitfall the moon-dew is thawing,
And, with never a body, two shadows stand sawing!
The wraiths of two Sawyers (STEP UNDER AND UNDER),
Who did a foul murder and were blackened with thunder!

Whenever the Storm Wind comes driven and driving,
Through the blood-spattered timber you may see the saw striving --
You may see the Saw heaving, and falling, and heaving,
Whenever the sea-creek is chafing and grieving.

And across a burnt body, as black as an adder,
Sits the sprite of a sheep-dog! -- was ever sight sadder?
For, as the dry thunder splits louder and faster,
This sprite of a sheep-dog howls for his master! --

"Oh! count your beads deftly," saith the grey mother, crooning
Her sorcery Runic, when sets the half-moon in!
And well may she mutter, for the dark, hollow laughter
You will hear in the sawpits and the bloody logs after!

Ay, count your beads deftly, and keep your ways wary,
For the sake of the Saviour and sweet Mother Mary!
Pray for your peace in these perilous places,
And pray for the laying of horrible faces!

One starts, with a forehead wrinkled and livid,
Aghast at the lightnings sudden and vivid!
One telleth, with curses the gold that they drew there,
(Ah! cross your breast humbly) from him whom they slew there!

The Stranger, who came from the loved -- the romantic
Island that sleeps on the moaning Atlantic;
Leaving behind him a patient home, yearning
For the steps in the distance, never returning; --

Who was left in the Forest, shrunken and starkly
Burnt by his slayers; (so men have said, darkly);
With the half crazy sheepdog, who cowered beside there,
And yelled at the silence, and marvelled, and died there!

Yes, cross your breast humbly, and hold your breath tightly;
Or fly for your life from those shadows unsightly;
From the set staring features (cold, and so young, too!)
And the death on the lips that a mother hath clung to.

I tell you the bushman is braver than most men,
Who even in daylight doth go through the Ghost Glen!
Although in that Hollow, unholy and lonely,
He sees the dank sawpits and bloody logs only!

First published in Clarence and Richmond Examiner and New Engand Advertiser, 16 August 1894;
and later in
The Athenaeum, 17 February 1866;
The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 May 1866;
Leaves from Australian Forests by Henry Kendall, 1869;
Selected Poems of Henry Kendall edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1957;
The Poetical Works of Henry Kendall edited by Thomas Thornton Reed, 1966;
Selected Poems of Henry Kendall edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1988; and
Henry Kendall: Poetry, Prose and Selected Correspondence edited by Michael Ackland, 1993.

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

See also.

The Sun is Up by John Shaw Neilson

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Speak not of Death: it is a merry morn;
A glittering bird has danced into a tree:
From his abundant heart bravely are borne
The loves of leafy choristers to me:
Music is of the sunlight, strong and free ...
The sun is up, and Death is far away:
The first hour is the sweetest of the day.
Blithely a bush boy wanders on a walk --
Shaking with joy, joyous in heart and limb:
For his delight the trees have learned to talk
And all the flowers have little laughs with him
Watching the far sky, wonderful and dim ...
The sun is up, and Death is far away:
The first hour is the sweetest of the day.

First published in The Bookfellow, 15 August 1907;
and later in
Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson by John Shaw Neilson, 1934;
Green Days and Cherries: the early verses of Shaw Neilson edited by Hugh Anderson and Leslie James Blake, 1981;
The Faber Book of Modern Australian Verse edited by Vincent Buckley, 1991; 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.

Gold by Ruth M. Bedford

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All the roads on Castle Hill are a-gleam with gold,
Little far-off townships lie faintly aureoled,
Down the valleys, up the slopes honey wattles throng,
Golden as a poet's dream, lovely as a song.

In the grass beside the way where the road's unrolled
Weeds and flowers raise their heads, each a bell of gold:
Mellow fairy chimes they ring for a fairy's ear,
Or upon the golden gorse birds may pause to hear.  

In so bright and fresh a world where's the heart that grieves?
See the gleaming oranges in their glossy leaves!
Everywhere on Castle Hill travellers behold
Golden blossoms, golden light, bells and balls of gold.      

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 August 1926

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.
[A foolish suggestion has lately been mooted in the English papers, that British New Guinea should be bartered with Germany for her African West Coast possessions.]

Bold Torres the sailor came and went
   With his swarthy, storm-worn band;
He saw Saavedra's * Isle to north,
   To the south a loom of land.
He left, unknowing his name would live
   Through ages big with Fate
As the first to stem with his broad-bowed ship
   The wash of the Northern Strait.

Round the western shores the Dutch ships crept,
   Seeking the hidden way;
Some left their bones on a wind-swept coast,
   And the others sailed away.
Turned back, turned back by reef and rock ---
   Twin guards of the sunlit gate,
The path of the sun from the eastern seas ---
   They were mocked by the Northern Strait.

Year in, year out, the monsoons swept
   O'er the isles off the coral shore;
The savage tossed in his frail canoe
   But the white man came no more.
No sail in sight at the break of dawn,
   No sail at the gloaming late;
Silent and still was the lonely pass,
   Unsought was the Northern Strait.

A rattle of arms and a roll of drums,
   And the meteor flag flies free,
As an English voice proclaims King George
   Lord of that tropic sea.
The parrots scream as the volleys flash,
   The gulls their haunts vacate,
And the "south-east" fills the Endeavour's sails
   As she heads through the Northern Strait.

And ever since then has the watch been kept
   O'er the ships in the narrow way,
Where the smoking funnels flare by night,
   And the house-flags flaunt by day.
Ever the same strong "south-east" blows,
   And ever we watch and wait ---
The wardens we, in Australia's name,
   The Guard of the Northern Strait.

Over banks of pearl our watch is kept,
   Over sands where the drown'd men rest;
Ever we signal the ships from east,
   And watch for the ships from west;
Always we watch for the battle-flag
   Of a foe with defiant prate;
Our answer is --- "In Australia's name,
   "We're the Guard of the Northern Strait!"    

*Alvaro Saavedra, the discoverer of New Guinea in 1528. 

First published in The Queenslander, 13 August 1898;
and later in
A Book of Australian Verse for Boys and Girls edited by Bertram Stevens, 1915; and
This Land: An Anthology of Australian Poetry for Young People edited by M.M. Flynn and J. Groom 1968.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Master Mariner's Song (Outward Bound) by Charles Harpur

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Away -- away She plunges
With her white sails o'er her spread,
Like the summer clouds that gather
On some hill's piny head:
Still away She plunges, rampant,
Like a Lion roused to wrath,
And the proud wave lies humbled
In the track of her path.

Ye ho! my gallant Sailors,
Wear her head from off the Land!
As his steed obeys the Arab,
How she gives to the hand!
Like a Soul the world forsaking,
Now she leaves the coast behind--
And the Main's her wide dwelling,
And her spouse is the Wind.

Then pledge we a full measure
To the Friends we left to day,
Whose kind thoughts shall hover o'er us
On our watery way:
Where diurnally remind us
Shall the same bright-brimming rite,
Of the eyes that yearned blessings
When we last knew their light.

First published in The Maitland Mercry & Hunter River General Advertiser, 12 August 1846;
and later in
The Bushrangers, a Play in Five Acts and Other Poems by Charles Harpur, 1853; and
The Poetical Works of Charles Harpur edited by Elizabeth Perkins, 1984.

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

See also.

Maranoa Drovers by A. W. Davis

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Air - "Little Sally Waters."

The night is dark and stormy, and the sky is clouded o'er;
   Our horses we will mount and ride away,
To watch the squatters' cattle through the darkness of the night,
   And we'll keep them on the camp till break of day.

Chorus -
         For we're going, going, going to Gunnedah so far,
            And we'll soon be into sunny New South Wales;
         We shall bid farewell to Queensland, with its swampy coolibah ---
            Happy drovers from the sandy Maranoa.

When the fires are burning bright through the darkness of the night,
   And the cattle camping quiet, well, I'm sure
That I wish for 2 o'clock when I call the other watch ---
   This is droving from the sandy Maranoa.

Our beds made on the ground, we are sleeping all so sound
   When we're wakened by the distant thunder's roar,
And the lightning's vivid flash followed by an awful crash ---
   It's rough on drovers from the sandy Maranoa.

We are up at break of day, and we're all soon on the way,
   For we always have to go ten miles or more;
It don't do to loaf about, or the squatter will oome out ---
   He's strict on drovers from the sandy Maranoa.

We shall soon be on the Moonie, and we'll cross the Barwon, too;
   Then we'll be out upon the rolling plains once more;
We'll shout "Hurrah! for old Queensland, with its swampy coolibah,
   And the cattle that come off the Maranoa."

First published in The Queenslander, 11 August 1894;
and later in
Old Bush Songs: Composed and Sung in the Bushranging, Digging and Overlanding Days edited by A.B. "Banjo" Paterson, 1905;
The North Queensland Register, 26 November 1923, and 25 May 1940;
The Overlander Songbook edited by Ronald George Edwards, 1971;
Old Bush Songs and Rhymes of Colonial Times edited by Douglas Stewart, 1976;
Complete Book of Australian Folklore edited by Bill Scott, 1976;
The Bushwackers Australian Song Book edited by Jan Wositzky and Dobe Newton, 1988;
The Penguin Book of Australian Ballads edited by Elizabeth Webby and Philip Butterrs, 1993; and
Our Country: Classic Australian Poetry: From the Colonial Ballads to Paterson & Lawson edited by Michael Cook, 2004.

Author: A. W. Davis was born about 1870 and worked as a drover in Queensland.  Beyond this nothing is known about this author.

Author reference sites: Austlit

Street Pageant by Ella McFadyen

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Sometimes the glamour comes upon mine eyes,
   And o'er the fretful faces of the crowd,
   The hungering gaze, the clinging shoulders bowed,
The slouching gait, the strained, masked miseries,
Comes transformation. They grow glorious-these;
   I see them a brave throng, whom trumpets loud
   Proclaim for pilgrims to crusade avowed,
Marching to far-off, ageless destinies.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 August 1937

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

Emus by Mary E. Fullerton

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My annals have it so:
A thing my mother saw
Near eighty years ago
With happiness and awe.

Along a level hill --
A clearing in wild space;
And night's last tardy chill
Yet damp on morning's face.

Sight never to forget:
Solemn against the sky
In stately silhouette
Ten emus stalking by.

One after one they went
In line. and without haste:
On their unknown intent,
Ten emus grandly paced.

She, used to hedged-in fields,
Watched them go filing past
Into the great bush wilds
Silent and vast.

Sudden that hour she knew
That this far place was good,
This mighty land and new,
For the soul's hardihood;

For hearts that love the strange
That carry wonder:
The bush the hills the range,
And the dark flats under.

First published in The Bulletin, 9 August 1944;
and later in
Australian Poetry, 1946 edited by T. Inglis Moore,1947;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964;
Anthology of Australian Religious Poetry edited by Les Murray, 1986;
Classic Australian Verse edited by Maggie Pinkney, 2001;
The Turning Wave: Poems and Songs of Irish Australia edited by Colleen Burke and Vincent Woods, 2001;
Our Country: Classic Australian Poetry: From the Colonial Ballads to Paterson & Lawson edited by Michael Cook, 2004;
100 Australian Poems You Need to Know edited by Jamie Grant, 2008; and
The Puncher & Wattmann Anthology of Australian Poetry edited by John Leonard, 2009.

Author: Mary Elizabeth Fullerton (1868-1946) was born in Glenmaggie, Victoria, and was mainly home and self-educated.  By the 1890s she was living in Melbourne and working as a journalist.  She was an active supporter of the suffrage movement, the Victorian Socialist Party and the Women's Political Association.  In 1922 she moved to England where she lived until her death in 1946.

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

"The Perfect Grace of a Day that is Dead" by Will M. Fleming

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A saddle well set down on his back,
   A bridle strong yet light,
With head held high and an eager eye
   Which showed him fit and right.

They asked us could we win that day;
   We said we meant to try;
For the girl above looked down her love
   As we went cantering by.   

We struggled slowly to the post,
   And eager was each nag;
No sooner there and drawn up square
   Than down went the starter's flag.

They settled down to make the pace,
   The bay horse took the lead,
And his baldy nose made some suppose
   That he would do the deed.   

But, holding-hard, the brown horse came
   With a strong and easy stride,
And with glistening eye went sweeping by,
   And shook his head in his pride.

We took the lead, and held it too,
   We swept into the straight;
Full in command and well in hand,     
   He recked not of the weight.     

We sailed along and past the post,
   Won hard held all the way;
And many a mile I'd run that style
   For the glance we got that day.

But we'll never race again, Old Man,
   As we raced that day we led;
We may love the run and a race well won,
   But the light of life is dead.

First published in The Queenslander, 8 August 1896

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Queen of the North by George Essex Evans

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Stand forth, O Daughter of the Sun,   
   Of all thy kin the fairest one,   
It is thine hour of Jubilee.  
   Behold, the work our hands have done
Our hearts now offer unto thee.
   Thy children call thee; O come forth,
         Queen of the North!  

Brow-bound with pearls and burnished gold
   The East hath Queens of royal mould,
Sultanas, peerless in their pride,
   Who rule wide realms of wealth untold,
But they wax wan and weary-eyed:
   Thine eyes, O Northern Queen, are bright
         With morning light.

Fear not thy Youth: it is thy crown --
   The careless years before Renown
Shall load its tines with jewelled deeds
   And press thy golden circlet down
With vaster toils and greater needs.
   Fear not thy Youth: its splendid power
         Awaits the hour.  

Stand forth, O Daughter of the Sun,
   Whose fires through all thine arteries run,
Whose kiss hath touched thy gleaming hair --
   Come like a goddess, Radiant One,  
Reign in our hearts who crown thee there,
   With laughter like thy seas, and eyes
         Blue as thy skies.  

Ah, not in vain, O Pioneers,
   The toil that breaks, the grief that sears,
The hands that forced back Nature's bars
   To prove the blood of ancient years
And make a home 'neath alien stars!
   O Victors over stress and pain
         'Twas not in vain !  

Jungle and plain and pathless wood --
   Depths of primeval solitude --
Gaunt wilderness and mountain stern --
   Their secrets lay all unsubdued.
Life was the price: who dared might learn.
   Ye read them all, Bold Pioneers,
         In fifty years.  

O True Romance, whose splendour gleams
   Across the shadowy realm of dreams,
Whose starry wings can touch with light
   The dull grey paths, the common themes:  
Hast thou not thrilled with sovereign might
   Our story, until Duty's name
      Is one with Fame!  

Queen of the North, thy heroes sleep
   On sun-burnt plain and rocky steep.
Their work is done: their high emprise
   Hath crowned thee, and the great stars keep
The secrets of their histories.
   We reap the harvest they have sown
         Who died unknown.

The seed they sowed with weary hands
   Now bursts in bloom through all thy lands;  
Dark hills their glitt'ring secrets yield;  
   And for the camps of wand'ring bands --
The snowy flock, the fertile field.  
   Back, ever back, new conquests press  
         The wilderness.  

Below thy coast line's rugged height
   Wide caneflelds glisten in the light,  
And towns arise on hill and lea,
   And one fair city where the bright
Broad winding river sweeps to sea.
   Ah! could the hearts that cleared the way
         Be here to-day!  

A handful: yet they took their stand
   Lost in the silence of the land.
They went their lonely ways unknown
   And left their bones upon the sand.  
E'en though we call this land our own
   'Tis but a handful holds it still
         For good or ill.  

What though thy sons be strong and tall,
   Fearless of mood at danger's call;
And these, thy daughters, fair of face,
   With hearts to dare whate'er befall --
Tall goddesses and queens of grace --
   Fill up thy frontiers: man the gate
         Before too late!  

Sit thou no more inert of fame,
   But let the wide world hear thy name.
See where thy realms spread line on line --
   Thy empty realms that cry in shame
For hands to make them doubly thine!
   Fill up thy frontiers: man the gate
         Before too late!    

Prepare, ere falls the hour of Fate
   When death-shells rain their iron hate,
And all in vain thy blood is poured --
   For dark aslant the Northern Gate
I see the Shadow of the Sword:
   I hear the storm-clouds break in wrath --
         Queen of the North!

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 7 August 1909;
and later in
The Times (London), 7 August 1909;
The Queenslander, 14 August 1909; and
Queen of the North: A Jubilee Ode by George Essex Evans, 1909.

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

See also.

August by A. J. Rolfe

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"Joy shall overtake us as a flood."--MILTON.

Slowly the mists of night are rolled away;
   And with his retinue and pageant bold
The King of Light in glorious array
   Bursts on the waking world all clad with gold.
And at tbe Sun dispels the shades of Night,
   Breaking a glorious entrance through the veil
That separates the darkness from the light,
   Making, by his great presence, Beauty pale,
So when Life's weary night, that dawnless seems,
   Draws to its close, at last thro' shadows drear
A glorious perfectness of heavenly gleams
   Will through our dismal darkness then appear;
And, calmly radiant, joy will reign for aye
When morning breaks and shadows flee away.

First published in The Queenslander, 6 August 1892;
and later in:
A Sheaf of Sonnets by A. J. Rolfe, 1892

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

Author reference sites: Austlit

See also.

Westward Ho! by Harry "Breaker" Morant

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There's a damper in the ashes, tea and sugar in the bags,
There's whips of feed and shelter on the sand-ridge for the nags,
There's gidya wood about us and water close at hand,
And just one bottle left yet of the good Glenlivet brand.

There are chops upon the embers, which same are close-up done,
From as fine a four-tooth wether as there is on Crossbred's run;
'Twas a proverb on the Darling, the truth of which I hold:
"That mutton's aye the sweetest which was never bought nor sold."

Out of fifty thousand wethers surely Crossbred shouldn't miss
A sheep or so to travellers -- faith, 'tis dainty mutton, this --
Let's drink a nip to Crossbred; ah, you drain it with a grin,
Then shove along the billy, mate, and, squatted, let's wade in.

The night's a trifle chilly, and the stars are very bright,
A heavy dew is falling, but the fly is rigged aright;
You may rest your bones till morning, then if you chance to wake,
Give me a call about the time that daylight starts to break.

We may not camp to-morrow, for we've many a mile to go,
Ere we turn our horses' heads round to make tracks for down below.
There's many a water-course to cross, and many a black-soil plain,
And many a mile of mulga ridge ere we get back again.

That time five moons shall wax and wane we'll finish up the work,
Have the bullocks o'er the border and truck 'em down from Bourke,
And when they're sold at Homebush, and the agents settle up,
Sing hey! a spell in Sydney town and Melbourne for the "Cup".

First published in The Bulletin, 5 August 1893, and again in the same magazine on 27 January 1932;
and later in
The Poetry of 'Breaker' Morant: from "The Bulletin" 1891-1903 with original illustrations by Breaker Morant, 1980; and
An Australian Treasury of Popular Verse edited by Jim Haynes, 2002.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Dominion by J. Brunton Stephens

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   She is not yet; but he whose ear
   Thrills to that finer atmosphere
      Where footfalls of appointed things,
         Reverberant of days to be,
      Are heard in forecast echoings,
         Like wave-beats from a viewless sea ---
Hears in the voiceful tremors of the sky
Auroral heralds whispering, "She is nigh."

   She is not yet; but he whose sight
   Foreknows the advent of the light,
      Whose soul to morning radiance turns
         Ere night her curtain hath withdrawn,
      And in its quivering folds discerns
         The mute monitions of the dawn,
With urgent sense strained onward to descry
Her distant tokens, starts to find Her nigh.

   Not yet her day. How long "not yet"! . .
   There comes the flush of violet!
      And heavenward faces, all aflame
         With sanguine imminence of morn,
      Wait but the sun-kiss to proclaim
         The Day of The Dominion born.
Prelusive baptism! --- ere the natal hour
Named with the name and prophecy of power.

   Already here to hearts intense,
   A spirit-force, transcending sense,
      In heights unsealed, in deeps unstirred,
         Beneath the calm, above the storm,
      She waits the incorporating word
         To bid her tremble into form.
Already, like divining-rods, men's souls
Bend down to where the unseen river rolls;--

   For even as, from sight concealed,
   By never flush of dawn revealed,
      Nor e'er illumed by golden noon,
         Nor sunset-streaked with crimson bar,
      Nor silver-spanned by wake of moon,
         Nor visited of any star,
Beneath these lands a river waits to bless
(So men divine) our utmost wilderness, ---

   Rolls dark, but yet shall know our skies,
   Soon as the wisdom of the wise
      Conspires with nature to disclose
         The blessing prisoned and unseen,
      Till round our lessening wastes there glows
         A perfect cone of broadening green, ---
Till all our land Australia Felix called,
Become one Continent-Isle of Emerald; ---

   So flows beneath our good and ill
   A viewless stream of Common Will,
      A gathering force, a present might,
         That from its silent depths of gloom
      At Wisdom's voice shall leap to light,
         And hide our barren feuds in bloom,
Till, all our sundering lines with love o'ergrown,
Our bounds shall be the seas alone.

First published in The Queenslander, 4 August 1877, and in the same magazine on 21 December 1878;
and later in
Convict Once and Other Poems by J. Brunton Stephens, 1885;
The Boomerang, 11 February 1888;
The Australian Town and Country Journal, 25 February 1888;
Tasmanian Mail, 8 July 1899;
The Brisbane Courier, 8 August 1899;
The North Queensland Register, 29 August 1899;
The Poetical Works of Brunton Stephens by J. Brunton Stephens, 1902;
An Anthology of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1907;
The Golden Treasury of Australian Verse by Bertram Stevens, 1909;
The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse by Walter Murdoch, 1924;
An Australasian Anthology: Australian and New Zealand Poems edited by Percival Serle, R. H. Croll and Frank Wilmot, 1927;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964; and
A Treasury of Colonial Poetry, 1982.

Note: this poem is also known by the titles The Dominion of Australia and The Dominoion of Australia: A Forecast: 1877.

Author: James Brunton Stephens (1835-1902) was born in Scotland and attended the University of Edinburgh, though he did not complete a degree, before working as a tutor for an English military family in Europe. He migrated to Australia in 1866 where he continued work as a tutor in various locations in Queensland.  After teaching at a number of schools he joined the public service where he remained for the rest of his working life.  At one time, after the death of Henry Kendall, he was considered Australia's best living poet, though his reputation has declined considerably over time.  He died in Brisbane in 1902.

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

See also.

The Intro by C. J. Dennis

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'Er name's Doreen ...Well, spare me bloomin' days!
You could er knocked me down wiv 'arf a brick!
   Yes, me, that kids meself I know their ways,
   An' 'as a name for smoogin' in our click!
I just lines up 'an tips the saucy wink.
But strike! The way she piled on dawg! Yer'd think
   A bloke was givin' back-chat to the Queen....
      'Er name's Doreen.
I seen 'er in the markit first uv all,
Inspectin' brums at Steeny Isaacs' stall.
   I backs me barrer in -- the same ole way --
   An' sez, "Wot O!  It's been a bonzer day.
'Ow is it fer a walk?" ... Oh, 'oly wars!
The sorta look she gimme! Jest becors
   I tried to chat 'er, like you'd make a start
      Wiv any tart.
An' I kin take me oaf I wus perlite.
An' never said no word that wasn't right,
   An' never tried to maul 'er, or to do
   A thing yeh might call croook.  Ter tell yeh true,
I didn't seem to 'ave the nerve -- wiv 'er.
I felt as if I couldn't go that fur,
   An' start to sling of chiack like I used...
      Not intrajuiced!
Nex' time I sighted 'er in Little Bourke,
Where she was in a job.  I found 'er lurk
   Wus pastin' labels in a pickle joint,
   A game that -- any'ow, that ain't the point.
Once more I tried to chat 'er in the street,
But, bli'me!  Did she turn me down a treat!
   The way she tossed 'er head an' swished 'er skirt!
      Oh, it wus dirt!
A squarer tom, I swear, I never seen,
In all me natchril, than this 'ere Doreen.
   It wer'n't no guyver neither; fer I knoo
   That any other bloke 'ad Buckley's 'oo
Tried fer to pick 'er up.  Yes, she was square.
She jest sailed by an' lef me standin' there
   Like any mug.  Thinks I, "I'm out er luck,"
      And done a duck.
Well, I dunno.  It's that way wiv a bloke.
If she'd ha' breasted up ter me an' spoke.
   I'd thort 'er jist a common bit er fluff,
   An' then fergot about 'er, like enough.
It's jest like this.  The tarts that's 'ard ter get
Makes you all 'ot to chase 'em, an' to let
   The cove called Cupid get a 'ammer-lock;
      An' lose yer block.
I know a bloke 'oo knows a bloke 'oo toils
In that same pickle found-ery.  ('E boils
   The cabbitch storks or somethink.)  Anyway,
   I gives me pal the orfis fer to say
'E 'as a sister in the trade 'oo's been
Out uv a jorb, an' wants ter meet Doreen;
   Then we kin get an into, if we've luck.
      'E sez, "Ribuck."
O' course we worked the oricle; you bet!
But, 'struth, I ain't recovered frum it yet!
   'Twas on a Saturdee, in Colluns Street,
   An' - quite by accident, o' course -- we meet.
Me pal 'e trots 'er up an' does the toff --
'E allus wus a bloke fer showin' off.
   "This ere's Doreen," 'e sez.  "This 'ere's the Kid."
      I dips me lid.
"This 'ere's Doreen," 'e sez.  I sez "Good day."
An' bli'me, I 'ad nothin' more ter say!
   I couldn't speak a word, or meet 'er eye.
   Clean done me block!  I never been so shy,
Not since I was a tiny little cub,
An' run the rabbit to the corner pub --
   Wot time the Summer days wus dry and 'ot --
      Fer me ole pot.
Me! that 'as barracked tarts, an' torked an' larft,
An' chucked orf at 'em like a phonergraft!
   Gorstrooth!  I seemed to lose me pow'r o' speech.
   But 'er!  Oh, strike me pink!  She is a peach!
The sweetest in the barrer!  Spare me days,
I carn't describe that cliner's winnin' ways.
   The way she torks!  'Er lips!  'Er eyes!  'Er hair! ...
      Oh, gimme air!
I dunno 'ow I done it in the end.
I reckerlect I arst ter be 'er friend;
   An' tried to play at 'andies in the park,
   A thing she wouldn't sight.  Aw, it's a nark!
I gotter swear when I think wot a mug
I must 'a' seemed to 'er.  But still I 'ug
   That promise she give me fer the beach.
      The bonzer peach!
Now, as the poit sez, the days drag by
On ledding feet.  I wish't they'd do a guy.
   I dunno 'ow I 'ad the nerve ter speak,
   An' make that meet wiv 'er fer Sundee week!
But strike!  It's funny wot a bloke'll do
When 'e's all out ... She's gorn, when I come-to.
   I'm yappin' to me cobber uv me mash....
      I've done me dash!
'Er name's Doreen....An' me -- that thort I knoo
   The ways uv tarts, an' all that smoogin' game!
An' so I ort; fer ain't I known a few?
   Yet some'ow ... I dunno.  It ain't the same.
I carn't tell wot it is; but all I know,
I've dropped me bundle -- an' I'm glad it's so.
   Fer when I come ter think uv wot I been....
      'Er name's Doreen.

First published
in The Bulletin, 3 August 1911;
and later in
The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke by C. J. Dennis, 1916;
Favourite Australian Poems edited by Ian Mudie, 1963;
The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse edited by Beatrice Davis, 1984;
Selected Works of C.J. Dennis by C.J. Dennis, 1988; and
Favourite Poems of C.J. Dennis by C.J. Dennis, 1989.

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

See also.

Australian Poets #25 - Furnley Maurice (Frank Wilmot)

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Furnley Maurice (1881-1942)

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Poor Soil by Mabel Forrest

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The soil is poor and grey, I know,
And wonder how poor gardens grow
Such lovely flowers. I think somehow
The leaves upon the bending bough,
Between that garden and the sky,  
Could tell me why, could tell me why!
It is the care the gardener gives
To every little plant that lives.
He whispers to them secret things
Above the sweet peas' fragrant wings.
He has a love-tryst with the rose --
The garden knows, the garden knows!

First published in Cairns Post, 2 August 1930

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Drover of the Stars by Roderic Quinn

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'Tis little I care for earth's kings,
   Its emperors, sultans and czars,
As I lie in the darkness and dream
   All alone with my sheep and the stars.

For as dust of the moment are they,
   Now agleam and now still on earth's breast;
But the stars, spreading wide in the night,
   Travel on, ever on to the west.

My sheep, snugly camped in the dark,
   Misty-white with the pale grasses blend;
But where is the camp of the stars?
   And whither, O Night, do they wend?

Through leagues of dry distance we came,
   Where dust-wreaths, wind-woven, upcurled,
Since Dawn dropped the rails of the east
   And let the Day into our world.

Slow-moving we travelled the plains,
   Trudging on through the sun and the wind,
Till Day galloped out of the west,
   And Night set the sliprails behind.

And now, by my camp-fire alone,
   A tryst with pale Wonder I keep --
That mystical Lady of Dreams,
   Whose hour is the sleep-of-the-sheep.

Foot-tired in the grasses they lie,
   Mist-pale in the darkness, and dumb;
Yet who was it mustered the stars,
   And whence and what leagues have they come?

Who keeps them from straying apart?
   Who urges them straight on their route?
No answer -- none tell me; and lo!
   The Night, though it listen, is mute!

Watch 'neath the stars of the Cross,
   Orion, and Venus and Mars;
I am but a drover of sheep --
   But who is the Drover of Stars?

First published in The Bulletin, 1 August 1918;
and later in
Poems by Roderic Quinn, 1920;
Selections from Australian Poets edited by Bertram Stevens, 1925; and
Australian Bush Songs and Ballads edited by Will Lawson, 1944.

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

See also.

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