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

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on August 26, 2011 7:24 AM.

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