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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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on August 1, 2011 6:53 AM.

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