September 2011 Archives

Doreen by C. J. Dennis

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"I wish't yeh meant it, Bill." Oh, 'ow me 'eart
   Went out to 'er that ev'nin' on the beach.
I knoo she weren't no ordinary tart,
      My little peach!
I tell yeh, square an' all, me 'eart stood still
To 'ear 'er say, "I wish't yeh meant it, Bill."
To 'ear 'er voice! Its gentle sorter tone,
   Like soft dream-music of some Dago band.
An' me all out; an' 'oldin' in me own
      'Er little 'and.
An' 'ow she blushed! O, strike! it was divine
The way she raised 'er shinin' eyes to mine.
'Er eyes! Soft in the moon; such boshter eyes!
   An' when they sight a bloke ... O, spare me days!
'E goes all loose inside; such glamour lies
       In 'er sweet gaze.
It makes 'im all ashamed uv wot 'e's been
To look inter the eyes of my Doreen.
The wet sands glistened, an' the gleamin' moon
   Shone yeller on the sea, all streakin' down.
A band was playin' some soft, dreamy choon;
       An' up the town
We 'eard the distant tram-cars whir an' clash.
An' there I told 'er 'ow I'd done me dash.
"I wish't yeh meant it." 'Struth! And did I, fair?
   A bloke 'ud be a dawg to kid a skirt
Like 'er. An' me well knowin' she was square.
      It 'ud be dirt!
'E'd be no man to point wiv 'er, an' kid.
I meant it honest; an' she knoo I did.
She knoo. I've done me block in on 'er, straight.
   A cove 'as got to think some time in life
An' get some decent tart, ere it's too late,
      To be 'is wife.
But, Gawd! 'Oo would 'a' thort it could 'a' been
My luck to strike the likes of 'er? ... Doreen!
Aw, I can stand their chuckin' off, I can.
   It's 'ard; an' I'd delight to take 'em on.
The dawgs! But it gets that way wiv a man
      When 'e's fair gone.
She'll sight no stoush; an' so I 'ave to take
Their mag, an' do a duck fer 'er sweet sake.
Fer 'er sweet sake I've gone and chucked it clean:
   The pubs an' schools an' all that leery game.
Fer when a bloke 'as come to know Doreen,
      It ain't the same.
There's 'igher things, she sez, for blokes to do.
An' I am 'arf believin' that it's true.
Yes, 'igher things -- that wus the way she spoke;
   An' when she looked at me I sorter felt
That bosker feelin' that comes offer a bloke,
      An' makes 'im melt;
Makes 'im all 'ot to maul 'er, an' to shove
'Is arms about 'er ... Bli'me? But it's love!
That's wot it is. An' when a man 'as grown
   Like that 'e gets a sorter yearn inside
To be a little 'ero on 'is own;
      An' see the pride
Glow in the eyes of 'er 'e calls 'is queen;
An' 'ear 'er say 'e is a shine champeen.
"I wish't yeh meant it," I can 'ear 'er yet,
   My bit o' fluff! The moon was shinin' bright,
Turnin' the waves all yeller where it set --
      A bonzer night!
The sparklin' sea all sorter gold an' green;
An' on the pier the band -- O, 'Ell! ... Doreen!

First published in The Bulletin, 30 September 1909;
and later in
The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke by C.J. Dennis, 1915.

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

See also.

Lady O' Mine by Will Lawson

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"You must not pause in Life's bye-ways and listen,
         Dear, to Love's songs --
Your way lies up where the glory-stars glisten
         Far from the throngs.
You may not wait till to-day is to-morrow,
         Lest you repine.
You must forget me" -- (Life's studded with sorrow,
         Lady o' mine!)

So wrote you on to the end of your letter,
         Once came the thought.
"Does she but fret at the gall of the fetter
         We two have wrought?"
Dream how the moon shone that night in her glory
         Through forests of pine;
When the night winds came whispering story on story,
         Lady o' mine!

I will not turn from the things I am doing,
         Striving for you.
Nor will I cool from the heat of my wooing,
         Knowing you true.
I will win up where, in every weather,
         Glory-stars shine --
"You must forget!" -- Nay, we'll go there together,
         Lady o' mine!

First published in Melbourne Punch, 29 September 1904

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

In a Far Country by Victor J. Daley

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Beyond the mountains blue,
   Banished from the sea
I dream old dreams anew,
And think, old friends, of you,
   In a Far Countree.

The wind that bends the trees
   Bears no breath of brine;
It has the sough of seas,
But 'tis not the brave salt breeze
   That I loved lang syne.

At times in the dark woods,
   When the stars are dim,
Its sound is like the rude
March of a multitude
   To a battle hymn.

Old friends, old comrades true,
   Whom I long to see,
In milk for mountain dew
I drink Was Hael to you,
   In a Far Countree.

First published in The Bulletin, 28 September 1905

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

See also.

Australian Poets #28 - J. Brunton Stephens

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J. Brunton Stephens (1835-1902)

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

See also.

Deserted Garden by Kathleen Dalziel

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This is the garden of used-to-be,
Set like an isle in an inland sea
Of grey bush rolling to leafy shallows,
On the outer edge of the hill country.

Once it was tended and kept, but, oh!
Closer and closer the saplings grow,
And the bracken gropes by the wicket-gateway;
And the silk of the thistle is spun below.

Once it was colour and scent and rain
Of bud and bloom in the roses' train;
Now there are only the oleanders
To keep their tryst with summer again.

Only the oleanders gay,
Tossing their plumes to the winds to-day,
The low winds, dusking the lonely levels
Of the brimming swamps where the wild ducks play.

Ever so lonely the gaunt hill's face,
Ever so lonely the haunted place
Where they (that fought and were sore defeated)
Lived and loved for a little space.

Here where valour and toil, hope-crowned
Lie at the end in a sleep profound.
Surely it seems that the oleanders
Scatter their petals on holy ground.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 September 1930

Author reference sites: Austlit

See also.

The Race of Jindoobarrie by Archibald Meston

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[Bribie Island was inhabited by a powerful tribe called "Jindoobarrie," a graceful, athletic, and warlike raw. In 1840 they were numbered at 600 to 1000; and to-day there is not a soul left on the island.]

Through vistas dim of vanished years,
With unrecorded sighs and tears,
Thy voice the mournful listener hears, ---
   Dark Jindoobarrie!   

A faint sad voice from days of yore,
An echo from the lonely shore
Where stalk thy stately forms no more,
   Caroomba Jindoobarrie!   

The days when you were wild and free,
And slept beneath the Doorah tree
On sand dunes by the sounding sea,
   Bandarra Jindoobarrie!   

And now! Oh Fate's remorseless doom,
Lone Beerwah rises through the gloom,
And calls in vain above thy tomb,
   "Inta wanya, Jindoobarrie?"

Round where the Cape in ocean dips,
Sailed Flinders in his white-winged ships,
The Heralds of your death eclipse,
   Oh Jindoobarrie!   

And what the deeds, and whose the blame,
When pale-faced "Carooinggi" came
With club of steel and spear of flame?
   Yalba! Jindoobarrie!     

But vengeance came in after years,
Each murdered stranger's ghost appears
Transfixed by dim and shadowy spears, ---
   Warrang Jindoobarrie!   

What reck they now, those deeds of yore?
No more the stranger's blood, no more
Thine own shall stain thy native shore,
   Wild Jindoobarrie!   

Silent the songs when hearts were light,
Gone are the dance, the hunt, the fight,
In darkness of eternal night.
   Lost Jindoobarrie!   

In vain the voice of Beerwah calls
From terraced cliffs and waterfalls,
Hark! Echo from the caverned walls, ---
   "Wanya Jindoobarrie?"

Lost in the dark Cimmerian gloom,
And on thy lonely unknown tomb
Stern Fate records the words of doom, ---
   "Dead is the race of Jindoobarrie!"

First published in The Queenslander, 26 September 1891

Caroomba --- great, mighty.
Doorah tree --- camping tree.
Bandarra --- strong.
Inta wanya --- where are you?
Carooinggi --- strangers.
Yalba -- speak!
Warrang --- bad, fierce.
Wanya --- where?

Author: Archibald Meston (1852-1924) was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and arrived in Australia in 1859. He lived near the Clarence River in New South Wales during his chldhood but spent the bulk of his adult years in Queensland.  He was a member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly for 4 years and edited a number of Queensland newspapers before being appointed director of the Queensland Tourist Board in Sydney in 1910.  Throughout his life he wrote as a free-lance journalist, poet and short-story writer.  He died in Brisbane in 1924.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

"When the Drover Gets to Town" by Mabel Forrest

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If you're dodging after sheep on the heavy black soil plain,
While the low home range behind you is all misty with the rain,
When your swag is rolled up sopping and the sky seems tumbling down,
And it cheers your heart to ponder on the day you'll get to town.
When the water trickles slowly from your felt hat to your nose,
Or when westerlies are blowing or the shallow creeks are "froze,"
And the frost is there to follow on the drizzling winter rains,
With the curses of lumbago and a sheaf of aches and pains.
When you shiver from your bluchers to your cabbage-straw's worn crown,
You're apt to think with envy of the blokes that work in town.

When you're watching restless cattle on the camp and there's a rush,
And the beasts are racing from you all among the tangled bush,
Or when you're had weeks of damper and salt junk -- very salt,
When you've only had weak tea to drink and nothing made with malt;
Though your pipe's a lot of comfort, still it often would appear
That tobacco can create a thirst that's only quenched by beer.
For the nights are long and lonely when the stock are on the job,
And the squatters beat the drovers down and haggle for a bob.
But -- somewhere eyes are bright and blue, and hair is golden brown,
And the ripe red lips are smiling when the drover gets to town!

First published in The Queenslander, 25 September 1897

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

My Dream by Walter D. White

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Let me go out into the pathway of the sun;
Be upborne by the sweet incense of far hills
And the haunting melodies of wind in the trees;   
Dare the charging squadrons of the storm --
Pass, unchallenged, through moonlit towns at night --
Gaze, spellbound, at all the pomps of Dawn;
Press forward to the sunlit heights of Heaven.
On the wings of the wind I shall ride
Adown the corridors of space;  
Cross uncharted oceans to undiscovered lands
Where new suns rise in awful majesty;
Past whirling spheres to where lightnings flash
Like fiery streams and meteors crash 'gainst worlds
And rock the Universe
While unimagined thunders shake the firmament!
On, on, ever on! Questing the Happy Land!
So, through the endless vistas of the skies,
I shall glimpse the City of my Dreams --
The realm eternal, the blessed land,
Where dwell the Sons of God--
These live for evermore.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 September 1932

Author: Walter David White (1857-1941) was born in Bristol, England, and arrived in Australia in 1884.  He worked on a number of newspapers in New South Wales, as well as in the State's public service.  He died in Roseville, New South Wales in 1941.

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

Boronia by Mary Fortune

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Welcome, sweet Spring, but not for wealth
   Of wattle bloom, or daffodil,
Or violets, or lilies fair,
   Or perfumed, pale jonquil;
We love them all, but willingly
   We would them all delete,
Rather than lose thy heavenly breath,
   Boronia, brown and sweet.

Thou fair, fair West, what wealth is then,
   Thy kauri forests grand,
Thy happy homesteads, and thy stretch
   Of green, productive land;
Thy streamlets margined rich with flowers,
   Thy rivers deep and wide,
Where the graceful black swans thou hast limned
   For thy insignia glide.

Thou hast thy "Gold of Ophir," too,
   Where in the deep, dark mine,
With hidden wealth for workers' hands
   The wine-red rubies shine;
We envy not thee one or all,
   But gladly turn to greet
Thy spring-sent messages of love,
   In brown Boronia sweet.

The lover lays thee on his lips,
   And sighs for kisses fled,
The mother lays thee on her breast,
   And weeps her baby dead;
I place thy by my weakling pen,
   And Heaven-sent tidings greet,
For well I know thou hast been there,
   Boronia, brown and sweet.

First published in The Australasian, 23 September 1907

Author: Mary Helena Fortune (nee Wilson) (1833?-1910?) was born in Belfast and emigrated to Canada as a child.  While there she married Joseph Fortune in 1851.  When her father emigrated to Australia in 1855 Fortune followed him with her child, probably leaving her husband behind.  For the rest of her life she supported her family by her writing, mainly in The Australian Journal.  She is best known for her detective stories and other works, including poetry, under the pseudonym "Waif Wander".  She died in Melbourne sometime around 1910.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

The Two Brothers by Douglas B. W. Sladen

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In an old manse mid purple heather,
Vigorous with the bracing weather
   Of breezy Scottish hills,
Two bright children grew up together
For triumphs or for ills.   

Bred in the parish-school to knowledge,
Bent in their ripening years to college
   In the old classic towers,
Their wild blood forced them to acknowledge
   That there are inner powers

Which bow not to the calculations
Of those who tend our education,
   But mould us at their wills,
Our several predestinations
   In due time to fulfil.

Both left those towers without emotion,
Both tendered their young life's devotion
   To the time-honoured hope
And refuge of high-hearts --- the ocean
   With its prodigious scope;

And there they parted, one to mingle   
With clenched hilt and tight-drawn surcingle
   In the fierce surge of war,
Far from the Highland fireside's ingle,
   From his boy-brother far.

And after to lay down the sabre,
And through unheard of risk and labour
   To wield a soldier's pen;
To make grim war his next-door neighbour,
   And live with dying men,

Until all Europe rang the praises
Of him who chronicled the phases,
   Events, and daily stride
Of warfare in such glowing phrases,
   And for his work defied

The lurking perils of night-watches,
And a great fight's shell-mangled batches,
   Like combatants themselves:
That we might have exact depatches
   To range on our bookshelves.

The other on the sea went roaming,
Until some chance controlled his coming
   To Queensland's sunny shore,
Unconscious that the Powers were dooming
   That he should leave no more.

And here the same fierce blood, which hurried
His brother swift and undeterred
   To where the war was waged,
Left him no rest till he was buried,
   As in his veins it raged.

Now you could hear his stockwhip rattle,
Mustering roving herds of cattle
   Out on a western run;
Now he was fighting a stark battle
   Under a northern sun

With quartz reefs for their golden treasures,
Enshrining his wild pains and pleasures
   In strong pathetic verse,
And giving in his rugged measures
   A picture rich and terse

Of miners and their wild existence,
Of bush life in the untamed distance,
   Of shanty-revelry,
And of stern struggles for subsistence
   When creek and run were dry.

Ten years had passed since last the tidings
Of his migrations and abidings
   Had reached his far-off friends,
When, following the inner guidings
   Which shape us to our ends,

Or by some chance, the elder brother
His footsteps turned to where the other
   Had breathed out his bright life,
Without the hand of child or mother
   To soothe in the last strife.

He knew not where to seek, nor even
Whether a kind and gracious Heaven
   Had held a shielding hand
Over that head, and it were given
   To him in this far land

To clasp his long-lost brother to him;
Nor could he learn till those who knew him,
   The lost one, in old times,
Came shyly one by one unto him
   With wild yarns and stray rhymes

Of the bush-poet --- brother drovers
And mining-mates and some few rovers,
   And Jacks of ev'ry trade,
Like the dead brother, all staunch lovers
   Of him, who 'neath the shade

Of the God's-acre trees was lying,
Where nightly the hill-winds come sighing
   Over Toowoomba's heights.
Where friendly hands received him dying,
   And tended his faint lights

So tenderly. And some wild rover,
Stockman or mining-mate or drover,
   Brought out one day a book
Well-thumbed, with torn green-paper cover,
   And bade the brother look

Onto the pages ornamented,
In type unevenly indented,
   And lines that were not flush,
With stirring rough-hewn poems printed
   As "Voices from the Bush."

Adieu, staunch mates who fondly cherished
The memory that else had perished
   Of him with his wild rhymes,
Who faithfully maintained and nourished
   His fame till better times!   

Adieu, great, tender, soldier brother
Come from so far to seek the other
   Who here breathed out his life
Too soon, without a child or mother
   To soothe in the last strife.

And thou adieu, bright, genial poet,
Given at last, couldst thou but know it,
   Thy tardy well-earned fame,
And with the bay, could we but show it
   To thee, twined round thy name.

First published in The Queenslander, 22 September 1883;
and later in
A Poetry of Exiles and Other Poems by Douglas Sladen, 1884.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

How M'Ginness Went Missing by A. B. "Banjo" Paterson

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Let us cease our idle chatter,
   Let the tears bedew our cheek,
For a man from Tallangatta
   Has been missing for a week.

Where the roaring flooded Murray
   Covered all the lower land,
There he started in a hurry,
   With a bottle in his hand.

And his fate is hid for ever,
   But the public seem to think
That he slumbered by the river,
   'Neath the influence of drink.

And they scarcely seem to wonder
   That the river, wide and deep,
Never woke him with its thunder,
   Never stirred him in his sleep.

As the crashing logs came sweeping,
   And their tumult filled the air,
Then M'Ginnis murmured, sleeping,
   "'Tis a wake in ould Kildare."

So the river rose and found him
   Sleeping softly by the stream,
And the cruel waters drowned him
   Ere he wakened from his dream.

And the blossom-tufted wattle,
   Blooming brightly on the lea,
Saw M'Ginnis and the bottle
   Going drifting out to sea.

First published in The Bulletin, 21 September 1889;
and later in
The Man From Snowy River and Other Verses by A.B. Paterson, 1895;
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 Vision Splendid: The Complete Poetry of A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1990;
The Collected Verse of Banjo Paterson edited by Clement Semmler, 1993; and
Classic Australian Verse edited by Maggie Pinkney, 2001.

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

See also.

Spring by Zora Cross

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Io! Io! Evohe O!
The wine of Spring is in the air!
With leaves of Laughter in their hair
The merry, mad, young maenads blow
Their glad pipes everywhere.

The lord of Youth his thrysus swings
Above his round and jolly head,
As riding on a heifer red,
With flowery horns and flanks, he springs
Across the river bed.

He leads a jocund company
Of prancing kids and dimpled girls,
Whose whirling arms and flying curls
And feet afire with dancing glee
Are ripe for revelry.

They follow on. Io! Io!
They leap his heifer'a back, limb-light;
Or pinch the silken sides and white
Of plump, young calves, that skipping go
To browse 'mid clover-snow.

And one, more merry than the rest,
Up-jumps and tugs and pulls him down.
She rolls with him, all free from frown
Amongst the grasses, breast to breast,
Till others join the jest.

They poke him with their pearly thumbs,
They tumble him from hand to hand.
He, dodging half the joyous band,
Nips soft in play the first who comes
And all her sweetness plumbs.

But doubled-up with mirth at last,
His hearty laugh rings blithely round.
The forest dimples at its sound
With flocks of flowers the bes hold fast;
And young birds chirrup past.

The wine of Spring is in the air!
Io! Io! Evohe O!
Drink deep! Drink long! The goblets flow
With Life, and Joy that scatters Care,
And Youth reigns everywhere.

First published in The Bulletin, 20 September 1917;
and later in
Songs of Love and Life by Zora Cross, 1917.

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of BiographyOld Qld Poetry

See also.

September in Australia by Henry Kendall

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Grey Winter hath gone like a wearisome guest,
   And, behold, for repayment  
September comes in with the wind of the West,   
   And the Spring in her raiment.  
The ways of the frost have been filled of the flowers,  
   While the forest discovers  
Wild wings with the halo of hyaline hours  
   And a music of lovers.    

September! the maid with the swift silver feet!   
   She glides and she graces
The valleys of coolness, the slopes of the heat,    
   With her blossomy traces.
Sweet month with a mouth that is made of a rose --
   She lightens and lingers
In spots where the harp of the evening glows,
   Attuned by her fingers.

The stream from its home in the hollow hill slips
   In a darling old fashion;
And the day goeth down with a song on its lips,  
   Whose keynote is passion.
Far out in the fierce bitter front of the sea,
   I stand and remember  
Dead things that were brothers and sisters of thee,
   Resplendent September!  

The West when it blows at the fall of the noon,    
   And beats on the beaches,    
Is filled with a tender and tremulous tune
   That touches and teaches:
The stories of youth; of the burden of Time;    
   And the death of devotion,  
Come back with the wind; and are themes of the rhyme  
   In the waves of the ocean.

We, having a secret to others unknown,    
   In the cool mountain-mosses
May whisper together, September, alone
   Of our loves and our losses.  
One word for her beauty and one for the grace
   She gave to the hours,
And then we may kiss her and suffer her face
   To sleep with the flowers.

High places that knew of the gold and the white
   On the forehead of Morning,
Now darken and quake, and the steps of the Night
   Are heavy with warning!
Her voice in the distance is lofty and loud,
   Through the echoing gorges,
She hath hidden her eyes in a mantle of cloud
   And her feet in the surges.

On the tops of the hills -- on the turreted cones --
   Chief temples of thunder!--
The gale like a ghost in the middle watch moans,
   Gliding over and under.   
The sea flying white through the rack and the rain,   
   Leapeth wild at the forelands;
And the plover whose cry is like passion with pain
   Complains in the moorlands.

O season of changes -- of shadow and shine --
   September the splendid!
My song hath no music to mingle with thine,
   And its burden is ended:
But thou, being born of the winds and the sun,
   By mountain, by river;     
May lighten and listen, and loiter and run,
   With thy voices, for ever.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 September 1867;
and later in
The Leader, 27 September 1867;
The Australasian, 28 September 1867;
Leaves from Australian Forests by Henry Kendall, 1896;
Poems of Henry Kendall by Henry Kendall, 1886;
A Century of Australian Song edited by Douglas Sladen, 1888;
An Anthology of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1907;
The Golden Treasury of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1909;
The Oxford Book of Australian Verse edited by Walter Murdoch, 1918;
Selection from Australian Poets edited by Bertram Stevens, 1925;
Australian Bush Songs and Ballads edited by Will Lawson, 1944;
Rose Lorraine and Other Poems by Henry Kendall, 1945;
Selected Poems of Henry Kendall by Henry Kendall, 1957;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964;
The Poetical Works of Henry Kendall by Henry Kendall, 1966;
Silence Into Song: An Anthology of Australian Verse compiled by Clifford O'Brien, 1968;
A Treasury of Colonial Poetry, 1982;
Cross-Country: A Book of Australian Verse edited by John Barnes and Brian McFarlane, 1984; 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.

From an Upper Verandah by J. Brunton Stephens

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What happier haunt could the gods allot
   For loftiest musing to sage or bard? --
Yet I would that this upper verandah did not
   Look down on my beautiful Neighbour's Back-yard!

I stir the afflatus: Descend, oh ye Nine!
   Let the crystalline gates of the soul be unbarred!
No. My thoughts will keep running in one fixed line --
   The clothes-line that hangs in my Neighbour's Back-yard!

Let me gaze on the bills; let me think of the sea;
   Of the dawn rosy-fingered -- the night silver starred:--
(What dear little feet must the owner's be
   Of those stockings that hang in my Neighbour's Back-yard!)

Let me tune my soul to a measure devout:--
   Ah, the musical mood is all jangled and jarred,
While things with borders, and things without,
   Keep fluttering down there in my Neighbour's Back-yard!

Are the True and the Good and the Beautiful dead,
   That I win not one gleam of Pierian regard?
(Does she suffer, I wonder, from cold in the head? --
   Such a lot of mouchoirs in my Neighbour's Back-yard!)

Comes the fit. While it sways me, high themes would I sing!
   Prometheus! Achilles! Have at you! En garde!   
Alexander the Great -- (oh that I were a string
   On that apron hung out in my Neighbour's Back-yard!)   

I will shut my eyes fast -- I have hit it at last
   Now my purest Ideals flit by me unmarred;
And odors of memory rise from the past,
   (And an odor of suds from my Neighbour's Back-yard!)

Ah, yes, when the eyelids together are prest,
   Every vestige of earth we throw off and discard.
(These are flannels, I think. Is she weak in the chest? --
   There! I'm looking again at my Neighbour's Back-yard!)

Since the Muses back out, let Philosophy in:
   Let me ponder its problems cold and hard.
Ah, Philosophy dies in a celibate grin
   At that bolster-case down in my Neighbour's Back-yard!

Oh shame on my rapidly silvering hairs!
   Oh shame on this veteran battered and scarred!
I to be witched with these frilled-affairs!
   Confound my neighbour! Confound her Back yard!

Why seek for the blossoms of Auld Lang Syne,
   When the boughs where they budded are blasted and charred? --
Faugh! the whole concern's too alkaline --
   It's washing day in my Neighbour's Back-yard.

First published in The Queenslander, 18 September 1875;
and later in
Convict Once and Other Poems by J. Brunton Stephens, 1885; and
The Poetical Works of Brunton Stephens by J. Brunton Stephens,1902.

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

See also.
The pangs that guard the gates of joy
the naked sword that will be kist,
how distant seem'd they to the boy,
white flashes in the rosy mist!

Ah, not where tender play was screen'd
in the light heart of leafy mirth
of that obdurate might we ween'd
that shakes the sure repose of earth.

And sudden, 'twixt a sun and sun,
the veil of dreaming is withdrawn:
lo, our disrupt dominion
and mountains solemn in the dawn;
hard paths that chase the dayspring's white,
and glooms that hold the nether heat:
oh, strange the world upheaved from night,
oh, dread the life before our feet!

First published in The Bulletin, 17 September 1898;
and later in
The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse edited by Walter Murdoch, 1918;
An Australasian Anthology: Australian and New Zealand Poems by Percival Serle, R. H. Croll and Frank Wilmot, 1927;
The Verse of Christopher Brennan edited by A.R. Chilsholm and John Quinn, 1960;
Poems [1913] by Christopher Brennan, 1972;
Selected Poems by Christopher Brennan, 1973; and
Christopher Brennan edited by Terry Strum, 1984.

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

See also.

A Song for the Spring Time by Charles Harpur

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      The mimosas are blooming,
      For summer is coming,
I felt her warm breath in the forest to-day:
      Where the river is streaming,
      And Nature lies dreaming
Of new love and beauty, come, dearest, away.

      His gentle mate wooing,
      The wood-pigeon's cooing
In the oaks that o'ershadow the path we will take;
      Like music out flowing,
      Come forth, that all glowing
And beautiful things may please more for your sake.

      We will wander, joy drinking,
      Until the sun, sinking,
Shall give the deep west with his glory to blaze;
      When homeward returning,
      With poesy burning,
I'll mint from those splendours a song in your praise.

First published in The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 16 September 1843;
and later in
The Weekly Register of Politics, Facts and General Literature, 11 May 1844; 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.

The Sundowner by John Shaw Neilson

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I know not when this tiresome man
With his shrewd, sable billy-can
And his unwashed Democracy
His boomed-up Pilgrimage began.

Sometimes he wandered far outback
On a precarious Tucker Track;
Sometimes he lacked Necessities
No gentleman would like to lack.

Tall was the grass, I understand,
When the old Squatter ruled the land.
Why were the Conquerors kind to him?
Ah, the Wax Matches in his hand!

Where bullockies with oaths intense
Made of the dragged-up trees a fence,
Gambling with scorpions he rolled
His Swag, conspicuous, immense.

In the full splendour of his power
Rarely he touched one mile an hour,
Dawdling at sunset, History says,
For the Pint Pannikin of flour.

Seldom he worked; he was, I fear,
Unreasonably slow and dear;
Little he earned, and that he spent
Deliberately drinking Beer.

Cheerful, sorefooted child of chance,
Swiftly we knew him at a glance;
Boastful and self-compassionate,
Australia's Interstate Romance.

Shall he not live in Robust Rhyme,
Soliloquies and Odes Sublime?
Strictly between ourselves, he was
A rare old Humbug all the time.

In many a book of Bushland dim
Mopokes shall give him greeting grim;
The old swans pottering in the reeds
Shall pass the time of day to him.

On many a page our Friend shall take
Small sticks his evening fire to make;
Shedding his waistcoat, he shall mix
On its smooth back his Johnny-Cake.

'Mid the dry leaves and silvery bark
Often at nightfall will he park
Close to a homeless creek, and hear
The Bunyip paddling in the dark.

First published in The Clarion, 15 September 1908;
and later in
Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson by John Shaw Neilson, 1934;
Beauty Imposes: Some Recent Verse by John Shaw Neilson, 1938;
Jindyworobak Anthology, 1942 edited by Victor Kennedy, 1942;
New Song in an Old Land edited by Rex Ingamells, 1943;
Spoils of Time: Some Poems of the English Speaking Peoples edited by Rex Ingamells, 1948;
The Penguin Book of Australian Verse edited by John Thompson, Kenneth Slessor and R.G. Howarth, 1958;
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;
The Jindyworobaks edited by Brian Elliot, 1979;
Green Days and Cherries: the early verses of Shaw Neilson edited by Hugh Anderson and Leslie James Blake, 1981;
The Collins Book of Australian Poetry compiled by Rodney Hall, 1981;
Cross-Country: A Book of Australian Verse edited by John Barnes, 1984;
John Shaw Neilson: Poetry, Autobiography and Correspondence edited by Cliff Hanna, 1991;
Selected Poems edited by Robert Gray, 1993;
Classic Australian Verse edited by Maggie Pinkney, 2001; and
Hell and After: Four Early English Language Poets of Australia edited by Les Murray, 2005.

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

See also.

Values by Marjorie Quinn

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Upon the hill there stood, as in a painting,
The old white house the palm-tree, and the star,
Leaning so near, it seemed, so close together,
Is that reality? One shines afar.

A myriad miles! A sun through aeons blazing
In stellar space: what is this house, this tree,
Engirt by time, compared to that star ranging
The dark, lone laneways of Infinity?

And yet the tree that is so kindly growing,
The house that man for man has builded well --
These are beloved within their day, while lonely
The star shines on, remote, immutable.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 September 1935

Author: Marjorie Quinn (1889-1972) was born in Sydney, the daughter of Patrick Quinn and the niece of Roderic Quinn. She was a foundation member and first secretary of the Fellowship of Australian Writers, a foundation member of the PEN Club, and secretary of the Society of Women Writers.

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

The Omen by Mary Hannay Foott

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   The clouds closed ashen gray --
   Where the last of sunlight lay
Like a dying ember on a hearth grown chill;
   And the great pines, that were green
   With the west aflame between,
Stood all sable on the sand-ridge -- whispering still.

   There arose not moon or star;
   And the horse bells, tinkling far
In the distant creek-bed, fainter fell and ceased.
   With its crimson bleached to snow
   Burned the camp-fire -- low, and low;
And a rainy gale blew sudden from the East.

   And the sombre serried lines
   Of the vast environing pines
Merged their blackness in the swiftly-gathered gloom.
   And 'twas then, ah then, I heard
   First thy plaintful voice, O bird --
Like the wail of banished ghost at word of doom.

   All a painted scene it seemed --
   While the sunset glowed and gleamed --
When the waning west grew cold. No ominous chill
   Checked the heart-beat steady and strong,
   As some savage-chanted song
Came the curlew's call and woke no boding thrill.

   So I hearkened -- oft and oft,
   For the foot of Fate fell soft;
Gladness, line by line, all moonlike melted slow;
   And the planets quenched and spent
   Yet awhile their lustre lent;   
And the angels poised for flight delayed to go.

First published in The Queenslander, 13 September 1890

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

See also.

The Silky Oak by Emily Coungeau

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Your trunk was flecked with mosses green and grey,  
   Splendid against the turquoise blue of skies,  
While 'mid the branches errant winds would play,
   And feathered throats lilt sweetest rhapsodies.
The settlers planned your death but yesterday,
   Soon by meek oxen to be borne away.

Serene you stand, and powerless to appeal
   As the sharp axes, flashing in the sun,
Cleave with a singing rhythm until you reel;      
   The work of execution has begun.  
A tearing, grinding sound . . as crashing fall
   Your limbs, and leaves lie o'er you like a pall.

Twelve oxen wait to bear you down the range,
   Their plodding hooves will land you miles below;
How slowly beautiful you grew, while strange
   Weird rites were held by totems, none may know,
Save pixie shapes which danced in moonlit zones,
   And you, who heard Daramulu's deep tones.  

To some boudoir, with its distinctive air,
   Your silken grainings may lend added charm,
And softly mirror beauty's profile fair,
   Who dreams of love with dimpled chin in palm ....
But will she think of you as once you stood,
   Magnificent, a doyen of the wood?  

Only, a tree: emblem of some brave man,
   With proud head lifted, though in mortal pain,
Who, doomed, calm, and dispassionately, can
   Meet dissolution with a cold disdain ....
Down ranks of sentinels which whisper low,
   You, with twelve brown-eyed oxen, slowly go.

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 12 September 1925;
and later in
The Queenslander, 26 September 1925.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Note: Daramulu (or "Daramulum") is a part of the mythology of several Aboriginal cultures of South-East Australia.  He lives in the trees of the bush. 

Shifting Sand by Charles Henry Souter

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Do you see that post a-stickin in the sand?
Just the point of it a-poking thro' the sand?
   Me and Madge put in that fence.
   Yes! We should have had more sense!
We was young, you see, and didn't understand.

Twenty years come next November we began;
There was nothing here but scrub when we began --
   Sold the farm on "Dingo Flat,"
   And put all we had in that!
Into blasted shifting sand and "Take-all pan."

This here paddick--which? Why where you're standing now
(Oh! it was one, tho' you wouldn't think so now!)
   Well, we grubbed it, nice and neat,
   And we gut it in with wheat;
And we didn't reap enough to feed the cow!

In the early spring the sand began to shift ---
In a "Norther" have you ever seen it shift?
   Well, it all went in a night,
   Not a blade was left in sight
When we come to look next morning at the drift!

Round the back there, by them stunted pepper-trees;
Hardly anything will live here but them trees.
   Madge is lying there, asleep,
   With the sand above her, deep:
Deep and loose enough to sink you to the knees!

Many other things are buried on the land,
Things you can't get back from any kind of land,
   Youth and hope, and tears and sweat,
   Wasted work and vain regret,
In the sneaking, creeping, greedy, shifting sand!

First published in The Bulletin, 11 September 1897, and again in the same magazine on 5 April 1933;
and later in
Freedom on the Wallaby: Poems of the Australian People edited by Marjorie Pizer, 1953;
Old Ballads from the Bush edited by Bill Scott, 1987; and
Two Centuries of Australian Poetry edited by Kathrine Bell, 2007.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Grog-An'-Grumble Steeplechase by Henry Lawson

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'Twixt the coastline and the border lay the town of Grog-an'-Grumble
   In the days before the bushman was a dull an' heartless drudge,
An' they say the local meeting was a drunken rough-and-tumble,
   Which was ended pretty often by an inquest on the judge.
An' tis said the city talent very often caught a tartar
   In the Grog-an'-Grumble sportsman, 'n' returned with broken heads,
For the fortune, life, and saftey of the Grog-an'-Grumble starter
   Mostly hung upon the finish of the local thoroughbreds.

Pat M'Durmer was the owner of a horse they called the Screamer,
   Which he called "the quickest shtepper 'twixt the Darling and the sea",
And I think it's very doubtful if the stomach-troubled dreamer
   Ever saw a more outrageous piece of equine scenery;
For his pionts were most decided, from his end to his beginning,
   He had eyes of different cololur, and his legs they wasn't mates.
Pat M'Durmer said he always came "widin a flip of winnin'",
   An' his sire had come from England, 'n' his dam was from the States.

Friends would argue with M'Durmer, and they said he was in error
   To put up his horse the Screamer, for he'd lose in any case,
And they said a city racer by the name of Holy Terror
   Was regarded as the winner of the coming steeplechase;
But he said he had the knowledge to come in when it was raining,
   And irrevelantly mentioned that he knew the time of day,
So he rose in their opinion.  It was noticed that the training
   Of the Screamer was conducted in a dark, mysterious way.

Well, the day arrived in glory; 'twas a day of jubilation
   With careless-hearted bushmen for a hundred miles around,
An' the rum 'n' beer 'n' whisky came in waggons from the station,
   An' the Holy Terror talent were the first upon the ground.
Judge M'Ard - with whose opinion it was scarecely safe to wrestle -
   Took his dangerous position on the bark-and-sapling stand:
He was what the local Stiggins used to speak of as a "wessel
   Of wrath", and he'd a bludgeon that he carried in his hand.

"Off ye go!" the starter shouted, as down fell a stupid jockey -
   Off they started in disorder - left the jockey where he lay -
And they fell and rolled and galloped down the crooked course and rocky,
   Till the pumping of the Screamer could be heard a mile away.
But he kept his legs and galloped; he was used to rugged courses,
   And he lumbered down the gully till the ridge began to quake:
And he ploughed along the siding, raising earth till other horses
   An' their riders, too, were blinded by the dust-cloud in his wake.

From the ruck he'd slowly struggled - they were much surprised to find him
   Close abeam of the Holy Terror as along the flat they tore -
Even higher still and denser rose the cloud of dust behind him,
   While in more divided splinters flew the shattered rails before.
"Terror!"  "Dead heat!" they were shouting - "Terror!" but the Screamer hung out
   Nose to nose with Holy Terror as across the creek they swung,
An' M'Durmer shouted loudly, "Put yer toungue out! put yer tongue out!"
   An ' the Screamer put his tongue out, and he won by half-a-tongue.

First published in The Bulletin, 10 September 1892;
and later in
Humorous Verses by Henry Lawson, 1941;
A Camp-Fire Yarn: Henry Lawson Complete Works 1885-1900 edited by Leonard Cronin, 1984; and
Henry Lawson: An Illustrated Treasury compiled by Glenys Smith, 1985.

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

See also.

Pat Magee by Harry "Breaker" Morant

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   Dying! in the sheltering shade
   That the myall branches made,
While the horse-bells clanged and tinkled, far away across the plain;
   The white stars above were blinking,
   As old Pat Magee lay thinking
Of the faces and the places he would never see again.

   That long trip -- his life -- is over,
   And the grizzled, gaunt old drover
Gives "delivery;" hands his way-bill to his Owner, up above.
   Whether, now, a heaven or hell come,
   Pat will find old mates to welcome --
Saints a few and sinners many 'mong the ones he used to love.

   Lived his years -- some five-and-fifty --
   Neither over-wise nor thrifty;
Many times he "went a bender" from the sober way and straight;
   Yet men found in days of trouble
   Paddy's friendship was no bubble,
And he never wronged a woman nor went back upon a mate.

   And the Boss of all bosses
   May be lenient to the "losses" --
On the tracks that Paddy's travelled there were bound to be a few.
   Maybe He who pays the wages
   Knows how weary were some "stages,"
And there'll be a big "percentage," p'raphs, allowed on coming through.

   So we dug upon the 'Bidgee,
   Fenced it round with stakes of gidgee,
Paddy's grave! for burial-service Jack just whispered, "Rest his soul!"
   Then next morning, heavy-hearted,
   Got the nags up and departed,
Did what Pat himself had ne'er done -- left a comrade on a hole.

First published in The Bulletin, 9 September 1893, and again in the same magazine on 5 April 1902;
and later in
Bushman and Buccaneer: Harry Morant: His 'Ventures and Verses edited by Frank Renar, 1902; and
The Poetry of 'Breaker' Morant: from the Bulletin 1891-1903 with original illustrations by Harry Morant, 1980.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

To the Indifferent by Mary Corringham

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Not by still lake, not by the harried shore,
   Neither in steady moon nor wavering sun
Does there sleep one unwritten metaphor
   That never song has ended or begun.

What shall I liken you unto, O friend?
   What simile is left, what figure of speech?
What strange, sweet beauty with your soul shall blend
   That lieth not too far beyond my reach?

I think you are most like a looking-glass
   Wherein for some brief time ourselves are seen;
You have held, yet hold not still, the things that pass . . .
   After me, you will be as unmoved and serene
As if even I had never come between
   You and the sun's dark shadow on the grass.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 September 1934

Author: nothing is known about the author of this poem

Author reference site:

See also.

The Women of the West by George Essex Evans

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They left the vine-wreathed cottage and the mansion on the hill,
The houses in the busy streets where life is never still,
The pleasures of the city, and the friends they cherished best:
For love they faced the wilderness-the Women of the West.

The roar, and rush, and fever of the city died away,
And the old-time joys and faces-they were gone for many a day;
In their place the lurching coach-wheel, or the creaking bullock chains,
O'er the everlasting sameness of the never-ending plains.

In the slab-built, zinc-roofed homestead of some lately-taken run,
In the tent beside the bankment of a railway just begun,
In the huts on new selections-in the camps of man's unrest,
On the frontiers of the Nation, live the Women of the West.

The red sun robs their beauty, and, in weariness and pain,
The slow years steal the nameless grace that never comes again;
And there are hours men cannot soothe, and words men cannot say
The nearest woman's face may be a hundred miles away.

The wide Bush holds the secrets of their longings and desires,
When the white stars in reverence light their holy altar-fires,
And silence, like the touch of God, sinks deep into the breast--
Perchance He hears and understands the Women of the West.

For them no trumpet sounds the call, no poet plies his arts--  
They only hear the beating of their gallant, loving hearts.
But they have sung with silent lives the song all songs above
The holiness of sacrifice, the dignity of love.

Well have we held our fathers' creed. No call has passed us by.
We faced and fought the wilderness, we sent our sons to die.
And we have hearts to do and dare, and yet o'er all the rest
The hearts that made the Nation were the Women of the West.  

First published
in The Argus, 7 September 1901;
and later in
The Queenslander, 21 September 1901;
The Brisbane Courier, 14 September 1901;
The North Queensland Register, 23 September 1901;
The Secret Key and Other Verses by George Essex Evans, 1906;
An Anthology of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1907;
School Paper for Classes V and VI, July 1909;
The Golden Treasury of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1909;
The School Paper for Grades VII and VIII, May 1922;
The Daily Mail, 10 August 1924;
A Book of Queensland Verse edited by J.J. Stable, and A.E.M. Kirwood, 1924;
Selections from the Australian Poets edited by Bertram Stevens, 1925;
The School Paper: Grades VII and VIII, December 1927;
The Victorian Reading-Books: Eighth Book, 1928;
The Queenslander, 5 October 1938;
The Victorian Reading-Books: Eighth Book, 1940;
Australian Bush Songs and Ballads edited by Will Lawson, 1944;
Favourite Australian Poems edited by Ian Mudie, 1963;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964;
Along the Western Road: Bush Stories and Ballads, 1981;
This Australia, Spring 1982;
A Treasury of Colonial Poetry, 1982;
The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse compiled by Beatrice Davis, 1984;
My Country: Australian Poetry and Short Stories, Two Hundred Years edited by Leonie Kramer, 1985;
A Treasury of Bush Verse edited by G. A. Wilkes, 1991;
The Penguin Book of 19th Century Australian Literature edited by Michael Ackland, 1993;
The Romance of the Stockman: The Lore, Legend and Literature of Australia's Outback Heroes, 1993;
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;
Classic Australian Verse edited by Maggie Pinkney, 2001;
Our Country: Classic Australian Poetry: From the Colonial Ballads to Paterson & Lawson edited by Michael Cook, 2004; and
The Book of Australian Popular Rhymed Verse: A Classic Collection of Entertaining and Recitable Poems and Verse: From Henry Lawson to Barry Humphries edited by Jim Haynes, 2008.

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

See also.

Australian Poets #27 - Charles Henry Souter

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Charles Henry Souter (1864-1944)

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Home-Bound Ship by Henry Parkes

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Morn brightened into rich and cloudless day,
And beauty, resting full on earth and heaven,
Seemed as just breathed from the Creator's love.
The gallant vessel lay, with look of pride,
As conscious that the hour, at last, was come
For her glad journey back to England, bearing
The home sick homeward; that sad farewell looks,
From many a jut and point along the shore,
Would follow, seeking on her poop, for faces
To vanish soon for ever. Hark, eight bells!
And see her "meteor flag," for the last time,
Rise in the sunlight of this Southern Land
Which, too, bears England's union, floating o'er
The spot where landed first our countrymen.
Now, friends and kindred! take your last farewell,
Press close your beating hearts; nor let false shame
Lock up the tears that flow, to fertilise
The heart which has true love enough for tears.
Now the boat waits for them who go; and ye,
Dwellers in Sydney, who lose friends to-day,
May hold them by the hand no minute longer;
Now, come, and watch their bark go out to sea!
With loud and cheery song, the seamen lift
Her anchor, 'neath the pilot's watchful eye;
Already her loose sails, in white festoons,
Are stirred by the fresh, favorable breeze,
Which breaks in glittering fragments the small waves
Against her trimly-painted sides: and eyes
Are watching for her earliest gentle start
Upon her long, long journey. "Oft she goes"!
The iron keeper has forsook his hold,
And cometh home, with the crew's heightened song,
From his long post of safety in the sea.

Behold yon group upon the tide-left reef
Under the Fort which bears Macquarie's name,
And burlesques England's power, and shames her pride
Yon group, with farewell signals waving white
To passenger who answers, with the same
White symbol of quick, recognising love.
As down the harbour glides the noble ship,
With canvas set, and colours flying gaily,
Those snowy handkerchiefs are waving still,
And still are answered from her starboard quarter,
Till round dark Bradley's wooded head she's lost.
"A pleasant passage to her!" in the words
Of every sailor, bidding an old friend,
When outward bound, farewell- " A pleasant passage
To her;" and may she reach a happy land!

First published in The Weekly Register of Politics, Facts and General Literature, 6 September 1845;
and later in
Geelong Advertiser and Squatter's Advocate, 24 September 1845.

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

See also.

A Friendly Game of Football by Edward Dyson

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We were challenged by The Dingoes -- they're the pride of Squatter's Gap --
To a friendly game of football on the flat by Devil's Trap.
And we went along on horses, sworn to triumph in the game,
For the honour of Gyp's Diggings, and the glory of the same.

And we took the challenge with us. It was beautiful to see,
With its lovely, curly letters, and its pretty filagree.
It was very gently worded, and it made us all feel good,
For it breathed the sweetest sentiments of peace and brotherhood.

We had Chang, and Trucker Hogan, and the man who licked The Plug,
Also Heggarty, and Hoolahan, and Peter Scott, the pug;
And we wore our knuckle-dusters, and we took a keg on tap
To our friendly game of football with The Dingoes at The Gap.

All the fellows came to meet us, and we spoke like brothers dear.
They'd a tip-dray full of tucker, and a waggon load of beer,
And some lint done up in bundles; so we reckoned there'd be fun
Ere our friendly game of football with the Dingo Club was done.

Their umpire was a homely man, a stranger to the push,
With a sweet, deceitful calmness, and a flavour of the bush.
He declared he didn't know the game, but promised on his oath
To see fair and square between the teams, or paralyse them both.

Then we bounced the ball and started, and for twenty minutes quite
We observed a proper courtesy and a heavenly sense of right,
But Fitzpatrick tipped McDougal in a handy patch of mud,
And the hero rose up, chewing dirt, and famishing for blood.

Simple Simonsen, the umpire, sorted out the happy pair,
And he found a pitch to suit them, and we left them fighting there;
But The Conqueror and Cop-Out met with cries of rage and pain,
And wild horses couldn't part those ancient enemies again.

So the umpire dragged them from the ruck, and pegged them off a patch,
And then gave his best attention to the slugging and the match.
You could hardly wish to come across a fairer-minded chap
For a friendly game of football than that umpire at The Gap.

In a while young Smith, and Henty, and Blue Ben, and Dick, and Blake,
Chose their partners from The Dingoes, and went pounding for the cake.
Timmy Hogan hit the umpire, and was promptly put to bed
'Neath the ammunition waggon, with a bolus on his head.

Feeling lonely-like, Magee took on a local star named Bent,
And four others started fighting to avoid an argument:
So Simonsen postponed the game, for fear some slight mishap
Might disturb the pleasant feeling then prevailing at The Gap.

Sixty seconds later twenty lively couples held the floor,
And the air was full of whiskers, and the grass was tinged with gore,
And the umpire kept good order in the interests of peace,
Whilst the people, to oblige him, sat severely on the p'lice.

Well, we fought the friendly game out, but I couldn't say who won;
We were all stretched out on shutters when the glorious day was done;
Both the constables had vanished; one was carried off to bunk,
And the umpire was exhausted, and the populace was drunk.

But we've written out a paper, with good Father Feeley's aid,
Breathing brotherly affection; and the challenge is conveyed
To the Dingo Club at Squatter's, and another friendly game
Will eventuate at this end, on the flat below the claim.

We have pressed The Gap to bring their central umpire if they can --
Here we honestly admire him as a fair and decent man --
And we're building on a pleasant time beside the Phoenix slums,
For The Giant feels he's got a call to plug him if he comes.

First published in The Bulletin, 5 September 1896;
and later in
Rhymes From the Mines and Other Lines by Edward Dyson, 1896;
The Western Argus, 4 February 1897;
The Collins Book of Australian Poetry compiled by Rodney Hall, 1981;
My Country: Australian Poetry and Short Stories, Two Hundred Years edited by Leonie Kramer, 1985;
Old Ballads from the Bush edited by Bill Scott, 1987; and
Two Centuries of Australian Poetry edited by Kathrine Bell, 2007.

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

See also.

His Epitaph by Will H. Ogilvie

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On a little old bush racecourse at the back of No Man's Land,
Where the mulgas mark the furlong, and a dead log marks the stand,
There's a square of painted railing showing white against the loam
Where they fight for inside running as they round the bend for home;
Just a lonely grave and graveyard that are left to Nature's care,
For the wild bush-flowers that brighten it were never planted there;
No monument or marble that will speak his praise or blame,
No verse to tell his story and no mark to prove his name,
But carved upon the white rail that is weather-worn and thin
Is the simple, rough-hewn legend: HE ALWAS ROD TO WIN!

Some poor, uncared-for jockey-boy, who never earned a name ---
It's the boys who "ride to orders" who can find the road to Fame;
And the flowers and marble head-stones and the wealth of gear and gold
Are the prizes of the riders who will "stop them" when they're told!
Just a whisper at the saddling: "He's the only danger, Dan,
That's the boy will try to beat you --- stop him, any way you can!"
Just a crowding at the corner and a crossing in the straight
And a plucky little horseman who is "pulling out" too late;
A heavy fall, a loose horse --- and a lightweight carried in ---
A shallow grave, a railing, and: HE ALWAS ROD TO WIN!

Some brave, brown-handed comrade who has learned the rider's worth
Has carved those rough words o'er him for the eyes of all the earth;
And though few may chance to pass him as he lies in simple state
Those few will hold him honoured by the friendship of his mate.
And when, in Life's keen struggle, we shall fight for inside place,
When they crowd us at the corner and we drop from out the race,
When the ringing hoofs go forward and the cheering greets the best,
And the prize is for the winner and the red spurs for the rest,
May we find some true-heart comrade, when they've filled the last clods in,
Who will carve these words above us: HE ALWAS ROD TO WIN!

First published in The Bulletin, 4 September 1897;
and later in
The North Queensland Register, 25 January 1926; and
Fair Girls and Gray Horses: With Other Verses by Will H. Ogilvie, 1958.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

September by A. J. Rolfe

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...the tender buds expand,
Emblems of our own great resurrection,
Emblems of the bright and better land.

A golden radiance paints the western sky,
   As slowly sinks the setting sun to rest.
A breath of prayer, like incense, silently
   Floats up and soothes the soul to slumber blest.
And sleep, night's fairest maiden, makes the night
   The Sabbath for the day, while over strife
Peace reigns supreme, though with unconscious might
   Stilling the aching brain with troubles rife.
And as the sun from out the eastern sea
   Rises refreshed to start his work anew,
Or as the shrivelled seed, its bonds set free,
   Springs from the dust a flower of beauteous hue,
So from this land of shadows shall we rise
   To realms unshadowed far beyond the skies.

First published in The Queenslander, 3 September 1892;
and later in:
A Sheaf of Sonnets by A. J. Rolfe, 1892

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

Author reference sites: Austlit

See also.

Billy Barlow in Australia by Benjamin Griffin

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When I was at home I was down on my luck,
And I yearnt a poor living by drawing a truck;
But old aunt died and left me a thousand --' Oh, oh,
I'll start on my travels,' said Billy Barlow.
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh;
   So off to Australia came Billy Barlow.

When to Sydney I got, there a merchant I met,
Who said he could teach me a fortune to get;
He'd cattle and sheep past the colony's bounds,
Which he sold with the station for my thousand pounds.
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   He gammon'd the cash out of Billy Barlow.

When the bargain was struck, and the money was paid,
He said, 'My dear fellow, your fortune is made;
I can furnish supplies for the station, you know,
And your bill is sufficient, good Mr. Barlow.'
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   A gentleman settler was Billy Barlow.

So I got my supplies, and I gave him my bill,
And for New England started, my pockets to fill;
But by bushrangers met, with my traps they made free,
Took my horse, and left Billy bailed up to a tree.
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   I shall die of starvation, thought Billy Barlow.

At last I got loose, and I walked on my way;
A constable came up, and to me did say,
'Are you free?' Says I 'Yes, to be sure, don't you know?'
And I handed my card, 'Mr. William Barlow.'
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   He said 'That's all gammon' to Billy Barlow.

Then he put on the handcuffs, and brought me away
Right back down to Maitland, before Mr. Day;
When I said I was free, why the J.P. replied,
'I must send you down to be i-dentified.'
   Oh dear, lackaday oh,
   So to Sydney once more went poor Billy Barlow.

They at last let me go, and I then did repair
For my station once more, and at length I got there;
But a few days before the blacks, you must know,
Had spear'd all the cattle of Billy Barlow.
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   It's a beautiful country, said Billy Barlow.

And for nine months before no rain there had been,
So the devil a blade of grass could be seen;
And one third of my wethers the scab they had got,
And the other two-thirds had just died of the rot.
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   I shall soon be a settler, said Billy Barlow.

And the matter to mend, now my bill was near due,
So I wrote to my friend, and just asked to renew;
He replied he was sorry he couldn't, because
The bill had pass'd into Tom Burdekin's claws.
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   But perhaps he'll renew it, said Billy Barlow.

I applied ; to renew it he was quite content,
If secured, and allowed just 300 per cent;
But as I couldn't do it, Carr, Rogers, and Co.,
Soon sent up a summons for Billy Barlow.
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
They soon settled the business of Billy Barlow.

For a month or six weeks I stewed over my loss,
And a tall man rode up one day on a black horse;
He asked 'Don't you know me?' I answered him ' No.'
'Why,' says he, 'my name's Kingsmill ; how are you, Barlow?'
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   He'd got a fi. fa. for poor Billy Barlow.

What I'd left of my sheep, and my traps, he did seize,
And he said, 'They won't pay all the costs and my fees:'
Then he sold off the lot, and I'm sure 'twas a sin,
At sixpence a head, and the station given in.
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   I'll go back to England, said Billy Barlow.


My sheep being sold, and my money all gone,
Oh, I wandered about then quite sad and forlorn
How I managed to live it would shock you to know,   
And as thin as a lath got poor Billy Barlow.
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   Quite down on his luck was poor Billy Barlow.

And in a few weeks more the sheriff, you see,
Sent the 'tall man on horseback' once more unto me,
Having got all he could by the writ of fi. fa.,
By way of a change he'd brought up a ca. sa.
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   He seized on the body of Billy Barlow.

He took me to Sydney, and there they did lock
Poor unfortunate Billy fast 'under the clock ;'
And to get myself out I was forced, you must know,
The schedule to file of poor Billy Barlow.

   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   In the list of insolvents was Billy Barlow.

Then once more I got free, but in poverty's toil;
I've no 'cattle for salting,' no 'sheep for to boil;'
I can't get a job -- tho' to any I'd stoop,
If 'twas only the making of 'portable soup.'
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   Pray give some employment to Billy Barlow.

But there's still 'a spec' left may set me on my stumps,
If a wife I could get with a few of the dumps;
So if any lass here has 'ten thousand,' or so,
She can just drop a line addressed 'Mr. Barlow.'
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   The dear angel shall be 'Mrs. William Barlow.'

First published in The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser, 2 September 1843;
and later in
Old Bush Songs: Composed and Sung in Bushranging, Digging and Overlanding Days edited by A. B. "Banjo" Paterson, 1905;
Australian Bush Songs and Ballads edited by Will Lawson, 1944;
Songs of Billy Barlow edited by Hugh Anderson, 1956;
The Penguin Australian Song Book compiled by J. S. Manifold, 1964;
The Overlander Songbook edited by Ronald George Edwards, 1971; and
Old Bush Songs and Rhymes of Colonial Times edited by Douglas Stewart, 1976.

Note: "fi. fa.", or "fieri facias" is a writ ordering a levy on the belongings of a debtor to satisfy the debt;
"Ca. sa", or "capias ad satisfaciendum" a writ or process commanding an officer to place a person (as a debtor) under civil arrest until a claim is satisfied.

Author: nothing is known about the author of this poem.

I Blow My Pipes by Hugh McCrae

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I blow my pipes, the glad birds sing,
The fat young nymphs about me spring,
The sweaty centaur leaps the trees
And bites his dryad's splendid knees;
The sky, the water, the earth
Repeat aloud our noisy mirth...
Anon, tight-bellied bacchanals,
With ivy from the vineyard walls,
Lead out and crown with shining glass
The wine's red baby on the grass.


I blow my pipes, the glad birds sing,
The fat young nymphs about me spring,
I am the lord,
I am the lod,
I am the lord of everything!

First published in The Lone Hand, 1 September 1908;
and later in
An Australasian Anthology: Australian and New Zealand Poems edited by Percival Serle, R. H. Croll and Frank Wilmot, 1946;
The Bulletin, 26 February 1958;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964;
The Penguin Book of Australian Verse edited by Harry Heseltine, 1972;
The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse edited by Beatrice Davis, 1984; and
Two Centuries of Australian Verse edited by Kathrine Bell, 2007

Author: Hugh Raymond McCrae (1876-1958) was born in Hawthorn, Victoria, the second son of the poet George Gordon McCrae.  He married in 1901 and moved to Sydney where he was great friends with Norman Lindsay.  He moved to New York in 1914 where he found little work and was back in Australia in 1916.  He lived in Melbourne again before settling, finally, in Sydney in 1922.  Perenially broke he survived his later years on a Commonwealth Literary pension and died in 1958.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

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