January 2012 Archives

A War Song for the Nineteenth Century by Charles Harpur

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The march of Knowledge hasten;
   Charge onward, and be free!
Before are Mercy, Justice, Truth,
   Our standard-bearers three!
Heed not the threat of hirelings;
   Be bold in deed and word!
But spare to use the murderous gun,
   Nor meddle with the sword.


Oh! fought we for the despot,
   To plunder -- not to save;
To surfeit dungeons with the good --
   The eloquent -- the brave:
With patriot blood to redden
   The violated lands --
Yes, then! -- but only then! -- 'twere fit
   The sword should arm our hands.


But on! huzza for Freedom!
   Behold our puny foes!
Crowns, stars, and ribband wearers they,
   And such as worship those:
They see us wield no weapon,
   But in our front shall find
Th' artillery of the Intellect --
   The thunder of the Mind!   

First published in The Australian Chronicle, 31 January 1843;
and later in
The Guardian, 20 April 1844;
People's Advocate, 7 January 1854;
The Poetical Works of Charles Harpur edited by Elzabeth Perkins, 1984; and
The Age Monthly, 5 September 1986.

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

See also.

Surf Bathing by J. Braham

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How bracing 'tis to breast the billows high
   To plunge beneath the foaming, hissing spray,
To watch the broad expanse 'twixt sea and sky
   Emerging fresh and cool on hottest day:
Delightful, too, to watch the lovely shapes
   Of females splashing, dashing in the brine,
In costume that artistically drapes
   And renders more pronounced the "form divine."
Why not? The men enjoy the bracing dip.
   Their sense of beauty gratified as well.
"Honi soit," etcetera's the tip --
   Life's none too sunny: Do not break the spell.
So let the "carping critics" who declaim
   Mixed bathing is unseemly, gross and wrong
Know where no harm's meant where can be the blame,
   And think before they "cast the stone along."

First published in The Melbourne Punch, 20 January 1908

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

Author reference sites: Austlit.

See also.

The Sick Stock-Rider by Adam Lindsay Gordon

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Hold hard, Ned! Lift me down once more, and lay me in the shade.
     Old man, you've had your work cut out to guide
Both horses, and to hold me in the saddle when I sway'd,
     All through the hot, slow, sleepy, silent ride.
The dawn at "Moorabinda" was a mist rack dull and dense,
     The sunrise was a sullen, sluggish lamp;
I was dozing in the gateway at Arbuthnot's bound'ry fence,
     I was dreaming on the Limestone cattle camp.
We crossed the creek at Carricksford, and sharply through the haze,
     And suddenly the sun shot flaming forth;
To southward lay "Katawa", with the sandpeaks all ablaze,
     And the flush'd fields of Glen Lomond lay to north.
Now westward winds the bridle path that leads to Lindisfarm,
     And yonder looms the double-headed Bluff;
From the far side of the first hill, when the skies are clear and calm,
     You can see Sylvester's woolshed fair enough.
Five miles we used to call it from our homestead to the place
     Where the big tree spans the roadway like an arch;
'Twas here we ran the dingo down that gave us such a chase
     Eight years ago -- or was it nine? -- last March.

'Twas merry in the glowing morn, among the gleaming grass,
     To wander as we've wandered many a mile,
And blow the cool tobacco cloud, and watch the white wreaths pass,
     Sitting loosely in the saddle all the while.
'Twas merry 'mid the blackwoods, when we spied the station roofs,
     To wheel the wild scrub cattle at the yard,
With a running fire of stockwhips and a fiery run of hoofs;
     Oh! the hardest day was never then too hard!

Aye! we had a glorious gallop after "Starlight" and his gang,
     When they bolted from Sylvester's on the flat;
How the sun-dried reed-beds crackled, how the flint-strewn ranges rang
     To the strokes of "Mountaineer" and "Acrobat".
Hard behind them in the timber, harder still across the heath,
     Close beside them through the tea-tree scrub we dash'd;
And the golden-tinted fern leaves, how they rustled underneath!
     And the honeysuckle osiers, how they crash'd!

We led the hunt throughout, Ned, on the chestnut and the grey,
     And the troopers were three hundred yards behind,
While we emptied our six-shooters on the bushrangers at bay,
     In the creek with stunted box-tree for a blind!
There you grappled with the leader, man to man and horse to horse,
     And you roll'd together when the chestnut rear'd;
He blazed away and missed you in that shallow watercourse --
     A narrow shave -- his powder singed your beard!
In these hours when life is ebbing, how those days when life was young
     Come back to us; how clearly I recall
Even the yarns Jack Hall invented, and the songs Jem Roper sung;
     And where are now Jem Roper and Jack Hall?
Aye! nearly all our comrades of the old colonial school,
     Our ancient boon companions, Ned, are gone;
Hard livers for the most part, somewhat reckless as a rule,
     It seems that you and I are left alone.

There was Hughes, who got in trouble through that business with the cards,
     It matters little what became of him;
But a steer ripp'd up MacPherson in the Cooraminta yards,
     And Sullivan was drown'd at Sink-or-swim.

And Mostyn -- poor Frank Mostyn -- died at last a fearful wreck,
     In "the horrors", at the Upper Wandinong,
And Carisbrooke, the rider, at the Horsefall broke his neck,
     Faith! the wonder was he saved his neck so long!
Ah! those days and nights we squandered at the Logans' in the glen --
     The Logans, man and wife, have long been dead.
Elsie's tallest girl seems taller than your little Elsie then;
     And Ethel is a woman grown and wed.

I've had my share of pastime, and I've done my share of toil,
     And life is short -- the longest life a span;
I care not now to tarry for the corn or for the oil,
     Or for the wine that maketh glad the heart of man.
For good undone and gifts misspent and resolutions vain,
     'Tis somewhat late to trouble. This I know --
I should live the same life over, if I had to live again;
     And the chances are I go where most men go.

The deep blue skies wax dusky, and the tall green trees grow dim,
     The sward beneath me seems to heave and fall;
And sickly, smoky shadows through the sleepy sunlight swim,
     And on the very sun's face weave their pall.
Let me slumber in the hollow where the wattle blossoms wave,
     With never stone or rail to fence my bed;
Should the sturdy station children pull the bush flowers on my grave,
     I may chance to hear them romping overhead.

First published in Colonial Monthly, 29 January 1870;
and later in
The Queenslander, 20 September 1879;
Australian Ballads and Rhymes: Poems Inspired by Life and Scenery in Australia and New Zealand edited by Douglas Sladen, 1888;
A Century of Australian Song edited by Douglas Sladen, 1888;
The Golden Treasury of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1909;
The Lone Hand, October 1912;
Bush Ballads and Galloping Rhymes by Adam Lindsay Gordon,1914;
The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse edited by Walter Murdoch, 1918;
Selections from the Australian Poets edited by Bertram Stevens, 1925;
New Song in an Old Land edited by Rex Ingamells, 1943;
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;
Old Australian Ballads edited by W. N. Walker, 1967;
The Penguin Book of Australian Verse edited by Harry Heseltine, 1972;
The Collins Book of Australian Poetry compiled by Rodney Hall, 1981;
A Treasury of Colonial Poetry, 1982;
The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse compiled by Beatrice Davis, 1984;
Old Ballads from the Bush edited by Bill Scott, 1987;
A Collection of Australian Bush Verse, 1989;
The Macmillan Anthology of Australian Literature edited by Ken L. Goodwin and Alan Lawson, 1990;
The Poet's Discovery: Nineteenth Century Australia in Verse edited by Richard Douglas Jordan and Peter Pierce, 1990;
A Treasury of Bush Verse edited by G.A. Wilkes, 1991;
On the Track with Bill Bowyang: With Australian Bush Recitations edited by Dawn Anderson, 1991-1992;
The Penguin Book of 19th Century Australian Literature edited by Michael Ackland, 1993;
The Penguin Book of Australian Ballads edited by Elizabeth Webby and Philip Butterrs, 1993;
The Romance of the Stockman: The Lore, Legend and Literature of Australia's Outback Heroes, 1993;
The Arnold Anthology of Post-Colonial Literatures in English edited by John Thieme, 1996;
Australian Verse: An Oxford Anthology edited by John Leonard 1998;
Our Country: Classic Australian Poetry: From the Colonial Ballads to Paterson & Lawson edited by Michael Cook, 2004;
The Sick Stockrider and The Swimmer by Adam Lindsay Gordon, 2007;
Two Centuries of Australian Poetry edited by Kathrine Bell, 2007;
Sixty Classic Australian Poems edited by Geoff Page, 2009;
The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry edited by John Kinsella, 2009;
Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature edited by Nicholas Jose, Kerryn Goldsworthy, Anita Heiss, David McCooey, Peter Minter, Nicole Moore and Elizabeth Webby, 2009; and
The Puncher & Wattmann Anthology of Australian Poetry edited by John Leonard, 2009.

Author: Adam Lindsay Gordon (1833-70) was born at Fayal in the Azores where his mother's father had a plantation. He completed his education in England and was sent by his family to South Australia in 1853 where he enlisted in the mounted police. He was briefly a member of Parliament and lived in Western Australia and Ballarat before moving to Melbourne. During his time in Ballarat he suffered a severe head injury in a riding accident, was bankrupted by a fire in the livery stable and lost his infant daughter. The day after the publication of his poems in Bush Ballads and Galloping Rhymes he committed suicide on Brighton Beach in Melbourne. He is the only Australian poet to be honoured with a bust in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey in London.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Night On the Equator by Henry Parkes

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A Calm.

The veil of night o'erspreads the torrid sky,
Through which a whelming gush of starlight breaks,   
Oppressively resplendent to the eye,
As from his feverish sleep the sailor wakes --
Stretched on the deck, which now he nightly makes
His pillow, when his weary watch is done;
And the great moon is risen again, and takes
Her way through heaven still glowing from the sun,
And on the deaden'd deep our bark's a lonely one.   

A fearful calm is dwelling on the sea,
As 'twere the waters dreaming in their sleep:
And heaven is full of a placidity
As awful as the slumber of the deep.   
The few light clouds which on the horizon keep
Have in their aspect an ethereal death;   
And vain the goodliest vessel a power to sweep
Along the waters -- there is not a breath   
Of air to stir her sails, the blinding moon beneath.

A Breeze.

Look up among the multitude of lights,
Which hang in heaven so senseless and serene;
Behold the glory of these tropic nights --
Methought the azure depths which lie between
Those fairy worlds, where God is surely seen!   
Look up in pious love's supremacy,
As glides our bark swift through the glowing scene;   
And thy Creator's omnipresence see,
Where'er thy soul can search, some glimpse of Deity!

Oh, mortal! tear the serpent from thy brow,
Thy pride of heart should not profane thee here;
God on the waters waits thy worship now,
The God who loves the lowly heart sincere.
And who, tonight, could view and not revere
The hand which framed those shining mysteries,
Still shedding o'er each world's allotted sphere
The shadow of his glory? The glad seas,
Methinks, give praise to Him who gives this blessed breeze.

First published
in Australasian Chronicle, 28 January 1841;
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.

German Joe by Edward Dyson

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Skirting the swamp and the tangled scrub,
   Tramping and turning amidst the trees,
Carrying nothing but blankets and grub,
   Taking no heed of his health or ease,
Hither and thither with never a goal,
   Heavy, and solemn, and stiff, and slow,
Seeking a track and a long-lost line,
"Blazed avay to dot lead of mine," --
   Restless and ricketty German Joe.

Down in the gully and up the range,
   Stung by the gale and the hate-hot sun,
Never a greeting to give in change,
   Never a tip from the nearest run,
Seeking a guide to a golden hole,
   Lost in the lone land long ago,
Left in the keep of the hills and trees -
Jealous to have and to hold are these,
   Hope you may get it, though, German Joe.

"Likely old yarn for a darned marine!
   Struck it, you say, at the river head --
Back where the bellowing bunyip's seen,
   Out beyond everywhere -- rich and red;
Left it for tucker, and lost the track,
   Blazed till your arm couldn't strike a blow;
Gravel that gleams with the golden stuff,
Nuggets 'shust like as der plums in duff,' --
   What are you giving us, German Joe?"

"Blaze? Yes; you strike for the Granite Stair,
   Make to the left when you cross the creek,
South till you meet with a monkey bear,
   Tramp in his tracks for about a week;
Then you can travel the sky-line back.
   So long, old chap, if you're bound to go.
Don't you forget when you're rich and great
Who laid you on to the lost lead, mate, --
   Mad as a hatter is German Joe."

Laugh as they may, they will stand his friends,
   Right as rain when the old man takes
Down to his bunk in the hut, and spends
   Seven weeks fighting the fever and shakes,
Muttering still of his lucky lead:
   'Vhisper -- I leds you all in der know,
Den you pe richer nor as der pank."
Boys, he's a man if he is a crank --
   Whisky and physic for German Joe.

Now he's abroad in a wild dream-land,
   Baring his breast to the river breeze --
Out where the rock-ribbed ridges stand,
   Whispering his tale to the secret trees
Hither and fro with a phantom's speed,
   Over the plains where the mad winds blow.
Cover his face now, and carve a stone,
Henceforth his spirit must seek alone --
   Dead as a door-nail is German Joe.

Bushmen have yarned of a ghost that went
   Blazing a track from the Granite Stair
Down to a shaft and a tattered tent,
   Many days' journey from anywhere.
Others have said that the bushmen lied.
   Liars or not, it is true, we know,
Men have discovered a golden mine
Out in the track of an old blazed line,
   Led by the spirit of German Joe.

First published in The Bulletin, 27 January 1894, and again in the same magazine on 14 December 1932;
and later in
Rhymes From the Mines and Other Lines by Edward Dyson, 1896.

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

See also.

Johnson's Antidote by A. B. "Banjo" Paterson

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Down along the Snakebite River, where the overlanders camp,
Where the serpents are in millions, all of the most deadly stamp;
Where the station-cook in terror, nearly every time he bakes,
Mixes up among the doughboys half-a-dozen poison-snakes:
Where the wily free-selector walks in armour-plated pants,
And defies the stings of scorpions, and the bites of bull-dog ants:
Where the adder and the viper tear each other by the throat,
There it was that William Johnson sought his snake-bite antidote.

Johnson was a free-selector, and his brain went rather queer,
For the constant sight of serpents filled him with a deadly fear;
So he tramped his free-selection, morning, afternoon and night,
Seeking for some great specific that would cure the serpent's bite.
Till King Billy, of the Mooki, chieftain of the flour-bag head,
Told him, "Spos'n snake bite pfeller, pfeller mostly drop down dead;
Spos'n snake bite old goanna, then you watch, a while you see,
Old goanna cure himself with eating little pfeller tree."
"That's the cure," said William Johnson, "point me out this plant sublime,"
But King Billy, feeling lazy, said he'd go another time.
Thus it came to pass that Johnson, having got the tale by rote,
Followed every stray goanna, seeking for the antidote.

              *            *            *            *            *

Loafing once beside the river, while he thought his heart would break,
There he saw a big goanna, fighting with a tiger-snake,
In and out they rolled and wriggled, bit each other, heart and soul,
Till the valiant old goanna swallowed his opponent whole.
Breathless, Johnson sat and watched him, saw him struggle up the bank,
Saw him nibbling at the branches of some bushes, green and rank;
Saw him, happy and contented, lick his lips, as off he crept,
While the bulging in his stomach showed where his opponent slept.
Then a cheer of exultation burst aloud from Johnson's throat;
"Luck at last," said he, "I've struck it! 'tis the famous antidote."

"Here it is, the Grand Elixir, greatest blessing ever known,
Twenty thousand men in India die each year of snakes alone.
Think of all the foreign nations, Negro, Chow, and blackamoor,
Saved from sudden expiration, by my wondrous snakebite cure.
It will bring me fame and fortune! In the happy days to be,
Men of every clime and nation will be round to gaze on me --
Scientific men in thousands, men of mark and men of note,
Rushing down the Mooki River, after Johnson's antidote.
It will cure delirium-tremens, when the patient's eyeballs stare
At imaginary spiders, snakes which really are not there.
When he thinks he sees them wriggle, when he thinks he sees them bloat,
It will cure him just to think of Johnson's Snakebite Antidote.'

Then he rushed to the museum, found a scientific man --
"Trot me out a deadly serpent, just the deadliest you can;
I intend to let him bite me, all the risk I will endure,
Just to prove the sterling value of my wondrous snakebite cure.
Even though an adder bit me, back to life again I'd float;
Snakes are out of date, I tell you, since I've found the antidote."

Said the scientific person, "If you really want to die,
Go ahead -- but, if you're doubtful, let your sheep-dog have a try.
Get a pair of dogs and try it, let the snake give both a nip;
Give your dog the snakebite mixture, let the other fellow rip;
If he dies and yours survives him, then it proves the thing is good.
Will you fetch your dog and try it?" Johnson rather thought he would.
So he went and fetched his canine, hauled him forward by the throat.
"Stump, old man," says he, "we'll show them we've the genwine antidote."

Both the dogs were duly loaded with the poison-gland's contents;
Johnson gave his dog the mixture, then sat down to wait events.
"Mark," he said, "in twenty minutes Stump'll be a-rushing round,
While the other wretched creature lies a corpse upon the ground."
But, alas for William Johnson! ere they'd watched a half-hour's spell
Stumpy was as dead as mutton, t'other dog was live and well.
And the scientific person hurried off with utmost speed,
Tested Johnson's drug and found it was a deadly poison-weed;
Half a tumbler killed an emu, half a spoonful killed a goat,
All the snakes on earth were harmless to that awful antidote.

              *            *            *            *            *

Down along the Mooki River, on the overlanders' camp,
Where the serpents are in millions, all of the most deadly stamp,
Wanders, daily, William Johnson, down among those poisonous hordes,
Shooting every stray goanna, calls them "black and yaller frauds".
And King Billy, of the Mooki, cadging for the cast-off coat,
Somehow seems to dodge the subject of the snake-bite antidote.   

First published in The Bulletin, 26 January 1895;
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 Collection of Australian Bush Verse, 1989;
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
Banjo Paterson: His Poetry and Prose compiled by Richard Hall, 1993.

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

See also.

O! Treacherous Sea: A Memory of Sorrento by Henry O'Donnell

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How oft, voluptuous, cruel sea,
  When weary of the mime
That men call life, I turned to thee
   In sunshine and in rime;

To buy surcrease of grief, and win
   The peace thy whispers gave,
And hear, again, a lost voice in
   The lyric of a wave.

No lover ever bent beside --
  With passon-supple knee --
His idol's couch, at eventide,
   In such wld ecstasy

As when, to catch -- though oft 'twas cold --
   Thy opaescent eye,
I lay upon the fringe of gold
   On thy drapery,

And watched thy palpitating breast,
   Star gemmed, caress the sky
While, as by earth's sore sin distressed,
   Thy lips would breath a sigh

That seemed a vesper sacrifice
   Unto the highest Heaven,
That, like a tender plea, would rise
   That Earth might be forgiven.

At morn thou wert in merrier mood,
   When night from dawn would fly,
And poured into mine ear a flood
   Of rippling melody.

'Mid all the fakse and fleeting ones
   That brought me only rue,
And mocked at me, in dulcet tones,
   I swore that thou were true.

But, now, I feel as lover feels
   Who knows, with bitter smart,
His idol's snowy breast conceals
   A black and murd'rous heart.

For all thy love but veiled thy greed,
   Thy heat with malice burned,
And I am left bereft, indeed,
   Since thou hast traitor turned

And folded to thy poisoned breast
   Hearts that were blent with mine;
Ah! how I mourn I e'er caressed
   So foul a heart as thine.

They heard thee sing as Syren sings,
   And say thy Syren face,
But, lured by thy soft whisperings,
   Found death in thy embrace.

'Twere naught, to one full oft betrayed,
   Thou shouldst be false to me:
For love's delight is but hand-maid
   To love's inconstancy.

But, greedy, envious, murd'rous flood,
   What of those lives you stole?
Didst thou, then, crave of warm, young blood
   So hideous a dole

That thou shouldst woo, with witching wiles,
   And all a wanton's charms,
Those trustful ones, beguiled with smiles,
   To crush them in thy arms?

Well may thy restless, throbbing surge
   Bear witness to thy crime.
Rest nevermore! but let their dirge
   With every throb keep time.

I hate the opalescent gleam
   Of thy once-melting eye;
Thy sigh is now become a scream,
   Thy melody a lie.

Forget thy amorous songs of yore,
   Sing ne'er again to me,
But moan, alone, for evermore
   For thy treachery.

First published in Melbourne Punch, 25 January 1906

Author reference site: Austlit.

See also.

Burragorang, Evening by Ella McFadyen

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Here, undiscovered might the dark tower hide,
   Whereof two poets told th' imagined quest;
Frowning, great gable-ended mountains bide,
   Their stony foreheads redd'ning to the west.   
The pastures blanch as at some twilight tale,
   Told by the shivering she-oaks crooning sprite --
And cold as moonlight on a dead man's mail,
   The links of pallid water wait the night.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 January 1931

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

Disillusioned by Will M. Fleming

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The moonlight slept, the slow warm night
Was filled with wonder and delight,
The soft winds, murmured as they went   
Laden with gathered hours well spent.   
Far, far beneath the drowsy sea
Crooned love-songs sweet to you and me.

We talked of riches and of ease,
We dreamed such dreams as charm and please,
We saw the future free from care,
With Honour standing proudly there,  
While lurked the serpent in the grass
Waiting the while our dream should pass.

Again I stand as then we stood,
In front the sea, behind the wood.
The slinking moon has crept away
As though it were ashamed to stay,
And now there only comes to me
The hungry roaring of the sea.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 January 1926

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Lost and Given Over by E. J. Brady

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A mermaid's not a human thing,    
   An' courtin' sich is folly;    
Of flesh an' blood I'd rather sing,    
   What ain't so mel-an-choly.
'Ere's, Berta, Loo, Jaunita, Sue,
A long good-luck to me an' you ---   
   Sing rally, ri-a-rally!   
The seas is deep; the seas is wide,   
But this I'll prove, what else beside,   
   I'm bully in-the-alley,
   I'm bull-ee in our al-lee.
The Hooghli gal 'er face is brown,
   The Heelo gal is lazy;   
The gal that lives by 'Obart Town   
   'U'd drive a dead man crazy.

Come, wet your lip, and let it slip,
The Gretna Green's a tidy ship,   
      Sing rally!   
The seas is deep, the seas is blue,
But 'ere's good 'ealth to me an' you,
      Ho, rally!   
The Lord may drop us off our pins   
   To feed 'is bloomin' fishes;   
But, Lord, forgive us all our sins!
   Our sins is most delicious.

Come drink it up, an' fill yer cup,   
The World it owes us bite an' sup --   
   'Ere's Mimi, Ju-Ju, Sally --   
The seas is long, the winds is strong,   
The best of men they will go wrong,
    Hi, rally, ri-a-rally!   
The Bowery gal she knows 'er know,   
   The Sydney gal is silly,   
The Hayti gal ain't white as snow,   
   They're whiter down in Chili.

Now, what's the use to shun the booze,   
They'll flop your bones among the ooze   
   Sou'-west by south-the-galley.   
The seas is green, the seas is cold,
The best of men they must grow old,
   Sing rally, re-a-rally!   
All round the world "where'er I roam"   
   This lesson I am learnin' --   
If you've got sense you'll stop at 'ome   
   An' save the bit yer earnin'.

But damn the odds! it's little odds,   
When every 'eathen 'as 'is gods   
   An' neither two will tally.
When Black and White drink, woman, fight,
In them three things they're all all-right,
   Sing rally, re-a-rally!   
When double bunks, fo'castle end,   
   Is all the kind that's carried,   
Our manners they will likely mend ---   
   Most likely we'll get married.

But till sich time as that is done   
We'll take our fun where we've begun ---   
   Sing rally!   
The flesh is weak, the world is wide,   
The Dead Man 'ee goes over-side ---
   Sing rally, rally!   

It's Tokio town when the sun goes down,
It's 'arf-a-pint an' it's 'arf-a-crown --
   Sing rally!
'Er spars may lift an' 'er keel may shift,
When a man is done 'e's got to drift --
   Ho, rally!
We're given an' lost to the girls that wait   
   From Trinity to Whitsunday --   
From Sunda Strait to the Golden Gate   
   An' back to the Bay o' Fundy.

Oh, it's Mabel Loo, an' it's Nancy-poo!
So 'ere's good luck, an' I love you ---   
   Sing rally!   
It's cents an' dollars, an' somebody hollers,
The sun comes up an' the mornin' follers ---
   Ho, rally, rally!   
The Hoogli gal 'er face is brown,   
   The Heelo gal's a daisy;   
The gal that lives by 'Obart Town   
   She'd drive a dead man crazy.

So pretty an' plain, it's Sarah Jane   
'Uggin' an' kissin' an' come again --   
   Sing rally, ri-a-rally!   
The seas is deep, the seas is wide,
But this I'll prove, what else beside --
I'm bully in the alley,   
Ho! Bul-lee in the alley!

First published in The Bulletin, 22 January 1898;
and later in
The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse edited by Walter Murdoch, 1918;
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
The Penguin Book of Australian Ballads edited by Russel Ward, 1964.

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

See also.

The Land I Came Thro' Last by Christopher Brennan

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The land I came thro' last was dumb with night,
a limb of defeated glory, a ghost:
for wreck of constellations flicker'd perishing
scarce sustain'd in the mortuary air,
and on the ground and out of livid pools
wreck of old swords and crowns glimmer'd at whiles;
I seem'd at home in some old dream of kingship;
now it is clear grey day and the road is plain,
I am the wanderer of many years
who cannot tell if ever he was king
or if ever kingdoms were: I known I am
the wanderer of the ways of all the worlds,
to whom the sunshine and the rain are one
and one to stay or hasten, becasu ehe knows
no ending of the way, no home, no goal,
and phantom night and the grey day alike
withhold the heart where all my dreams and days
might faint in soft fire and delicious death:
and saying this to myself as a simple thing
I feel a peace fall in the heart of the winds
and a clear dusk settle, somewhere, far in me.

First published in The Bulletin, 21 January 1915;
and later in
Poetry in Australia 1923;
The Verse of Christopher Brennan edited by A.R. Chisholm and John Quinn, 1960;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964;
Poems [1913] by Christopher Brennan, 1972;
Selected Poems edited by G. A. Wilkes, 1973;
The Golden Apples of the Sun: Twentieth Century Australian Poetry edited by Chris Wallace-Crabbe, 1980;
The Collins Book of Australian Poetry compiled by Rodney Hall, 1981;
Cross-Country: A Book of Australian Verse edited by John Barnes and Brian McFarlane, 1984;
Christopher Brennan edited by Terry Sturm, 1984;
Two Centuries of Australian Poetry edited by Mark O'Connor, 1988;
Australian Poetry in the Twentieth Century edited by Robert Gray and Geoffrey Lehmann, 1991;
Australian Verse: An Oxford Anthology edited by John Leonard, 1998; and
Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature edited by Nicholas Jose, Kerryn Goldsworthy, Anita Heiss, David McCooey, Peter Minter, Nicole Moore and Elizabeth Webby, 2009.

Note: this poem was also known by the title The Wanderer: 1902 - 99.

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

See also.

Greater Britain by George Essex Evans

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   Another England's growing in a far-off sunny land,
   Which with the mother country in union firm shall stand,
   Its people with her people, the prosperous and free,
   Shall lend their voice to swell the shout of glorious liberty.
Advance! advance! Australia! Great Empress of the South
Advance! until thy progress shall be told from every mouth.
Prosperity shall bless thy land, and rivalries shall cease,
When all thy states amalgamate in unity and peace.

   The bonds that bind us to the land we love to call our home
   Shall firmer prove than e'en the rocks which break the ocean's foam.
   The blood which courses through our veins so joyously, I ween,
   Is thicker than the water of the sea which rolls between.
Advance, advance, Australia, &c.

   Then, while we drain one bumper more, oh let us not forget
   The dear old land which gave us birth--the mother country yet.
   And let us toast upstanding, like loyal subjects true,
   The Queen, who sways the sceptre o'er the old land and the new.
Advance, advance, Australia, &c.

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 20 January 1883;
and in The Queenslander on the same day.

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

See also.

Drought and Doctrine by J. Brunton Stephens

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Come, take the tenner, doctor ... yes, I know the bill says "five,"
But it ain't as if you'd merely kep' our little 'un alive;
Man, you saved the mother's reason when you saved that babby's life,
An' it's thanks to you I ha'n't a ravin' idiot for a wife.

Let me tell you all the story, an' if then you think it strange
That I'd like to fee ye extry --- why, I'll take the bloomin' change.
If yer bill had said a hundred ... I'm a poor man, doo, an' yet
I'd 'a' slaved till I had squared it; ay, an' still been in yer debt.

Well, you see the wife's got notions on a heap o' things that ain't
To be handled by a man as don't pretend to be a saint;
So I minds "the cultivation," smokes my pipe, an' makes no stir,
An' religion an' such p'ints I lays entirely on to her.

Now, she's got it fixed within her that, if children die afore
They've been sprinkled by the parson, they've no show for evermore;
An' though they're spared the pitchforks, an' the brimstun', an' the smoke,
They ain't allowed to mix up there with other little folk.

So when our last began to pine, an' lost his pretty smile,
An' not a parson to be had within a hunder mile ---
(For though there is a chapel down at Bluegrass Greek, you know,
The clargy's there on dooty only thrice a year or so) ---

Well, when our yet unchristen'd mite grew limp an' thin an' pale,
It would 'a' cut you to the heart to hear the mother wail
About her "unregenerate babe," an' how, if it should go,
'Twould have no chance with them as had their registers to show.

Then awful quiet she grew, an' hadn't spoken for a week,
When in came brother Bill one day with news from Bluegrass Greek.
"I seen," says he, "a notion on the chapel railin' tied;
They'll have service there this evenin' --- can the youngster stand the ride!

"For we can't have parson here, if it be true, as I've heard say,
There's a dyin' man as wants him more'n twenty mile away;
So" --- He hadn't time to finish ere the child was out of bed
With a shawl about its body an' a hood upon its head.

"Saddle up," the missus said. I did her biddin' like a bird.
Perhaps I thought it foolish, but I never said a word;
For though I have a vote in what the kids eat, drink, or wear,
Their sperritual requirements are entirely her affair.

We started on our two hours' ride beneath a burnin' sun,
With Aunt Sal and Bill for sureties to renounce the Evil One;
An' a bottle in Sal's basket that was labelled "Fine Old Tom"
Held the water that regeneration was to follow from.

For Bluegrass Creek was dry, as Bill that very day had found,
An' not a sup o' water to be had for miles around;
So, to make salvation sartin for the babby's little soul,
We had filled a dead marine, sir, at the family waterhole.

Which every forty rods or so Sal raised it to her head,
An' took a snifter, "just enough to wet her lips," she said;
Whereby it came to pass that when we reached the chapel door
There was only what would serve the job, an' deuce a dribble more.

The service had begun --- we didn't like to carry in
A vessel with so evident a carritur for gin;
So we left it in the porch, an', havin' done our level best,
Went an' owned to bein' "mis'rable offenders" with the rest.

An' nigh upon the finish, when the parson had been told
That a lamb was waitin' there to be admitted to the fold,
Rememberin' the needful, I gets up an' quietly slips
To the porch to see --- a swagsman --- with our bottle at his lips!

Such a faintness came all over me, you might have then an' there
Knocked me down, sir, with a feather, or tied me with a hair.
Doc, I couldn't speak nor move; an' though I caught the beggar's eye,
With a wink he turned the bottle bottom up an' drank it dry.

An' then he flung it from him, bein' suddintly aware
That the label on't was merely a deloosion an' a snare;
An' the crash cut short the people in the middle of "A-men,"
An' all the congregation heard him holler "Sold again!"

So that christ'nin' was a failure; every water-flask was drained;
Ev'n the monkey in the vestry not a blessed drop contained;
An' the parson in a hurry cantered off upon his mare,
Leavin' baby unregenerate, an' missus in despair.

That night the child grew worse, but all my care was for the wife;
I feared more for her reason than for that wee spark o' life....
But you know the rest -- how Providence contrived that very night
That a doctor should come cadgin' at our shanty for a light....

Baby? Oh, he's chirpy, thank ye -- been baptized -- his name is Bill.
It's weeks an' weeks since parson came an' put him through the mill;
An' his mother's mighty vain upon the subjick of his weight,
An' reg'lar cock-a-hoop about his sperritual state.

So now you'll take the tenner. Oh, confound the bloomin' change!
Lord, had Billy died! --- but, doctor, don't you think it summut strange
That them as keeps the Gate would have refused to let him in
Because a fool mistook a drop of Adam's ale for gin?

First published in The Queenslander, 19 January 1884;
and later in
Convict Once and Other Poems by J. Brunton Stephens, 1885;
Australian Ballads and Rhymes: Poems Inspired by Life and Scenery in Australia and New Zealand edited by Douglas Sladen, 1888;
A Century of Australian Song edited by Douglas Sladen, 1888;
The Poetical Works of Brunton Stephens by J. Brunton Stephens, 1902;
The Coo-ee Reciter: Humorous, Pathetic, Dramatic, Dialect, Recitations and Readings edited by William T. Pyke, 1904;
The North Queensland Register, 13 May 1933;
A Treasury of Colonial Poetry, 1982; and
The Poet's Discovery: Nineteenth Century Australia in Verse edited by Richard Douglas Jordan and Peter Pierce, 1990.

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

See also.

Twilight on Caloundra Beach by Emily Bulcock

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Shut out the sea and the sky,
The lonely sea and the sky,   
Where homeless and lost am I.
Kindle the warm, red fire
In the home of my heart's desire,
With the sheltering roof above.
Encircled by human love,
Let the lamplight softly shine
On intimate things of mine --
Comforting, homely things,
Clipping the soul's wild wings!
. . . Yet shut it out as I will,
It is there -- all that vastness still.
And I know, ah, well do I know,
Through the warmth of the fireside glow,
Tho' love chase the shadow away,
I must face it alone, one day.
All my doors will burst open at last,
And my home fires be quenched in the blast,
For there's something eternal in me,
Something tameless, and spacious, and free,
That is one with the sky and the sea,
That something, long chained by the flesh,
Even Death shall not hold in its mesh.
When the day of small things is past
And the great deeps triumph at last.  

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 18 January 1930

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Dreams by Mabel Forrest

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You thought it was the lapping of the tide
Where out by Garden Reach the long ships ride?

But I knew.
When the dawning drew the curtains of the East,
And the chattering birds were rousing to their feast,
And the waters by the dew-grey banks hung slack,
What you heard was just the Night Dreams slipping back.

From the big red house with blind eyes to the Quay,
From the damp green garden, where the canna burns.
Where the morn wind wrinkles on the spreading ferns,
And woos the boughs with wizard minstlelsy,
They are gliding to the hidden water ways;
Little White Dream, with a taper in her hand,
Pale, blurred vision you must wake to understand.
Tiny, tuneful one that round the heart-strings plays --
They are marshalling at every bedroom door;
They are stealing from the shadows of the hall,
They are answering the river's warning call,
They are pattering on the silent chamber floor,
"Come away!" the river cries, "for dawn is here;
And the working world would gibe at you by day;
Set your fragile feet upon the tidalway;
Bathe your bodies where the wave curl washes clear."

Past the fig trees clustered on the river's edge,
Past the homeless ones who shiver at the dawn,
Past the carex grouping on the graded lawn,
Past the honeysuckle, trailing from the hedge;
Past the sachet-scented frangipanni blooms,
Out across the furrowed road and dusty street;
Past the weeping figs whose bent bows softly meet,
And down among the wild weeds' musky glooms ---
Go the dreams that filled the pillows of the night;
Here a grey-eyed girl with citron-shaded hair,
Or a laughing love with one white shoulder bare;
Or a threat of hate with cruel lips shut tight;
From that shuttered house of loneliness and tears,
Where a woman lay at eve with empty arms,
Comes a little swaddled shape of dimpled charms,
A tender, coolng call the last star hears.
From the cottage where lean hunger stalks by day
Comes a dream of rich men's tables and of wine;
And round a barren door, a laden vine,
That Morn's first gilded gauntlet tears away;
From my window where the dull geranium grows
I heard my dream drop lightly to the blue;
It was silver Hope, with just one thought of you
To set upon its brow that velvet rose.

You thought it was the gurgling of the sea
By the black rat-riddled wharfing breaking free?
You thought it was the pressing of the tide
That strains the painter where the wherries ride?

But I knew!
For where day-caught dreams their rainbow colours keep.
Above, where yellowing awns have lost their dew,
With here a fleck of crimson, glimpse of blue,
I have seen the clinging robes of semite sweep;
And from that portal, dark beneath the moon,
By arch severe or doorstep white as milk,
'Twas strange to hear the rustling of silk,
And catch a sudden flash of scarlet sheen,
As stolidly he sleeps beside his spouse,
His mind presumably on stocks and shares;
Did Folly come and court him unawares,
Burgling her dream-way to his formal house?

And that grave prelate, from the pulpit's climb
Just a stone's throw along the tree-roofed track,
I heard the bells --- the capped fool making back,
And caught the jesting of the cheery mime;
While in the widowed chamber over there,
As, worn with weeping, closed his swollen eyes,
She lingered, cheating him with darling lies,
And binding his sick heart with her dead hair.

The schoolboy dreamed of armour on a field,
A doughty knight, a war horse sable skinned,
How with one stroke the foeman's ranks were thinned:
What clank. what rocking plumes his our walls yield!
The school girl, lily folded in her place,
Secure as dove within the sacred grove,
Majestic, saw some jet-locked lover move,
And read her future in a phantom face.

To all the flower-ringed walks were full of them;
And all the dusty way stirred to their feet:
One stooped to taste the breaths or jasmine's sweet,
Or brushed an aster with her garment's hem.
Down to the river, myriad-masked, they sweep,
Snow-breasted angel, form of lurking fear,
Frail fancy spectress, faces lost and dear,
From their long vigil in the world of sleep;
At noon they slumber in the heavy heat,
Beneath the black fumes of the factory's mouth,
Beneath the brown keels drifting to the south,
Or wide-winged shadows of the sailing fleet.

All day when red-forged sunrays scorch the banks,
And violet lights are sifted from the glare,
To where the rising shark makes globes or air,
Parting the levels of the water ranks --
There they lie waiting till the sunset's hand
Paints all the West and folds into the dark.
You heard a whispering by the green marge -- hark!
That was the dreams --- gone back from Pillow Land!

First published in The Sydney Mail, 17 January 1912

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also

Ballad of Mabel Clare by Henry Lawson

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An Australian story to be read and sung hereafter.

Ye children of the Land of Gold
   I sing a song to you,
And if the jokes are somewhat old,
   The main idea is new.
So, be it sung, by hut and tent,
   Where tall the native grows;
And understand, the song is meant
   For singing through the nose.

There dwelt a hard old cockatoo
   On western hills far out --
Where ev'rything is green and blue,
   Except, of course, in drought --
A crimson Anarchist was he,
   Held other men in scorn,
Yet preach'd that ev'ry man was free,
   And also "ekal born."

He lived in his ancestral hut ---
   His missus wasn't there ---
And there was no one with him but
   His daughter, Mabel Clare.
Her eyes and hair were like the sun;
   Her foot was like a mat;
Her cheeks a trifle overdone;
   She was a democrat.

A manly independence, born
   Among the trees, she had,
She treated womankind with scorn,
   And often cursed her dad.
She hated swells and shining lights,
   For she had seen a few,
And she believed in "women's rights"
   (She mostly got'em, too).

A stranger at the neighb'ring run
   Sojourned, the squatter's guest,
He was unknown to anyone,
   But like a swell was dress'd;
He had an eyeglass to his eye,
   A collar to his ears,
His feet were made to tread the sky,
   His mouth was formed for sneers.

He wore the latest toggery,
   The loudest thing in ties ---
'Twas generally reckoned he
   Was something in disguise.
But who he was, or whence he came,
   Was long unknown, except,
Unto the squatter, who the name
   And noble secret kept.

And strolling in the noontide heat,
   Beneath the "blinding glare,"
This noble stranger chanced to meet
   The radiant Mabel Clare.
She saw at once he was a swell ---
   According to her lights ---
But, ah! 'tis very sad to tell,
   She met him oft of nights.

And, strolling through a moonlit gorge,
   She chatted all the while
Of Ingersoll, and Henry George,
   And Bradlaugh and Carlyle --
In short, he learned to love the girl,
   And things went on like this,
Until he said he was an Earl,
   And asked her to be his.

"Oh, say no more, Lord Kawlinee,
   Oh, say no more!" she said;
"Oh, say no more, Lord Kawlinee,
   I wish that I was dead:
My head is in a hawful whirl,
   The truth I dare not tell ---
I am a democratic girl,
   And cannot wed a swell!"

"Oh love!" he cried, "but you forget
   That you are most unjust;
'Twas not my fault that I was set
   Within the uppercrust.
Heed not the yarns the poets tell ---
   Oh, darling, do not doubt
A simple lord can love as well
   As any rouseabout!

"For you I'll give my fortune up ---
   I'd go to work for you!
I'll put the money in the cup
   And drop the title, too.
Oh, fly with me! Oh, fly with me
   Across the mountains blue!
Hoh, fly with me! Hoh, fly with me! ---"
    That very night she flew.

They took the train and journeyed down ---
   Across the range they sped ---
Until they came to Sydney town,
   Where shortly they were wed.
And still upon the western wild
   Admiring teamsters tell
How Mabel's father cursed his child
   For clearing with a swell.

"What ails my bird this bridal night,"
   Exclaimed Lord Kawlinee;
"What ails my own this bridal night ---
   Oh love, confide in me!"
"Oh now," she said, "that I am yaws
   You'll let me weep --- I must ---
I did desert the people's cause
   To join the upper crust."

O proudly smiled his lordship then ---
   His chimney-pot he floor'd ---
"Look up, my love, and smile again,
   For I am not a lord!"
His eye glass from his eye he tore,
   The dickey from his breast,
And turned and stood his bride before
   A rouseabout --- confess'd!

"Unknown I've loved you long," he said,
   "And I have loved you true ---
A-shearing in your guv'ner's shed
   I learned to worship you.
I do not care for place or pelf,
   For now, my love, I'm sure
That you will love me for myself
   And not because I'm poor.

"To prove your love I spent my cheque
   To buy this swell rig-out;
So fling your arms about my neck
   For I'm a rouseabout!"
At first she gave a startled cry,
   Then, safe from care's alarms,
She sigh'd a soul-subduing sigh
   And sank into his arms.

He pawned the togs, and home he took
   His bride in all her charms;
The proud old cockatoo received
   The pair with open arms.
And long they lived, the faithful bride,
   The noble rouseabout ---
And if she wasn't satisfied
   She never let it out.

First published in The Bulletin, 16 January 1892;
and later in
Humorous Verses by Henry Lawson, 1941;
Freedom on the Wallaby: Poems of the Australian People edited by Marjorie Pizer, 1953;
Along the Western Road: Bush Stories and Ballads, 1981;
The Essential Henry Lawson edited by Brian Kiernan, 1982;
A Camp-Fire Yarn: Henry Lawson Complete Works 1885-1900 edited by Leonard Cronin, 1984;
The Penguin Book of Australian Satirical Verse edited by Philip Neilsen, 1986;
The Sting in the Wattle: Australian Satirical Verse edited by Philip Neilsen, 1993; and
The Penguin Book of Australian Ballads edited by Elizabeth Webby and Philip Butterss, 1993.

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

See also.

Dawn by Dorothy Eldon Clark

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When the last trembling star of all is set,
   Rises the lovely Lady of the Dawn
From an abyss of deep but spangled jet,
   Shrouded in misty draperies of lawn.

Sunbeams and moonbeams, you will find them there,
   Mingling a world of dreams in her dear eyes:   
And all the streaming splendour of her hair
   Flares like a banner 'gainst the shadow'd skies.

My Lady Dawn, from moon-bathed lands of Night,
   Comes as a fair ambassador to Day,
Treading a pathway of translucent light
   To Morning's portals looming dim and grey.

Soon, ah, so soon, your mission will be done
   See the mists curtaining the east are drawn --
At the triumphal coming of the Sun
   Earth bids farewell -- to you, sweet Lady Dawn.    

First published
in The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 January 1927

Nothing is known about the author of this poem.

Author reference site:

The Scent of Lilac by Myra M. Campbell

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The night is hot -- the air is still,
   And Drought lies brooding o'er the plain.
Then -- mem'ry brings, without my will,
   The scent of Lilac in the rain!
The drying swamp gleams weirdly white,
   The Plovers eerily complain;  
Yet -- stealing through the stifling night
   This thought of Lilac in the rain!
It comes like echo soft and low
   Of some soul-haunting, sweet refrain.
Do you remember . . . long ago
   The scent of Lilac in the rain?

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 January 1933

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

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

A Vision of Youth by Victor J. Daley

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A horseman on a hilltop green
   Drew rein, and wound his horn;
So bright he looked he might have been
   The Herald of the Morn.

His steed was of the sovran strain
   In Fancy's meadows bred ---
And Pride was in his tossing mane,
   And Triumph in his tread.

The rider's eyes like jewels glowed ---
   The World was in his hand ---
As down the woodland way he rode
   When Spring was in the land.

From golden hour to golden hour
   For him the woodland sang,
And from the heart of every flower
   A singing fairy sprang.

He rode along with rein so free,
   And, as he rode, the Blue
Mysterious Bird of Fantasy
   Ever before him flew.

He rode by castle and by cot,
   Through all the greenland gay;
Bright eyes through casements glanced at him;
   He laughed --- and rode away.

The whole world wide was all aflood
   With light empyrean,
And through his throbbing veins the blood
   In keen sweet shudders ran.

His steed tossed head with fiery scorn,
   And stamped, and snuffed the air ---
As though he heard a sudden horn
   Of far-off battle blare.

Erect the rider sat awhile
   With flashing eyes, and then
Turned slowly, sighing, with a smile,
   "The weary world of men!"

But ah -- but ah! the Morning glowed,
   The green trees beckoned him,
And deep, and deeper still, rode he
   Into the Forest Dim.

That rider with his face aglow
   With joy of life I see
In dreams. Ah, years and years ago
   He parted ways with me!

Yet, sometimes, when the days are drear
   And all the world forlorn,
From out the dim wood's heart I hear
   The echo of his horn.

First published in The Bulletin, 13 January 1894;
and later in
At Dawn and Dusk by Victor J Daley, 1898;
Selections from the Australian Poets edited by Bertram Stevens and George Mackaness, 1925; and
Early Verse of the Canberra Region: A Collection of Poetry, Verse and Doggerel from Newspapers, Other Publications and Private Sources edited by Lyall Gillespie, 1994.

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

See also.

January by Robert A. Smith

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Oh, the blessed warmth of the sun, and the smell of the grass and clover,
   And up in the blue of the sky the milky arc of the moon!
Here there is deep content, where the spreading pines bend over,
   And the brittle gorse-pods crack in the heat of the summer noon.

The bay is a sapphire shield, and the old red hulks are lying
   As still as the yellow isle on guard at the harbor's mouth;
Up on the silent hill-slope scarcely a breeze is sighing,
   Only a far high cloud drifts slowly to the south.

The manuka is abloom like snow that fell in December;
   Tall as a child of seven the flowering grasses stand;
And the flower of the flax is red -- oh, heart, 'tis a day to remember!
   And it's summer, summer summer, all over the happy land.

And where is there space for doubt, and where is there room for sorrow?
   Oh, summer of deep fulfilment, my heart is a flake of foam
On the sunlit crest of a wave of hope for the dawning morrow,
   When I'll wake to the certain knowledge of joy that is coming home!

First published in The Bulletin, 12 January 1922

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

Author reference site: Austlit

Cooranbeen by Henry Kendall

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Years fifty, and seven to boot, have smitten the children of men
Since sound of a voice or a foot came out of the head of that Glen;
The brand of black devil is there-an evil wind moaneth around;
There is doom-there is death in the air; a curse groweth up from the ground.
No noise of the axe or the saw in that Hollow unholy is heard --
No fall of the hoof or the paw -- no whirr of the wing of the bird;
But a grey mother down by the sea, as wan as the foam on the strait,
Has counted the beads on her knee these forty-nine winters and eight.

Whenever an elder is asked -- a whiteheaded man of the woods --
Of the terrible Mystery marked where the dark everlastingly broods,
Be sure, he will turn to the bay with his back to the Glen in the range,
And glide like a phantom away with a countenance pallid with change.
From the line of dead timber that lies supine at the foot of the glade
The fierce-featured eaglehawk flies -- afraid as a dove is afraid;
But back in that wilderness dread are a fall and the forks of a ford --
Ah, pray and uncover your head, and lean like a child on the Lord.

A sinister fog at the wane-at the change of the moon cometh forth,
Like an ominous ghost in the train of a bitter black storm of the North:
At the head of the Gully -- unknown, it hangs like aspirit of bale;
And the noise of a shriek and a groan strikes up in the gusts of the gale.
In the throat of a feculent pit in the beard of a bloody-red sedge;
And a foam like the foam of a fit sweats out of the lips of the ledge;
But down in the water of death-in the livid dead pool at the base --
Bow low with inaudible breath: beseech with the hands to the face.

A furlong of fetid black fen, with gelid green patches of pond,
Lies dumb by the horns of the Glen -- at the gates of the Horror beyond;
And these who have looked on it tell of the terrible growths that are there --
The flowerage fostered by Hell -- the blossoms that startle and scare.
If ever a wandering bird should light on Gehennas like this
Be sure that a cry will be heard, and the sound of the flat adder's hiss.
But hard by the jaws of the bend is a ghastly Thing matted with moss --
Ah, Lord be a Father -- a Friend, for the sake of the Christ of the Cross.

Black Tom with the sinews of five -- that never a hangman could hang --
In the days of the shackle and gyve, broke loose from the guards of the gang.
Thereafter for seasons a score this devil prowled under the ban,
A mate of red talon and paw -- a wolf in the shape of a man.
But, ringed by ineffable fire, in a thunder and wind of the North
The sword of Omnipotent ire -- the bolt of high Heaven went forth;
But, wan as the sorrowful foam, a grey mother waits by the sea
For the boys that have never come home these forty four winters and three.

From the folds of the forested hills there are ravelled and roundabout tracks,
Because of the terror that fills the stronghanded men of the axe.
Of the workers away in the range, there is none that will wait for the night
When the storm-stricken moon is in change, and the sinister fog is in sight.
And later and deep in the dark, when the bitter wind whistles about,
There is never a howl or a bark from the dog in the kennel without;
But the white fathers fasten the door, and often and often they start
At a sound like a foot on the floor, and a touch like a hand on the heart.

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 11 January 1879;
and later in
Songs from the Mountains by Henry Kendall, 1880;
A Century of Australian Song edited by Douglas Sladen, 1888;
Selected Poems of Henry Kendall edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1957; and
The Poetical Works of Henry Kendall edited by Thomas Thornton Reed, 1966.

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

See also.

Day's Dream by Zora Cross

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Even so, I think, the day dreams, too,
As men, as nations, hour by living hour,
And in the happy turning of a flower,
A leaf, a bird-song, all her dreams come true.
For, as at dawn, she dabbles in her dew,
And in the blue noon, out from some green bower
Shakes her fair hair low down in a glad shower,
   Her eyes with visions flock and grow more blue.

She sees a rarer light than the brave sun;  
She glimpses magic blossoms large and white.
Dusk, like a black cloud, draws her prison bars.
She dies and fancies all is lost and done;
Then leaps her dream! The great moon takes the night,
Calm 'mid her cold incomparable stars.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 January 1925

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of BiographyOld Qld Poetry

See also.

Vagueness by Henry Halloran

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Impromptu on Reading Tennyson's "Vastness."      


What were it all if the eyes of the mortal could measure the limitless vastness of God?
The vastness were narrowed, the infinite cramp'd to the vision of atoms of vapour and clod.


He who rides on the wings of the winds that are viewless as dust in the shoreless abysses of space,
Is not to be compassed by man, tho' his spirit may follow the footsteps of Beauty and Grace;  


May see, as in vision, the Architect building in vastness his myriad, myriad orbs;
And feel, in his own microcosmic conceptions, the reflex of Will which creates and absorbs;  


And learn, with a heart which is trustful, as childhood's, with something of childhood's pure spiritual gaze,
What is hid from the doubter in infinite darkness, from the scorner in utter Cimmerian haze.  


Is there God do they ask in their resolute blindness, a God who creates, and directs, and sustains?
Is there Light may they ask, when the Sun pours his splendors on pitiless caverns and desolate plains?


Is there purpose, that indicates wisdom eternal in the fitness, completeness and beauty of things?
Or merely the movements of Force moulding Matter -- blind singer, who knows not the song which he sings?


Is there goodness, if nerves that are thrilled with such transport as lifts up the human and makes it divine,
May be racked with the tortures sciatica fastens on agonised nature, from ankle to spine?


We see, altho' blind as the mole in its darkness, there is the Jehovah, the Father and God;
We feel there is light of the Light, and its brightness in darkness illumines the atom, the clod.


We know, atho' gross with a sensual stupor, His power in every breath which we draw;
And we bow to the goodness that bound all that's erring by the sharpness that roles in retributive law.


From the fountains of Morning the roseate splendors fall over the dim and insensible earth,
And all that seemed dead in the silence of darkness starts up into forms of a marvellous birth;  


The light seeks the caverns and depths, where the blackness of darkness the treasures of ocean concealed,
And the wonderful growths of the forests of beauty, of russet and crimson and gold, are revealed.


For miles down the steeps of the mountains they gather, with prisms of lustre awaiting the sun,
And trail thro' the valleys unknown of by mortals, for creatures of scarlet, and azure, and dun.    


Why the Maker made these for our eyes which can see not, for myriad miles beyond myriads told,  
Is breathed in the Sea's semitones that say "Beauty is fashoned of Harmony, gold within gold."  


Its dominant note has the same mighty meaning, and tells thro' all vastness, triumphant and clear,
The Beauty of Harmony -- God the Creator -- the Love that can fail not the Father, is here.


From the fountains of Morning, this Earth in its beauty, this glorious planet by angels was seen,
With its forests and oceans, its light and its shadow its places of lustre of gold and of green.  


And Space took her kindly, and gave her a welcome as clear from the hand of her Maker she sprung,
And the lines of her orbit, unchanging for ever, were fixed by His angels, her sisters among.


And the sounds of their singing her birth-hymn, in eohoes e'en now thro' the vastness are journeying on,
To return to the care of the saints who are toiling, when their resolute toil in His service is done.


For far in the vastness of ages uncounted has man been a toiler, that marvellous Man,
And he still is a toiler, in blindness and error, towards light and towards wisdom achieving a plan.


Thro' the crucible gold finds an infinite pureness, the terrible flame is its prescient friend;
And man, thro' his strivings of hope and of sorrow of anguish and triumph, still toils for an end.


Assailed by the tyrant, maligned by the liar, betrayed in his need by the friend of his heart,
He still holds on high his invincible spirit, and true to himself acts his resolute part.  


There are freedom and joy for that man of all others, tho' his home has been plundered that lies by the road;
And "three score and ten" is the least of the burthens he lifts on his back, and makes light of his load.


Peace, heart! in the light which is certainly coming, the spiritual light, second dawn of the soul,
The atoms which sprang from the Infinite Father shall see, not the parts, but the Infinite Whole


And read, with the eyes of archangels, the purpose which moved in its vastness the Infinite Will;
Until then, bow thee down in a silent adoring; it is He who hath willed it. Vain seeker, be still.

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 9 January 1886

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Fool and the Fire by C. J. Dennis

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A fool and a bag in a belt of scrub,
   Cloudless skies and the still hot days,
And the countryside's in a mad hubbub;
   Terror is here and the world's ablaze.
Five thousand sheep went West today,
   Bell's home at the crossing and Casey's pub;
And the cause of it all is a world away;
   A fool with a bag who passed the scrub.

An oaf with a match in a mile of grass,
   Where yesterday the skies shone clear;
But fury leapt where he came to pass;
   And now, ten miles away, comes fear.
Men toil and sweat in the reeking smoke
   That curling drifts to a sky of brass.
And now black ruin and homeless folk
   Are toll to an oaf in a mile of grass.

If the fool be caught can the fool repay?
   What is to do but build again,
And hope for the dawn of a better day,
   When folly is shorn from the ways of men;
What is to do but hope and pray.
   While the scars heal slow in a blackened land,
That the fool shall no more pass this way
   With the seeds of terror in his hand.

First published in The Herald, 8 January 1932;
and later in
Random Verse by C.J. Dennis, 1952.

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

See also.

So Long Ago by Emily Coungeau

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It cometh in my dreams that long ago,
   When all the world seemed bathed in golden light,
And when you told me that you loved me so
   The hours were burnished suns, there was no night,
So long ago.

Thy voice alone could calm my latent fears,
   And thou alone my every thought expressed.
Thy presence stayed my unrestrained tears,  
   Thy soft arms held me close against thy breast,
So long ago.

Thy dear lips spoke the tender words so sweet,
   It was thy hand which sought to guide the way
Along life's road, and set my faltering feet
   Upon the narrow path which leads to day,
So long ago.

So long ago; I see thee, heart of gold,
   Just as of yore, thou pure, fair spirit, yet  
Though o'er thy grave the flowers their buds unfold;
   I mourn thee still with passionate regret.  
For long ago.     

It cometh in my dreams, that olden grace,
   And, grave, sweet look, but lo, upon thy brow
A soft light shines. And, Oh: thy gentle face  
   Presses my tearful one as closely now
As long ago.

Dear eyes which shimered in a silver mist,
   I see them now as when I saw them last,
Smiling on me, ere Death had softly kissed
   And sealed them, but to open in Heaven at last
As long ago.  

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 7 January 1914;
and later in
Rustling Leaves: Selected Poems by Emily Coungeau, 1920.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Pastor McTavish and Elder McPhail by W. T. Goodge

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Dunreekie, a town of some little fame
   Is neither teetotal not sottish.
Its people, as you would conclude from the name,
   Are largely (and stolidly) Scottish.
And nothing more Scottish you've met, I'll go bail,
Than Pastor McTavish and Elder McPhail.

The new Liquor Act required caution and tact,
   And made Sunday-trading more risky,
But don't think Dunreekie, because of this fact,
   Went short of its Sabbath-day whisky!
"'Tis fearsome, ye ken, an' a sight tae bewail!"
Said Pastor McTavish to Elder McPhail.

Now, Elder McPhail, though an excellent man,
   Had liking for "jist a wee drappie";
Aye, e'en on the Sabbath ere service began
   A "dram i' th' morn" made him happy!
Which caused a suspicion of frost to prevail
'Twixt Pastor McTavish and Elder McPhail!

"It's jist the example ye're settin', ye ken,"
   The Pastor remarked to the Elder.
"The mistress declares ye're misleading the men;
   Or so the guid wives o' them telled her.
An Elder o' kirk ought to never be frail,"
Said Pastor McTavish to Elder McPhail.

"I'll no' say ye're wrang tae tak' whuskey the day;
   'Tis jist for the sake o' example!
Ye micht get eneuch on a Saturday, say,
   That maybe ye'd find tae be ample.
A quart on a saturday nicht should avail!
Said Pastor McTavish to Elder McPhail.

"Losh, mon!" cried the Elder, "'tis haverin' a'!
   The Lord haud ye safe in his keepin'!
Wi' a quart o' guid whuskey beside o' him, wha
   The Deil dae ye think was be sleepin'?
It couldna be done, mon! Giver over yer tale!
Ye're daft for a Pastor!" said Elder McPhail.

First published in The Bulletin, 6 January 1910

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Poetry Library

See also.
O Reader was it ever thine to see
   A battle of the storm and hurricane,
   Waged round the peaks of some huge mountain chain,  
The deadly flash of Heaven's artillery,  
The cannon smoke of squall-clouds luridly  
   Hanging about the vantage points -- the rain
   Pausing, like darkness, ere it drops amain     
To still the combat? Such was deigned to me
   On Mount Victoria's majestic pass;
      The thunder volleyed and thick smoke of cloud
   Enveloped York and mounts of lesser mass,
      Save when the murderous flash of lightning ploughed
   A momentary passage, and the hail
   Swept like a bullet shower before the gale.  
First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 5 January 1884

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Price of Freedom by Robert Lowe

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They tell us that Freedom's a holiday dress,
Very gaudy and flaunting, they're free to confess,
But too thin for the storm, and too frail for the blast,
It is quite out of place when the sky's overcast;
And that those on whose shoulders 'tis worthy to fall,
Not to wear it to rags, will not wear it at all.

They tell us that Freedom's a suppliant that bends
To the insults of foes and the treason of friends;
They say 'tis unstatesmanlike even to dream
Of insisting on right, if the right be extreme;
And that people in power will always be lenient
To modest requests -- If they're not inconvenient.

They say that if Governors choose to be skittish,
To thwart them is Turkish, to bend to them British; ---
That Freedom's the only good under the sun,
For which nought's to be suffered, no risk to be run:
And that he who would venture his neck or his gains
For so abstract a cause, is a fool for his pains.

They tell us --- but one thing they tell us not --- where
Has a nation been freed by submission and prayer?
What tyrant was ever persuaded to break
The bonds or his slaves for humility's sake?
And by whom was e'er Freedom successfully sought,
Who shrunk from the price at which Freedom is bought?

First published in The Atlas, 4 January 1845;
and later in
Freedom on the Wallaby: Poems of the Australian People edited by Majorie Pizer, 1953; and
Poetry Australia, April 1970.

Author: Robert Lowe (1811-1892) was born in Birmingham, England, and arrived in Australia in 1842.  He had graduated from Oxford in 1829, and after landing in Sydney was immediately admitted to the bar in New South Wales.  He served as a Member of the Legislative Council during the 1840s and also helped found The Atlas magazine, which he may also have edited.  He left Australia in 1850 and returned to England where he again entered politics, serving as Home Secretary in Gladstone's first ministry.  He was elevated to the House of Lords as Viscount Sherbrooke in 1880.  He died in Surrey in 1892.

Author reference site: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

A Happy New Year by John Rae

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Again we stand on the silver strand
   By the edge of life's feeling tide,
And fill our hand with the shifting sand
   That we find by the ocean side.
The sand will go, and the stream will flow,
   While the leaves grow yellow and sere;
The tongue of the warning bell, we know,
   Tolls the end of the dying year.

Our barque has sailed through the good old year
   With a fair and a gentle gale;
The year grew dear, and now with a tear
   We must bid the old friend farewell.
We lift our hat as we closely stand
   By the side of the passing bier,
Then turn and offer our heart and hand
   To welcome the coming New Year.

May peace abide in Australia's shore,
   And may all her industries thrive;
May all the blessings of old Eighty-four
   Be with us in new Eighty-five.
With kindest love let our hearts expand
   For friends who are loving and dear;
We offer a hand to all in the land,
   And wish them a happy New Year.

It looks but a span since the year began;
   It ends like a tale that is told;
It tells how short are the days of man ---
   For we, like the year, shall grow old.
We hope and pray that when we pass away
   A Friend at the end will appear
To welcome us home to eternal day,
   And wish us a happy New Year.

First published in The Queenslander, 3 January 1885

Author:  John Rae (ca1826-??) was a school teacher in Victoria who started a school in Bendigo before being moved to Port Meblourne State School.  He retired from teaching in 1891.

Author reference site: Austlit

The Western Plains by Walter D. White

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O'er league-long plains, elusive, yet Elysian,
I gaze, enraptured, at the fairy vision;
Down sunlit paths, through shadowy aisles of green,
Enthralled by all the witchery of the scene.
A world enchanted swims up to the drooping sky,
A vast, lone realm, out-stretching to infinity!   
Under clouded arches sapphirine,
While liquid gold with glory floods the Western way,
I linger through this wondrous Western day --
And dream of old-world pomps and long-forgotten times,
Of pageants royal, of flower-strewn paths, and joyous chimes --
And feel the mystery and the magic of the bush,
Of great, still spaces, richly, strangely blest;
Around and o'er me all the glamour of the West.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 January 1932

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

Song of the Rain by Hugh McCrae

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and the yellow pleasure of candle-light....
old brown books and the kind, fine face of the clock
fogged in the veils of the fire - it's cuddling tock.

The cat,
greening her eyes on the flame-litten mat;
wickedly, wakeful she yawns at the rain
bending the roses over the pane,
and a bird in my heart begins to sing
over and over the same sweet thing--

Safe in the house with my boyhood's love
and our children asleep in the attic above.

First published in The Lone Hand, 1 January 1913;
and later in
A Book of Australian Verse edited by Judith Wright, 1956;
The Penguin Book of Australian Verse edited by John Thompson, Kenneth Slessor and R.G. Howarth, 1958;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964;
Australia's Writers by Graeme Kinross-Smith, 1980;
The Collins Book of Australian Poetry compiled by Rodney Hall, 1980;
The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse edited by Beatrice Davis, 1984;
My Country: Australian Poetry and Short Stories, Two Hundred Years edited by Leonie Kramer, 1985;
Peace and War: A Collection of Poems edited by Michael Harrison and Christopher Stuart-Clark, 1989;
The Language of Love: An Anthology of Australian Love Letters, Prose and Poetry edited by Pamela Allardice, 1991; and
The Oxford Book of Australian Love Poems edited by Jennifer Strauss, 1993.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

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