February 2012 Archives

Birthday Toast: February 29 by C. J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Here's to all happy people born
   On February twenty-nine.
Tho' thro' four years they wait forlorn
   For their next natal day to shine
They've this o'er ordinary folk
Each date revives an ancient joke.

And Dad, whose years are eighty-four,
   Born in a leap year, heaps disdain
On those, who count him old and hoar.
   And chuckles, "Why should I complain?
My bright young life has just begun,
Why, man, I've just turned twenty-one!"

First published in The Herald, 29 February 1928

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

See also.

In the Silent Land by Mabel Forrest

| No TrackBacks
In the silent land,
Everywhere there is white, white sand,
And a deep and never-ending hush.
Over the grey and the sparse saltbush,
The bones of the fallen mark the track,
And life is one long, long looking back,
In the silent land.

In the silent land,
A lean Death stalks with a beck'ning hand,
The heavy swag to the back is bound,
The sweat falls salt on the thirsty ground,
Under a sun that for aeons has shone,
And the river is always "further on,"
In the silent land.

In the silent land,
Never is flower by wet wind fanned,
No bird calls cheering and musical,
But a wide-winged fear broods over all;
White sand, grey saltbush, and whiter bone--
And when men die it is all alone,
In the silent land.

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 28 February 1906

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also

Midnight Sonnets: An Old Friend by Henry Halloran

| No TrackBacks

He did much out of nothing, -- save a will  
   Resolute to do, or strive to do, some good
   For that great hobby-horse, the multitude.
He labored stoutly, both with tongue and quill;
A very Sysiphus, up the steep hill
   Of hard beginnings he the load withstood,
   That would have crushed a man of feebler mood,
And reached at length the summit of the hill,
      Do heads grow ever dizzy on a steep?
   Do those beneath strive ever to pull down     
Does folly dig a pit for conscious pride?
A grateful heart would some shortcomings hide, --
   Remember, how, he long had served the town, --
      Nor on grey hairs unmanly insults heap !    


We'll say the steed was really good in pace, --
   Rattled our buggy into town each day;
   Never was wearied in the common way,
Nor ever feared a tram-car horror to face;
Kept his feet safely, with a lofty grace,
   On wooden pavements, and on miry clay;
   Never, when corn-fed, was too hot or gay,
And of the pack of cards was really ace.     
Some scoffers swore he was a very Jack;  
   His master, out of temper, dragged a bit
At the old fellow's mouth, and pulled him back.  
   He tripped upon a stone, grazed knees, got hit;
"A vicious brute!" exclaimed the ignorant pack, --
   To see the cause they had too little wit.


"The press condemn him!" Well, I know the press,
   And wrought for it before some men were born,
   Who now would raise on high a stubborn horn,
And smite their brother in his sore distress.
These be not its true guides, for littleness
   Is not of its true functions, nor hot scorn;
   It's light is like the sun's at early morn,
Scattering the mists, and seeking power to bless;
      The great precursor of the coming time,
   The champion, cap-a-pie, of deathless truth,
   The Caesar, in its might and in its ruth,
      That smites injustice even as a crime.    
   That to the weak is gentle in its might,
   A beacon to the world, Pharos of coming light.   


Never again on public favor lean,
   But on eternal right fix well thy glance.   
   And vow to inward self, "I will advance   
And show what in the future must be seen;     
We cannot rest in 'what is' or 'has been;
   Life is eternal progress, hanging back
   Is craven-hearted ; let no sail be slack,   
But fill until it rip towards skies serene;"
Pray God to aid thee upon bended knee;
Think how to bless thy fellow men, e'en yet.
   Grapple great truth unto thy conscious heart;
   Do right to all men, whatsoe'r their part;       
Then shalt thou triumph like the sun, nor set
'Till in "I am," thou prov'st what thou hast been.

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 27 February 1886

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Fisher by Roderic Quinn

| No TrackBacks
All night a noise of leaping fish
   Went round the bay,
And up and down the shallow sands
   Sang water at their play.

The mangroves drooped on salty creeks,
   And through the dark,
Making a pale patch in the deep,
   Gleamed, as it swam, a shark.

In streaks and twists of sudden fire
   Among the reeds
The bream went by, and where they passed
  The bubbles shone like beads.

All night the full deep drinking-song
   Of Nature stirred,
And nought beside, save leaping fish
   And some forlorn night-bird.

No lost wind wandered down the hills
   To tell of wide,
Wild waterways; on velvet moved
   The silky, sucking tide.

Deep down there sloped in shadowy mass
   A giant hill,
And midway, mirrored in the tide,
   The stars burned large and still.

The fisher, dreaming on the rocks,
   Heard Nature say
Strange, secret things that no one hears
   Upon the beaten way;

And whisperings and wonder stirred,
   And hopes and fears,
And sadness touched his heart, and filled
   His eyes with star-stained tears:

And so, thrilled through with joy and love
   And sweet distress,
He stood entranced, enchained by her
   Full-breasted loveliness.

First published in The Bulletin, 26 February 1898, and again in the same magazine on 24 August 1949;
and later in
An Australasian Anthology: Australian and New Zealand Poems edited by Percival Serle, R.H. Croll and Frank Wilmot, 1946;
A Book of Australian Verse edited by Judith Wright, 1956;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964;
Australia Fair: Poems and Paintings edited by Douglas Stewart, 1974;
The Collins Book of Australian Poetry compiled by Rodney Hall, 1981;
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; and
100 Australian Poems You Need to Know edited by Jamie Grant, 2008.

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

See also.

Lassiandra by Ella McFadyen

| No TrackBacks
Blue loveliness the Lassiandra flings
   Across the lawn and down the stone-flagged path --
A scattered host of broken, violet wings.
   The frail, drenched harvest of the storm wind's wrath;

Like songs some sweet, uncertain poet sings
   Amid life's storm - his heart's imaginings,
Lovely in hope, in young ambition's flings,
   But loveliest of all in aftermath.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 February 1928

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

He Knew by Victor J. Daley

| No TrackBacks
he knew2.jpg

She was the Ball-room Belle, said all --
   And there were many there to see --
At that Vice-Regal festival
   Of grace and chivalry.

The men admired her, young and old,
   And wide and foolish, fresh and take;
But she was an iceberg cold,
   And as an iceberg pale.

With scornful glance and queenly air,
   She gazed upon the glowing scene,
As if a queen indeed she were
   And men her subjects mean.

One man alone of all the throng
   Kept far aloof from her awhile;
And, as she proudly swept away,
   Surveyed her with a smile.

Had he with hopeless love gone mad?
   Or was his cynicism forced?
Not so -- not nearly so; they had
   Been married -- and divorced.

And so, while conquests marked her track,
   He merely smiled to think that she
Had two large warts upon her back
   And was bandy in one knee.

First published in The Bulletin, 24 February 1900

Note: this poem was originally published with the illustration shown here.

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

See also.

The Bard and the Disbarred by Henry Lawson

| No TrackBacks
There's a little old pub that I go to,
   And one or two others as well;
And thirsty souls tram, walk and row to
   That little amphibious hotel.
It stands somewhere down where the whalers
   Held more than high revel of yore,
(And the jetty is handy to sailors
   On days when their skippers ashore.)

There's a sort of outcast physician,
   Because he had stuck to a mate.
There's a sort of thrown-out politician,
   Because he had tried to go straight.
And old actor --and he's our reciter --
   As long as his audience endure --
A pianist, and artist and writer
   (Art, music and lit-er-a-ture.)

There's a boxer that we call "the Feather" --
   He never showed white in his time --
He lost on a foul, and, well, whether --
   (I'm stuck up here for a rhyme.)
He lost on a foul, and, well this is
   A thing that might hurt 'em and vex;
The fool, I know, came from his missis,
   To the honour of all of her sex.

To the honour of all of her gender --
   (Oh, love in the spring-time is sweet);
There's a hard-working waster and spender,
   And so we are nearly complete.
But the other one lives for his life's sake,
   And his honour -- and he finds it hard;
He was struck off the rolls for his wife's sake,
   And he's known to us all as "Disbarred".

There are only two more I might mention,
   Though I don't know why they come here;
There's a water policeman, on pension,
   And a wrecker (whose mostly on beer).
And they can't understand how it rankles
   In the hearts of the young od "the force"
The floating ashore of brass ankles
   And davit, blown out of their course.

(Ain't it marvellous, weary world-ranger?
   So true that it sounds like a hymn --
Ain't it marvellous, shipmates in danger?
   Did you know that red herrings can swim?)

The Disbarred gives advice in all evil,
   Free gratis to husbands of sin.
(And in things merely local and civil --
   Oh, that's where "the Feather" comes in.)
She made your embezzlement easy,
   She made your embezzlement hard,
Your "victim" was rich, fat and greasy,
   And so she divorced you Disbarred!

I am one of the few friends that knew you,
   And how you fought upwards -- how hard;
A young married daughter stuck to you --
   But she died in childbirth Disbarred!
("In the wild wood a fountain is springing
   In the desert there still is a tree --
And a bird in the wilderness singing
   That speaks of thy spirit to me.")

Last New Year (my recollection),
   Or, maybe 'twas three years ago,
There was someone took up a collection
   In the little old pub that we know.
Said the Feaher, "I ain't got the science
   Of sparrin' with clack be ther yard --
Here's a coupler quid from yer clients
   Ter see yer past New Year, Disbarred."

And you went, like a lost soul that's banished
   And you slunk like a coward, outside.
And you went as you lately have vanished,
   To where fallen angels have pride.
But a bloke without principle saw yer
   By the little place down in the yard,
There were tears in the eyes of a lawyer,
   Though he'd been a long time disbarred.

First published in Truth, 23 February 1924;
and later in
A Fantasy of Man: Henry Lawson Complete Works 1901-1922 edited by Leonard Cronin.

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

See also.

Song of the Squatters by Robert Lowe

| No TrackBacks
The Commissioner bet me a pony -- I won,
So he cut off exactly two thirds of my run,
For he said I was making a fortune too fast,  
And profit gained slower, the longer would last.                

The Border Police -- they were out all the day,  
To look for some thieves, who had ransacked my dray;
But the thieves they continuied in quiet and peace,
For they robbed it themselves, did the Border Police!

When the white thieves had left me, the black thieves appeared,  
My shepherds they waddied, my cattle they speared;
But from fear of my license, I said not a word,
For I knew it was gone, if the Government heard.        

The Commissioner's bosom with anger was filled
Against me, because my poor shepherd was killed;
So he straight took away the last third of my run,
And got it transferred to the name of his son.

The cattle that had not been sold at the pound,
He took with the run, at five shillings all round;  
And the sheep the blacks left me at sixpence a head;
A very good price the Commissioner said.

The Governor told me I justly was served,
That Commissioners never from duty had swerved;
But that if I'd a fancy for any more land,
For ten pounds an acre he'd plenty in hand!

I'm not very proud! I can dig in a bog,
Feed pigs, or for firewood can split up a log,
Clean shoes, riddle cinders, or help to boil down --
Anything that you please, but graze lands of the Crown!

First published in The Atlas, 22 February 1845;
and later in
Port Phillip Patriot and Melbourne Advertiser, 5 March 1845;
Geelong Advertiser, 5 March 1845;
Port Phillip Herald, 6 March 1845;
Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser, 15 March 1845;
Northern Territory Times, 15 January 1932;
Freedom on the Wallaby: Poems of the Australian People edited by Majorie Pizer, 1953;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964;
The Penguin Australian Song Book edited by J.S. Manifold, 1964;
Poetry Australia, April 1970;
Old Bush Songs and Rhymes of Colonial Times edited by Douglas Stewart and Nancy Keesing, 1976;
The Penguin Book of Australian Satirical Verse edited by Philip Neilsen, 1986;
The New Oxford Book of Australian Verse edited by Les Murray, 1986;
Old Ballads from the Bush edited by Bill Scott, 1987;
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; and
The Puncher & Wattmann Anthology of Australian Poetry edited by John Leonard, 2009.

Author reference site: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Jim the Splitter by Henry Kendall

| No TrackBacks
The bard who is singing of Wollombi Jim
Is hardly just now in the requisite trim
   To sit on his Pegasus fairly;
Besides, he is bluntly informed by the Muse
That Jim is a subject no singer should choose;
   For Jim is poetical rarely.

But being full up of the myths that are Greek --
Of the classic, and noble, and nude, and antique,
   Which means not a rag but the pelt on;
This poet intends to give Daphne the slip,
For the sake of a hero in moleskin and kip,
   With a jumper and snake-buckle belt on.

No party is Jim of the Pericles type:
He is modern right up from the toe to the pipe;
   And being no reader or roamer,
He hasn't Euripides much in the head;
And let it be carefully, tenderly said,
   He never has analysed Homer.

He can roar out a song of the twopenny kind;
But, knowing the beggar so well, I'm inclined
   To believe that a "par" about Kelly,
The rascal who skulked under shadow of curse,
Is more in his line than the happiest verse
   On the glittering pages of Shelley.

You mustn't, however, adjudge him in haste,
Because a red robber is more to his taste
   Than Ruskin, Rossetti, or Dante!
You see, he was bred in a bangalow wood,
And bangalow pith was the principal food
   His mother served out in her shanty.

His knowledge is this -- he can tell in the dark
What timber will split by the feel of the bark;
   And rough as his manner of speech is,
His wits to the fore he can readily bring
In passing off ash as the genuine thing
   When scarce in the forest the beech is.

In "girthing" a tree that he sells "in the round",
He assumes, as a rule, that the body is sound,
   And measures, forgetting to bark it!
He may be a ninny, but still the old dog
Can plug to perfection the pipe of a log
   And "palm it" away on the market.

He splits a fair shingle, but holds to the rule
Of his father's, and, haply, his grandfather's school;
   Which means that he never has blundered,
When tying his shingles, by slinging in more
Than the recognized number of ninety and four
   To the bundle he sells for a hundred!

When asked by the market for ironbark red,
It always occurs to the Wollombi head
   To do a "mahogany" swindle.
In forests where never the ironbark grew,
When Jim is at work, it would flabbergast you
   To see how the "ironbarks" dwindle.

He can stick to the saddle, can Wollombi Jim,
And when a buckjumper dispenses with him,
   The leather goes off with the rider.
And, as to a team, over gully and hill
He can travel with twelve on the breadth of a quill
   And boss the unlucky "offsider".

He shines at his best at the tiller of saw,
On the top of the pit, where his whisper is law
   To the gentleman working below him.
When the pair of them pause in a circle of dust,
Like a monarch he poses exalted, august --
   There's nothing this planet can show him!

For a man is a man who can "sharpen" and "set",
And he is the only thing masculine yet
   According to sawyer and splitter --
Or rather according to Wollombi Jim;
And nothing will tempt me to differ from him,
   For Jim is a bit of a hitter.

But, being full up, we'll allow him to rip,
Along with his lingo, his saw, and his whip --
   He isn't the classical "notion".
And, after a night in his "humpy", you see,
A person of orthodox habits would be
   Refreshed by a dip in the ocean.

First published in The Freeman's Journal, 21 February 1880;
and later in
Songs from the Mountains by Henry Kendall, 1880;
The Sydney Mail, 12 August 1882;
Selected Poems of Henry Kendall edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1957;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964;
The Poetical Works of Henry Kendall edited by Thomas Thornton Reed, 1966;
My Country: Australian Poetry and Short Stories, Two Hundred Years edited by Leonie Kramer, 1985;
Selected Poems of Henry Kendall edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1988; and
Henry Kendall: Poetry, Prose and Selected Correspondence edited by Michael Ackland, 1993.

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

See also.

Hallucinations by Max A.

| No TrackBacks
There's a chap who told a story
   In the case of G.H. Druce;
'Twas a strange phantasmagory,
   Most perplexing and profuse.
Now, the doctors so sarcastic,
   Who have suffered him with patience,
Say he suffers from Fantastic

There are lots of men amid us,
   Men with tongues of gold -- or brass --
Who with oratory "kid" us
   While the spell-bound minutes pass.
Do they think, those men bombastic,
   As they spout their perorations,
That they suffer from Fantastic

Here and there you'll find a Chappie
   With a beauteous, classic face,
Who is always very happy
   When a Girl is near the place.
"She adores my Features Plastic" --
   So run his meditations;
He, too, has got Fantastic

'Mid the labour politicians
   There are many who believe
They're Society's physicians --
   Panaceas up their sleeve;
So they preach iconoclastic
   Doctrines unto all the nations,
Which are merely most Fantastic

Melbourne town has streets so dusty
   That they choke your breathing-spout:
And its Councillors too fusty
   Never wipe the nuisance out.
And that Tar and Sand make 'pastic
   To endure for generations
Is one of their Fantastic

So, you see, the Caldwell fellow
   Isn't quite the only butt
Whose brains are over-mellow,
   Who has jim-jams in his nut.
It stretches like elastic,
   This long line of queer creations,
Who are suffering from Fantastic

First published in Melbourne Punch, 20 February 1908

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

A Farewell to Brisbane by M. Roberts

| No TrackBacks
Farewell, dear Brisbane, to thy fond-loved haunts ---
Thy sunny skies, thy river rippling by,
Thy charming banks, of pleasant sun and shade,
Thy smiling hills, with verdure richly drest!
Thy habitations nestling in the vales,
Adorning slopes, or crowning summits high!
Brisbane --- reposing in thy wealth and pride,
Thy streets proclaim that Plutus is thy guest;
Long may his visit be! though other ports
Wish enviously for thy renowned fame.
May valued Commerce ever on thee gaze!
And Liberty o'erwatch thy every path!
May peace and plenty reign around those hills!
May war molesting ne'er disturb their rest!
Again --- and yet again --- through memory's glass
We view each spot endeared by time and thought;
Again we see thy landscape smiling clear ---
Beaming so brightly 'neath the morning sun!
Again we see the golden sunset hour,
When Nature mellows 'neath the ruddy hue,
While daylight melts away in glorious haze,
And stars appear, to herald night's approach.
Loved scene of all! --- the clear and tranquil night!
With busy life suspended. Peace around
Reigns silently, and Nature gladly rests,
Bathing in dew after the heat of day.
Our charms forsake us with advancing time --
Sad age arrests our youth's elastic step;
Though we may keep the fresh spring leaves of Hope,
Yet comes too soon the winter of our life.
Brisbane, such charms as thine will never fade;
No, ne'er be lost, whilst ever flows along
Thy beauteous river, winding in its course;
Thy banks, reflected in its limpid stream,
Preserve thy beauty to an endless day.
Dear Brisbane! though we say "farewell" to thee,
Our hearts due homage pay, though distant far;
And yet a lingering hope still haunts us here ---
A wish that once again we may behold
Those scenes --- if 'tis but to admire them more.

First published in The Queenslander, 19 February 1887

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

Author reference site:

Romance by Will M. Fleming

| No TrackBacks
A recent visitor has expressed the view that there is no romance in Australia outside the racecourse.

There is no romance in the brigalows,
   Nor out on the myall plains.  
There is nothing worth while in the mulga scrub
   When racing with slackened reins
To head-off a crashing clean-skin mob.
It's only a nurse-with-a-cradle job;
   There's no romance for your pains.

There is no romance in the mountain range,
   Where the blue peaks take the dawn.
It's a poor little thrill where the waterfall
   Leaps down through the dewy morn
For two thousand miles where the stockmen ride
Till it meets the strong incoming tide,
   Where romance has never been born.

There is no romance in the sounding surf,
   Where clean-limbed athletes sport
With the glorious grace of the Grecian gods;
   And glamour that youth has caught.
There is no romance in the harbour lights,
Or the jewel stars of the summer nights,
   For our romance is naught.

There is no romance in the men who come
   Through the choking desert sand
To win a mate from the grasp of death
   With the grip of a manly hand.
Where the risks are great and the cheers are few,
There is no romance in the deeds we do,
   In the name of a Brave Young Land?

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 February 1928

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Dead Stars by Peter Airey

| No TrackBacks
They tell us yonder new-found star
   That beams on mortal bowers,
It needed half ten thousand years
   To reach this Earth of ours.

And yet -- O strange! -- it may by now
   Be dead in ashes cold,
And quenched may be the tender ray
   That tints our Night with gold.

And so, perchance, thy word may shine
   What time thy life is o'er,
And send abroad a silver sign
   To light a distant shore.

Ay, so, perchance, may proudly gleam,
   When thou hast left this clime,
The mem'ry of thy noble deed
   Adown the deeps of Time!

First published in The Bulletin, 17 February 1921

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Perdita by Rolf Boldrewood

| No TrackBacks
She is beautiful yet, with her wondrous hair
   And eyes that are stormy with fitful light,
The delicate hues of brow and cheek
   Are unmarred all, rose-clear and bright;
That matchless frame yet holds at bay
The crouching bloodhounds, Remorse, Decay.

There is no fear in her great dark eyes --
   No hope, no love, no care,
Stately and proud she looks around
   With a fierce, defiant stare;
Wild words deform her reckless speech,
Her laugh has a sadness tears never reach.

Whom should she fear on earth?  Can Fate
   One direr torment lend
To her few little years of glitter and gloom
   With the sad old story to end
When the spectres of Loneliness, Want and Pain
Shall arise one night with Death in their train?

     .    .    .    .    .

I see in a vision a woman like her
   Trip down an orchard slope,
With rosy prattlers that shout a name
   In tones of rapture and hope;
While the yeoman, gazing at children and wife,
Thanks God for the pride and joy of his life.

     .    .    .    .    .

Whose conscience is heavy with this dark guilt?
   Who pays at the final day
For a wasted body, a murdered soul,
   And how shall he answer, I say,
For her outlawed years, her early doom,
And despair -- despair -- beyond the tomb?

First published in The Australasian, 16 February 1883;
and later in
Old Melbourne Memories by Rolf Boldrewood, 1884; and
An Anthology of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1907.

Author: Thomas Alexander Brown (1826-1915) was born in London and emigrated to Australia with this family in 1831.  He owned and ran cattle stations until drought drove him to live in Sydney on 1869.  He was appointed a Police Magistrate in New South Wales 1871 and served in several districts throughout the state.  He is mainly known for his novel Robbery Under Arms (1883),  He died in Melbourne in 1915.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

The Orange Tree by John Shaw Neilson

| No TrackBacks
The young girl stood beside me.  I
   Saw not what her young eyes could see:
- A light, she said, not of the sky
   Lives somewhere in the Orange Tree.

- Is it, I said, of east or west?
   The heartbeat of a luminous boy
Who with his faltering flute confessed
   Only the edges of his joy?

Was he, I said, borne to the blue
   In a mad escapade of Spring
Ere he could make a fond adieu
   To his love in the blossoming?

- Listen! the young girl said.  There calls
   No voice, no music beats on me;
But it is almost sound: it falls
  This evening on the Orange Tree.

- Does he, I said, so fear the Spring
   Ere the white sap too far can climb?
See in the full gold evening
   All happenings of the olden time?

Is he so goaded by the green?
   Does the compulsion of the dew
Make him unknowable but keen
   Asking with beauty of the blue?

- Listen! the young girl said.  For all
   Your hapless talk you fail to see
There is a light, a step, a call
   This evening on the Orange Tree.

- Is it, I said, a waste of love
   Imperishably old in pain,
Moving as an affrighted dove
   Under the sunlight or the rain?

Is it a fluttering heart that gave
   Too willingly and was reviled?
Is it the stammering at a grave,
   The last word of a little child?

- Silence! the young girl said.  Oh, why,
   Why will you talk to weary me?
Plague me no longer now, for I
   Am listening like the Orange Tree.

First published in The Bookfellow, 15 February 1921;
and later in
An Australasian Anthology: Australian and New Zealand Poems edited by Percival Serle, R.H. Croll and Frank Wilmot, 1927;
Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson by John Shaw Neilson, 1934;
A Book of Australian Verse edited by Judith Wright, 1956;
The Boomerang Book of Australian Poetry edited by Enid Moodie Heddle, 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;
The Penguin Book of Australian Verse edited by Harry Heseltine, 1972;
Australian Poems in Perspective: A Collecton of Poems and Critical Commentaries edited by P.K. Elkin, 1978;
Golden Apples of the Sun: Twentieth Century Australian Poetry edited by Chris Wallace-Crabb, 1980;
The Collins Book of Australian Poetry compiled by Rodney Hall, 1981;
The World's Contracted Thus edited by J.A. McKenzie and J.K. McKenzie, 1983;
Cross-Country: A Book of Australian Verse edited by John Barnes, 1984;
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;
Two Centuries of Australian Poetry edited by Mark O'Connor, 1988;
The Macmillan Anthology of Australian Literature edited by Ken L. Goodwin and Alan Lawson, 1990;
John Shaw Neilson: Poetry, Autobiography and Correspondence edited by Cliff Hanna, 1991;
The Faber Book of Modern Australian Verse edited by Vincent Buckley, 1991;
Selected Poems edited by Robert Gray, 1993;
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;
Hell and After: Four Early English Language Poets of Australia edited by Les Murray, 2005;
80 Great Poems From Chaucer to Now edited by Geoff Page, 2006;
100 Australian Poems You Need to Know edited by Jamie Grant, 2008;
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 reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

February 14 by C. J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
"Oh, will you be my valentine?
The sighing swain of 'eighty-nine,
   Hirsute and oiled, on bended knee
   Offers his queen idolatry.
She starts, she sighs, she hangs her head,
She droops her eyes and blushes red,
   Her heart beats high, her nerve is gone:
   "Oh, Cedric how you do go on!"

"Hey, touching valentines, old skate."
The brisk young sheik of 'twenty-eight
   Hugs his short-skirted, shingled miss,
   And on her shoulder plants a kiss.
She taps a fag upon her knee
And ogles him complacently:
   "Give us a light, and cut the rot,
   I'm simply aching for a spot."

First published in The Herald, 14 February 1928

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

See also.

The Blue Road by Christine Comber

| No TrackBacks
Slowly down the blue road
   Drifts a flock of sheep
Down the sloping blue road,
   More than fifty deep.

Huddled shoulder-close they move
   Along the dustless track;
Hotly beats the midday sun
   Upon each wooly back.

Now adown the blue road,
   Wide and unconfined,
See a score of rebel sheep
   Lagging far behind.

Rounded to a flock again,
   Driven they know not where,
Slowly down the road drift
   Sheep without a care.

Flock of fleecy cirrus clouds,
   Round and fat and white,
Wind, the shepherd, drives them on
   Slowly out of sight.

First published in The Sydney Mail, 13 February 1935

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

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

The Old Shepherd by Ironbark (G. Herbert Gibson)

| No TrackBacks
The setting sun's departing beam was giving place to night,
And placid lay the Lachlan's stream beneath the fading light.
The shadows of the river-gum were stretching long and black,
As, far from Sydney's busy hum, I trod the narrow track.
I watched the coming twilight spread, and thought on many a plan,
I saw an object on a-head -- it seemed to be a man.
A venerable party sat upon a fallen log,
Upon him was a battered hat, and near him was a dog.
The look that on his features hung was anything but sweet,
His swag and billy lay among the grass beneath his feet.
And white and withered was his hair, and white and wan his face --
I'd rather not have met the pair in such a lonely place.  
I thought misfortune's heavy hand had done what it could do;
Despair was branded on the man, and on the dingo, too.
A hungry look that dingo wore ; he must have wanted "prog,"  
I think I never saw before so lean and lank a dog.
I said, "Old man, I fear that you are down upon your luck;
You very much resemble, too, a pig that has been stuck."
His answer wasn't quite distinct (I'm sure it wasn't true),
He said I was (at least I think) "a --something Jackeroo!"   
He said he didn't want my chaff, and (with an angry stamp)
Declared I made "too free by half, a-rushin' of his camp."
I begged him to be calm, and not apologise to me,
He told me I could go to pot (wherever that may be),
And growled a muttered curse or two, expressive of his views
Of men and things, and squatters, too, new chums and Jackeroos.
But economical he was, with his melodious voice,
I think the reason was because his epithets were choice.
I said, "Old man, I fain would know the cause of thy distress --
What sorrows cloud thine aged brow I cannot even guess.
There's anguish on thy wrinkled face, and passion in thine eye
Expressing anything but grace, but why, old man, oh! why?
A sympathising friend you'll find, old man," I said, "in me,
So, if you've might upon your mind, unburthened let it be."
He gravely shook his grizzled head (I rather touched him there,)
And something indistinct he said (I think he meant to swear.)
He made a gesture with his hand; he saw I meant him well,
He said he was a shepherd, and a-takin' of a spell.
He said he waa an ill-used bird, and squatters they might be
(He used a very naughty word, commencing with a "d.")
Of shepherds oft in poet's song I'd read, but none had known,
Except the china one upon the mantel-piece at home.
I'd read about their loves and hates, as hot as Yankee stoves,
And how they broke each other's pates in fair Arcadian groves.
But nothing in my ancient friend was like Arcadian types --
No fleecy flocks had he to tend, no crook or shepherds' pipes.
No shepherdess was near at hand; and if there were, I guessed,
She'd never suffer that old man to take her to his breast!
No raven locks had he to fall, and didn't seem to me
To be the sort of thing at all a shepherd ought to be.
I thought of all the history I'd studied, when a boy,
Of Paris and AEone, and of the siege of Troy.
I thought, could Helen contemplate this party on the log,
She would the race of shepherds hate like Brahmins hate a dog.
It seemed a very certain thing that, since the world began,
No shepherd ever was like him, from Abel down to Pan.
I said, "Old man, you've settled now another dream of youth,
I always understood, I vow, mythology was truth.
Until I saw thy bandy legs and sorrow-laden brow,
But sure as ever eggs is eggs, I cannot think so now.
For an a shepherd thou shouldst be, then very sure am I
The man that wrote mythology was guilty of a lie.
But never mind, old man," I said, "to sorrow we are born,
So tell us why thine aged head is bended and forlorn?"
With face as hard as Silas Wegg's, he said, "Young man, here goes,"
He lit his pipe and crossed his legs, and told me all his woes.
He said, "I've just been 'lammin'-down a flock of maiden ewes,
And had a little trip to town, to gather up the news,
But while in Bathurst's busy streets I got upon the spree,
And publicans is awful cheats, for soon they lammed-down me."
He said he'd " busted-up his cheque" (what's that, I'd like to know?)
And now his happiness was wrecked, to work he'd got to go.
He'd known the time, not long ago, when half the year he'd spend
In idleness and comfort, too, while camping in a bend.
No need to tread the weary track, or work his strength away,
He lay extended on his back, each happy summers's day.
When sun-set comes and daylight flags, and dusky looms the scrub,
He'd bundle up his ration-bags, and toddle for his grub,
And to some station-store he'd go, and get the traveller's dower,
"A pint o' dust "(that was his low expression, meaning flour.)
But now he couldn't cadge about, for squatters wasn't game
To give their tea and sugar out to every tramp that came.
The country's strength he thought was gone, or going very fast.
And feeding tramps now ranked among the glories of the past.
He'd seen the Yanko in its pride, when every night a host
Of hungry tramps at supper tried for who could eat the most.
For squatters then had feelings strong and tender in their breast,
And if a traveller came along, they'd ask him in to rest.
" But Squatters' now !"-he stamped the soil and muttered in his beard
He wished they'd got a whopping boil! for every sheep they sheared.
His language got so very bad it couldn't well be worse,
For every second word he had now seemed to be a curse.  
And shaking was his withered hand (with passion, not with age),
I never thought so old a man could get in such a rage.
His eyes seemed starting from his head, they glared in such a way,
And half the wicked words he said I shouldn't like to say.
But from his language I inferred there wasn't one in three
Of squatters worth that little word commencing with a D.
Alas! for my poetic lore I fear it was astray,
It never told me shepherds swore or talked in such a way.
The knotted cordage of his brow was tightened in a frown --
He seemed the sort of party now to burn a wool-shed down.
I don't believe he'd hesitate, or reckon the expense,
With "Bell and Black's " to operate upon a squatter's fence!     
He told me further (and his voice grow very plaintive here),
That, now he'd got to make the choice and work, or give up beer.
From heavy toil he'd always found 'twas healthiest to keep,
And always stuck to cadgin' round and lookin' after sheep.
"But shepherdin' is nearly cooked,"(I think he meant to say
That shepherd's prospects didn't look in quite a hopeful way.)
A new career he must begin, (and fresh it roused his ire,)
"For squatters they was fencin' in with that infernal wire."   
And sheep was paddocked every where, ('twas like them squatters' cheek).
And shepherds now, for all they care, might go to Cooper's Creek.
He said he couldn't use an axe, and wouldn't if he could,
He'd see 'em blistered on their backs 'fore he'd go choppin' wood.
That nappin' stones or "shovelin" they wouldn't do for he,
And work, it was a cussed thing as didn't ought to be.
He'd known the Lachlan, man and boy, for close on forty year,
But now they'd poisoned every joy he thought it time to clear.
They gave him sorrow's bitter cup, and filled his heart with woe,
And now at last his back was up he felt he ought to go.
He'd heard of regions far away, across the barren plains  
Where shepherds might be blithe and gay, and burst the squatters 'chains.
To reach that land he meant to try. he didn't care a cuss
If 'twasn't any better, why it couldn't be much wuss.
Amongst the blacks (though old and grey), existence he'd begin,
And give his ancient, hand away in marriage to a gin.
He really was so old and grim, the thought was in my mind,
That any gin to marry him would have to be stone blind!  
T'would make an undertaker smile; what tickled me was this,
The thought of such an ancient file indulging in a kiss!
And if it's true, as Shakespeare said, that "equal justice whirls,"   
He ought to think of "Nick," instead of thinking of the girls.
Then droopod his grim and aged head, and closed that glaring eye,
And not another word he said, except a grunt or sigh.
More lean he looks, and still more lank, such changes o'er him pass
And down his ancient body sank in slumber on the grass.
I thought, old chap, you're wearing out and not the sort of coon
To lead a blushing bride about or spend a honey-moon;
Or if indeed there were a bride for such a withered stick
With such a tough and wrinkled hide, that bride should be Old Nick.
As streaks of faintish light began to mark the coming day     
I left that grim mid aged mau and slowly stole away.
And when the winter nights are rough and shrieking is the wind,
Or when I've eaten too much duff and dreams afflict my mind,
In lonely watches of the night I see that trembling hand --   
I see (and horrid is the sight) the face of that old man.
And on my head in agony up rises every hair,
I see again his glaring eye, in fancy hear him swear.
At breakfast time when I come down to take that pleasant meal,
With pallid face and haggard frown into my place I steal,   
And when they say I'm far from bright, the truth I dare not tell,
I say I've passed a sleepless night and don't feel very well.  

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 12 February 1876

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

To a Fair Australian by Douglas B. W. Sladen

| No TrackBacks
I wonder what home folks would think
   Who saw you sitting there
In that delightful maze of pink
  By some French dressmaker,
Toying a slender foot --- size 2, --
   In broidered silk encased,
In and out of the last Court shoe
   That took Parisian taste?

The first time they took stock of you
   They'd note the union rare --
Complexion of the warmer hue
   With crown of pale gold hair;
'Twas this Italian masters loved
   On canvas to pourtray,
And some such witchery that moved
   The king Cophetua:

While the refinement of your face
   And the unconscious knack,
The careless captivating grace
   With which you're leaning back,
Could not be bettered if you were
   The daughter of a peer,
Or long-descended commoner
   In the same social sphere.

There's not a fairer in Mayfair,
   Or better bred or drest
In the galaxy gathered there
   Of England's loveliest.
You look so dainty, so complete,
   So far from common folk,
As if you'd never crossed the street
   Without a Raleigh's cloak.

And yet I've seen you --- often too ---
   On a half-broken horse
Pressing an old man kangaroo
   O'er fence and watercourse;
Galloping hard 'twixt low-branched trees,
   Mid burrows and ant-heaps,
Pulling the colt up from his knees,
   Or putting him at leaps.

And if they knew the simple things
   With which you're gratified,
And saw your hearty welcomings
   And freedom from false pride,
They'd never dream that you command
   All money can acquire,
And occupy a block of land
   As large as Lincolnshire.

I wish I'd Millais' art to trace
   You as you're sitting there,
With your bright summer-tinted face
   And golden crown of hair!
To catch the sweet simplicity
   And gallant confidence
That mingle in your frank blue eye
   And argue innocence.

I like to see your elegance
   And fashionableness;
To see Australia meet France
   Not blushing at her dress;
And like to think that, when at rest,
   And lounging as you please,
You can face England's haughtiest,
   And not look ill at ease.

Innocence need not be uncouth,
   And Nature's not ill drest;
Nor is it any crime for youth
   To try to look her best.
It pleases most when wealth and grace,
   Accomplished and ornate,
Seek not with coldness to efface
   The pleasure they create.

First published in The Queenslander, 11 February 1882

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Rescue by Edward Dyson

| No TrackBacks
There's a sudden, fierce clang of the knocker, then the sound of a voice in the shaft,
Shrieking words that drum hard on the centres, and the braceman goes suddenly daft:
"Set the whistle a-blowin' like blazes! Billy, run, give old Mackie a call --
Run, you fool! Number Two's gone to pieces, and Fred Banker is caught in the fall!
Say, hello! there below -- any hope, boys, any chances of savin' his life?
'Heave away!' sez the knocker. They've started. God be praised, he's no younguns nor wife!"'      

Screams the whistle in fearful entreaty, and the wild echo raves on the spur,
And the night that was still as a sleeper in a soft charm├ęd sleep is astir
With the fluttering of wings in the wattles, and the vague frightened murmur of birds,
With far cooeys that carry the warning, running feet, inarticulate words
From the black belt of bush come the miners, and they gather by Mack on the brace,
Out of breath, barely clad, and half wakened, with a question in every face.

"Who's b'low?" "Where's the fall?" "Didn't I tell you? -- Didn't I say that them sets wasn't sound?"
"Is it Fred? He was reckless, was Baker, now he's seen his last shift underground."
"And his mate? Where is Sandy M'Fadyn?" "Sandy's snorin' at home on his bunk."  
"Not at work! Name o' God! a forebod'n'?" "A forebodin' be hanged! He is drunk!"
'Take it steady there lads!" the boss orders. He is white to the roots of his hair.
"We may get him, alive before daybreak if he's close to the face and has air."  

Down below in the dim drive like demons the facenmen are pegging away.
Long and Coots in the lowermost level heard her thunder, nor lingered to say
What it meant; but they rushed for the ladders, and they went up the shaft with a run,
For they knew the weak spot in the workings, and they guessed there was graft to be done.
Number Two was pitch dark, and they scrambled to the plat and they made for the face,
But the roof had come down fifty yards in, and the reef was all over the place.

Now they give way to men from the surface, and they're hauled up on top for a blow,
When a life and death job is in doing there's room only for workers below.
Bare-armed, and bare-chested, and browny, with a grim, meaning set of the jaw,
The relay hurry in to the rescue, caring not for the danger a straw;
'Tis not toil, but a battle, they're called to, and like heroes the miners respond,
For a dead man lies crushed 'neath the timbers, or a live man is choking beyond.

By the faint, yellow glow of the candles, where the dank drive is hot with their breath,
On the verge of the Land of the Shadow, waging war breast to bosom with Death,
How they struggle, these giants, and slowly, as the trucks rattle into the gloom,
Inch by inch they advanco to the conquest of a prison -- or is it a tomb?
And the workings re-echo a volley as the timbers are driven in place,
But a whisper is borne to the toilers: "Boys, his mother is there on the brace!"    

Like veterans late put into action, fierce with longing to hew and to hack,   
Riordan's shift rushes in to relieve them, and the toil-stricken men stagger back.
"Stow the stuff, mates, wherever there's stowage! Run the man on the brace till he drops!
There's no time even to think on this billet. Bark the heels of the trucker who stops!
Keep the props well in front and he careful. He's in there and alive, never fret."
But the grey dawn is softening the ridges, and the word has not come to us yet.

At the mouth of the shaft men are waiting, all intent, as if held by a charm;
And their thews feel the craving for action, but they look with a sorrowful calm
Where a woman sits crouched by the capstan. In her eyes is not hope nor despair,
But a yearning that glowers like frenzy, and bids those who'd speak pity forbear.
Like a figure in stone she is seated till the labour of rescue be done,
For the father was killed in the Phoenix, and the son -- Lord of pity! the son?  

Still the knocker rings out and the engine shrieks and strains like a creature in pain
As the cage surges up to the surface or drops back to the darkness again.  
Now the morn is aglow on the ranges where the magpies are rivals in song   
And the musk scent steals up from the gully, but the battle is bitten and long.
"Hello! there on top!" they are calling. "They are through! He is seen in the drive!
They have got him -- thank Heaven! they've got him, and oh, blessed be God, he's alive! "  

"Man on! heave away!" "Step aside, lads, let his mother be first when he lands."
She was silent and strong in her anguish; now she babbles and weeps where she stands,
And the stern men, grown gentle, support her at the mouth of the shaft, till at last
With a rush the cage springs to the landing, and her son's arms encircle her fast.
She has cursed the old mine for its murders, for the victims its drives have ensnared,
Now she cries a great blessing upon it for the one precious life it has spared.

First published in The Argus, 10 February 1894;
and later in
The Launceston Examiner, 24 February 1884;
Rhymes from the Mines and Other Lines by Edward Dyson, 1896;
The Coo-ee Reciter: Humorous, Pathetic, Dramatic, Dialect, Recitations and Readings edited by William T. Pyke, 1904;
Old Ballads from the Bush edited by Bill Scott, 1987;
A Collection of Australian Bush Verse, 1989; and
Two Centuries of Australian Poetry edited by Kathrine Bell, 2007.

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

See also.

Castles in the Air by Louisa Lawson

| No TrackBacks
They leant upon the old sliprail,
   And she was mute, while he
Sent fairy ships away to sail
   Upon a rosy sea.
She listened, but no word she said,
   She knew it could not be.

He pictured what fate had in store
   When they came back from sea --
Great galleons from golden shore
   With treasure trove; but she
Just smiled and softly shook her head.
   She knew it could not be.

First published in The Sydney Mail, 9 February 1910;
and later in
Louisa Lawson: Collected Poems with Selected Critical Commentaries edited by L.M. Rutherford, M.E. Roughley and Nigel Spence, 1996.

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

See also.

The Future of Australia by Mary Hannay Foott

| No TrackBacks
Sing us the Land of the Southern Sea --
The land we have called our own;
Tell us what harvest there shall be
From the seed that we have sown.

We love the stories of stirring days,
The songs of the wind and wave,
The Border ballads and courtly lays,
And the poems Shakespeare gave.

We love the chant, like cathedral chimes,
Of him "made blind to sing."
We list the Laureate's languid rhymes;
His verse of the knightly ring.

For the tears they tell of our brethren wept;
Their praise is our fathers' fame;
They sing of the Seas our navies swept --
Of the shrines that lent us flame.

But the Past is past for all its pride,
And its ways are not our ways;
We watch the flow of a fresher tide,
And the dawn of brighter days.

Sing us the Land of the Southern Sea --
The land we have called our own ;
Tell us what harvest there shall be
From the seed that we have sown.

* * * * *

I see the child we are tending now,
To a queenly stature grown;
The crown of empire on her brow,
And the purple round her thrown.

She feeds her household plenteously,
From the granaries we have filled;
Her vintage is gathered in with glee,
From the fields our toil has tilled.  

The Old World's outcast starvelings feast
Ungrudged on her corn and wine,
The gleaners are welcome west and east
Where her autumn sickles shine.

She clothes her people in silk and wool,
Whose warp and whose woof we spun,
And sons and daughters are hers to rule;
And of slaves-she has not one.

There are herds of hers on a thousand hills;
There are fleecy flocks untold,
No foreign wealth her coffers fills, --
She has streams whose sands are gold!

She will not scramble for falling crowns;
No theft shall her 'scutcheon soil;
She shall fear no despot's smiles or frowns --
Shall have no need of spoil.

But if wronged or menaced, she shall stand
Where the battle-surges swell, --
The sword of Heaven in her hand,
Like the sword of La Pucelle!

If there be ever so base a foe
As to speak of a time-cleansed stain, --
To say, "She was cradled, long ago,
'Mid clanks of the convict's chain."

Ask.-as the taunt in his teeth is hurled, --
"What lineage sprang she from
Who was Empress once of the Pagan world,
And the Queen of Christendom?"

When the toils of her early years are o'er,
And her children round her throng, --
They shall learn from her of the sage's lore,
And her lips shall teach them song.

And then of those in the dust who dwell,
May there kindly mention be!
May the birds that build in the branches tell
Of the planting of the tree!  

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 8 February 1873;
and later in
Where the Pelican Builds and Other Poems by Mary Hannay Foott, 1885; and
A Book of Queensland Verse edited by J.J. Stable and A.E.M. Kirkwood, 1924.

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

See also.

Surfing Morning by Ruth M. Bedford

| No TrackBacks
Blue and white the sea is; blue and white the sky;
Softer than the flight of birds the little breezes fly;
The very clouds are flecks of light, the sand is warm and gold,
And you and I this morning are six and five years old!

Take my hand and run with me! Now the waves begin;
Quickly through the shallows -- deeper, deeper in!
The laughing water plays with us, splashes us with spray.
Leaps at us and knocks us down and rolls our years away.

Towering come the great waves -- will you jump or dive?
Are you glad the summer's come -- glad that you're alive?
Happy is the sparkling sea, the sky, the golden sands,
And all the world is given into our young hands.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 February 1925

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Down the River by Barcroft Boake

| No TrackBacks
Hark, the sound of it drawing nearer,
Clink of hobble and brazen bell;
Mark the passage of stalwart shearer,
Bidding Monaro soil farewell.

Where is he making for?  Down the river,
Down the river with eager tread;
Where is he making for?  Down the river,
Down the river to seek a 'shed'.

Where is his dwelling on old Monaro?
Buckley's Crossing, or Jindaboine?
Dry Plain is it, or sweet Bolaira?
P'raps 'tis near where the rivers join
Where is he making for? Down the river.
When, oh when, will he turn him back?
Soft sighs follow him down the river,
Moist eyes gaze at his fading track.

See, behind him his pack-horse, ambling,
Bears the weight of his master's kit,
Oft and oft from the pathway rambling,
Crops unhampered by cruel bit.
Where is he making for?  Equine rover,
Sturdy nag from the Eucumbene,
Tempted down by the thought of clover,
Springing luscious in Riverine.

Dreams of life and its future chances,
Snatch of song to beguile the way;
Through green crannies the sunlight glances,
Silver-gilding the bright 'Jack Shay'.
"So long, mate, I can stay no longer,
So long, mate, I've no time to stop,
Pens are waiting me at Mahonga,
Bluegong, Grubben and Pullitop.

"What! you say that the river's risen?
What! that the melted snow has come?
What! that it locks and bars our prison?
Many's the mountain stream I've swum.
I must onward and cross the river,
So long, mate, for I cannot stay;
I must onward and cross the river,
Over the river there lies my way."

One man short when the roll they're calling;
One man short at old Bobby Rand's;
Heads are drooping and tears are falling
Up on Monaro's mountain lands.

Where is he making for? Down the river,
Down the river of slimy bed;
Where is he making for? Down the river,
Down the river that bears him, dead.

First published in The Bulletin, 6 February 1892;
and later in
Where the Dead Men Lie and Other Poems by Barcroft Boake, 1897;
A Collection of Australian Bush Verse, 1989;
Classic Australian Verse edited by Maggie Pinkney, 2001;
An Australian Treasury of Popular Verse edited by Jim Haynes, 2002;
Two Centuries of Australian Poetry edited by Kathrine Bell, 2007; and
Barcroft Boake: Collected Works, Edited, With a Life edited by W. F. Refshauge, 2007.

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

See also.

Evolution by Emily Coungeau

| No TrackBacks
A child of the Sun I am ages old,
I live on the Past, and its wisdom unfold;
A Handmaid of Nature my dwelling unseen,
I'm integrally part of whatever has been.
Like a meteor I sprang from the womb of the Sky.
For of Sun dust and Star dust an atom am I;
Whatever my place in Cosmogonic Laws,
I belong to the Great and Invisible Cause.   
Incorporate yet with the corporate mind
I resolve myself, evolve, and govern Mankind.
I was nursed in Oblivion, with Silence was reared,
Controlling Man's destiny, ever unheard;
I press through the centuries slowly, but sure,
And I never may rest until Time be no more.   
An Atom of mighty centrifugal force,
No power can destroy or can alter my course;
Though Earth and her Satellite fall like a star,
I still will rejoice on some Planet afar.
A Mentor I am if Man will but read,
For Cause and Effect are God's agents indeed.   
Though I ever despoil, yet I ever renew,
And I silently work where no mortal may view:  
I move on the Mountains, I move in the Deep,
I never am still, yet eternally sleep;
Like the dew of the morning refreshing the ground  
I bless and am blended with all things around.
From the steps of the past to the future I climb,
For from Heaven I am sent with a message sublime:    
On the Rocks -- Nature's Book -- my traces I leave,
That in me -- Evolution -- you all may believe.

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 5 February 1913;
and later in
Rustling Leaves: Selected Poems by Emily Coungeau, 1920.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

No Choice by W. T. Goodge

| No TrackBacks
"When I was a kiddy and away out-back,"
   Said the man with the salt-bush lingo.
"My dogs, two cattle-dogs, grey and black,
They gets fair on to the blinded track
   Of a walloping great big dingo!
The savagest beast in all the pack -
   Oh, he was the real old stingo!"

"They rounded him up till he climbs a tree
   And of course he was mighty glad to."
"Hold on," says I, "for I never did see
A dingo yet as could climb a tree
   And I've seen 'em run real bad, too!"
"You can say that beast can't climb a tree?
   By the holy smoke he had to!"
First published in The Bulletin, 4 February 1899

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

From Manly by Marjorie Quinn

| No TrackBacks
As morn comes stealing stealing on the sea,
I watch its advent, like a devotee.
The sun-rays reach South Head, their seeking light
Touching the Light-House to a shining white;
North Head in shadow and a hill-side green,
Below, the long red roofs of Quarantine.

How still the sea sleeps! Scarce a ripple stirs
Its silken surface: few the voyagers
Who vex its calm. While sail no questing ships,
Down to its breast the wheeling sea-gull dips.
Beyond the Light-House high upon South Head,
The red-roofed houses down the slopes are spread.

The day comes, heralded by peace, serene;
Night follows on its heel -- and what between?
Peace? Or the storm that takes unerring toll
While through the Heads the long waves surge and roll,
To break upon the rocks within the bay,
In beaten foam and snowy-frosted spray?  
Peace on the sea and in the heart of man,
In these short hours the flying moments span,
Or tempest, wreaking its impetuous will
On man and sea, till rage has had its fill!

The day breaks fair; this much the seeker knows,
Nor he, nor any, may descry its close,
Though it shine fair, alas! that grief and pain
May be its servants, treading in its train.

On many, many days the harbour lies,
Dreaming in loveliness beneath bright skies;
On many, many days a man shall be
Rich in small joys, with home his Treasury.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 February 1934

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

The Men Upon the Land by George Essex Evans

| No TrackBacks
   The City folk, they whirl about
      In cab, and tram, and train.
   They grumble at the days of drought,
      They grumble at the rain.
   To comfort wed, and easy ways,
      They fear to soil a hand;
But the men who build the Nation are the men upon the land.

   The City calls, the streets are gay,
      Its pleasures well supplied,
   So of its life-blood every day
      It robs the country side.
   To banks, and shops, and offices,
      Men throng, an eager band:
But the hearts that build the Nation are the men upon the land.

   How shall we make Australia great
      And strong when danger calls
   When half the people of the State
      Are crammed in city walls?
   And the wide heritage we hold
      Lies empty and unmanned,
And the strength that makes a nation is not rooted in the land.

   Break off! Strike out! O -- Come away!
      Be master of your lie!
   A home for every heart to-day
      That fears not toil or strife!
   There's music in the axe's ring
      Swung by a strong right hand,
And the men who make the Nation are the men upon the land.

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 2 February 1906;
and later in
The Cairns Post, 6 November 1928.

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

See also.

February by Zora Cross

| No TrackBacks
A red, dull, purple haze that lingers still
   Proclaims the way the fierce December went
   In sudden wrath, with awesome flames bespent,
As if on blood some savage gorged his fill.
Lean January, like a vuture shrill,
   Soared o'er the waste on evil missions bent,
   And, at the dried creek, flapped her wings and sent
A shower of sullen sparks across the hill.

Now, dazed, we watch the skies and almost pray,
   We are so sick of fiery red and black.
Brown desolation stares from every side,
And there is not one day one does not say,
   "Come, February, take the bridle track,
And through the land your wild, wet horses ride!"

First published in The Bulletin, 1 February 1923

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of BiographyOld Qld Poetry

See also.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2012 is the previous archive.

March 2012 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


Powered by Movable Type 4.23-en