April 2012 Archives

An Easter Hymn by Will H. Ogilvie

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The long-neck spurs are idle, and the shoes are off the brown;
The saddle-backs are spelling at the back of Boona Range;
The engine's fired and waiting, and it's hey for Sydney Town!
The sheep can go to blazes, for the shepherds want a change.
A twelve-month we've been toiling, as the best of sheep-men must,
Playing games of woolly billiards, with a pine-stick for a cue,
And wearing down the rollers of our long-necks in the dust,
And saying little prayers to the gentle full-mouth ewe!

Now --- the roaring of the traffic and the flashing of the lights!
Now --- the ships upon the harbor and the crowds upon the quay!
Now --- the revel of the mornings and the riot of the nights!
The long-worn fetters broken and --- the freedom of the free!
The crowds are keeping Easter and the shrines are overflowed:
We shall trouble not the churches or the chapels, comrades mine,
There are other altars hold us on the broad and flowery road,
And the gods we go to worship are the Gods of Love and Wine!

In a fortnight you'll be weary of the streets that slack and fill,
Of the nights of restless revel and the noons of languid ease,
And you'll wish that you were riding at the back of Boona Hill,
With the miljee at your stirrups and the gooma at your knees.
You can ride the bucking harbor when the tide rips thro' the Heads,
You can mount the moving tram-cars in a smoke too thick to see,
You can mash the merry barmaids, you can "do" the show-yard sheds --
A gallop down the Yarran flats is good enough for me.

First published in The Bulletin, 30 April 1898

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Immortals by Marjorie Quinn

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Steep is the path and dark the way,
   Yet great deeds, these our legacy,
To us are given, that they may  
   Make sweet long years that are to be.
Dark sorrow in her gloomy pall
   (In those grim days of yesteryear),  
Enwrapt us, stole from one and all
   The speeding words of hope and cheer.
Yet one thing could she not destroy!  
   The glory that remains our fame;
She stole our hope, she stole our joy --
   She gave us an immortal name.
The Anzacs! Evermore our pride  
   Though friends, though fortune all depart,
And life itself-their names abide,
   Enshrined within a nations heart.

First published
in The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 April 1933

Author reference site: Austlit

See also

The Barrier by Charles Henry Souter

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For I have been no near -- so near
   That I could hear your heart's sweet rhyme
Singing its song of Love and Fear
   And joy of Youth and scorn of Time!
So near! The fragrance of your breast
   Beset me, bidding me forget
Name, fame and birthright and the rest --
   All things that bound me e'er we met!
So close I needs must hold my breath
   Lest it should shatter in a trice
The web 'twixt you and me and Death,
   Brittle as Love and cold as ice!
And I must school my eager hand
   To meet your hand and tell it nought!
Ah! Resolutions writ in sand!
   Ah! Selfish honor, dearly bought!
I know the soft sound of your tread,
   The sweetness of your loving lip,
And every curve from heel to head,
   From finger-tip to finger-tip!
And yet ---- . . .
   . . . The little space between
(Scarce a hand's breath, a tiny span!)
   Might all the world as well have been,
To part a woman and a man.

First published in The Bulletin, 28 April 1904;
and later in
Many Ladies (And Others) by Charles Souter, 1917.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Carillon by Kathleen Dalziel

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The lantern of a late red moon,
   Swings down behind the trees;
That murmur some forgotten rune
   Of woodland harmonies;
With the stars above their shoulders,
   And the shadows round their knees.

And I am minded of an hour
   Far otherwise than this,
Where the almonds spilt a petalled shower,
   Shaken with too much bliss;
And all the earth broke into flower,
   And blossomed, at a kiss.

Along the fragrant, dim arcades,
   The dappled frescoes lag;  
And deep in creamy ambuscades
   A cuckoo deemed it day,
Trilling his wistful plaint of pain,
   Though all the world was gay.

Like bells half heard by summer seas,
   On airs of afternoon,
With all their tender memories,
   Old fancies keep atune;
Long dreams of you, and loveliness,
   And a half high summer moon.

For me no more enchantment weaves,
   A web of coloured spells,
Only this comfort I retrieve,
   From truth's deep hidden wells;
I still can keep my carillon
   Of memory's quiet bells.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 April 1929

Author reference site: Austlit

See also

Anzac Men by Emily Bulcock

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We heard, far off, the great world's throbbing heart
But dwelt remote apart,
But you have made us one,
With all beneath the sun.
Linked us to strange, far lands,
By clasp of boyish hands,
Swept us into the universal tide
Of living, deep and wide.

So as a whole world calls a pause to pray,
In silence, this great day,
We, 'neath those April skies
Would honour you, the knights of sacrifice.
Less poignant is the grief; the years have brought
So many dewy morns, with healing fraught.
The wounded earth renews her loveliness,
So our hearts bleed no more, yet none the less
Do we, remembering
Still nurse our love, and love's own offerings bring.

The white flowers heaped upon the stone and cross,
Speak of the faith that triumphs over loss.
Heaven opens wide her gates this gallant day,
The unseen lives; the veils are torn away,
We feel a comfort strangely, subtly shed,
And know you very near, Beloved Dead.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 April 1930

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Pass Grey Digger. All is Well by C. J. Dennis

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Anzac . . . War-riven morn on Sari Bair.
   Still forms that sprawl about the dawn-lit beach.
Young forms, prone in self-immolation there.
   Deaf to the passing shells' malignant screech.
Youths entering manhood even as they fell.
Pass, soldier.  Pass, young soldier.  All is well.
And now the horror of Gallipoli.
And all war's aftermath of agony.
      A dying boy whose eyes yearn from the West.
      Peace, stricken mothers. Surely God knows best.

Anzac . . . The fields of France. Men foul with mud.
   Counting as trivial all that went before:
Dulled to the reek of death, and fresh-let blood.
   And every filthy attribute of war.
Grim, listless men, waiting release from hell.
Pass, comrade. Lucky comrade!  All is well.
And now, the waiting, and the day-long dread.
Wide eyes that scan the growing lists of dead
      Men who have passed war's fiercest, foulest test
      Courage, brave comrade.  All is for the best.

Anzac . . . The Armistice, the homing ships.
   The remnant of an army drifting by.
Crowds in the streets with cheers upon their lips;
   And, here and there, some woman's wistful eye.
Sobs 'mid the cheering: grief for those who fell.
Pass, veteran.  Pass, young veteran.  All is well.
And now rejoicing 'neath the old home, roof;
The hale, the maimed, and those who stand aloof;
      Kin to the lost who found afar deep rest.
      Peace, sorrowing kinsfolk: for what is, is best.

Anzac . . . Grey figures grouped upon a lawn --
   Grey Diggers mastering about a Shrine.
Meeting again in this dim Autumn dawn
   To count the missing from their dwindling line:
To mark the tally of the passing-bell.
Pass, Digger.  Pass, grey Digger.  All is well.
Unconquerable then; unconquered still.
They see each road go dipping down the hill.
      Long road or short, that winds into the West.
      Patience, grey Digger. Here at last is rest.

First published in The Herald, 25 April 1934

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

See also.

Launceston 1806-1906 by John Bufton

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How shall I sing to suit thy worth,
   O city fair, set by the stream?
   For thou art dear beyond my dream,
Thou peaceful port that gave me birth.

Forth have they sped to many lands --
   Thy sturdy sons, thy daughters fair;
   But thou didst haunt them everywhere,
With all the charm that "Home" demands.

Around the fold the circling hills,
   And in the distance sings the sea,
   How Memory bears it back to me --
The sounding shore, the laughing rills!

In fancy now, removed afar --
   For widening years do lie between
   My home and me -- youth's vision keen
Peers through the Past as some bright star.   

Oh, who may sing the joys of youth,
   Or tell, in any form of words,
   Of dewy dawns, of singing birds,
The budding love, the quest of Truth?

For ever brighter shone the light
   That led the eager mind of man,
   And swifter always Fancy ran
Than bard or minstrel could recite.

For slow is speech, and music fails
   To tell the heart's dear dreams divine;
   O were a painter's magic mine!
O winds of heaven, come fill my sails!

And let my heart steer as it sings,
   So shall I make the port I seek,
   And as I love so may I speak,
Borne by the Muse on heavenly wings.

And this, the seeking of my heart:
   That I a worthy song might raise.
   My love is great, if poor my praise;
Thy help, O heavenly Muse, impart!

I, who have strayed by stream and fell
   In classic climes, by cities old;
   But when their glories all are told
Thou still hast power to weave thy spell.

Yea, I have care alone for this:
   To sing of thee, my early home,
   How far so e'er my feet may roam
With note as dear as Memory is.

A hundred strenuous years have fled,
   And thou hast risen, a city fair,
   In wealth of trade, ill treasure rare,
Memorial to thy saintly dead.

Peace to the sturdy pioneers
   Who built and battled as of old,
   When Romulus and Remus bold
Their city planned far down the years.

I lay a wreath upon their dust,
   And pray that we who lift their load
   May keep the pace and keep the road
They set us as a sacred trust.

The Empire called thy sons one day,
   Nor did the Sovereign ask in vain;
   They gave themselves to death or pain;
They faced the foe; they said their say.

The century's dewy dawn had come,
   With sound of battle waged afar;
   It brought some "moaning of the bar,"
As if of wounded coming home.

They came to kiss a mother's brow,
   Like warrior angels in their flight;
   With hearts aglow, with footsteps light,
Forth went they all. -- Peace to them now!

Past are those pangs, but deathless still
   The glory and the sorrow stays;
   How glowed and burned those fiery days!
Our will was as the nation's will!

And we are purer for the pain,
   And we are firmer for the fire;
   No nobler end was their desire,
Though some did sleep, and some were slain.

We welcomed those who came again
   As worthy of our British stock;
   Firm stood they in the battle's shock
Beside the Empire's valiant men.

We honoured them -- the silent band,
   Beside whose grave their comrades knelt;
   Who heard the call upon the veldt
As guardians of the motherland.

The silent stars above them sweep,
   And nightly watch our honoured braves.
   Roll on, ye stars! Guard well their graves!
We gave them up; we do not weep.

Twin city of this beauteous isle
   May North and South march side by side,
   One by the stream, one by the tide!
On thee, on her, may Fortune smile!

First published in The Examiner (Launceston), 24 April 1907

Author: John Bufton (1858-1911) was born in Wales and arrived in Tasmania in 1891.  He served as a Congregational minister there until he moved to Bunbury in Western Australia around 1897.  He returned to Dunalley in Tasmania soon afterwards suffering from ill-health.  He had an interest in Australian botany and wrote an account of the Boer War, Tasmanians in the Transvaal War (1905). He died in Hobart in 1911.

Author reference sites: Austlit

Struck It at Last by Edward Dyson

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He was almost blind, and wasted
   With the wear of many years;
He had laboured and had tasted
   Bitter troubles, many cares;
But his laugh was loud and ringing,
   And his flag was on the mast --
Every day they heard him singing:
   "Bound to strike it rich at last."

Here he brandished axe and maul ere
   Buninyong, and, after that,
Fought and bled with Peter Lalor
   And the boys at Ballarat.
East and west and northward, striving,
   As the tides set fresh and fast --
Ever trying, rarely thriving --
   Yes, he'd strike it rich at last.

Now and then she'd pan out snugly,
   Mostly all the other way,
But he never cut up ugly
   When he bottomed on the clay;
Never cursed or got disgusted,
   Mourned the days and chances past --
Geordie always hoped, and trusted
   He would strike it rich at last.

If the days were very dull, or
   When the store~men cut up rough
And he couldn't raise a colour
   From a cart-load of the stuff,
No man found him chicken-hearted,
   He'd no time to bang and blast;
Pegged her out again and started ---
   Bound to strike it rich at last.

Blinded by a shot in Eighty,
   Sinking for the Pegleg Reef,
If he sorrowed o'er his fate, he
   Let no mortal see his grief.
In the Home there in the city
   Geordie won their favour fast,
All the inmates learned his ditty ---
   "Bound to strike it rich at last."

When brought low, and bowed, and hoary,
   Still his eyes alone were blind,
Undimmed by fortune was the glory
   Of his happy, tranquil mind;
In his heart a flame was glowing
   That defied the roughest blast,
And he sang: "There is no knowing,
   Mates, I'll strike ii rich at last."

As the end approached he prattled
   Of old days at Ballarat,
And again the windlass rattled
   At Jim Crow and Blanket Flat,
And the nurses heard him mutter
   As his conquering spirit passed:
"Streak of luck, boys! On the gutter!"
   Geordie's struck it rich at last.

First published in The Bulletin, 23 April 1892;
and later in
Rhymes from the Mines and Other Lines by Edward Dyson, 1896;
Freedom on the Wallaby: Poems of the Australian People edited by Marjorie Pizer, 1953; 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

See also.

The Turn of the Tide by Roderic Quinn

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A long time waiting with little to show,
   We sat in our boat, at either side,
While the listless weeds washed to and fro.
   And here and there, at the will of the tide.

The bay was still. and the trees and flowers
   That nodded at noon were all asleep;
Yet never a silver-bream was ours.
   And never a crimson lord of the deep.

With little to say and much to think,
   We watched, while the velvet hours went by;
The ripples arise and the ripples sink,
   Alone on the water -- Rose and I.

I said to her then: "The good time flies.
   Let us get hence for the bay is wide."
Rose lifted her dark blue, laughing eys.
   And "Wait," she said, "till the turn of the tide."

The bay was azure from east to west --
   All still and azure from north to south;
The rose that reddened on Rose's breast
   Was red as the rose of Rose's mouth.

"'Tis weary waiting." I said to Rose.
   (Was ever a rose as fair as she?)
"The love-hour comes, and the love-hour goes.
   And when will the bright 'Yes° spoken be?."

Then Rose grew red -- do you wonder why? --
   And, somehow or other, I said or sighed:
"The line is set, but the prey is shy --
   I'll wait, dear Rose, till the turn of the tide."

First published in The Bulletin, 22 April 1915

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

See also.

Good-bye by Douglas B. W. Sladen

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God be with you, whose golden hair
Has been to me a beacon-glare
Of bright and virtuous womanhood.
Graceful and arch no less than good!
You who have had your hearty share
In every pleasure, every care,
That fell to me, while living there,
At home or in the summer air,
   God be with you!

And, while I whisper kindling hopes
Of true love-freighted envelopes
From one well worthy of your choice
To make your gentle heart rojoice,
My heart still echoes, as it droops,
   God be with you!

First published
in The Queenslander, 21 April 1883;
and later in
A Poetry of Exiles and Other Poems by Douglas B. W. Sladen, 1884

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Maloney's Motor Car by W. T. Goodge

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"The Bushman's Arms," whose liquid charms all western stock men know,
Was kept by Pat Maloney at a time when things were slow;
Dead slow, begad! For though it had seen flush times, I believe,
Yet things were mortal dull on this partic'lar Christmas Eve.
Maloney'd gone to Cobar on the usual Christmas quest
For liquors of a quality politely termed "the best;"
And there he sat, imbibing that which bushmen call "three star,"
Until two Sydney Johnnies walked inside to breast the bar.
'Twas then the hist'ry started of Maloney's Motor Car!

They had a car, a splendid car, the finest on the road!
'Twould beat a team of bullocks in the hauling of a load;
And as for speed, there was no need to talk of other power --
That car could bound, on level ground, its forty miles an hour!
And there he sat, did muddled Pat, and listened, till at last
His trap was sold, the car was bought, and thus the die was cast;
And forth he went, in great content, from out the hotel bar,
And mounted on his new machine, so proud as any Czar!
All Cobar gave a send-off to Maloney's Motor Car?

And there in fair Killara was a waiting thirsty throng,
Till Pat Maloney brought his stock of Christmas grog along;
But Mount McPherson, they'd aver, was scarce a hundred miles
From Cobar. "Now we shan't be long!" they said, exchanging smiles.
They still had some back-country rum; there still remained some beer,
Which they absorbed while waiting for the special Christmas cheer.
A sound, like demons flying past! it startled all the bar!
Then out they rushed with open mouths, and eyes that stared afar ---
The last of mortal eyes that saw Maloney's Motor Car!

Yet, day by day, the press would say, "There was important news,"
And forty fresh detectives had discovered forty clues!
In Adelaide fresh plans were made, and Normanton and Cue
Looked for the 'coming vehicle, and wondered what to do.
The police, of course, displayed resource, and ran in everyone
Who looked as if he'd done the deed, or could or would have done.
But ne'er a word there e'er was heard in special wire or par.
To clear this murky mystery, which was as black as tar.
A Budget Speech was simple to Maloney's Motor Car!

Shall I deceive? Each Christmas Eve, they say, the Bushman's Arms
Is now the meeting-place of persons filled with vague alarms.
If Pat was drowned, no corpse was found; all search was made in vain,
And ne'er was driver or machine by mortal seen again!
But folks believe on Christmas Eve, when wails the weird curlew
And moans the mopoke in the trees, MALONEY'S PASSING THROUGH!
They swear they hear, in quaking fear, a voice that cries - "Ha! Ha!"
A phantom voice and ghostly sound that all their pleasures mar ----
The Flying Dutchman of the Bush --- Maloney's Motor Car!

First published in The Bulletin, 20 April 1905

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

The Flight of Peace by Charles Harpur

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Trust and Treachery, Wisdom, Folly,     
Madness, Mirth, and Melancholy,
Love and Hatred, Thrift and Pillage,   
All are housed in one small village.    

And if such be Life's mixed being,
Where may Peace from ruin fleeing,
Find a shelter and inherit
All the calm of her own merit?  

In a bark of gentle motion
Sailing on the summer ocean?  
There worst war the Tempest wages,
And the Whirlpool's hunger rages!  

In some lonely new-world bower,
Hidden like a forest flower?
There too-there to irk the stranger,
Stalks the wild-eyed spirit Danger!

Vainly would she build by roving,
Or in hoping or in loving,
Or in solitary spaces:
Having in all times and places,
Or in none, a home of beauty
In the fearless Heart of Duty --
Dwelling there with Faith, and seeing
God's right hand all things decreeing.

First published in The Empire, 19 April 1852;
and later in
The Bushrangers, a Play in Five Acts, and Other Poems by Charles Harpur, 1853; and
The Poetical Works of Charles Harpur edited by Elizabeth Perkins, 1984.

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

See also.

The Uninvited Guest by Edith Sterling Levis

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I planted me a garden close with blossoms all ablow,
Where mignonette and heliotrope and cool white roses grow,
And hollyhocks stand tall and straight, like spear points in a row.  

My garden glows with lovely things -- delphiniums, lapis blue
And wistful pansies, purple-slaahed across their midnight hue,
And gold nasturtiums pierce the shade like sunshine breaking through.

To-day, beside my petalled path, I found a stranger fair,
A slender swaying bushland flower no hand had planted there,
Whose fragrance burned like incense thro' the langurous noontide air.

And sweet and frail it shyly blooms beside a flame-tree tall,  
Where blue-winged butterflies flit past and honey-eaters call,
And happy morning glories cling about my garden wall.  

A dainty lady, primose gowned my uninvited guest,
As faintly gold as that last ray when day dies in the west.
I think in all my garden sweet, I love her much the best.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 April 1931

Author: Edith Sterling Levis (1881-1971) was born in Glen Innes, New South Wales, and died in St Leonard's. also in New South Wales.  Beyond this little is known about this author.

Author reference site: Austlit

Sydney -- April, 1919 by Mabel Forrest

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They are such lovely days, these April days,
When Autumn cools the summer air, and high
The shadowy pine-trees lift towards the sky,
Through the blue haze of autumn-tempered noons,
A crest of welcome for the winter moons.

They are such lovely days, these April days,
When Autumn gives her lips to Summer's mouth.
But, ah, how fares it with you in the South,
My queenly city girdled by the sea,
'Midst haunting towers of happy memory?

They are such lovely days, these April days.
Was there no shield to guard that loveliness
That shimmers through the twilight of her dress,
That loveliness of lilacs and of reds,
That lies beyond the hauteur of the Heads?

They are such lovely days, these April days.
But my heart aches, away in Brisbane town,
Because, beneath my southern city's gown
(With the lace mask across her ripe mouth prest),
There grows a plague-spot on that perfect breast.

First published in The Bulletin, 17 April 1919

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Star: A Deep Sea Toast by Will Lawson

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In the dark of the dawn we heard her blow
   As you swung her and steamed away,
And we sleepily rose to watch her go --
   A ghost in the morning grey.
And it came to me there in the light so dim
   That, of all the toasts we drank,
Last night when we talked of the ships that swim
   And the tired old boats that sank --
Of all the toasts -- they were none too few! --
   The best of the lot, by far,
Would have been "The ship that carried us through!"
   And we never once toasted the "Star."

So, fill up your glasses, you sailormen,
   And we'll drink this brave toast now,
When the old ship's out on the seas again
   With the foam all white at her prow.
While her stout hull sways to the lullabies
   Of the winds that are wanderers --
Oh! never a brave hull rode the seas
   So sturdy and staunch as hers!
You'll have dropped the loom of Australia's coast,
   But you, wherever you are,
Must charge your glasses and drink this toast,
   "The ship that we love, the Star!"

She has lifted the lights of every land
   That is washed by the seven seas.
By the langorous airs of the tropics fanned --
   Or the keen, clean Arctic breeze.
She has slogged with her bluff bows head to sea
   To battle her way off shore:
When we thought we were logging our "two" or "three,"
   She added a good deal more.
And this is the toast that we all forgot
  In the glare of the lighted bar --
The worthiest toast of a worthy lot --
   "Gentlemen, drink to the Star!"

You will raise the lights on many a coasts,
   And the George-street lights will seem
A memory warm and bright at most,
   And the harbor lights a dream.
But the Coogee lamps half-mooned, that burn,
   And the Bondi lights, will be
As beacons fair when her old bows turn
   To the tides of the Tasman Sea.
We have charged our glasses to drink to her
   And to you, wherever you are --
("Eight bells and the lights burn brightly, sir!")
   Gentlemen, hush! -- "The Star!"

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 16 April 1913

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Swinging the Lead by A. B. "Banjo" Paterson

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Said the soldier to the Surgeon, "I've got noises in me head
And a kind o' filled up feeling after every time I'm fed;
I can sleep all night on picket, but I can't sleep in my bed".
   And the Surgeon said,
   "That's Lead!"

Said the soldier to the Surgeon, "Do you think they'll send me back?
For I really ain't adapted to be carrying a pack
Though I've humped a case of whisky half a mile upon my back".
   And the Surgeon said,
   "That's Lead!"

"And my legs have swelled up cruel, I can hardly walk at all,
But when the Taubes come over you should see me start to crawl;
When we're sprinting for the dugout, I can easy beat 'em all".
  And the Surgeon said,
   "That's Lead!"

So they sent him to the trenches where he landed safe and sound,
And he drew his ammunition, just about two fifty round:
"Oh Sergeant, what's this heavy stuff I've got to hump around?"
   And the Sergeant said,
   "That's Lead!"

First published in The Kia-Ora Coo-ee, 15 April 1918;
and later in
Song of the Pen, A.B. (Banjo) Paterson: Complete Works 1901-1941 compiled by Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie, 1983;
A Vision Splendid: The Complete Poetry of A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1990;
A. B. "Banjo" Paterson: Bush Ballads, Poems, Stories and Journalism edited by Clement Semmler, 1992;
The Collected Verse of Bamjo Paterson by edited by Clement Semmler, 1993; and
From Gallipoli to Gaza: The Desert Poets of World War One by Jill Hamilton, 2003.

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

See also.

Note: "swinging the lead" is an Australian term for malingering.

The Spirit of Unrest by George Essex Evans

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Speak! Heart of man! Say! hast thou never felt?
Has never o'er thy calm existence stealt
   The Spirit of Unrest?
Say! hast than never felt thyself to be
The helpless tool --- th' unwilling agency ---
   Of some unbidden guest?
The fiend which haunted Saul is with me now,
His temptings greet my ear, my throbbing brow
   Reels with fine strain.
Vainly I turn, as vainly strive to flee;
His muttered counsels follow after me.
   And echo o'er again,
Speak! Hast thou ever felt that life for thee
Had nought of purpose --- nought of purity!
   One hopeless dreary blank!
Say, hast thou felt like this, yet feared to die
--- Yes --- feared to solve life's solemn mystery,
   And, shuddering, backwards shrank?
Hast thou been driven forth in mad despair
And forced to roam, whither ye knew not where,
   Nor cared indeed to know?
Say, have the tones of all you hold most dear
Meaningless fallen on your leaden ear
   And failed to soothe your woe?
Oh speak! Reply! A tortured brother's cry
Of agony demands thy sympathy.
   From me for e'er hath gone
God's fairest gift --- affection's natural springs ---
And now I look on my life's dearest things
   Indifferent or with scorn.
Oh dreaded demon! Well I know thy power
To thus assail us. In our weakest hour
   An angel's form assume,
And in the borrowed garments of a god
To lead us from the path the just have trod
   And lure us to our doom.
Oh! God Omniscient, from my tortured soul
This awful load of misery unroll!
   Remove! defeat! this fiend,
And cast him howling loud with baffled yell
Back from this hell --- my heart --- to that great hell
   From which he first was weaned.
Oh, God Omniscient, let there never be
A barrier 'twixt thy sinful child and thee!
   Bring Heaven more near,
Lift Earth t'wards Heaven --- bring Heaven closer Earth,
And teach us children of a sinful birth
   To trust and love and fear.

First published in The Queenslander, 14 April 1883 and in The Brisbane Courier on the same day.

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

See also.

Night Song by P. Luftig (Peter Airey)

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In the heavens the earth is nestling,
   Softly bathed in starry light;
On the gleaming earth a garden
   Sleepeth sweet --- all flower-bedlight ---
            Dear earth --- Good-night!   

In the garden stands a cottage
   Girt with vine and glimmering white,
And a dark-winged bird is warbling
   'Neath the window soft "Good-night!"
            Dear cot --- Good-night!.   

In the chamber dreams a maiden,
   Dreams of flowers all fairy-bright;
Pure and peaceful beats her bosom ---
   Angels --- guard her through the night!
            Dear love --- Good-night!   

First published in The Queenslander, 13 April 1895;
and later in
The Bulletin, 14 December 1916.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

On a Street by Henry Kendall

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I dread that street! its haggard face
   I have not seen for eight long years --
A mother's curse is on the place:
   (There's blood, my reader, in her tears,)
No child of man shall ever track
   Through filthy dust the singer's feet;
A fierce old memory drags me back --
   I hate its name -- I dread that street.

Upon the lap of green sweet lands,
   Whose months are like your English Mays,
I try to hide in Lethe's sands
   The bitter old Bohemian days.
But Sorrow speaks in singing leaf,
   And trouble talketh in the tide;
The skirts of a stupendous grief
   Are trailing ever at my side.

I will not say who suffered there:
   'Tis best the name aloof to keep,
Because the world is very fair
   Its light should sing the dark to sleep.
But -- let me whisper -- in that street
   A woman, faint through want of bread,
Has often pawned the quilt and sheet,
   And wept upon a barren bed.

How gladly would I change my theme,
   Or cease the song and steal away,
But on the hill, and by the stream
   A ghost is with me night and day!
A dreadful darkness full of wild
   Chaotic visions comes to me:
I seem to hear a dying child --
   Its mother's face I seem to see.

Here surely on this bank of bloom
   My verse with shine should overflow;
But ah, it comes -- the rented room.
   With man and wife who suffered so!   
From flower and leaf there is no hint --
   I only see a sharp distress:
A lady in a faded print,
   A careworn writer for the Press.

I only hear the brutal curse
   Of landlord clamouring for his pay;
And yonder is the pauper's hearse
   That comes to take a child away,
Apart, and with the half-grey head
   Of sudden age, again I see
The father writing by the dead
   To earn the undertaker's fee.

No tear at all is asked for him --
   A drunkard well deserves his life;
But voice will quiver-eyes grow dim
   For her, the patient, pure young wife,
The gentle girl of better days,
   As timid as a mountain fawn,
Who used to choose untrodden ways,
   And place at night her rags in pawn.

She could not face the lighted square,
   Or shew the street her poor thin dress;
In one close chamber, bleak and bare,
   She hid her burden of distress.
Her happy schoolmates used to drive
   On gaudy wheels the town about:
The meal that keeps a dog alive
   She often had to go without.

I tell you this is not a tale
   Conceived by me, but bitter truth!   
Bohemia knows it pinched and pale
   Beside the pyre of burnt-out Youth!   
These eyes of mine have often seen
   The sweet girl-wife, in winters rude,
Steal out at night through courts unclean,  
   To hunt about for chips of wood.

Have I no word at all for him
   Who used down fetid lanes to slink,
And squat in taproom corners grim,
   And drown his thoughts in dregs of drink?
This much I'll say, that, when the flame  
   Of Reason re-assumed its force,
The hell the Christian fears to name   
   Was heaven to his fierce remorse.

Just think of him -- beneath the ban,
   And steeped in sorrow to the neck!
Without a friend -- a feeble man
   In failing health -- a human wreck!   
With all his sense and scholarship,
   How could he face his fading wife?
The devil never lifted whip   
   With stings like those that scourged his life!
But He, in whom the dying thief
   Upon the Cross did place his trust,
Forgets the sin and feels the grief,
   And lifts the sufferer from the dust.
And now because I have a dream
   The man and woman found the light,
A glory burns upon the stream --
   With gold and green the woods are bright.

But -- still I hate that haggard street --
   Its filthy courts, its alleys wild!
In dreams of it I always meet
   The phantom of a wailing child.
The name of it begets distress --
   Ah, Song, be silent! show no more
The lady in the perished dress --
   The scholar on the taproom floor! 

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 12 April 1879;
and later in
Poems of Henry Kendall by Henry Kendall, 1886;
Selected Poems of Henry Kendall edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1957;
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;
Henry Kendall: Poetry, Prose and Selected Correspondence edited by Michael Ackland, 1993;
Australian Verse: An Oxford Anthology edited by John Leonard, 1998; 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.

Interlude by Alice Gore-Jones

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Snow among the bamboos!
Or so it seemed.
Cold as an Alpine peak,
Had someone dreamed?
Beyond the gates, warm and dusty,
Lay the streets of the city.
On sloping lawns
Shimmered the high pageantry
Of Spring --
Pink and gold and purple
Vivid as remembering.
Here, in the green heart
Of the gardens
All was quiet.
The river flowed silently;  
An old man dozed on his seat,
A pigeon on noiseless feet
Rifled the clover.
Through the stillness
Brooded the bamboos,
And, in their midst,
Delicate as snow-flakes
Drifting through the shadows,
White azaleas bloomed.  

First published in The Cairns Post, 11 April 1938

Author: Alice Gore-Jones (1887-1961) was born in Toowong near Brisbane in 1887.  She was educated in both Queensland and New South Wales and worked mainly as a journalist on Brisbane newspapers.  She died in Queensland in 1961.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Old Qld Poetry

See also.

The Gentle Water Bird by John Shaw Neilson

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(For Mary Gilmore)

In the far days, when every day was long,
Fear was upon me and the fear was strong,
Ere I had learned the recompense of song.

In the dim days I trembled, for I knew
God was above me, always frowning through,
And God was terrible and thunder-blue.

Creeds the discoloured awed my opening mind,
Perils, perplexities -- what could I find? --
All the old terror waiting on mankind.

Even the gentle flowers of white and cream,
The rainbow with its treasury of dream,
Trembled because of God's ungracious scheme.

And in the night the many stars would say
Dark things unaltered in the light of day:
Fear was upon me even in my play.

There was a lake I loved in gentle rain:
One day there fell a bird, a courtly crane:
Wisely he walked, as one who knows of pain.

Gracious he was and lofty as a king:
Silent he was, and yet he seemed to sing
Always of little children and the Spring.

God? Did he know him? It was far he flew?.
God was not terrible and thunder-blue:
-- It was a gentle water bird I knew.

Pity was in him for the weak and strong,
All who have suffered when the days were long,
And he was deep and gentle as a song.

As a calm soldier in a cloak of grey
He did commune with me for many a day
Till the dark fear was lifted far away.

Sober-apparelled, yet he caught the glow:
Always of heaven would he speak, and low,
And he did tell me where the wishes go.

Kinsfolk of his it was who long before
Came from the mist (and no one knows the shore)
Came with the little children to the door.

Was he less wise than those birds long ago
Who flew from God (He surely willed it so)
Bearing great happiness to all below?

Long have I learned that all his speech was true;
I cannot reason it -- how far he flew --
God is not terrible nor thunder-blue.

Sometimes, when watching in the white sunshine,
Someone approaches -- I can half define
All the calm beauty of that friend of mine.

Nothing of hatred will about him cling,
Silent -- how silent -- but his heart will sing
Always of little children and the Spring.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 April 1926;
and later in
New Poems by John Shaw Neilson, 1927;
Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson by John Shaw Neilson, 1934;
Cross-Country: A Book of Australian Verse edited by John Barnes, 1984;
Anthology of Australian Religious Poetry edited by Les Murray, 1986;
John Shaw Neilson: Poetry, Autobiography and Correspondence edited by Cliff Hanna, 1991; and
Hell and After: Four Early English Language Poets of Australia edited by Les Murray, 2005.

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

See also.

Brigalow Mick by Harry "Breaker" Morant

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A dandy old horserman is Brigalow Mick --
   Which his name, sir, is Michael O'Dowd --
Whatever he's riding, when timber is thick,
   He is always in front of the crowd.

A few tangled locks that are fast turning white
   Crown a physog. the colour of brick,
But as keen as a kestrel's -- as bold and as bright --
   Is the blue eye of Brigalow Mick.

He is Martin's head-stockman, on Black-Cattle Creek --
   All the boys there are rare ones to ride --
But Mick is the "daddy"; and far you may seek
   Ere you find such an artist in hide.

He'll turn out a halter, or stockwhip can make,
   As you've seldom cast eyes on before;
And never the "nugget" was calved that could break
   Michael's whips, which he plaits by the score.

All the lads on the station are handy enough,
   Nor are frightened of grafting too hard,
But Mick, if the cattle are rowdy and rough,
   Is the pick of 'em all in a yard.

A bad colt to tackle -- a mad one to steer
   Through thick timber -- you'll hear Martin boast --
Mick yet is unrivalled, there isn't his peer
   Right from Camooweal in to the coast.

Ay! long may it be ere the scrubs are bereft
   Of the clearskins that give us the sport,
And long may the station have stock-riders left,
   Of the build of old Brigalow's sort.

First published
in The Bulletin, 9 April 1892, and in the same magazine on 23-30 December 1980;
and later in
The Poetry of "Breaker" Morant: from The Bulletin 1891-903 with original illustrations by Breaker Morant; and
The Romance of the Stockman: The Lore, Legend and Literature of Australia's Outback Heroes, 1993.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also

Steamer Voices by Boyce Bowden

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Calling through the failing twilight, riding on the striding gale,
How the voices of the steamers lift and answer hail for hail;
Sea-words on the swift nor'-easter shrilling over grey and damp,
"Hi there!" from the dipping tugboat. "Ho there!" from the lurching tramp.

I am weary-souled and hungry for the world that's green and salt;
Lost amid the city's mazes, mine the bondage, not the fault;
Cautious Reason soothes the senses, and the narrowed life is right
Till I hear the steamer-voices calling on a windy night.

How the strong air bears their voices; yet between the fitful lulls
All my fancy hears the tide-way wrenching at their weedy hulls;
And I hear a fading music like a shower of silver rain,
As the wild gusts whip the white spray from each tautened anchor-chain.

I can hear them, I can hear them; all the bare and beaten street
May not hear the deep-sea phrases that to me are passing sweet --
Wistful tones of silver music echoed from the shining ways
When the noisy bows were questing downward through the tropic days.

Almost I can feel a warm wind blowing softly on my face,
See again the golden gulf-weed drifting by like scarves of lace;
And I feel my pulses beating for the joys that once were mine,
Dropping slowly through the seasons to the southward from the line.

Ocean-stranger, are there schooners fluttering yet off the Azores?
Are there Carib girls at Colon dancing still on marble floors?
Are the palm-trees at Jamaica soft against the afterglow?
All my heart can hear the answer, and I know that it is so.

Steamer whistles! Steamer whistles! Steamer bells that toll and toll,
Rolling like the tide of memory on the dim beach of the soul!
Steamer voices strongly speaking wonder-words from overseas,
Like a group of yarning sailors with the children round their knees!

First published in The Bulletin, 8 April 1920

Author: Boyce Bowden (1885-??) was born in Sydney.  Beyond this little is known about this author.

Author reference site:

Subter Undis by Henry Halloran

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"We soon shall see the angels," the Angel-mother said,
And on her child's enquiring eyes her hand she softly laid;
And looking, with the glance of faith, beyond that fearful scene,
She saw their gracious looks of love, -- and sister-pitying mien.

The waves, like wolves, were leaping up around that fated fold,
Yet gentle hearts sustained the weak, and comforted the bld, --
Into each other's eyes they cast that calm and holy light,
Which guides, e'en more than cluster'd suns, amidst the darkest night.

Aye! He is walking on the waves, and surely they can see,
The footsteps of the Lord of Love, who chid the raging sea;
"Why are ye fearful?" once again, in soften'd acents stole
Upon the quicken'd nerves, and passed, in comfort, to the soul!

Oh! gallant ones! Oh! gentle ones! for many a year to come,
In sorrowing hearts, this tale of woe, wil make joy's utterance dumb;
And upraised hands, and streaming eyes, in midnight hours record,
The love -- the passionate grief, -- dear friends! -- with which ye are deplored.

In a private note which accompanied these verses, the following touching passage occurs: "On board the ill-fated London was a lady named Mrs. Owen.  It is represented that the last words which she was heard to speak were addressed to her little child, and that they were these: 'We soon shall see the angels, dear, of whom I have so often told you.'  Every incident connected with the dread catastrophe and sublime example presented by the London possesses, and must long possess, a peculiar interest..."

First published in The Sydney Mail, 7 April 1866

Note: the shipwreck referred to above is probably that of the SS London which sank in the Bay of Biscay, en route to Melbourne, on 11 January 1866.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

April by Zora Cross

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April is a lady,
Brown as a leaf,
In vale cool and shady,
April is a lady.
Though rain grey as grief
Fall -- to be brief,
April is a lady,
Brown as a leaf.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 April 1937

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of BiographyOld Qld Poetry

See also.

A Brisbane Reverie: March, 1873 by J. Brunton Stephens

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As I sit beside my little study window, looking down
From the heights of contemplation (attic front) upon the town---
(Attic front, per week --- with board, of course a sovreign and a crown);---

As I sit --- (these sad digressions, though, are much to be deplored)---
Is my lonely little attic --- (it as all I can afford;
And I should have mentioned, washing not included in the board);---

As I sit --- (these wild parentheses my very soul abhors)---
High above the ills of life, its petty rumors, paltry wars---
(The attic back is cheaper, but it wants a chest of drawers);---

In the purpling light of half-past six, before the stars are met,
While the stricken sun clings fondly to his royal mantle yet,
Dying glorious on the hill-tops in reluctant violet,---

Just the time that favors vision, blissful moments that unbar
The inner sight (assisted by a very mild cigar),
To behold the things that are not, side by side with those that are--

Just the very light and very time that suit the bard's complaint,
When through present, past, and future, roams his soul without restraint---
When no clearer are the things that are than are the things that ain't;---

With a dual apperception, metaphysical, profound,
Past and present running parallel, I scan the scene around---
(Were there two of us the attic front would only be a pound).---

Beneath mine eyes the buried past arises from the tomb,
Not cadaverous or ghostly, but in all its living bloom---
(I would rather pay the odds than have a partner in my room).

How the complex now contrasteth with the elemental then!   
Tide of change outflowing flow of ink, outstripping stride or pen!
(Unless it were,.... but, no.... they only take in single men).

Where trackless wilderness lay wide, a hundred ages through---
(I can see a man with papers, from my attic point of view,
Who for gath'ring house-assessments gets a very decent screw).

Where forest-contiguity assuaged the summer heats,
It is now an argued question, when the City Council meets,
If we mightn't buy a tree or two to shade the glaring streets.

Where no sound announced the flight of time, not even crow of cock,
I can see the gun that stuns the town with monitory shock,
And a son of that same weapon hired to shoot at 1 o'clock

Where the kangaroos gave hops, the "old men" fleetest of the fleet,
Mrs. Pursy gives a "hop" to-night to all the town's elite,
But her "old man" cannot hop because of bunions on his feet

Where the emu, "at its own sweet will," went wandering all the day.
And left its bill-prints on whate'er came handy in its way,
There are printed bills that advertise "The Emu for the Bay."

Where of old with awful mysteries and diabolic din,
They "kippered" adolescents in the presence of their kin,
There's a grocer selling herrings kippered, half-a-crown per tin.

Where the savage only used his club to supplement his fist,
The white man uses his for friendly intercourse and whist,
Not to mention sherry, port bordeaux, et cetera --- see List.

Where dress was at a discount, or at most a modest "fall,"
Rise "Criterion," "Cosmopolitan," and "City Clothing Hall,"
And neither men nor women count for much --- the dress is all.

Where a bride's trousseau consisted of an extra coat of grease,
And Nature gave the pair a suit of glossy black apiece,
Now the matrimonial outfit is a perfect golden fleece.

Where lorn widows wore the knee-joints of the late lamented dead,
We have dashing wives who wear their living husbands' joints instead---
Yea, their vitals, for embellishment of bosom, neck, and head.

Where the blacks, ignoring livers, lived according to their wills,
Nor knew that flesh is heir to quite a lexicon of ills,
Five white chemists in one street grow rich through antibilious pills.

Where the only bell was the bell-bird's note, now many mingling bells
"Make Catholic the trembling air," as famed George Eliot tells
Of another town somewhere between more northern parallels.

(But in case the name of Catholic offend protesting ear,
Let Wesleyan or Baptist be interpolated here,
Or that bells make Presbyterian the trembling atmosphere).

Where the savage learned no love from earth, nor from the "shining frame,"
And merely feared the devil, under some outlandish name,
There are heaps of Britishers whose creed is --- very much the same!

Where the gin was black --- (methinks 'tis time the bard were shutting up:
The bell is ringing for the non-inebriating cup,
And even attic bards most have their little "bite and sup").

First published in The Queenslander, 5 April 1873;
and later in
The Black Gin and Other Poems by J. Brunton Stephens, 1873;
The Australian Town and Country Journal, 14 June 1873;
Convict Once and Other Poems by J. Brunton Stephens, 1885; and
The Poetical Works of Brunton Stephens by J. Brunton Stephens, 1905.

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

See also.

The Invincible by Will M. Fleming

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He came from out the night,
   He passed me by,
Because it was not time
   For me to die.
But others caught their breath;
   His name was Death.
In golden, perfumed hours
   Beside the sea,
I met him 'mid the flowers.
   He spoke to me
As softly as a dove;
   His name was Love.
And now I know why some
   May not know fear,
For, walking with Desire
   No man could hear
Dark Death, howe'er he cried,
   Till Love is satisfied.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 April 1931

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

A Common Grief by Henry Parkes

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A simple Irish maiden, with wild heart
Exuberant of natural playfulness,
Oft, holding in her arms a sweet-eyed child,
Sung an old peasant dirge, in feigned distress,
As to surprise the lovely face that smiled
Into a transient shade of grief, that then  
She might, with fuller fondness, see it start
Back into light and joy, when she again
Looked up herself, from her sad-acted part.
"I'll die, I'll die, I'll die!" the maiden sung,    
And her bright face put on a mimic sorrow,
"I'll die, I'll die, I'll die!" until that young
And pensive listener knew how she could borrow
The tones and mask of mourning, and so grew
Expectant of the mockery ever new,
And learnt to lisp, with a pretended pity,
The silly burden of the maiden's ditty.

   And while her third blue summer's light
      Yet warmed that infant's brow,
   While yet the earth with flowers was bright,
   And nature seemed to know no blight,
      A sickness laid her low.

   A cruel and insidious sickness
      Laid low that gentle child --
   Low in her spirit's suffering meekness,
   Low in her voice of softening weakness,
      And eyes that patient smiled.

   Low in her mother's dear embrace!   
      And, with soft-drooping eye,
   She murmured, in that resting-place,
   Beneath that loving, watching face,
      "I'll die, I'll die, I'll die!"

   She feebly takes her favourite flowers,
      From sister's hand and brother's;
   And feebly, as our grief o'erpowers
   Our hearts, she lifts her eyes to ours,
      Her father's and her mother's.

   But not so quickly droop and fade
      The flowers she holds as she; 
   And morning's light, and evening's shade,
   Where now her little bed is made,
      But mark where it will be.

   The night of fitful moanings's past,
      The day of pain is done; 
   We see the die of death is cast --
   We feel that she must go, at last --
      We say aloud, "She's gone!"   

   There is a wealth for memory still,--
      Her quiet sojourn here --
   Her temper meek, her gentle will --
   The flowers of peace no worm may kill,
      Which made her life so dear! 

   But fancy, in her limnings rare,
      Will hear the haunting cry
   Steal o'er that crown of sunny hair,
   Those sweet blue eyes, that forehead fair,
      "I'll die, I'll die, I'll die!"

First published
in The Empire, 3 April 1854;
and later in
Murmurmings of the Stream by Henry Parkes, 1857.

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

See also.

The Cattle at the Show by Edward S. Sorenson

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To the hunting grounds and granges,
   In their early autumn pride,
To the runs across the ranges
   Where the reckless horsemen ride;
From the roar and rush and rattle
   Of the town my fancies flow,
When I hear the call of cattle,
   See the cattle at the Show.

Mobs along the watercourses,
   Camping in the starry night,
Fresh and sturdy station horses
   Bucking in the morning light,
And the sally for the battle
   On the musteeing camps I know,
When I hear the call of cattle,
   See the cattle at the Show.

Thoughts fly back to busy branders,
   Mid the tumult in the yard;
To the wiry overlanders,
   Slowly moving or on guard,
And the bush camps where they prattle,  
   By the log-fire's cheery glow,
When I hear the call of cattle,
   See the cattle at the Show.

Recollections bring heart-hunger --
   Memories of stockyard fun
Station scenes when life was younger,
   Stirring days on road and run;
Saddle-work and song and tattle.
   Mingling in the brigalow;
When I hear the call of cattle,
   See the cattle at the Show.

Though no more among the rovers,
   Boot and saddle, may I stray,
Or go drifting with the drovers
   Down the rivers far away;
Still a thought is in the wattle
   On the trails of long ago
When I hear the call of cattle,
   See the cattle at the Show.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 April 1932

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Sliprails and the Spur by Henry Lawson

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The colours of the setting sun
Withdrew across the Western land ---
He raised the sliprails, one by one,
And shot them home with trembling hand;
Her brown hands clung --- her face grew pale ---
Ah! quivering chin and eyes that brim! ---
One quick, fierce kiss across the rail,
And, "Good-bye, Mary!" "Good-bye, Jim!"

      Oh! he rides hard to race the pain
      Who rides from love, who rides from home;
      But he rides slowly home again
      Whose heart has learnt to love and roam.

A hand upon the horse's mane,
And one foot in the stirrups set,
And, stooping back to kiss again,
With "Good-bye, Mary! don't you fret!
When I come back" --- he laughed for her ---
"We do not know how soon 'twill be;
I'll whistle as I round the 'spur' ---
You let the sliprails down for me."

She gasped for sudden loss of hope,
As, with a backward wave to her,
He cantered down the grassy slope
And swiftly round the dark'ning spur.
Black-pencilled panels standing high,
And darkness fading into stars,
And blurring fast against the sky,
A faint white form beside the bars.

And often at the set of sun,
In winter bleak and summer brown,
She'd steal across the little run,
And shyly let the sliprails down.
And listen there when darkness shut
The nearer spur in silence deep;
And when they called her from the hut
Steal home and cry herself to sleep.

A great white gate where sliprails were,
A brick house 'neath the mountain brow,
The "mad girl" buried by the spur
So long ago, forgotten now.

      And he rides hard to dull the pain
      Who rides from one that loves him best;
      And he rides slowly back again,
      Whose restless heart must rove for rest.

First published in The Bulletin, 1 April 1899;
and later in
In the Days When the World Was Wide and Other Verses by Henry Lawson, 1900;
An Anthology of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1907;
The Golden Treasury of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1909;
Winnowed Verse by Henry Lawson, 1924;
The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse edited by Walter Murdoch, 1924;
Selections from Australian Poets edited by Bertram Stevens, 1925;
The Australian Women's Mirror, 5 January 1926;
An Australasian Anthology: Australian and New Zealand Poems edited by Percival Serle, R. H. Croll and Frank Wilmot, 1927;
New Song in an Old Land edited by Rex Ingamells, 1943;
Out Back and Other Poems by Henry Lawson, 1943;
Spoils of Time: Some Poems of the English Speaking Peoples edited by Rex Ingamells, 1948;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964;
Poems of Henry Lawson edited by Walter Stone, 1973;
The World of Henry Lawson edited by Walter Stone, 1974;
The Essential Henry Lawson edited by Brian Kiernan, 1982;
A Treasury of Colonial Poetry, 1982;
Cross-Country: A Book of Australian Verse edited by John Barnes, 1984;
A Camp-Fire Yarn: Henry Lawson Complete Works 1885-1900 edited by Leonard Cronin, 1984;
The Language of Love: An Anthology of Australian Love Letters, Poetry and Prose edited by Pamela Allardice, 1991;
The Penguin Book of Australian Ballads edited by Elizabeth Webby and Philip Butterss, 1993;
Australian Verse: An Oxford Anthology edited by John Leonard, 1998; and
The Puncher & Wattmann Anthology of Australian Poetry edited by John Leonard, 2009.

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

See also.

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