May 2012 Archives

The Cooks that Come and Go by Max A

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Within my boarding-house select,
  There pass along the passage~way
Women in strange apparel decked,
   Who seldom for a fortnight stay,
I see them from the cab descend;
   A perfume gathers as of beer;
Then kitchenward their way they wend ---
   But in a week they reappear.

   They are not hoarders --- oh, dear, no!
   They are the cooks that come and go.

The widow-dame, whose punctual hand
   Each week my hard-earned cash receives,
Smiles on the world with visage bland --
   Except on days when cooky leaves;
Then in the kitchen battle roars,
   And kettles spill, and tongues grow bold,
And broken saucers dot the floors,
   And dinner is a banquet cold.

   No need upon your hash to blow,
   When cook makes up her mind to go!

How many of them I have seen -
   Engaged one week, and gone the next!
Some short and stout, some long and lean,
   Some cheery, some with visage vexed,
Some clean (but these were very few),
   Some sober (these were fewer yet),
Some on whose faces whiskers grew --
   Not one whose face you could forget.

   They pass in weird procession slow
   The cooks --- the cooks who come and go.

Jane was a creature long and hard --
   Bones like a horse, face like an owl;
The butcher saw her in the yard,
   And dropped the meat with awful howl.
The baker viewed her face with fear,
   The milkman wouldn't cross the lane;
I fancy no one shed a tear
   The day the bobby called for Jane.

   She had escaped from Kew, you know;
   That's why poor Janie had to go.

Kate was an Irish matron, who
   Sought for a husband who had fled;
Her eyes were an unholy blue,
   Her hair a most unholy red.
And though she shunned a stranger's stare
   (The kitchen was her constant coop);
We knew the colour of her hair
   From wisps that floated in the soup.

   But hairpins came as well, and so
   We swore that Kate would have to go.

Mord had a voice --- you hardly knew,
   when curses drifted through the air,
Whether it was a cockatoo
   Or Mord, who had begun to swear.
We used to blame that harmless bird,
   And chide him for the oaths he screamed,
Until the scullery-maid averred
   She could not sleep when Mord blasphemed.

   Then Mord, with language very low
   Rejoined the ranks that come and go.

And there were others --- Gwendoline
   (Dry gin was Gwenny's heart's desire);
Gertrude, who drank the kerosene,
   And Ann, who set the house on fire;
Bridget, who stole the boarders' hats,
   Bought gloves and ribbons with the loot;
Bess (with no teeth), and Lize (with rats)
   Were other cooks who "didn't suit."

   They swelled the melancholy row
   Of lady cooks that come and go.

Through servants' agencies galore
   My much-distressed landlady seeks;
Her tale of woe she will out-pour
   (If once she gets a start) for weeks.
But 'tis an ancient tale, indeed;
   You may, if so your wish occurs,
In "Situations Vacant" read
   A thousand tragedies like hers.

   Newspaper columns overflow
   With tales of cooks that come and go.

First published
in Melbourne Punch, 31 May 1906

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

Rondel by Christopher Brennan

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Was it the sun that broke my dream
or was't the dazzle of thy hair
caught where our olden meadows seem
themselves again and yet more fair?

Ah, sun that woke me, limpid stream,
then in the spring-mornings' rapture of air!
Was it the sun that broke my dream
of was't the dazzle of thy hair?

And dist not thou beside me gleam,
brought hither by a tender care
at least my slumbering grief to share?
Are only the cold seas supreme?
Was it the sun that broke my dream?

First published in The Australian Magazine, 30 May 1899;
and later in
The Verse of Christopher Brennan edited by A.R. Chisholm and John Joseph Quinn, 1960;
Poems [1913] by Christopher Brennan, 1972;
Selected Poems edited by G.A. Wilkes, 1973; and
Christopher Brennan edited by Terry Strum, 1984.

: this poem is also known by the title Towards the Source : 1894-97 : 21.

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

See also.

Euroclydon by Henry Kendall

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      On the storm-cloven Cape  
         The bitter waves roll  
         With the bergs of the Pole,
And the darks and the damps of the Northern Sea;
      For the storm-cloven Cape
      Is an alien Shape
With a fearful face, and it moans and it stands
      Outside all lands

      When the fruits of the year
         Have been gathered in Spain,   
         And the Indian rain
Is rich on the evergreen lands of the Sun,
      There comes to this Cape --
      To this alien Shape,
As the waters beat in and the echoes troop forth
      The Wind of the North,

      And the wilted thyme,
         And the patches past
         Of the nettles cast
In the drift of the rift, and the broken rime,
      Are tumbled and blown
      To every zone  
With the famished glede, and the plovers thinned
      By this fourfold Wind --
            This Wind sublime!

      On the wrinkled hills
         By starts and fits
         The wild Moon sits,
And the rindles fill, and flash, and fall
      In the way of her light
      Through the straitened Night
When the sea heralds clamour and elves of the war    
      In the tortents afar,
            Hold festival.

      From ridge to ridge
         The polar fires
         On the naked spires
With a foreign splendeur flit and flow  
      And clough and cave
      And architrave,
Are red from side to side, from wall to wall,
      Like a nether hall
            In the hells below!  

      The dead dry lips
         Of the ledges, split
         By the thunder-fit
And the stress of the sprites of the forked flame,
      Anon break out
      With a shriek and a shout,  
Like a hard bitter laughter, cracked and thin
      From a ghost with a sin
            Too dark for a name!  

      And all through the year
         The fierce seas run
         From sun to sun;  
Across the face of a vacant world!  
      And the Wind flies forth  
      From the wild white North,
That shivers and harries the heart of things,
      And shapes with its wings
            A Chaos uphurled!

      Like one who sees
         A rebel light
         In the thick of the night,
As he stumbles and staggers on summits afar
      Who looks to it still   
      Up hill and hill.
With a steadfast hope (though the ways be deep
      And rough and steep),
            Like a steadfast star;   

      So I that Stand
         On the outermost peaks
         Of peril, with cheeks
Blue with the salts of a frosty Sea,
      Have learnt to wait   
      With an eye elate,
And a heart intent, for the fuller blaze
      Of the Beauty that rays
            Like a glimpse for me.

      Of the Beauty that grows
         Whenever I hear
         The Winds of Fear
From the tops and the bases of barrenness call.
      And the duplicate lore
      Which I learn evermore,    
Is of harmony filling and rounding the Storm,
      And the marvellous Form  
            That governs all!

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 May 1866;
and later in
The Australasian, 23 March 1867;
Leaves from Australian Forests by Henry Kendall, 1869;
Selected Poems of Henry Kendall edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1957;
The Poetical Works of Henry Kendall edited by Thomas Thornton Reed, 1966; 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.

The Pannikin Poet by A. B. "Banjo" Paterson

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There's nothing here sublime,
But just a roving Rhyme,
Run off to pass the time,
   With nought titanic in
The theme that it supports,
And, though it treats of quarts,
It's bare of golden thoughts --
   It's just a pannikin.

I think it's rather hard
That each Australian bard --
Each wan, poetic card --
   With thoughts galvanic in
His fiery soul alight,
In wild aerial flight,
Will sit him down and write
   About a pannikin.

He makes some new-chum fare
From out his English lair
To hunt the native bear,
   That curious mannikin;
And then when times get bad
That wand'ring English lad
Writes out a message sad
   Upon his pannikin:

"Oh, mother, think of me
Beneath the wattle tree
(For you may bet that he
   Will drag the wattle in)
"Oh, mother, here I think
That I shall have to sink
There ain't a single drink
   The watter-bottle in."

The dingo homeward hies,
The sooty crows uprise
And caw their fierce surprise
   A tone Satanic in;
And bearded bushmen tread
Around the sleepers' head --
"See here -- the bloke is dead."
   "Now where's his pannikin."

They read his words and weep,
And lay him down to sleep
Where wattle-branches sweep
   A style mechanic in;
And, reader, that's the way
The poets of to-day
Spin out their little lay
   About a pannikin.

First published in The Bulletin, 28 May 1892;
and later in
Saltbush Bill, J.P., and Other Verses by A.B. Paterson, 1917;
The Collected Verse of A.B. Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1982;
Singer of the Bush, A.B. (Banjo) Paterson: Complete Works 1885-1900 compiled by Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie, 1983;
A Vision Splendid: The Complete Poetry of A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1990;
The Collected Verse of Banjo Paterson edited by Clement Semmler, 1993; and
Classic Australian Verse edited by Maggie Pinkney, 2001.

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

See also.

Trucanini's Dirge* by Robert Adams

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"And the place thereof shall know them no more." - Psalm 103, v 16.
"They make a solitude, and call it peace." - Byron.

Thro' the forests deep the slow rains weep,
   And the leaves fall thick beneath,
As the last lone child of Tasmania's wild
   Lies passing away in death.

The she-oaks wail in the autumn gale,
   And the sad mists shadowy rise
O'er the wild swamp streams, where the curlew screams,
   As the queen of the dead tribes dies!   

The dark tribe's queen! she has suffered, and seen
   Her race perish one by one
In the terrible past, till lonely and last
   The sands of her life are run.

Ere the last ones sink on the silent brink
   Of Eternity's shrouded wave,
As her dark cheek pales, she mournfully wails
   Her dirge o'er her people's grave.

Oh, God of our race! hast thou never a place
   For the one we were spoiled of on earth?
Or shall we be left, of a heaven bereft,
   And our death be as doomed as our birth?

Oh, God of our tribes! we bore the jibes
   And scourge of our tyrants long --
Were hunted and slain, from forest and plain,   
   With never a righted wrong!

With hatchet and flame, they drove the game
   From our happy hunting grounds,
And ravished and slew, and merciless threw
   Our babes to their savage hounds.

Thou saw'st our woes, oh God of our foes!
   And heard'st the awful wails
Of our slaughtered ones, as the lightning guns
   Swept thundering through our vales.

Oh pitiless race of the fierce pale-face!
   Had'st thou a warrant from God?
In the cold grey north, to come south and drive forth
   The peaceable people who trod.

By right of their birth, their own spot of earth?
   Was there not room under Heaven
For thy people and mine, that my people by thine
   To death and destruction were given?

You came unsought, and the gifts you brought
   As Christians from over the wave,
Were greed for land and a merciless hand,
   And the fire drink that digs the grave!

Ere came the White, time's peaceful flight
   Was measured by happy years,
And we lived our life -- with scarcely a strife --
   'Midst friendship which knew no fears!

With never a foe, and scarcely a woe --
   Except for some loved one's death --
We lived by the chase -- a harmless race,
   And gladsome with freedom's breath.

Oh, the happy days! midst the pleasant ways
   Of the wildwoods and the hills,
Where the echoes rang, whilst the wild birds sang
   To the music of rippling rills!

Ah! never again o'er hill and plain
   Shall Trucanini rove,
With the swift firm tread of the wilderness bred,
   Whose home is the forest grove.

By Tamar's banks, where the bearded ranks
   Of the bright green rushes bend,
Shall her bark canoe the swan pursue,
   Or her arm the swift spear send --

No more, no more,-- ah! never once more,
   Shall the feet of my people skim
O'er the tufted grass, up the mountain pass,
   Or the bush tracks greenly dim.

Never, no never! Alas! for ever
   They have faded from river and shore;
Yea! have passed like a dream or a summer-dried stream,
   And their place shall know them no more!

Lay me to rest in the silent breast
   Of the solemn mountain chain,
Beyond all trace of the ruthless race
   By whom my race was slain!

And have remorse on my lonely corse;
   Let ravenous science reap
Nor nerve, nor bone, but leave me alone,
   Unharmed! for my last long sleep. +

My days are past, and I die, the last
   Of the tribes! So let me rest
In my long last home, where they loved to roam,
   Where the hills face the dying west;

And the shadows deep of the mountains sweep
   O'er the lonely wandering stream;
There lay my head, in its last cold bed,
   For the sleep that has never a dream!

Whilst the high stars calm, hear the night wind's psalm,
   And the rivulet's rippling wave,
As Nature wild takes home her child,
   And watches her lonely grave!

* Trucanini, the last of the Tasmanian aborigines, died May 8, 1876, aged 73 years.

+ Her last words were, "Don't let them cut me up, but bury me behind one of the mountains."

First published
in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 27 May 1876

Author: Robert Dudley Adams (1829-1912) was born Robert Dudley Herbert but changed his name when he migrated to New South Wales in 1851.  He worked mainly as a journalist for Sydney newsapers but also had work published in England.  He died in Sydney in 1912.

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

Castles in the Air by Douglas B. W. Sladen

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We met: it was but to part; yet we had one month of gladness --
   Real gladness, sympathetic, ecstatic, voluptuous;
A prelude, it may be, to years of a regretful sadness --
   Such sadness as is possible to light-of-hearts like us.

Not that we loved as lovers do, for both of us were wedded;
   You to an absent husband, and I to a darling wife,
Whom I hardly leave an instant, so deeply is she imbedded
   'Mid my heart roots, and inseparably bound up with my life.

But you are my affinity, my female alter ego;
   You feel the same delights and woes and impulses as I;  
Beneath the same stars you were born as I -- sic astra lego --
   And love, as I, whate'er is fair and goodly 'neath the sky.  

How happy had we both been had your lot been cast to linger
   Among the canes and orange trees of your own sunny land;
Lounging on April afternoons, and reading some sweet singer,        
   Or talking half-tender banter when we had no book at hand.

How happy both of us might be if, with no long delaying,  
   'Twere mine to seek the great old land from which I drew my birth;
And with you in the English lanes take both our children maying,
   Or wander amid keeps and fanes half-hidden in the earth.      

We might live like model neighbours in a straggling Kentish village,
   In quaint old gabled houses perched on some commanding ridge,
And for our landscape have just hops and orchard trees and tillage,
   And a bluff Norman church-tow'r, and a narrow steep-arched bridge.

We might go up every June to see the million-peopled city;
   To see the best theatres, the Academy and Row:
For both of us delight in what is costly, grand, or pretty,
   And one's taste for the artistic wants a snack each year or so.

For my books we'd choose a room, with the morning sun to kiss it,
   And full of capabilities for adding fresh bookshelves
For swarms that would accumulate on every London visit;
   And, if we could contrive it, a bay-window for ourselves.

Lined with deep-cushioned lounges. We'd have sunny garden-closes,
   Where we could grow some hardy trees from our soft southern home,
And eke the puny summer out among the trees and roses,
   And cheat ourselves with the belief that winter'd never come.      

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 26 May 1883

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

May by Zora Cross

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Blue April in her cloak of green
   Went down the mountain-side;
And with a tender mother-mien
   The autumn bareness spied.

Redheads the leafy silence split;
   And as she marked their lay
The first white wattle flare she lit
   To herald yellow May.

First published in The Bulletin, 25 May 1922

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of BiographyOld Qld Poetry

See also.

The Song of Old Joe Swallow by Henry Lawson

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When I was up the country, in the days o' long ago,
Along ov Jimmy Nowlett with the teams I uster go;
Then the reelroad wasn't heered on, an' the bush was wild an' strange,
An' we useter draw the timber from the saw-pits in the range;
An' we useter load provisions for the stations, an' we'd go
Thro' the plains an' o'er the ranges in the days of long ago.

Chorus:   Then it's yoke up the bullicks and tramp beside 'em slow,
          An' saddle up yer horses an' a-ridin' we will go,
             To the bullick-drivin', cattle-drovin',
             Nigger, digger, roarin', rovin'
          Days o' long ago.

Once me and Jimmy Nowlett loaded timber for the town,
But we hadn't gone a dozen mile before the rains come down,
An' me an' Jimmy Nowlett an' the bullicks an' the dray
Was cut off on some risin' ground while floods around us lay;
An' we soon run short of tucker an' terbacca, which was bad,
An' pertaters dipped in honey was the only tuck we had.

           But it's yoke up the bullicks, &c.

An' half our bullicks perished when the drought was on the land,
An' the burnin' heat that dazzles as it dances on the sand
When the sun-baked clay an' gravel paves for miles the burnin' creeks,
An' at ev'ry step yer travel there a rottin' carcase reeks --
But we pulled ourselves together, for we never used ter know
What a feather-bed was good for in those days o' long ago.

But in spite ov barren ridges an' in spite ov mud an' heat,
An' the dust that browned the bushes when it rose from bullicks' feet,
An' in spite ov cold an' chilblains when the bush was white with frost,
An' in spite ov muddy water where the burnin' plain was crossed,
An' in spite of modern progress, and in spite ov all their blow,
'Twas a better land to live in, in the days o' long ago.

Oft when the moon was shinin' o'er the ranges like a lamp,
An' a lot of bullick-drivers was a-campin' on the camp.                        
When the fire was blazin' cheery an' the pipes was drawin' well,
Then our songs we useter chorus an' our yarns we useter tell,
An' we'd talk ov lands we come from, and ov chaps we useter know,
For there always was behind us other days o' long ago.

Them early days was ended when the railroad crossed the plain,
But in dreams I often tramp beside the bullick-team again:
Still we pauses at the shanty just to have a drop er cheer,
Still I feels a kind ov pleasure when the campin'-ground is near;
Still I smells the old tarpaulin me an' Jimmy used ter throw
O'er the timber-truck for shelter in the days o' long ago.

Oh, I've been a-driftin' back'ards with the changes ov the land,
An' if I spoke ter bullicks now they wouldn't understand,
But when Mary wakes me sudden in the night I'll often say:                                                 
"Come here, Spot, an' stan' up, Bally, blank an' blank an' comeeerway."
An' she says that, when I'm sleepin', oft my elerquince 'ill flow
In the bullick-drivin' language ov the days o' long ago.

The pub will soon be closin', so I'll give the thing a rest;
But if you drop on Nowlett in the far an' distant west
If Jimmy drops a doubleyou instead of ar an' vee,
An' if he drops his aiches then yer sure to know it's he.
An' yer won't forgit to arsk him if he still remembers Joe
As knowed him up the country in the days o' long ago.

First published in The Bulletin, 24 May 1890;
and later in
In the Days When the World Was Wide and Other Verses by Henry Lawson, 1900;
Humorous Verses by Henry Lawson, 1941;
The Penguin Book of Australian Verse edited by Harry Heseltine, 1972;
Poems of Henry Lawson edited by Walter Stone, 1973;
A Camp-Fire Yarn: Henry Lawson Complete Works 1885-1900 edited by Leonard Cronin, 1984;
A Collection of Australian Bush Verse, 1989; and
Our Country: Classic Australian Poetry: From the Colonial Ballads to Paterson & Lawson edited by Michael Cook, 2004.

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

See also.

Afterwards by Myra Morris

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Laughter will come again  
As grass-shoots after rain,  
We shall forget the secret fears,  
The grieving and the pain.

Things once we counted small
Will hold our minds in thrall,
One blade of grass be dear to us
Who might have lost our all.

Enough for us to lie
Under an empty sky,
Able at last to look ahead
With hope and courage high.

Laughter will come again
As grass shoots after rain.
We shall forget the secret fears,   
The grieving and the pain.
But not the shining sons of men
Else these have died in vain.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 May 1942

Author: Myra Evelyn Morris (1893-1966) was born in Boort, Victoria.  She spent most of her life in small Victorian country towns.  She published a steady stream of short stories and poems throughout her life, as well as three novels.  She died in Frankston, Victoria in 1966.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Winter Willow by L. H. Allen

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The tempest-wind that shouts along the pass,
Pours flood-like on the plain and cuts the skin
With tingling thong. The thick clouds break and spin  
Round pools of sky that dapple the whirled mass.

The shaken tussocks of the sering grass
Whistle disconsolate beneath the din,  
A flurrying greyness breaking cold and thin
On the chill river's dull and troubled glass.

Above the stream an eddy of pale leaves.
A spiral helplessness, a twittering check,
A slanting flutter, and the waifs are gone!

An old stripped willow o'er its image grieves,
In the deep desolation of its wreck,
Drooped over memory, disillusioned, wan.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 May 1926;
and later in
Patria: Poems by L. H. Allen,  1941.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Storm King by M. Burkinshaw (Mabel Forrest)

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I came from heights of eternal snow,
And I rode the wind to the vale below;
I bent the pine boughs as I passed
With the angry strength of my icy blast:
I ruffled the surface of the lake
Till a thousand waves with white crests brake;
I tossed the far-off wandering ships,
While children watched me with questioning lips.
Yet what do I care for men's drowning sighs,
Or the yearning grief in the women's eyes?
Tho' they wake the night with their anguished cry,
The Storm King laughs as he rushes by.

First published
in The Queenslander, 21 May 1898

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also

Sari Bair by C. J. Dennis

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So, they've struck their streak o' trouble, an' they got it in the neck,
An' there's more than one ole pal o' mine 'as 'anded in 'is check;
But Ginger still takes nourishment; 'e's well, but breathin' 'ard.
An' so 'e sends the strength uv it scrawled on a chunk uv card.

"On the day we 'it the transport there wus cheerin' on the pier,
An' the girls wus wavin' hankies as they dropped a partin' tear,
An' we felt like little 'eroes as we watched the crowd recede,
Fer we sailed to prove Australia, an' our boastin' uv the breed.

"There wus Trent, ex-toff, uv England; there wus Green, ex-pug, uv 'Loo;
There wus me, an' Craig uv Queensland, wiv 'is 'ulkin' six-foot-two:
An' little Smith uv Collin'wood, 'oo 'owled a rag-time air.
On the day we left the Leeuwin, bound nor'-west for Gawd-knows-where.

"On the day we come to Cairo wiv its niggers an' its din,
To fill our eyes wiv desert sand, our souls wiv Eastern sin,
There wus cursin' an' complainin'; we wus 'ungerin' fer fight -
Little imertation soljers full uv vanity an' skite.

"Then they worked us - Gawd! they worked us, till we knoo wot drillin' meant;
Till men begun to feel like men, an' wasters to repent,
Till we grew to 'ate all Egyp', an' its desert, an' its stinks:
On the days we drilled at Mena in the shadder uv the Sphinx.

"Then Green uv Sydney swore an oath they meant to 'old us tight,
A crowd uv flamin' ornaments wivout a chance to fight;
But little Smith uv Collin'wood, he whistled 'im a toon,
An' sez, 'Aw, take a pull, lad, there'll be whips o' stoushin' soon.'

"Then the waitin', weary waitin', while we itched to meet the foe!
But we'd done wiv fancy skitin' an' the comic op'ra show.
We wus soljers - finished soljers, an' we felt it in our veins
On the day we trod the desert on ole Egyp's sandy plains.

"An' Trent 'e said it wus a bore, an' all uv us wus blue,
An' Craig, the giant, never joked the way 'e used to do.
But little Smith uv Collin'wood 'e 'ummed a little song,
An' said, 'You leave it to the 'eads. O now we sha'n't be long!'

"Then Sari Bair, O Sari Bair, 'twus you wot seen it done,
The day the transports rode yer bay beneath a smilin' sun.
We boasted much, an' toasted much; but where yer tide line creeps,
'Twus you, me dainty Sari Bair, that seen us play fer keeps.

"We wus full uv savage skitin' while they kep' us on the shelf -
(Now I tell yeh, square an' 'onest, I wus doubtin' us meself);
But we proved it, good an' plenty, that our lads can do an' dare,
On the day we walloped Abdul o'er the sands o' Sari Bair.

"Luck wus out wiv Green uv Sydney, where 'e stood at my right 'and,
Fer they plunked 'im on the transport 'fore 'e got a chance to land.
Then I saw 'em kill a feller wot I knoo in Camberwell,
Somethin' sort o' went inside me - an' the rest wus bloody 'ell.

"Thro' the smoke I seen 'im strivin', Craig uv Queensland, tall an' strong,
Like an 'arvester at 'ay-time singin', swingin' to the song.
An' little Smith uv Collin'wood, 'e 'owled a fightin' tune,
On the day we chased Mahomet over Sari's sandy dune.

"An' Sari Bair, O Sari Bair, you seen 'ow it wus done,
The transports dancin' in yer bay beneath the bonzer sun;
An' speckled o'er yer gleamin' shore the little 'uddled 'eaps
That showed at last the Southern breed could play the game fer keeps.

"We found 'im, Craig uv Queensland, stark, 'is 'and still on 'is gun.
We found too many more besides, when that fierce scrap wus done.
An' little Smith uv Collin'wood, he crooned a mournful air,
The night we planted 'em beneath the sands uv Sari Bair.

"On the day we took the transport there wus cheerin' on the pier,
An' we wus little chiner gawds; an' now we're sittin' 'ere,
Wiv the taste uv blood an' battle on the lips uv ev'ry man
An' ev'ry man jist 'opin' fer to end as we began.

"Fer Green is gone, an' Craig is gone, an' Gawd! 'ow many more!
Who sleep the sleep at Sari Bair beside that sunny shore!
An' little Smith uv Collin'wood, a bandage 'round 'is 'ead,
He 'ums a savage song an' vows quick vengeance fer the dead.

"But Sari Bair, me Sari Bair, the secrets that you 'old
Will shake the 'earts uv Southern men when all the tale is told;
An' when they git the strength uv it, there'll never be the need
To call too loud fer fightin' men among the Southern breed."

First published in The Bulletin, 20 May 1915;
and later in
The Moods of Ginger Mick by C.J. Dennis, 1916.

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

See also.

Aspiration by Marjorie Quinn

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If, for some fault committed here,
You are condemned, who are my dear;
Or, for a word you could not say
All hope of Heaven were cast away --
   I should pray to be wherever you be, my dear,
   Without blame and without fear.

Love is not love that cannot share
The fine lot with the commoner;
Nor, having known perfected joy,
Disdains that, mingled with alloy --
   I should pray to be wherever you be, my dear,
   Without blame, and without fear.

If perfect bliss were offered me
To keep for all eternity
Nor any memory of you
To give me hurt, to bring me true --
   I should pray to be wherever you be, my dear,
   Without blame, and without fear.

The deepest hell could not affright
My heart, that knew a pure delight,
And it would be my splendid pride
To stay forever by your side --
   I should pray to be wherever you be, my dear,
   Without blame, and without fear.

And should you, freed from taint of sin,
Go heavenward, might I enter in.
A loving soul? No power can slay
The soul of love; it lasts alway! --
   I should pray to be wherever you be my dear,
   Without blame, and without fear.  

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 May 1934

Author reference site: Austlit

See also

Farewell by Mary Hannay Foott

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Respectfully inscribed to Alice Claudine, Lady Norman.

Farewell, dear Lady! Bright the hour
   That brought you; sad that bears away;
Yet --- English fields are all a-flower,
   And English hedgerows sweet with May;
Love there as here shall be your dower ---
   'Tis not for us to bid you stay.

Farewell ! Oh not alone the few
   Familiar friends will miss you here
How excellent soe'er the New   
   Be slow to place another peer
To her whom now they bid adieu ---
   Of all Vice-Queens the one most dear!

Your helpful care the couch has spread
   For suffering babes; angelic toil!
On wounds of women shamed you shed
   Samarian balm of wine and oil;
As Sister, with the scorned broke bread ---
   You, with white raiment free from soil!

And women-hands that toil your hand
   Has touched and strengthened. Mothers tell
Of the sweet Presence, come to stand
   By the new-born, where poor folk dwell,
With generous gifts. Throughout the Land
   Is none but grieves to say Farewell.

Farewell, dear Lady All good things
   Be yours the All-Giver may bestow.
Its folds abroad the Ensign flings;
   The sea-tide swells the river-flow;
The parting cheer around you rings;
   Farewell! God bless you where you go!    

First published in The Queenslander, 18 May 1895

Note: Alice Claudine was the wife of General Sir Henry Wylie Norman, Governor of Queensland 1889-1895.

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

See also.

"Pearls for Tears" by Lola Gornall

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A diver, to the deep sea's continent,
Hungry and footsore, desolately went
Plunging his life beneath a treacherous tide,
Blinded, groping, and without a guide ....

He went for bread, and for his life's sweet sake,
Taking the risk that all pearl-divers take --
Only to him were known the sea's dark fears --
(The superstitious say that pearls mean tears!) ....

Strange that through perils must all pearls be bought
To gratify a woman's careless thought,
Clinging about her skin till its pink snow     
Rivals in beauty their moon-pallid glow!

Pearls for a kiss ... Pearls for a worthless smile ....
So are they bartered every little while --
Nothing consoles the tears of their despair  
What though a princess wears them in her hair!

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 17 May 1930

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

The Tin-Pot Mill by Edward Dyson

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Quite a proud an' happy man is Finn the packer
   Since he built his crazy mill upon the rise,
An' he stands there in the gully, chewin' backer,
   With a sleepy sort of comfort in his eyes,
Gazin' up to where the antiquated jigger
   Is a-wheezin' an' a-hoppin' on the hill,
An' up here me lord the Guvner isn't bigger
   Than the owner of the Federation Mill.

      She goes biff, puff, bang, bump, clitter-clatter, smash,
      An' she rattles on fer half a shift, an' lets up with a crash,
      An' then silence reigns a little while, an' all the land is still
      While they're tinkerin' awkward patches on the tin-pot mill.

It's a five-head plant, an' mostly built of lumber;
   'Twas erected by a man who didn't know,
An' we've never had a decentt spell of slumber
   Since that battery of Finn's was got to go;
For she raises jest the most infernal clatter,
   An' we guessed the Day of Judgment had come down
When the tin-pot mill began to bang and batter
   Like a earthquake in a boiler-metal town.

All the heads are different sizes,'an' the horses
   Are so crazy that the whole caboodle rocks,
An' each time a stamper thunders down it forces
   Little spirtin's through the crannies in the box.
Then the feed-pipe's mostly plugged an' aggravatin',
   An' the pump it suffers badly from a cough;
Every hour or so they bust a bloomin' gratin',
   An' the shoes are nearly always comin' off.

Mickey drives her with a portable, a ruin
   That they used fer donkeyin' cargo in the Ark.
Thunder! when she's got some way on, an' is doin',
   You should hear that spavined coffee-grinder bark.
She is loose in all her jints, an', through corrosion,
   Half her plates 're not a sixteenth in the thick.
We're expectin' a sensational explosion,
   An' a subserquent excursion after Mick.

From the feed --- which chokes --- to quite the smallest ripple,
   From the bed-logs to the guides, she's mighty queer,
An' she joggles like an agitated cripple
   With St. Viter's darnce intensified by beer.
She stops short, an' starts with most unearthly rumbles,
   An', distracted by the silence an' the din,
Through the sleepless night the weary miner grumbles,
   An' eaps curses on the family of Finn.

But the owner's much too cute a man to wrangle.
   He is crushin' fer the public, understand,
An' each ton of stuff that's hammered through the mangle
   Adds its tribet to the value of his land.
For she leaks the raw amalgam, an' he's able
   To see daylight 'twixt the ripples an' the plates,
An' below the an' 'neath the shakin'-table
   There are nest-eggs 'cumulatin' while he waits.

      She goes biff, puff, bang, bump, clitter-clatter, smash,
      An' she rattles on fer half a shift, an' lets up with a crash,
      An' then silence reigns a little while, an' all the land is still
      While they're tinkerin' awkward patches on the tin-pot mill.

First published in The Bulletin, 16 May 1896, and again in the same magazine on 23-30 December 1980;
and later in
Rhymes from the Mines and Other Lines by Edward Dyson, 1896.

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

See also.

Waters of Wellington by Ethel Turner

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Through forty hours of wraith-white mist
   We splendid broke a way.
Faint on the ocean's farthest edge  
   A smear of purple lay.  

A smear of purple, warmed with rose
   And wine ran o'er the sea.
"Now feel I as Columbus felt,"
   Laughed low my heart to me.

Who first of very first time sees
   A new land far ahead.
Drinks of the fiery sailor's cup,
   And breaks his yeasty bread.

Wine-red the seas a little space,
   Then sudden shot with grey;  
And lilac veiled the fringy coast,
   Light lilac washed each bay.

Silent we slipped along the sea,
   And now the shores swim near,
Stern guards at arms around their land,
   Still, secret, and austere.

And red-roofed round the water's edge
   The sprinkled townships lay.
Or red-roofed climbed the sheerest bills,
   And clung 'twixt sky and bay.

O, not as other hills the hills
   That rose both near and far,
All crumpled in a thousand shapes,
   And creased with water-scar.

And so I came to Wellington,
   Piled round its opal sea.
"Now feel I as Columbus felt,"
   Laughed low my heart to me.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 May 1926

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Love's Coming by John Shaw Neilson

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Quietly as rosebuds
   Talk to thin air,
Love came so lightly
   I knew not he was there.

Quietly as lovers
   Creep at the middle noon,
Softly as players tremble
   In the tears of a tune;

Quietly as lilies
   Their faint vows declare,
Came the shy pilgrim:
   I knew not he was there.

Quietly as tears fall
   On a warm sin,
Softly as griefs call
   In a violin;

Without hail or tempest,
   Blue sword or flame,
Love came so lightly
   I knew not that he came.

First published in The Sun [Sydney], 14 May 1911;
and later in
The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse edited by Walter Murdoch, 1918;
An Australasian Anthology: Australian and New Zealand Poems edited by Percival Serle, R.H. Croll and Frank Wilmot, 1927;
New Song in an Old Land edited by Rex Ingamells, 1948;
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;
Makar, May 1965;
Green Days and Cherries: the early verses of Shaw Neilson edited by Hugh Anderson and Leslie James Blake, 1981;
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;
Love Came So Lightly: Australian Love Sonnets and Such, 1990;
John Shaw Neilson: Poetry, Autobiography and Correspondence edited by Cliff Hanna, 1991;
The Language of Love: An Anthology of Australian Love Letters, Poetry and Prose edited by Pamela Allardice, 1991;
The Oxford Book of Australian Love Poems edited by Jennifer Strauss, 1993;
Selected Poems edited by Robert Gray, 1993;
Hell and After: Four Early English Language Poets of Australia edited by Les Murray, 2005;
Two Centuries of Australian Poetry edited by Kathrine Bell, 2007;
The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry edited by John Kinsella, 2009; and
100 Australian Poems of Love and Loss edited by Jamie Grant, 2011.

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

See also.

Life's Song by Emily Coungeau

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My love is the rosy-fingered dawn,
Which heralds the birth of the fragrant morn,
And beareth a chalice which sheddeth showers
Of crystal dew o'er the dreaming flowers.    

My love is the king with the torch of gold,
Whose flambent rays doth dear earth enfold,
Who kissed the amorous, waiting west,
And gildeth a path o'er the ocean's breast.  

My love is that queenly vision meek,
With pale fires quenched, and a paler cheek,
Who walketh so softly and regal, yet sad,
But who wreathed in such beauty doth make me glad.

My love is that temple with dome so blue,
Where those gleaming jewels the stars peep through,
With the swinging earth a cushion where we
May behold the celestial pageantry.

My love is life's music-the deep rich chords
Hath the soul for a reed, though it breathe no words,
Like a string of gems in a holy shrine,
And each gem a pure note on a lute divine.  

Oh, love! Life's song which is sweetest flows
To the stately measure the dreamer knows,
With a thrilling cadenza in mortal ears.
Where life's song endeth there are no tears.

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 13 May 1914;
and later in
Rustling Leaves: Selected Poems by Emily Coungeau, 1920.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

An Octogenarian's Autumn by Hedley Barron Miller

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The sun looms later from a quiet sea,
Now autumn's fitful brooding laps the bay;
And, haunting sea and land, fogs meet halfway
And quail before a briefer day's decree.   
Not yet the rimey dew is off the lea,
Where lacing hoar-frost binds the grass with grey,
And curls the rusty leaf. Dank shadows play
On mildewed pomegranates through the tree.
Shorter the cool days grow and from the east
Grave shadows fling a deeper longer band   
Across departed summers dying feast,
Life's autumn, too, draws on. Old shadows stand
On buried years with patient eyes turned west,
Where opal twilight screens the promised land.  

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 May 1934

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

Author reference site: Austlit

Cast Adrift by Clarinda Parkes

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A little, lonely boat,
On the wild waves afloat;
   Never a sail in sight,
   Day darkling into night --
      Stormy and stern,

So tossed my soul adrift,
High on doubt's waves uplift;
   Vainly I sought for aid,
   Boundless the billows played
      Round me, in anger!

Hoarsely the deep seas moaned,
Roughly the wild winds groaned;
   Cold cloyed the sailor's haart, --
   Oh, God, from earth to part,
      And from the loving!

So saw I horrors round,
So heard I terrors sound;
   Helpless, I lay and wept,
   Dreaming all succour slept,
      Wide waked destruction.

Lo! on the orient verge
Is it the breakers' surge?
   No, but a coming sail --
   God, shall their senses fail,
      Maddened by hope!

So, through my dark despair,
What struggling light is there?
   Dimly my cross uprears
   Him that will ease all fears,
     The Dying, the Deathless!

Hark to the thankful cry!
Mark you the upturned eye!
   Snatched from an ocean grave,
   Look how great tear-drops lave
      The sailors' smilings.

Lo, I, with trust on high,
Cling to that Cross for aye,
   So doth my worship burst
   Out into song at first,
      Deep'ning to weeping.

First published in The Sydney Mail, 11 May 1861

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

Harbour Magic by Arthur H. Adams

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On these autumnal mornings, when the bay
Lies somnolent, as if the world were
Into a magic maze of amethyst,
Waiting for beauty of the coming day.
There dawns a peaceful picture far away,
As if a weary old astrologist
Had conjured up from out the thinning mist
A shining beauty like a bride's array.

Across the solemn water, dumb, opaque,
The city seems a girl in silver-grey;
A ripple runs across the placid lake;
The dawn expectant in her white array
Goes proudly forth to meet the bridegroom day;
Across the harbour rips a ferry's wake!

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 May 1930

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

See also.

War by George Essex Evans

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Imperious Goddess! proud Bellona! stay,
So I may strive to read thy secret heart;
Tear from thy cruel face the mask away;
Come --- let men see thee as thou really art.
That lofty air, that brave yet scornful smile,
But hides the pitiless stern features 'neath
The mask by which thou dost men's hearts beguile
To risk their lives to win thy laurel-wreath.
Thy gorgeous pageantry, thy nodding plumes,
The martial music's glorious stirring swell,
Are but the shrouds for twice a thousand tombs ---
For twice a thousand but Death's solemn knell.
Two hostile hosts ablaze with glittering steel;
The thunder of artillery; the shock
Of charging squadrons; the proud bugle-peal ---
Clear, loud, yet silvery, as tho' to mock
Some dying soldier's agonised appeal
To Heaven for mercy; then the tiny square,
Lost in the dense gray haze of battle-cloud
While charging hordes press round it everywhere,
Still sternly stubborn--and us sternly proud,
Defiant, and immovable--and like the rock
O'er which old Ocean's mountain billows tear,
Break, burst in thunder, yet can not
Move from its native fastnesses one jot.
And men --- with quickened senses as they hear
The bugle-call, the clash as steel meets steel,   
And see their native banner's crest uprear
High o'er them--then can only feel,
As the battalions of the foe appear
In columned grandeur nearer and more near.
Their pulses throb, and the warm life-blood glow,
And care for nought save victory, and the foe.
Thus ever, Goddess! when with naked sword
Thou standest crying "Glory --- onward go!"   
Men have been ready to obey thy word,
Nor count the odds, nor heed that blood must flow.
And so it is, has been, will be thy plan
So long as earth is earth and man is man.

That is one side the picture; but I would ---
If so be that I can a landscape draw --
Depict both light and shade, as artist should,
And paint the shades of awful glorious war.
I see the moonlight on the battle-field
When all is silent and the fight is o'er.
And there Death's harvest! Tis a mighty yield;
Yet hath he reaped such yields full oft before.
And there they lie --- not singly, but in heaps;
In ghastly heaps; the dying with the dead
All intermingled--while the cold wind sweeps
Across and moans their requiem overhead.
And this is War! Great, glorious, awful War! --
Whose praises poets still are wont to sing ---
With all its pomp, and majesty, and awe!   
Yet, to my mind, it seems a gruesome thing
To think that for each wretch maimed, wounded, torn
By shot, and left stark dead upon the plain
Some loving hearts (tho' far away) must mourn --
Must weep in bitterness --= must weep in vain. "
He dies with honour who doth fall in war,"
They say, and count the heroes of the strife.
Can this the loved one to his home restore,
Or fill his nostrils with the breath of life?
A warrior's grave they deck with laurel leaf,
And honour him whose honour knew no stain,
But to his nearest (in their hopeless grief)
The laurel fades-the cypress will remain.
Imperious Goddess! when it is thy plan   
With martial majesty to set the task
For man to battle with his brother man,
Show each thy countenance - without the mask.

First published in The Queenslander, 9 May 1885

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

See also.

Condamine Bluffs, Killarney by Alice Ham

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So old! So hoar! Who knows how old they are --
These crags of Eld, that front the Evening Star?

From silver mists they rear their heads sublime,
Furrowed by miles and tears of ancient Time.

Yet at their feet in veiling foliage set,
Gay bloom the gorse and faint blue violet.

And as we ride, beyond the ferny screen
The bell-bird's note falls clear our words between.

The river winds with many a sinuous turn,
Of dreams in hollows green with moss and fern.

Our horses' hoof-beats, echoing from the walls,
Discordant break the music of the Falls.

Against the granite background gray and cold
Autumn, the artist, paints the poplar gold.

Ah! azure world God makes so fair to see,
I go. Thy beauty stays, unchanged, with me.

First published in The Queenslander, 8 May 1897

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

Australia by Henry Halloran

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It is not that our heaven is bright
With stars, which through the fragrant night,
Shine, like uncounted worshippers
Of the great Source of Light.

It is not that our balmy air
Makes it a vital joy, to share
In the sweet breathing of the hills,     
As of a world in prayer;--  

It is not that our valleys hold
The means of life, for manifold
And various creatures-man and beast--
Or the red-treasured gold;--  

It is not that rapt Beauty seems,
As in a world of fairy dreams,
To mould the Daughters of the land
For bards' and painters' themes;--    

Nor that our sons, would they disdain
The soul-corroding thirst of gain,
And look on glory, as on heaven,
Would never look in vain;

That we this favoured land should prize,
Or walk with proud and grateful eyes,
Blessing the Great All-Bountiful
For this new Paradise;

But for a guerdon, free from ill,
That we, with just and righteous will,
May frame a state of things to win--
The Soul of Freedom still;

That far above, the clamorous cry
Of an insane Democracy,--
Or Tyranny, more monstrous still,--
Utopia may try;

May so adjust the wheels and weights,
And balance all the mixed estates,
That each shall share with equal pride,
The freedom that elates;--

That makes man, with an upright heart,
Take in the world his lofty part,--
The Christian walking through the flames,
And dreading not the dart!  

Oh, God ! if one, a castaway
From hope-almost from heaven-may pray;
His first, his last, one prayer would be
From morn to evening grey,--

That his adopted land may be,
Great in her glory-wise and free--
God-fearing, just, and terrible
Alike by land and sea.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 May 1864

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

"The Mallee Fire" by Charles Henry Souter

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I suppose it just depends on where you're raised.
Once I met a cove as swore by green belar!
Couldn't sight the good old mallee-stump I praised:
Well -- I couldn't sight belar, and there you are!
But the faces in the fire where the mallee-stump's a-blinking
Are the friendliest I ever seen, to my way o' thinking!

In the city where the fires is mostly coal --
There! I can't abear to go and warm my feet!
Spitting, fizzing things as hasn't got no soul!
Things as puffs out yaller smoke instead of heat!
But at home -- well, it is home when the mallee-stump's a-burning
And the evening's drawing chilly and the season is a-turning!

And there's some as runs them down because they're tough.
Well? And what's the good of anythink as ain't?
No. It's nary use to serve 'em any bluff,
For they'd use up all the patience of a saint.
But they'll split as sweet as sugar if you know the way to take 'em.
If you don't, there isn't nothink in the world as'll make 'em!

They're tremenjus hard to kindle, tho', at first:
Like a friendship of the kind as comes to stay.
You can blow and blow and blow until you burst,
And when they won't, they won't burn, anyway!
But once they gets a start, tho' they make no showy flashes,
Well, they'll serve you true and honest to the last pinch of ashes!

First published in The Bulletin, 6 May 1899;
and later in
The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse edited by Walter Murdoch, 1918;
Favourite Australian Poems edited by Ian Mudie, 1963; and
Two Centuries of Australian Poetry edited by Kathrine Bell, 2007.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Captive's Complaint by Henry Parkes

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My lady they have torn away;
   My boys are with the slain;
My heart is cold as lifeless clay;  
   My tears but rust my chain.   

The mansion of my forefathers
   Is in the foe's possession;   
My country -- ah! each home of hers
   Is subject to oppression.

My lady -- she may still survive,
   Our children all departed;
Perchance we both remain alive,
   Alike both broken-hearted.

But never more may I behold
   My beautiful oppressed,
The country of the warrior bold,
   Where Freedom's martyrs rest!

Ev'n to my wandering soul in dreams,
   Along my native mountains,
Th' invaders standard, startling, gleams,
   And carnage chokes the fountains!

Oh God! I would not live to see
   To-morrow's sun ascending,
Might I to-night but perish free,
   My country still defending!

First published in The Australasian Chronicle, 5 May 1840;
and later in
Stolen Moments: A Short Series of Poems by Henry Parkes, 1842.

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

See also.

Song of the Black Nights by Louise Mack

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Some sing Hymns to the Dawn;
Let the sing, I will not bring
My harp to keep accompaniment.
Some make Music of Moons;
Ah, pale Nocturne, my pulses spurn
Your liquid silver, your dim, wet gold.
I worship you, Moon, but you shall not hold
My soul in your hands, and the Sun's red poem
Shall pass me by like a hidden cithern.

Moon, is it fault of mine that I do not set
   Your tender crystal high in my heart?
Moon, is it shame to me that I will not let
   Your fragile shining light me to Heaven?
      Fault or shame, I will keep my name
      To set at the end of the only song
      I ever will sing, my whole life long.

Sun, is it written down in your red, red book
How I was faithless, who love you so well?
Then is it written, too, that my false eyes look
Up to your face, Sun, and all's forgiven?
      Faith or fall, I must keep my all
      To swell the sound of the only song
      I ever will sing, my whole life long.

Dawn, shall I weep that the youth of the world from me
  Has passed and left me lonely and old.
Blind to the perfect rose that I would not see
   Your beckoning blossom, tenderly calling.
      Blind with tears, I have turned the years
      To swell the tides of the only song
      I will ever sing, my whole life long.

Night, will you bear as I lie at your shadowy gate,
And silent, silent, wait for your perfect breast.
Night, will you know, though my Wandering Heart is late,
It is yours at last, and is yours for ever.
   Little Dawn and the Middle Morn,
   And Moon and Sun, I have left them all
For the tireless peace of your passionless thrall.

Listen, listen my Heart,
   Let us lay the white Moon here asleep,
Kiss her, and say a low good-bye.
   Cover her face with the vines that creep
   Through sunny places. Ah, do not weep,
   Let us lay her here, asleep.

Listen, listen my Heart!
   Let us clasp the red Sun once and then
Leave Him and utter no good-bye.
   Cover his limbs with eglantine
   Too heavy and honeyed for mortal men,
   Let us clasp him once, and then --

         Then to the Night,
         And good-bye to light,
         For ever, and ever, and ever.
Oh tender, noble, imperioUs, black,
Best and bravest, shield that I lack,
And lacking, fail in the fight out there,
Wrap me round in your long back hair,
Cover me close with your tender arms,
Blot out the memory of the stars and morn.
Wrap me close in your long back hair,
Warm and fragrant, and when I stare
Up through its masses to where the trees
Mutter above me their Symphonies,
I shall see no trees, and the Symphonies
Will persuade my beliefless, vagrant soul
That she is the only music-maker,
Only law giver, condoner, law-breaker...
And wrapped in your shdow, so close, so strong,
Lying silent, perhaps ere long
I shall make, or capture one perfect song.

         Wrapped in the Night!
         Ah, the wild delight
Of the great fresh world that creeps down and near.
         Wrapped in the Night,
         Shut out from the light.
At last I can listen, at last I can hear.
At last I have caught the meaning
That haunted me always, but always fled
Just as I gained it. Now, living or dead
I shall never be haunted any more,
For the black, black night has revealed the shore
Of the furthrest sea in any world,
Has carried me up to the highest steep,
Has borne me under the under-deep,
And lying silent I know, ere long,
I shall catch and capture my perfect song.
My splendid, passionate scythe-like song,
Blown of the dark as a soul is blown
Out of the black unknown.

First published in The Bulletin, 4 May 1901

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also

I Love Him So by Charles Harpur

| No TrackBacks
I love Him so,
That though his face I ne'er might see,
In the assurance that he so loved me,
My happy heart would glow
With pulses sweeter than the sweetest be
That colder ones can know.

I love Him so,
That to my thought 'twere sweet to sleep
Even in death, believing he would keep,
With solemn steps and slow,
In sabbath memory my Grave, and weep
For Her who slept below.

I love Him so,
That all desires when he is by,
Shrink even from the import of a sigh;
As flowers unseen that grow,  
Being mute, must so remain; as in the sky
Are stars that none may know.  

First published in The Weekly Register of Politics, Facts and General Literature, 3 May 1845;
and later in
The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 11 July 1846;
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

Note: this poem is also known by the title "Virginal Love".

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

See also.

Fate by Robert Crawford

| No TrackBacks
O Thou, who knowest whence we came, and can
Endow a moment with the mood of Man,
   When my wan moment like a dream is gone,
Destroy or take me then where I began.

If it be in the moment I have err'd
A thousand times, remember I'm a word
   That Thou hast spoken, its echoes have
All from Thine own intensity occurr'd.

I am no other than what Thou hast made,
Apprenticed to Thy purpose, like a trade,
  I know not why; and if I care or no,
'Tis to Thy purpose, too, how I am paid!

First published in The Bulletin, 2 May 1903

Author reference site: Austlit, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

An Episode of Bush Life by Ernest Favenc

| No TrackBacks
The hot fierce sun above; below, the river
   In glittering sparkles flashing back each ray:
Scarcely a breath to make the tree tops quiver,
   Or rustle 'midst their leaves in idle play.

Scarcely a sound to tell that life is teeming
   In the dense scrub that lines the winding creek
In drowsy stillness sleeps the forest--dreaming ---
   Save where a parrot wakes it with a shriek.

A long harsh shriek! like one in anguish dying,
   Or eldritch cursing with unholy ban;
As though the frightened bird had seen there lying
   The dead horse, on the living breathing man;

And, in that startled glance, instinct had told it
   The meaning of the tragedy below,
And ere it flew, in pity to behold it,
   It cried aloud, in one long wail of woe.

"Is this a dream? Can I be really here?
   The dead horse lying on my shattered bone;
No chance of life! No friend, no comrade near!
   Nought left but death --- a lingering death --- alone,

"How many dreadful hours must I await
   Death's coming? --- for he is my only friend,
Who in his mercy kindly will abate
   My sufferings, and console me at the end.

"Will he come quickly? Shall I see him stand
   And gaze at me with eyes of solemn greeting?
Then will he stoop, and with an icy hand
   Touch my warm heart, and still its weary beating?   

"Or, in the evening's shadow-haunted gloom,
   When through the trees I hear the night-wind roam,
But as a darker shadow will he loom,
   And gently comfort me, and take me home?   

"Ah night! dear night! so cool, and calm, and still;  
   Could I but drink once more, in peace I'd lie
In your dark arms; let me but have my fill
   Of that sweet water! God, then let me die.

"In the deep silence I can hear it splash
   Amongst the rocky boulders far below.
Oh! could I only reach the side, and dash
   My fevered body in its cooling flow!   

"Keep back, you fiend! I see you hiding there  
   Behind that tree-trunk, mocking me in scorn:
Grinning and mowing, with a wicked stare
   That could not come save from a thing hell-born.

"You'll go away when the hot day is done,   
   And the kind night cools me with dewy rain;
But when the east glows red before the sun
   You will return, and torture me again;

"Showing me where the sparkling river falls
   Over the rocks --- so close! O Heaven, and then   
Delude me with false answers to my calls
   For aid and succour from my fellow-men.

"Give me quick death, if you have mercy, Christ,
   And are the God of love, and not of fear!
Why torture me? Surely it had sufficed   
   To take my life --- not leave me lingering here.

"If fiend you are, then work your fiendish will;
   Burning me with fierce sun and fiercer thirst:
Crushed, lone, and helpless, I defy you still;
   I'll pray no more, but hold you for accursed.

"Ah! do not bind me! Give me water, pray!  
   And I'll not struggle more, but let the flame
Consume me calmly; only take away
   Those haunting eyes --- that head, bowed in shame.

"Call no more ghosts; there are enough here now;
   If this is hell I cannot now atone
For past misdeeds. O cool my aching brow!
   Keep off, you devils ! Let me die alone.

"How balmy feels the air! and the soft sound  
   Of chiming bells comes on the evening breeze,
So rich with fragrance, from the flower-decked ground
   From hawthorn hedges, and from chestnut trees.

"This well-known lane! The old familiar place  
   Left years ago, but never quite forgot ---
This hand in mine! Is it my sister's face?  
   How little changed! To think I know you not!   

"True, I am weak and faint; but we will go
   To the old churchyard, and when there we'll stray
Amongst the quiet tombs, and you can show
   Me those of friends, lost since I went away.

"Strange! it is falling dark; and where I stand
   There seems an open grave. Surely I live!
And yet --- I'm blind; and now --- how cold your hand!
   This must be death ! Have mercy --- God --- forgive."

First published in The Queenslander, 1 May 1880;
and later in
Voices of the Desert by Ernest Favenc, 1905.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

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