January 2014 Archives

The Blue Lagoon by Zora Cross

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I came upon a pool as still as air --
A blue lagoon, cool-chaste as moonlit jade.
My footsteps on the brink no echo made,
And there was not one murmur anywhere.
The quiet dusk unbound her soft, brown hair,
A noiseless leaf fell through the cool, green shade;
And one long slender shadow seemed to wade
In soundlessness across the stillness there.

I felt a cool breeze touch me and depart;
There was a phantom rustle at my ear --
A ghost's thin voice that whispered "Death" to me.
I heard my own soul tapping at my heart:
Yet as I turned to leave that place in fear
A snow-white lily opened languidly.

First published in The Bulletin, 31 January 1924

Smoky River by Kathleen Dalziel

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Now by drifts of dusty reed. rich with English grasses,
Waving high with feathery seed, summer noontide passes.
Down the far untrodden spaces, steeped in magic strange,
   Round the bends of Smoky River
Somewhere in the range.

Smoky River, ever purling through the myrtle glade
With the early mists unfurling flicked with shining jade!
Once my dreams were distant far, but now my fancy turns
   Always home to Smoky River
Singing through the ferns.

Where the dappled pool of shade is like a phantom lake's,
And the little "painted ladies" flutter round the brakes,
I can see across the haze of many a yesterday
   Butterflies by Smoky River
Golden-winged and gay;

Undergrowth of heath and wattle, haunt of bird and bee;
At the ford the wild hill cattle loiter drowsily
When the evening points long fingers down the valley's fold,
   Far away by Smoky River
In the peaks of gold.

There the kestrel hangs on high, brown wings sure and cruel,
There the airy dragon-fly darts, an arrowy jewel,
Home of summer wren and fairy blue-cap in the bends,
   Home of curlews keening shrilly
As the evening ends.

Smoky River, in the glory that the sunset wears,
Give me back the unread story of the vanished years,
Wrap the cloak of peace about me, fold me with its wings
   Far away by Smoky River
Where the brown flood sings.

First published in The Bulletin, 30 January 1929

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.  

Indigenous by Zora Cross

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Not Solferino, Piedmont nor Glencoe
   Presented to Man's sight more grief than these 
   Lone cemeteries of forgotten trees
   Whose tragic skeletons, bleached white as snow, 
   Litter the hills where they were wont to grow 
   Verdant as those that in wrapt beauty seize 
   The tired traveller's eyes with cooling ease
At Canberra, leafy-clean row by row.

War knows no desolation quite so grim,
   As slaughtered trees exposed in Death's stark rest, 
   While mild sheep move in innocence apart
Cropping the grass round rotting trunk and limb.
   Wide fissures ever deepening attest
   Earth in erosion breaks her gallant heart.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 January 1949

"Where Shall My Heart Go?" by Mabel Forrest

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Where shall my heart go--east or west? 
   Long gray river or level plain? 
Where shall my warm heart find its nest, 
   Calling you to my arms again,
After the worst to find the best 
   Of joy which cometh after pain? 

Where shall my heart go? Granite heights 
   Block the west; but love knows the way; 
Lone camp fires in the starless nights, 
   Lone bush tracks in the sultry day, 
Still swamp lands--where the morning's lights 
   Turn to golden the dawn's cold gray. 

There shall my heart go yearning still, 
   Never resting, but seeking yet 
Barren desert, or wooded hill, 
   Down to where salt waves surge and fret -- 
Just to show you I love you still, 
   Just to tell you I can't forget!

First published in The Queenslander, 28 January 1899

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Pale Mourners by Myra Morris

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Far in the forest night entwined,
   I hear the wailing mourners go:
I see the pale procession wind
   Among the tree-trunks, dim and slow.

Why have I risen from my bed
   To watch them threading out and in?
The fireflies flicker overhead
   In webs the watching spiders spin.

Each pointed shoe with gems is set;
   All ashen white each ghostly gown.
Each wears a jewelled carcanet,
   To match her elderberry crown.

Why weep they in these woods of green
   And fill the running dark with fear?
They chant their melancholy threne
   Above the trappings of a bier!

"No more he'll hunt the bee." they sing,
   "No more he'll hear the fairy horn,
No more the flower-bells will ring
   For him along the edge of morn.

"For him no more brown gypsies brush
   The fallen leaves of gold and red;
No magic beasts move in the lush,
   Green grass, for he that played - is dead!"

Whom mourn they as they onward glide,
   With death-flowers blowing to the knee?
I watch them like a rising tide
   Among the trunks of ebony.

The moon has left her murky cloud,
   The phantom mourners pass me by.
Ah, woe! Beneath the lifted shroud
   I see the child that once was I!

First published in The Bulletin, 27 January 1921

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Voice of Australia by Zora Cross

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I am a gipsy woman wild,
With the teasing eyes of a little child;
A roving, wandering lass am I,
With never afar as the days go by.
My caravan is the wide, fresh air;
My steed, the sun with his yellow hair.
Will you ride awhile, and glide awhile,
At the spell of my gipsy smile?

I am a hag-thing, old and grey,
With a dying babe at my breast of clay;
A hungry soul on the night afloat,
And the long sobs thick in my thirsty throat.
My home's the plain, the low, brown plain;
My food the dust, all dry with pain.
Will you bear with me, and care for me,
In the hour of my misery?

I am the terrible life in death.
Beware, beware of my scarlet breath!
A spectre, talking the world unseen,
In a black, black robe 'neath a mantle green!
My heart's the fire, the blood-red fire;
My soul, the dream of its lost desire.
Will you brave an hour, and slave an hour
'Gainst the wrath of my fatal power?

I am a siren, singing joy
In the ocean depths to a mad "ahoy!"
A wooing witch in the heart if the sea,
With a tang of mirth in my melody.
My ship's the sea -- the open sea;
My sails, the winds that gather free.
Will you trip a day, and slip a day,
To the song of my laughing spray?

Sing ho! for the gipsy, ho! for the sea,
And a long, long sigh for misery!
Who cares for the flame, and the bag of death,
When my world is a bubble of morning breath?

First published in The Lone Hand, 26 January 1920

The Red-Gum Country by Kathleen Dalziel

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I wish I were back in the red-gum country,
I'm weary of cliffs and of sand and sea,
   And the tang of sea wind over the dunes,
   In the thin, dry grasses piping its tunes,
And of opal shallow and ruffling reach and rush of the spring-tides running free.

I'm sick in my heart for the timbered hollows;
For shimmering distance of gold and blue;
   For the grey old hills, and the roads of red,
   Where the Wannon sings on its sandy bed;
And I'd like to ride o'er the Gap again through summer night when the moon is new.

All day in the hills, in the sand-hills yellow,
Birds wheel from the sea, and the grey scrub blows,
   And the tides creep in to the fringing shores,
   And the tides go out by their secret doors;
And the floor of morning's a sparkling bowl, the arch of evening a dying rose.

But yet is my heart for the old things sighing:
For murmuring eves and a gleaming grey:
   For the leafy columns and lifting spires
   That are climbing, piercing the sunset fires;
For a night bird's call in the gathered dusk, and glittered slopes of the starry way.

This shore to my heart is alien ever;
My heart that is wedded to quiet hills,
   That is wearied long of the misery
   And the loud unrest of the ancient sea:
That is one with gold of the dusty miles where minted treasure of summer spills.

I wish I were back in the red-gum country.
The scent of the morn and the smell of loam!
   When the autumn yellows where summer ends,
   If an exile heart might away to its friends;
If an exile weary so long, so long, one April evening were going home!

There still, as of old, are the bush birds calling:
And still is earth beautiful after rain...
   And still in the slow, grey midnight hours,
   When the curved waves crash into starry showers.
Does my heart go back to the leafy lands...and the red-gum country is mine again.

First published in The Bulletin, 25 January 1928

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.  

In the Florist's Window by Mabel Forrest

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Out of the florist's window a young face looked at me,
Hung round with graceful tendrils of flower-starred greenery;
Out of a frame of roses, red-hearted, dew wet, sweet,     
A girl's face looked and laughed at the turmoil of the street,  
Hope in the grey eyes dancing; and on the fearless lip
Love had gone forth -- full-freighted the cargo of his ship --
With trust in a future splendid, faith in the things to be,
Out of the florist's window the young face laughed at me!

Out of the florist's window a wan face looked at me,
From among the Easter lilies, deep set in greenery;
Flanked by night blue violets, gold of the deep cupped moss,
To the glare of the roadway the grey eyes, looked across
There was pain on the furrowed brow, on the tight-drawn lip;
Wrecked on the rocks of life was love and his freighted ship.    
With no hope for the future, no trust in the things to be,
From the florist's window the sad face looked out at me.

In the florist's window there is set a mirror wide
Which reflects the faces of the drifting crowd outside,
And where the red heart roses and the sprays of creeper twine
The sad and glad eyes were MY eyes, both of the faces mine!        

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 24 January 1906

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Rough Day by Myra Morris

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Out in the wild and wanton weather,
   Under the arc of ashen sky,
The black, carved banksias bend together,
   And the screaming gulls go winging by!   
Tossed and torn in the wind's embraces,
   The tea-tree turns to the rain-swept town, 
And the daisies whirl in the sandy places,
   Where the first, white buds are shaken down!  

Under the whip of the stormy weather,
   Shouting, the sea comes rolling in!
The white spray lifts in the air like a feather,
   And the glistening foam-balls reel and spin. 
High on the beach the boats are lifted,
   Spread by the wall where the brown nets blow,
And the broken shells from the deep have drifted,
   White like a bank of heaped-up snow!   

Out in the wild and wanton weather,
   Strung with a crazy joy go I --
I and the wind and the sea together,
   Tossing our arms to the swollen sky!  

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 January 1932

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Home-Coming by Zora Cross

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The grass is green on the hills again,
It came at the call of the Autumn rain;
And up and down
Through the country brown
   The jubilant stock whips crack,
As over the range
From the places strange
   The cattle come hurrying back.

The bails are clean, and the milking stools
As white as the petals that star the pools,
Through the tall red gums
The thunder drums
   beat time to the roll of the rain,
When every creek
From the far-off peak
   Brought life to the land again

They come, they come by the old red way,
O God, for the joy of this sunlit day!
Be done with tears
For a month of years!
   The girls with a young, young laugh
Weave, skein on skein,
A daisy chain
   For Poly's little white calf.

Crack high the whips. They have reached the rails.
Was ever such thronging of horns and tails?
Look, Bess and Rose!
There Snowflake goes!
   But Poly's calf we may seek in vain....
What will be said
Of the young white dead
   Who never came home again?

First published in The Bulletin, 22 January 1920

The Poinciana Tree by Mabel Forrest

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The golden feet of the stars have bathed
   In the scarlet foam of the tree
Which the wind has tossed from the silver keel
   Of a boat of phantasy.

Dame Nature works with her coloured reels,
   And the thread of the brightest runs 
Out of the red, red heart of life,
   And the core of a score of suns.

The gayest silks were unwound for this, 
   Where it trails against the wind;
'Tis an empty reel for the other trees
   And the worker dazzled blind.

For the poinciana above the roofs
   Of the grey and sleepy town 
Is like a gipsy come to kirk
In a new vermillion gown.

The frowns of the godly move her not,
   And their grim looks pass her by;
She carries the shield of the happy hills,
   And the pride of the open sky.

Her tresses are bound in an orange snood,
   And the murmur of the town
Is blent to fasten a summer song
   To the green hem of a gown!

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 January 1928

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Apple Isle by Kathleen Dalziel

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When the night hours gather grey,
   I am back to the days of old,
Where the seeding grasses sway
   By the Capeweeds' cloth o' gold.
Dimmed by dust and choked with drouth,
   How my spirit longs awhile
For the havens of the south,
   Far way in Apple Isle!

For the russet roads and green
   Through the brackens and the musk --
Dappled ways that wind between;
   Bronzewings crooning in the dusk.
When the west flames into flower,
   fern and feathery grasses mark.
Goblin crickets call the hour,
   First the daylight and the dark.

Purples on the eastern hill;
   Towering spurs of eucalyptus;
Dells where dusky blackwoods spill
   Scented showers, downward dripped.
Night along the range remote,
   Stirring to a seaward breeze,
With a brown owl's haunting note
   Mourning from the myrtle trees.

When the month's enchanted smile
   Past the blue dividing sea,
All along by Apple Isle
   (Land of yesteryear for me)
I remember moonrise hours,
   And the molten paths that lay
Where the star shine breaks in showers
   Eastward over Emu Bay.

Love and youth have left me one,
   Faith and friendship fallen behind;
Still I hear the woodnotes blown --
   Pipes of Pan -- along the wind;
Find enchanted asphodels,
   Dream immortal melodies,
In the swing of wildflower bells
   And the surge of summer seas.

When the whispering trees are bowed,
   Still I find the glamor grows
In the color of a cloud
   Or the ruffling of a rose;
By the rain bowed waterfalls
   Catch the faĆ«ry light that gleams,
Hear the wondrous madrigals
   Weaving through my misty dreams.

Could I take my way to-night
   Down the bracken-bordered road,
Find the lanes of lost delight
   where the saffron sunset glowed,
I should ask no other boon,
   When the blossoming orchards smile
Underneath a curving moon
   Far away in Apple Isle.

First published in The Bulletin, 20 January 1927

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.  

The Drowned Butterfly by Myra Morris

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Look! Here upon the sand a lovely thing,
Lying among the sea-shells, foam-enlaced --
A drenched white butterfly,
Each silken wing,
Once iridescent, ebon-chased,
Broken and brushed
With the wild sea,
Its little feathered body crushed

O lovely thing! Poor fragile butterfly!
How came it so to die,
This shining jewel of a summer's day?
Perhaps it saw the low-hung, quivering spray,
White as old almond-bloom
Above the sea;
And winged far out, its flight a rhapsody,
Unto the swift, sharp doom
Of the tide's swirling race,
Looking to find some strange, new garden there,
Pale-blossomed, fair,
With perfumed flowers
Above the towers
Of crystal and of chrysoprase!
And now where all the shells are spread
Like petal-drifts -- look! it lies dead!

I cannot bear to think this hot sweet day,
Of that short life, shorter than hours of spring.
Here for one shining flash, then swept away --
O beautiful, poor thing!....
Yet what of me!
Am I not as some restless butterfly,
Questing the joys of life on radiant wing,
Knowing the while (O rebel I!)
That even as I soar, unbounded, high,
Just out beyond there sounds forebodingly,
The murmur of death's dark relentless sea?

First published in The Bulletin, 19 January 1928

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

A Song of Parting by Mabel Forrest

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The songs we used to sing, dear love,
      When stars were overhead,  
      Will live when we are dead,
Dear love,
Will live when we are dead.

The flame trees will put forth their red,
      The silky oaks their gold,
      When both our hearts are cold, 
Dear love,  
When both our hearts are cold.

The dreams we dreamed will be fulfilled
      Among the listening flowers 
      By happier fates than ours,
Dear love,
By happier fates than ours.

Forget the Future, still unread,
      To lie against my heart
      One moment ere we part, 
Dear love,
One moment ere we part.

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 18 January 1905

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Pioneers by Zora Cross

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They are not there, the pioneers, 
   Within those narrow graves and old. 
Where progress her steam banner rears
   Their spirits still live strong and bold.

No grass grows over all they won.  
   Their souls adventures grand declare. 
They ploughed a pathway to the sun
   That we might leap the leagues of air.

First published in The Windsor and Richmond Gazette, 17 January 1930

He Could Have Found His Way by Kathleen Dalziel

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He could have found his way there with shut eyes,
Under the hawthorn's overhanging gloom,
He heard the fat bees fumbling through the bloom,
The starling's long, low whistle of surprise --
"Has he come home?"

So well he knew the pattern of a place
He never had set eyes on till this hour,
While the unseen beckoned, the unknown set the pace.
Blindly he went, as saints to heaven's grace
Or night-moths to a flower.

A light enveloped all things, not of day,
However it poured through polished leaves in sunny
Shafts of strange color of greeny-gold bush-honey
But shed from -- what? How many lives away?
No clue now, to any!

Then something reached out arms and gathered him in.
Preoccupied bees still crept through the pale curds
Of bloom, the sweet conversation of the birds
Continued, as he felt that spell begin
To work, not needing words.

What power had circumvented time and space,
Refuting the melancholy "Nevermore"? ...
And then he met the strangers at their door.
All things lapsed back into the commonplace,
Exactly as before.

Forgotten was the moment. People talked
According to pattern, gone the far-off tone
Of trumpets from some kingdom overthrown --
Some furnace of joy through which he must have walked,
And not alone.

First published in The Bulletin, 16 January 1952;
and later in
Australian Poetry 1953 edited by Nan McDonald, 1953; and
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964.

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.  

From an Upstairs Window by Myra Morris

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A windmill turning in the rain,
Backwards and forwards and round again,
With clanking arms that strive and strain.

Across the muddy road from me,
A wet tin roof and chimneys three
As red as polished porphyry.

Tall poplars past the ice-black flags,
Round-shouldered in the wind, like hags
Trembling in all their tattered rags.

A waggon splashing up the road,
With silver milk-cans safely stowed;
A burly man upon the load.

Greyness that gathers like a tide
And drowns the plains immense and wide:
Greyness without - greyness inside!

My thoughts that turn with gusty pain,
Driven around and back again.
Are like the windmill in the rain!

First published in The Bulletin, 15 January 1925

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Grain by Mabel Forrest

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There was yellow grain on Shinar's plain
Before the brown floods swirled about the Ark,
And like a dancing rainbow in the tide
Went down the hoarding vase of polychrome
Which, in the layers of the centuries' mud,
Wise men found fecund with its store of grain,
Bearing for them a page of history --
Grain that was reaped with sickles made of stone,
Where listless, dark-eyed women ground the corn,
Pouring a bright stream from the pottery jar
Into the grinding stone, and pondering
The luck of some swart lover in the chase.

The wealth of Antioch grew from the tolls
On camel trains that, down Orontes way,
Labored to bring the bales of amber wheat,
Linen and ore and painted porcelain cups
And lapis lazuli, and limestone slabs
Whereon was traced a chariot with wheels
Brushing aside a field of ripening corn.

When pastoral peoples drifted from the heights,
And as grain growers settled in the vales,
To beat out copper knives and shares and spears,
From these first settlers rose the harvest dream,
The lush-green paddy-fields where blue canes feed,
The rye upon the Afghanistan hills,
The oats in Wiltshire, and the barley gurs
Paid to their slaves by Babylonian kings;
Wild barley running over Turkestan,
And what in Persia, or in burial-chests
Of Egypt, packed in alabaster urns,
For when the Nile was swamp the sowers came
With pear-shaped mace-heads, wavy-handled pots
They had brought with them out of Palestine
To shimmering visions of a fruitful land.

Wheat on the Darling Downs, like sheets of silk,
A rustling company in Lincoln green
With listening ears turned to December winds;
Corn slowly mellowing through drowsy hours
And barley bright as dragons in the grass.
And tall white silos, sentinels of the plain,
And dusty barns where shadow trips the sun
Through lofty windows, or the hum of scythes
Singing in English counties. Grain on grain,
The history of Man is written here --
Man rising from the mud of a morass
To concrete highways: sickles made of stone,
To the swift smoothness of machinery;
And nature working just the same old way,
With sap and shower to find the grain for bread!

First published in The Bulletin, 14 January 1931

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Grass by Kathleen Dalziel

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Rippling leagues
   Of light unrolled, 
The grasses run
   To the sunset gold.

Run to the far earth's
   Edge indeed,
Starred and sprinkled
   With golden weed. 

Fine spun hollow,
   And height, and heap, 
A shallow ocean
   Knee deep, knee deep. 

A feathery forest,
   Fringed morass,
Oh, all the world is
   Nothing but grass. 

Nothing but beauty,
   And what can I
But dream as the dreaming
   Days go by?

Watching the golden
   Pageant pass
Over the seeding
   Summer grass.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 January 1934

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.  

Flight by Zora Cross

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Boxes of houses littering the land 
And toys of cars dwindling to insect size
Change into coloured ribbons as we rise 
As at the touch of a magician's hand.
Match sticks of trees dissolve at Height's command.  
Fleece cobwebs of clouds clear to glass-like skies, 
The sea becomes Greuse-painted silk that lies   
As motionless as corrugated sand.
Now earth is flat patterned with maps of farms 
Ethereal, crossed threads of roads and snakes  
Of rivers coiled bronze-black round dreamsoft clay. 
The trance-calm silence the thrilled spirit charms  
As nothing stirs save where some great wave breaks    
And like white paper lightly blows away.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 January 1952;
and again in the same newspaper on 7 February 1953.

The Egotist by Kathleen Dalziel

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I hate to think that it must be that, some or any day,
Spring will bring back her gift to me and find me far away.
That I should miss the birds' first note, the cloud of breaking blossom,
Or the downy trees half hidden in the leafy downs' deep bosom,
That spring came knocking at my door and found me not at home, 
But gone to that far region where no earthly spring may come.
Surely I then must think of her as one in grief that covers
Her face with her pale hands and weeps, and surely weeps,
Because no more an impatient and lovely tryst she keeps
With me, most passionate and faithful of her lovers.
What! spring once more, and I not there to welcome her again,
When the wind blows through the sycamores most sweetly after rain? 
Oh! sad conceit, as well expect the Milky Way, alas,
To miss the trodden glow worm that is missing in the grass.

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 11 January 1930

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.    

Love and Desire by Myra Morris

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Two women come nightly into my dreams.
   One twines her ghost-pale fingers in my hair
   And spills upon by breast -- soft breathing there --
Strange scents that have the tang of shrouded streams.
And she who in the blanching moonlight-beams
   Draws night and whispers me (Ah sweet! So fair
   Is she with rose-red mouth!), singe me the rare
Most charmed, illicit fragments of her themes.

But when I would of fettering dreams be free
   And spurn the cramping pillow, nothing loath
To clasp each close, and call her soft by name --
   Not witching Love, nor pale Desire I see! --
But on the wall the sinister shades of both
   Merged in the one hag-snap of blear-eyed Shame!

First published in The Triad, 10 January 1920 

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

A Memory by Mabel Forrest

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I passed thro' the city markets
   On a cold and clear June day,
The air was full of dancing motes
   From dust of the unbound hay.

The sunshine from the open door
   Shone on mounds of gold and green:
The gleanings of moist meadow lands,
   With the amber fruit between.

There was treasure of scented apples
   That had prisoned the sunset's glow,
Where anxious buyers and sellers
   Vent hurrying to and fro.

And the voices of the city
   Came, as in a dream, to me.
I was a boy on the farm again,
   By the grey Pacific sea.

The crow's feet smoothed from my eyes.
   And Youth, with a laugh, came back
Where the green sugar-cane enflanks
   The thread of the bridle truck.

I held her close in the shade;
   She lifted her face to me,
And Time stood still; we grew not old
   In the farm beside the sea.

First published in The Bulletin, 9 January 1908

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

From a Window by Zora Cross

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When I look from my window all I see
   Is a pale wilderness of bush and sky --
Green against blue -- blue through each distant tree --
   Green -- blue -- monotonously low and high.

Yet if I leave my desk and saunter out,
   What shall I find at every step I take
But color, color, color strewn about
   In jewelled lights and fairy fires awake?

I know the oak-tree near the creek is brown --
   A tawny maid with drooping, downcast eyes,
And sunburnt limbs. Beneath the shadows drown
   Like dreams in a lost desert grown deathwise.

Under the ti-trees brilliant beetles lie --
   Symbols of Egypt -- emerald and gold.
On such great Cleopatra looked to sigh --
   A shining scarab token ten worlds old.

Color? Oh, it would cry to me in pain
   From daisy-plates of pink snow in the grass,
From redheads, flocking thick in Autumn's train,
   That scatter like red pearls to see me pass!

Yet from my window all my eyes behold
   Is a pale wilderness the long day through --
Green against blue in trees and skies world-old --
   Green-blue monotony of hours too new!

First published in The Bulletin, 8 January 1925

The Dying Spring by Kathleen Dalziel

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The sunset filled the western sky with splendor,
   A glorious end to Spring's last dying day,
Low, light clouds trailed their rosy garments slowly
    Through halls of clearest azure, far away,
Until the light departed sure and swiftly,
   Leaving the afterglow all chill and grey.

Only a few large stars were gleaming brightly,
   A half-moon looked from out a darkening sky,
A gentle breeze was stirring lightly
   Among the crimson roses climbing nigh,
As Summer softly stepped, with half-closed wing,
   Into the palace of the dying Spring.

First published in The Bulletin, 7 January 1904

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.  

The Picnic Ground by Myra Morris

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Tall picnic vans behind the sandy dunes --
   White tables in the tea-tree's freckled shade --
Thin gramophones that play their bleating tunes
   Down every little bracken-tufted glade!
Bright tins and papers -- bottles dimly seen,
   And pale beach-daisies trampled down to die!
The blare of noisy laughter, where has been
   Nothing more hurtful than the quivering cry
Of some small nesting wren among the green,
   Or the wind whispering by!

I have hugged closed the peace of this sweet spot,
   Holding its loveliness inviolate;
Knowing upon the tea-tree's lace each knot --
   Each silvery blade unfolding slim and straight! ...
And yet I'd count but good the littered loam,
   The broken boughs, the daisies bruised and dead,
If one who came should dream tonight at home
   Of how the coarse grass felt beneath his tread,
And how, close-in, all glistening white, the foam
   Curling its fingers, spread!

First published in The Herald, 6 January 1934

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

End of Drought by Mabel Forrest

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The yellow ochre walls are turned to gold;
   A swimming spout makes silver overflow;
The grey hills gather cloud smocks fold on fold,
   And changed is every landmark that we know

On sunny days. The shallow, shingled roof
   Is charcoal grey. With tight-closed lips
The pink snap-dragons hold themselves aloof
   From wild, wet kisses. Where the brick wall drips

The rain is dancing, splashing on the stone;
   The stiff umbrella-tree begins to sway;
The hard, dull leaves of zinnias alone
   Burn a red fire of blossom through the grey.

The banners of the storm drive east and south,
   And on the waters trail like skeins of wool;
A seagull, driven from the river's mouth,
   Screams like a ghost that haunts a fatal pool.

We in the city streets, who smile and pass,
   Call to each other that the drought is done,
Dreaming a world made wonderful with grass,
   And waves of wheat that shimmer in the sun.

First published in The Sydney Mail, 5 January 1927

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

My Dream Companion by Zora Cross

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I never look upon the azure sky,
   But she draws softly near,
And whispers in my ever-list'ning ear
   Of wondrous realms on high.

The darling clouds may be a thousand things,
   A lovely maiden fair,
A battlefield, fierce men that do and dare
   A snow-white angel's wings.

I never gaze far out across the deep,
   But mockingly she tells
Of fabled lands afar and half compels
   My longing heart to weep.

I cannot sit alone at all, but lo!
   She makes some queen of me,
With fame and beauty rare. On bended knee
   The whole wide world bows low.

She is my dearest playmate; well, I know,
   And yet much as I love
I think I'd give the world and skies above
   To let her sometimes go.

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 4 January 1911

In Port by Myra Morris

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Lie still, lie still, O brother ships,
   Along the murky bay;
For you have known the wide, white tracks
   And touched the far-away
The muted songs of lonely lands,
The stirrings of barbaric sands
   Still whisper where you sway!

How have you swept with snowy sail
   Up summer-dreaming seas,
Where once the Roman galleys flew
   Like birds before the breeze,
And glimpsed along the Golden Horn
Your startled shadows in the morn,
   Or touched the Hebrides!

Or northwards, in the Scottish nights,
   Beyond the purple mulls.
How have you cut the curtained mists,
   A-creep, with shrouded hulls,
And past the Orkneys gaunt and stark
Heard on the headlands hazy dark
   The melancholy gulls!

O brother ships at anchor there,
   What wealth is in the hold?
Prints from the looms of Lancashire,
   And rugs the Tartars sold:
Pale, pearly rice and tawny wine
And fruits from arid Palestine,
   And hammered brass and gold?

For me beside the weedy walls,
   For me what do you bring?
A coral chain or ivory,
   From Amsterdam a ring?
Fine lace that dusky hands have spun,
Old cups of grace that hold the sun,
   Or carpets for a king?

O brother ships, my brother ships,
   The breeze from off the blue
Will call and call you out again
   And sweep your decks anew!
But I -- but I may never go,
Although the winds that round you blow
   Stir all heart-strings, too!

First published in The Bulletin, 3 January 1924

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

"Marred" by Mabel Forrest

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I look across the lighted room, 
Across the glory and the bloom, 
      The ballroom's pride; 
Beyond, the garden slopes away,
Beyond the garden lies the bay 
      Where great ships ride. 

A mingled perfume comes to me, 
With scent of rotes, breath of sea --
      A woman's gown 
Swirls softly by me in the light -- 
It hardly seems as if the night 
      Had touched the town; 

Millions of lamps are sparkling out, 
The music sobs, a distant shout 
      Comes to the ear; 
The dark waves catch the city's gleam, 
And like the phantoms of a dream 
      The boats appear. 

And you, away on misty plains, 
Hear, instead of music's strains, 
      The cattle low; 
And, stretched at length by dying fires, 
Do you guess how my heart desires   
      The long ago?   

Or, dully tired, worn, and tried 
By the hot day's long dreary ride, 
      Seek only rest; 
Not pondering on an easier past, 
Nor of the time your head lay last 
      Upon my breast? 

Oh! thoughts that flee across the waste 
Of scrub and plain, why would you haste 
      To woo him back? 
The path it rough his feet must tread, 
For me the lilies bloom instead 
      Adown the track --

The lily buds of luxury --
The rough for him, the smooth for me. 
      Oh! broken troth;   
Oh! hands that used to touch my hair 
When life before seemed only fair, 
      Smooth for us both. 

And then--the gilding fell away. 
What use had I for common clay?   
      And so --" Good-bye!" 
The gold had gone, the love must go --
Have I not always learnt it so? 
      Can wisdom lie? 

"A girl must train her heart," they said, 
God help her! she were better dead 
      Than living so. 
I sold my lips to other lips 
Not fit to touch his fingertips. 
     I sank so low, 

I broke the only loyal heart; 
My friends, steel-banded, bade us part 
   For good of all --
Dear heaven! Hardly bought, such peace -- 
I bowed, and gave him his release, 
      Nor saw my fall. 

I thought that I had done full well, 
Condemning one proud soul to hell, 
   And hid my tears. 
Oh! had they known, advising me, 
My unborn powers of misery 
      Thro' coming years, 

They sorely would instead have taught 
That gilded chains are dearly bought, 
      That love must live, 
If not to good, to grief and shame. 
And yet I was the most to blame, 
      And I forgive. 

The slender band my band must hold 
Feels heavy, tho' it is of gold, 
      Placed fondly on; 
And I, so young to be a wife, 
May still live fifty years of life 
      While you are gone!

First published in The Queenslander, 2 January 1897

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Nocturne by Kathleen Dalziel

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Smoke rising straightly in the green airs of even,
   The husky note of an early owl,
Swift, like a dark line drawn 'cross heaven,
   The homeward flight of the marshland fowl.

Some late wren in the tea-tree thicket
   Tinkles his thin, sweet notes of glass;
Somewhat sadly a lonely cricket
   Fiddles away in the fescue grass.

The table is set and the kettle's singing,
   Grey dusk gathers, and it's growing late.
Silent at last is the axe's ringing,
   And a step turns in by the homestead gate.

Someone's smile has the sunshine's lending,
   Eager the welcome in someone's eyes....
Ah, well for the toiler at the long day's ending
   In his own little corner of Paradise!

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 1 January 1929

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.     

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