March 2014 Archives

Autumn Sea by Kathleen Dalziel

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Pale cloud, shadows that meet and mingle 
   In toppling crag and tumbled cave.
The tinkling lisp of the broken shingle 
   Lapped by the low retreating wave 
Oft repeated by every slow
   Breath of the tranquil tide below.
With scarcely a fringe of foaming laces,
   The level fields of the lazy sea;
Still as a lake of the inland places,
   Slumber in lapis-lazuli.
Mirroring clouds like up-side-down   
   Ruined towers of a faery town.
Up-side-down in its highways even,
   The white terns wheel and the gannets pass,  
With a mist of breeze like a breath of heaven. 
   Blurring its lovely looking glass ...  
Till all of a sudden there seems to be
   Something afoot far out to sea.
All of a sudden the sea rejoices,
   The tide runs in where the tide crept out;
And the air is full of the talking voices
   And far on the reef the breakers shout.
The winds awake from their sleep profound, 
   And the autumn day is alive with sound.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 March 1934

Author reference site: Austlit

See also

Autumn by Zora Cross

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Parrot-pretty, April led,
   Now begins to peep and prink
Slender autumn robin-red,
   Red-head gentle, cosmos-pink.

Scarlet leaves gleam here and there,
   Weeds burn crimson, garnet-brown,
Rosy in the ruddy air
   Slim oaks shake bronze blossoms down.

First published in The Sydney Mail, 30 March 1927

A Woman by Mabel Forrest

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What were her eyes like? Have you seen the spears
Of grass trees, tipped with velvet soft and brown,
Yet lit with little flashing lights as when
The sun, thro' ripples, filters slowly down
And loses in the drifting weed, a glint
Of the immortal brightness of the skies?
Velvet as grass-spear tips and golden as
The lost sun flecks, the wonder of here eyes.

What was her mouth like? Have you seen the sun
On thund'ry nights blood red behind the range
Splashed where the cloud banks gather pile on pile,
Sullen, yet full of magic and of change?
The loves of gods that flame about the sky
Ere all the brightness o'er the world-rim dips,
Burning a man's heart up with the ripe glow,
And all the scarlet promise of her lips!

What was her throat like? Have you seen the sheep,
Fresh from the waters of the still wash pool,
All the stains gone, the yellow yolk washed out,
Leaving the purity of the virgin wool?
Or like a white crane's feather on the swamp,
By moonlight blue. Or lily buds afloat.
Take something from them all, the whitest white,
Crossed by blue veins, and there you have her throat.

What was her shape like? Take a slim young pine,
Straight, strong, and growing on the mountain side;
Add the firm curves of a fair woman's breasts,
Soft as white froth upon a racing tide.
Take a tall pine tree, swaying to the kiss,
The fickle loving of a scented breeze,
And join to that the easy swinging grace
You find in sweeping, drooping myall trees.

What was her hair like? Have you seen the corn
On the selection in the harvest time,
When the harsh challenge of the cockatoos
Shrieks through the patches of the stunted lime,
Red gold against the dry stalks hanging down?
That, of a warmer color and more rare,
Powdered with gold dust filched from hidden claims
That miners dream of? -- and you have her hair.

What was her love like? A white woman loved
A conqueror in Egypt long ago,
And when he died she hid a little snake
Close-nestled to her body's lines of snow.
Once in a thousand years such women are;
Their paths of love have ever thorny proved;
So, just because love was no more for her,
She sank and died -- that was the way she loved.

First published in The Bulletin, 29 March 1906

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Dreams by Kathleen Dalziel

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They come again to haunt me when the sun is sinking low --
The idle dreams, the careless dreams, the dreams of long ago.

Thro' the wattle's feathered, fretted boughs the reddened sunlight gleams.
In the stillness and the quiet 'tis a fitting hour for dreams.

Far away from care and sorrow -- far away from toil and strife --
Wasted chances, hours of folly, and the failure of a life.

All the blackness lies behind me and the brightness lies before,
I have done with Sin and Care (for just an hour, perhaps, or more).

Dreams of day-time -- dreams of May-time -- dreams of light and laughing hours,
With the odor of the gum-leaves and the fragrance of the flowers.

As they come again to haunt me when the sun is dropping low,
The idle dreams, the careless dreams, the dreams of long ago.

First published in The Bulletin, 28 March 1903

Author reference site: Austlit

See also

Little Girls' Eyes by Zora Cross

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Oh, little girls' eyes are lovely things,
They make me think of butterflies' wings, 
Of pansies brown and violets blue,
And periwinkles winking azure, too.

Oh, little girls' eyes are sweet and fair 
As rainbows scattered all over the air. 
I think they blossomed in paradise --
Those periwinkles, pansies, violets wise.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 March 1926

A Farewell by Mabel Forrest

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Oh, let it lie a moment in my own-- 
That dear, dear hand whose strength for me has flown, 
Never again to meet in friendliness. 
Oh! clinging hand, would I had loved you less!

Oh, let them lie a moment on my own-- 
Those dear, dear lips which now so cold have grown, 
That once seemed made alone for tenderness. 
Fond, faithless lips, would I had loved you less!   

Then turn and go for evermore from me, 
Hands, eyes, and lips I never more may see; 
Hands, eyes, lips, voice, I pray that God may bless, 
And for thy failings may not love thee less! 

First published in The Queenslander, 26 March 1898

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

From a Hotel Window by Myra Morris

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Here through the grimy panes I see
Red bricks in stark solidity.
And yet within that barren wall
Of hard old bricks I can recall
The myriad hues that dwell for me
In bracken running to the sea --
Pale creamy gold and warm, rich tones
As roseate as sunset-cones,
Dense green, where on the hidden tracks,
The stems grow dark as beatles' back,
And purple deepening in the shade
To purple mauve of fronds that fade.
For all these colourings there be
In bracken running to the sea!

So here, while in this room I lie
Hemmed in by walls, I see a sky
As blue as summer seas and fair,
With sunshine spilling everywhere.
I hear again a lone grey thrush
Flute strangely in the underbrush,
And feel a wind play hide-and-seek
Among the tresses on my cheek.

Oh, joy that I can have them all
Through staring at an old brick wall,
Can have, close-pushing round my knee,
Wild bracken running to the sea!

First published in The Bulletin, 25 March 1926

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Deserted by Kathleen Dalziel

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The little path goes winding on amid the bending briar,
Where rifted hills are rosy with the sunset's fading fire;
But few there are that find it now, and very few inquire.

I know that on a day like this the river wind is blowing
All honey-scented with the breath of blossomed ti-tree growing
Above the dripping lady-fern and amber ripples flowing.

Perhaps the mist is rising now along the valley's pride,
Slow-trailing robes of silver like a shy and silent bride;
My lone heart so remembers it in dreams unsatisfied.

Past the homestead and the clearing and the ridges dark and dun
Come the quiet picture faintly on my memory one by one,
When the cattle pass the sliprails at the setting of the sun.

And an old-fashioned garden to wilderness has grown;
The springing saplings rustle where the rosy wreaths have blown --
The old grey Bush has taken and gathered back her own.

Pale milky stars a-glimmer in an after-glow of jade,
Dew diamonds in star shine, and jaspers in the shade,
And a bronzewing crooning softly in the musk and myrtle glade.

But no more I'll be dreaming, for such fancies hurt me so,
And the years have lost their lustre and the pulse of life beats slow
Since I swung the gate behind for the last time long ago.

First published in The Bulletin, 24 March 1927

Author reference site: Austlit

See also

Blackbirds are Everywhere by Myra Morris

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Blackbirds are everywhere,
Eternally they sing
In green, sun-netted gardens
All summer, winter, spring.

Deep in the tea-tree aisles
They whistle each to each
And call above the tumult
Of waters on the beach.

How brave the broken notes
Down grimy lane and street,
Lifting with joy then muted
Under the traffic's beat!

And by old railway-yards
Where the trains come clanking in,
Grumbling and growling, listen,
When the wheels have ceased to spin!

Listen and you will hear
Through the silence, strange, profound,
The blackbirds' song flung skywards --
A golden spear of sound!

First published in The Bulletin, 23 March 1955

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Last of the Line by Mabel Forrest

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A basket of white kittens and a tray of apricots,
   A red wasp, buzzing, as it hangs above the honeyed fruits,
A dish of sun-parched orange pips, a lacquered box of dates,
   And a beggar at the gateway with his bowl of saffron roots.

The sun across the shadow bars the earth with tiger stripes,
   There's a rusty gun beyond them, and a loophole in the wall,
Once the arsenal of soldiers and to-day the court of women,
   And the drifting dust of ages with its perfume smothering all.

Dust of vanished roses, and dust of women's dreaming,
   Dust of men who bartered, and of other men who took --
Every stone is graven with the cipher of a story,
   The clatter of a weapon, or a lover's parting look.

Out beyond the courtyard is the yellow of the desert,
   And the yellow lion wanders there among the mighty tombs...
With a basket of white kittens and a lacquer box of sweetmeats,
   The craven cub of fighting men yawns in the women's rooms.

First published in The Bulletin, 22 March 1933

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Slime by Zora Cross

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I saw it like a lovely purple gem
Lying between green glooms of gentle trees 
A pool, which, when the little shadowy breeze 
Swept it, glowed like a fairy diadem.
And, over it, a reed bent its brown stem.
Even a lily bloomed there. On my knees 
I knelt; and, busied with old memories,
Touched the still waters, idly stirring them.

God's tears! What odour vile arose! What gnats!
What filthy hordes of living beastly things! 
I sickened, as I saw my hand, my wrist
Blacken: and a thick stench of plague-limp rats 
Polluted me. For, poet I, my wings
Had brushed the foulest toad -- a Communist.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 March 1931

"In Silence and Tears" by Mabel Forrest

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As I watch how the slender white oars dip 
   In a line of light thro' the waters green, 
And along the blade how the clear drops slip 
As they cut a path to the waiting ship
   Through the ocean's changing sheen, 
I note well how every white sail fills, 
   How the sun hangs low on the shore behind, 
How the dawning's rose still enwraps the hills, 
And the distant gleam of the mountain rills, 
   And the scents in the summer wind. 

I note, too, the brown of your sunburnt cheek, 
   Of your restless eyes and your fretting hands, 
Of how you falter the words you speak, 
All your wavering purpose, your faith so weak -- 
   One who watches you understands. 
And yet I move not -- I hold no arms 
   Towards your silence to break the spell; 
I make no effort of conscious charms. 
No luring softness that Fancy warms; 
   And so - there is naught to tell! 
Only the beat of the long white oar, 
   And the jewelled drops on the slender blade; 
And the vessel shall speed to a far-off shore; 
And we who, once parted, can meet no more, 
   Of a life's joy can stand afraid! 


There are others, they say, who have prayed full well 
   With white souls seared with some cruel fate, 
And that never a soul prayed yet and fell, 
   Though the answer came too late. 
Ah! but I have seen a white ship sail,
   And heard to my own heart a lost heart call; 
Tho' no earthly voice spoke the spirit's wail, 
And I knew that, at last there was no avail, 
   And the silence conquered all.   
Only a word to have broke the spell!
   The soul leapt up with a glad reply; 
Nothing in speech could have helped to quell 
The wild, fierce faith that had trusted well - 
   But the silence made it die.

First published in The Queenslander, 20 March 1897

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Three Songs by Myra Morris

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Oh, I would sing,
Oh, I would sing
Of the hot sands in the sun,
The little white waves that one by one
Up to the ti-tree swing,
Of the coarse sea-grass
And the clouds that pass
O'er the dunes on shadowy feet,
And the wind's cry,
And a lad's cry,
And the gulls with their little red feet!


My song shall be of apple-boughs
That still as moon-light stay,
Red-fruited 'gainst a Summer sky
In brilliant applique.
With arms as brown as nuts I lie
Below that filmy blue
And feel the sun 'mid crisp young leaves
Come greenly filtering through.
Once, long ago, old apple-boughs
Patched burning skies for me --
Oh, far away that Summer day
When in the orchard-deeps I lay
In fairy Brittany!


Oh, I would sing a splendid song
Of my love, but I have no words!
I have left my lyre, where its strings belong,
With the fresh, sweet earth, and the sky above,
And the shy little bushland birds.
I would sing a song of my first white love;
But I have no words!

First published in The Bulletin, 19 March 1925

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Quest by Zora Cross

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The young moon like a sickle reaped
A field of stars and slept, night-steeped.
"I must be roving," said the boy,
And tightened up his swag of joy.
"My heart cries, 'Follow. Follow on!'
And, mother mine, I would be gone."
The woman at the hearth-stone wept.
The old man in the corner slept.

Oh, north and south and east and west
   They travel old Fortune's road.
But never yet has a man found rest
   Who carried the dreamer's load.

With whistling lips, by bend and creek,
He journeyed week by yellow week.
The wide bush-world of leaf and flower
He scorned in that adventurous hour,
Went singing, singing after him
Unto the blue horizon's rim.
"He'll come no more," the woman said.
The old man shuffled off to bed.

Oh, all the world is a man's to roam
   On the land and the sea's green track;
But many a road that heads from home
   Is the road he never comes back.

The old man's grave is green with grass.
He hears no more the blithe spring pass.
The house is quiet. Cold and shrill
The wind comes whistling up the hill.
And daily, when her toil is done,
And westward slopes the lonely sun,
The woman sets a meal for two,
And waits, and hopes the slow year through.

But north and south and east and west
   He seeks, who never shall find
On the dreamer's road that knows no rest,
   The good that he left behind.

First published in The Bulletin, 18 March 1920

One of Our Bushmen by Mabel Forrest

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Upon the pages of our time
   Fate wrote with iron pen --     
"The waiting for the women
   And the battle for the men."   

From a lone backblock selection
   Where the gray plain meets the sky,   
A woman sent her only son
   To battle or to die.

He had never seen great cities,
   He had only thought of ships,
But he heard the far-off challenge,  
   And he answered, heart and lips. 

He left the lucerne acre,
   And he left the patch of corn, 
And the creek among the willows
   Where the cattle drink at morn.   

He left the range of mountains,
   And the green scrub's mighty hush   
For the glory of Australia
   And the honour of the bush. 

He marched to martial music
   In a city by the sea,
And he heard the distant echo
   Of the conqueror's melody.

He remembered still the homestead,
   And the yellow sun-dried plain,
And the mother and the sweetheart
   He might never see again.

But the memory of his fathers
   Stirred the fighting blood -- and then 
There was waiting for the women
   And fierce battle for the men!

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 17 March 1900

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Haunted Moment by Zora Cross

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Secretly, unannounced, that moment comes 
Between the eerie pockets of lost thought,
Or whipt by doubt in some swift vortex caught, 
And I am listening to remembered drums,
Or gathering at some table sacred crumbs   
Of a forgotten feast laid long ago.
And there is music, and the rhythmic beat  
Or delicate bare silver-circled feet ....   
Hushed voices murmuring in the court below.  
The haunted moment holds me. I must go.       

Dawn like an avalanche of shining swords,   
Draws me again where the dark desert hordes 
Dapple the air, their turbans white as snow. 
I steel my lips to take some stinging blow
Or kiss. I know not which. I watch. I wait. 
Suddenly all is still save where on high 
The restive turquoise stallion of the sky
Paws at the morning's purple-tinctured gate.

Only a tendril from eternity       
The cord of Time snaps in my trembling fingers.   
No semblance of the creeping terror lingers.
The dim shapes fade. They vanish stealthily,
And, one by one departing, set me free.      
I hear a door close softly. Footsteps seem     
To echo down a tessellated hall    
And pass more lightly than pale fruit flowers fall.   

The music dies like reed-notes in a dream. 
The haunted moment has a mystic birth
Who shall say how? Distilled by memory  
Perchance from the soul's strange dark chemistry .... 
Seeds of black laughter swell . . . but not with mirth.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 March 1946

Nobody's Hill by Kathleen Dalziel

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Dark stands the hill, with a star on the crest of it;
   Dark looms the forest, deep-bosomed and still;
Loud sings the river, a star on the breast of it,
   Down through the hollow of Nobody's Hill.

Round by the ridge and the islands that sunder it,
   Swift where the waterfalls tumble and spill
Over the stones and the rocks that lie under it
   Into the night beyond Nobody's Hill.

Points the tall poplar, a mark for the morning star,
   Planted lang syne by a hand that is still,
Sentry-like set where the dogwood and bracken are
   Hiding the ruins by Nobody's Hill.

Roof-tree long fallen and windowless eyes of it,
   Heartbreak and hopelessness working their will...
Comes there a ghost where the summer winds sighs of it
   Under the shoulder of Nobody's Hill?

Comes there a ghost, 'mid the ghosts of the apple-gums
   Lifting dead boughs to blind Heaven, until
Over the ridge the rose of the morning comes,
   New-born and sweet, over Nobody's Hill?

Where by the hearthstone the rafter-beam rotten is,
   Filled with the fern spray that wanders at will,
Leave them to-night and a name that forgotten is
   Under the shadow of Nobody's Hill.

First published in The Bulletin, 15 March 1933

Author reference site: Austlit

See also

My Song by Mabel Forrest

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The moon was yellow as a plum,
   The river made no sound,
That night I wove a song for you
   And hit it in the ground.

But from the ground tall roses grew,
   Ragged and sweet and red:
They built a wall against the song
   I sang for one long dead.

Perhaps the flowers, more wise than
   Set up those perfumed bars
Knowing your dust had left the earth
   And blossomed into stars.

First published in The Bulletin, 14 March 1934

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Medium by Zora Cross

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Who has not felt between the dreams of night
   How larger vices mingle with our own,
   And in full major to our minor tone
Roll out sonorous melodies of Light?

With thunderous surge of wild desires and fierce
   They burn the banners of my brain to air.
   O God! that one hot thought my soul might pierce
To ease the terror of a world's despair!

I grip my hands with force unconquered yet
   By the slow tides of Times I cannot stay.
   My pen bites, scorching, in its young wild way,
But the old tears upon my eyes are wet.

O futile hand! O silent, breathless flute!
   How the great songs throb anguish on my ears,
   Hurling their harmonies down all the years
When I, poor fool, of every sound am mute!

Be still! be still, immortal souls of song,
   Rending my heart with agonies your own!
   Shut out your music. Leave me cold and lone,
Or use my life to lift your dreams along.

Oh, if you need a pen, here is my soul,
   Here is my body's blood for ink of fire.
   Write, write with me your paeans of Desire,
Or break this flute and loosen your control.

First published in The Bulletin, 13 March 1919

What Profit It? by Mabel Forrest

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What profit if through months that stretch to years 
   No morning wakens without thought of you, 
   That never night steals gently on the blue 
Without a haunting dread of lonely tears,

If, when the dawning steals across the grass, 
   The heart leaps up, "To-day he will return"? 
   Alas! poor lips that smile and cheeks that burn, 
Knowing full well how soon the smile will pass. 

What profit if through Pleasure's flying hours 
   The dull familiar pain is always there-- 
   Youth's would-be gladness shadowed by a care,   
And one sharp thorn amongst its fairest flowers, 

If I remember through all, loving yet 
   Trusting, in silence, faithful overmuch, 
   Feeling some day again our lives may touch-- 
What profit me, oh! love, if you forget?

First published in The Queenslander, 12 March 1898

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Summer Noon by Myra Morris

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O lovely sun!
Lay your hot fingers lovingly
One by one
On the silk of my hair,
Salt-smeared, fire-spun!
Lean on the drooped lids of my eyes
That hold the blue of remembered skies!
Pierce through the amber of my skin,
Right in, right in,
Till your fingers play
On the heart of me that is hid away --
Till I and this Summer noon, O sun,
Till you and I and this hour are one!

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 11 March 1930

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Russian Peoples by Mabel Forrest

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"The majority of the people do not understand -- they only wonder why the song has ceased." -- Extract from a Russian's letter.

With bearded faces and dull eyes they stand
Eyes pitiful as those of any child
With strong still bodies, yet with wavering hand
The glance so questioning and withal, so mild,
Their feet washed deep in rivulets of blood,
And in their souls strange passions unreleased,
Waiting, perhaps, the flaming of a mood,
The tongue still asking why the song has ceased!
For they loved beauty from the sculptor's hand,
And they loved music -- as the hills the wind --
And most of all they loved their great white land,
And now they stagger -- as a giant blind
Who cannot set the fullness of his strength
To some clear end, but stumbling to the rim
Of gaping canyons, crash down at length
Where Death has rigged an unseen grave for him!

Behind the ruddy torches, and the gloom
Of condor wings that gloat above the feast
They wait... like children in a burning room
Heedless -- and wondering why the song has ceased!

First published in The Triad, 10 March 1918 

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Jacaranda by Zora Cross

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As when, as from some deep-domed temple, sway
   The jacaranda bells, and, with no sound, 
   Spread out their purple prayer-mat on the ground,
What can man do but pray?  

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 March 1935

The Dark Pines by Myra Morris

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The dark pines climbing up the hill
   With measured footsteps, never turning,
Are like black nuns, with faces dim
Against the sunset's yellow rim,
   Where altar-lamps are burning.

The dark pines climbing one by one
   Into some place enchanted
Are like thin, haggard ghosts that go
Down into dark no man may know,
   With weary mien, undaunted.

The dark pines wild against the sky,
   With restless arms a-swaying,
Are whispering, whispering far away --
And oh, I know, I know they say
   Just what my heart is saying!

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 8 March 1927

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Australia Undefended by Mabel Forrest

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The blue sea skirts her slim, sun-ambered feet.  
   Upon her mighty brow red gold is bound, 
Upon her breast mimosa flowers press sweet, 
   And hills and forests lap her beauty round. 

All day she lies and dreams; from sun to sun, 
   From moon to moon, she couches soft, secure, 
And, as to catch grey eve the gold hours run, 
   She thinks her slumber can for aye endure --

Full happy dreams are hers, of prosp'rous days, 
   Fleece-heavy flocks upon a green-fed land, 
Of settlers' homes that lie in golden haze, 
   Of brother toilers moving hand in hand. 

Of scented nights, when by the wattle grove 
   The mopoke breaks the silence with his call, 
And, o'er the slip-rail, love lilts low to love, 
   And Peace has spread her white wings over all. 

So, filleted with matrix, opal, pearl, 
   And zoned with shimm'ring belt of ocean green, 
Where (true love gift to many a sun-browned girl), 
   Hangs, link on link, a chain of olivine, 

She sleeps, and winds come up and fan her hair, 
   Between her fingers springs the waratah, 
Her coverlet is twined with musk-buds rare, 
   And threaded leaves of redwood and belah. 

All day the breeze sings to her maiden ears 
   A lullaby, like croon of scrub-hid doves, 
And, rustling in the brig'low boughs she hears 
   The lusty bronze-wing boasting of his loves. 

She sleeps -- and shall we leave her to her dream? 
   The sun is very bright on hill and dale, 
O'er vine-hung rocks the silver waters gleam, 
   And moss lies all untrodden in the vale.   


They left her, where the purple mountains loom 
   Untenanted, above the Northern seas,   
Rimmed round by palm, or fir of tufted gloom, 
   Or the stiff shoots of dry pandanus trees, 
Left her to rest in woodlands green and still.   
   The winds died down, and Nature seemed to wait, 
And there was never watcher on the hill, 
   No guarding cannon at the Northern gate. 

Only the silence of the great scrub heart, 
   Only the hush upon the great grey plain,     
Where buttercups in sun-caught splendor start 
   Thro' the fine veil of February rain. 
There came a muffled stirring in the East, 
   From rock to rock a stealthy creature stept, 
Red war unleashed-- a sullen, sateless beast, 
   To prey upon her beauty while she slept!       


Australians, will you leave your dear land, Maid of the sun, and Queen of the blue seas, 
To cringe 'neath an alien master's hand, to hug his feet, or fawn about his knees?    
And will you let his savage, relving touch mar the white beauty, of your Southern maid, 
For she has trusted long and overmuch, to rise up shudd'ring, rifled, and afraid?                

They murmur round the gates to East and West; their footsteps echo in the halls of Strife, 
With hov'ring hand above her perfect breast, with sear of bullet, or red, sudden knife!   
The smoke will rise o'er quiet settlers' homes, but not the smoke of peaceful hearths afar, 
But that which, smiting heaven's blueness comes, the horrid following of a bloody war. 

Shattered before the screaming shell will lie the city buildings that you builded well, 
And, lifting ever to the arching sky, will float the echoes of the man-made Hell, 
Clotted in the shrinking hearts of flowers, where, thro' cool aisles the tender North wind grieves, 
And hoya its honey sweetness showers, men's blood will filigree along the leaves. 


Do you think that you could thole it, Australian born and free,   
Where the call of many rivers finds an echo in the sea?   
Do you think that you could bear to feel the chain that girds you round, 
'Midst the chitter of the bell-birds in your happy hunting ground, 
Will you die -- or live to learn it, when the crucial moment comes, 
And the crook'd and yellow fingers curve on undefended homes? 

You might have the strength of Samson, be an Anak in the field, 
Be a reckless 'Death or Glory' boy, and scorn to pause or yield, 
But the stag before the hunter's spear -- he either sinks or runs, 
And what help are brawny hands and bare -- the other has the guns! 
Let every unit find his place, a part of one great plan -- 
Australians must remember 'tis the boy that makes the man. 
Take the brown-faced laddies as they play along the street, 
Let them listen to the rhythm of the steady marching feet, 
Teach the keen young eye to sight the gun, the keen young hand to thrust. 
Do not let the young glance waver or the good steel barrel rust; 
Let them play the game like soldiers, let them scout the lucerne field, 
With the rifle at the shoulder and their honor for their shield; 
Let the lassies bind a token in the sun-kissed mountain glades, 
For the bravery of laddies and the purity of maids!   
Arm the empty North that drowses by its tide-washed sandy slopes; 
There is iron in the ranges, there is silver in the stopes, 
There is wealth undreamed -- your birthright -- in your country's scattered parts,     
There is grit and honest courage in your people's loyal hearts.   
Rouse them with your martial music, with your call 'To Arms! To Arms!' 
From New England's cherry blossoms, to North Queensland's feather palms, 
Would the man who swings a leg across the sweating outlaw's back 
Swerve aside before the Maxim that is mouthing in the track?   
The stuff is there -- then train it -- put the means within the hand,   
Fate has given you a treasure to be guarded in your land! 

Oh! the fair-maid country calls you, as she couches in the sun,         
That you keep her honor stainless with the power of your gun!  

First published in The Sunday Times, 7 March 1909

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Something Cried by Myra Morris

| No TrackBacks
There came a gentle tapping at the door.
   I rose, and in the darkness threw it wide,
The silver rain swept in across the floor --
   But no one stood outside!
There only was a sodden leaf upon there step ...
   But something cried!

I stood, and felt a berth upon my face,
   And called aloud in fear, "Oh, who is there?"
No answer came from the dark garden-place,
   Yet I was still aware
Of someone waiting where there elm-boughs gleamed and bloomed,
   Twisted and bare!

What was it came last night from out the rain?
   Some wondering soul, some tortured spirit-gnome,
Adrift upon the dark, in grief and pain,
   Destined to roam and roam,
Until it found some friendly roo? I like to think
   It was MY home!

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 6 March 1928

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

River Sunset by Kathleen Dalziel

| No TrackBacks
Poplars stand with their feet in the water.
   Willows dip to the current cold.
Each as it were a king's proud daughter
   Ruffling autumn's green and gold.

Autumn that paints, in her matchless manner,
   Cloudy battlements red as blood, 
Red is the sunset's royal banner,
   Red is the river's marching flood.

Her late swallows go hunting, hawking.
   There in the reeds a last bee drones. 
Silence now, save the river talking
   Quietly to the quartz and stones. 

Pomp and pageant of colour ended,
   Gathering grey and violet.
High above evening hills suspended,
   One small planet in twilight's net.

Out of the east the night comes walking,
   Dusk and silence a vigil keep,
Only the waters, talking, talking.
   And all the rest of the world asleep.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 March 1938

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.  

Gladioli by Myra Morris

| No TrackBacks
Maroon and orange, scarlet, crimson-dyed,
   Triumphant blades that part the teeming soil,
Rearing a splendid pageantry of pride,
   They guard the jealous season's hoarded spoil!

Summer has kept them warm and burnished bright --
   her mark is carven deep upon each hilt --
Gushing from out her breasts, wind-hollowed, white,
   Her scarlet blood upon each tip is spilt.

A braggart bodyguard, they stiffly stand,
   Flanked by garden's tarnished finery,
Flaunting their livingness, a gorgeous band,
   Long after Summer's reign has ceased to be.

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 4 March 1930

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Fettered by Mabel Forrest

| No TrackBacks
Elma chides because she says
   That my love has faded;
And her bodice heaves with sighs
And she sadly pouts and cries,
Looks on me with tear-dimmed eyes
   By long lashes shaded.

Thinks that if she threatens thus
   I will grow the fonder
Of the lips that call for kisses,
Arms that offer all the blisses,
(What a wealth of true love this is
   For a man to squander!)

Elma vows I am foresworn
   Fondling her no longer;
Sweetheart, if you only knew
More than half your words are true,
For I do not think of you --
   Other loves are stronger.

But 'tis not for other faces
   That my love grows colder,
I am false for far grey skies,
Where blue peaks of mountains rise,
And forget the girl who lies
   Warm against my shoulder.

I forget her in the dreaming
   Of a man's life only,
Where no woman hands are clinging,
And no syren voices singing,
Hoofs upon a hard road ringing,
   And a bush track lonely!

Clear horizons clipped in morning,
   Mists about the valley;
Strike the event and up! away!
In the warm, delicious day,
Men together, strong and gay,
   Tracking through the mallee.

There's the rival if you will,
   Girl so full of scorning;
Not another woman's gaze,
Wandering in forbidden ways,
Just the dear, lost boyish days,
   And my life's lost morning.

First published in The Bulletin, 3 March 1904;
and later in
Alpha Centauri by Mabel Forrest, 1909.

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Aftermath by Kathleen Dalziel

| No TrackBacks
I keep for you no wasteful grief,
   No withered memory; 
Only a little faded leaf
   From love's unfruitful tree.

For you no chilling season clouds
   The summer of my years.
So much my time joy overcrowds,
   I've little left for tears.

When wistful ghosts might rise and weep,
   And make, most bitter moan
Over the wounds that were so deep,
   Because you were my own.

All this I tell myself, but when
   Some lonely midnight bears
The very torch of truth, ah! then,
   Illusion disappears.

And, foolish to the last, it seems,
   Old kindness I'll renew,
Rebuilding all my broken dreams
   Into a shrine for you.

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 2 March 1929

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.  

Patches and Powder by Zora Cross

| No TrackBacks
I peeped in a volume, old-fashioned and brown,
And thought of the people in History Town,
When life was the light on a bubble of wine
And lovers told love through a pale valentine.

With rondels of roses they kept Venus mute;
And tripped rigadoons and gavottes to a lute;
While, hidden behind a white fan of delight,
In triolet trifles they wasted the night.

Blue-bodiced with satin brocades, and their curls
Close-held to their heads with a fillet of pearls,
They blushed to a rondeau; and under that spell,
Crushed passion to death like a cold villanelle.

But one of those maids had an eyeful of wink,
And one of those gallants was human, I think,
Or how should we two, between laughter and kiss,
Sit hugging each other to Heaven like this?

First published in The Lone Hand, 1 March 1919

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