May 2014 Archives

Desert Bred by Mabel Forrest

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Pent in a garden of flowers; grown drunk with the wine of the rose,
   In the damp gold cups of lilies the night moths make their homes;  
And over the sodden grasses, where the squandering fountain flows,
   From the mouth of the graven lion, the smell of the desert comes.

A boat goes up to Philae with a shadowy pointed sail;
   The wind of muffled, valleys has sped the craft along,
From the deck a drift of laughter: then the slender reed pipes trail
   Over the twilight waters a quivering link of song.    

Figs that the red wasp harried, palms with their rasping sigh;    
   Owls by the Little Window where the grape vines stand;  
But beyond the leafy ramparts, the Nile is wandering by,
   And though I wade thro' grasses, my feet shall find the sand.

First published in The Australasian, 31 May 1924

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Milking Cows by Kathleen Dalziel

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Oh, it's pleasant, early mornings,
   Milking cows,
When the wet leaves sparkle on the lightwood boughs,
And the rusting fencing wires
Are all strung with dewy fires,
As the fleecy sunlight finds me
   Milking cows.

I can see, these autumn mornings,
   Milking cows,
A far-off hillside where a neighbor ploughs,
All chocolate squares and green;
I can smell the earth scents keen,
Better far than frying bacon,
   Milking cows.

Hear the magpies sing o' mornings,
   Milking cows,
Singing madly from a dead gum's naked boughs,
And the butcher-bird's clear whistles,
And the scrub wrens in the thistles,
I should miss them if I wasn't
   Milking cows.

Still, it's very quiet of evenings,
   Milking cows,
Quiet and lonely in a season that allows
No time for two to meet
When they're putting in the wheat,
And it's dark before I finish
   Milking cows.

And the frosty starlight finds me
   Milking cows,
While the sleepy-headed ranges seem to drowse.
I must hurry or be late.
Is that someone at the gate
While I'm still (Stand over, Blossom!)
   Milking cows?

First published in The Bulletin, 30 May 1934

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

"To-day" by Mabel Forrest

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A breezy day and a cloudless sky, 
   And the wide grass plains to the west; 
The willow boughs that are tossed on high 
   Are all in their spring garb dressed;
The grape vine clings to the station home, 
   Where the swallows are darting through,   
And the bay horse stamps, for he would roam 
   Thro' the sweet scrub tracks with you. 
But you linger still with a thoughtful eye, 
   A winsome shape--most fair, 
From the slender foot with its instep high 
   To the crown of your wind-blown hair. 

Come, girl of my heart, for the horses walk, 
   And the road to the south runs free; 
I have but to turn and unlatch the gate, 
   And I ask you to go with me. 
Tarry no longer; "to-day" is ours, 
   "To-morrow" the gods hold yet; 
We may seek in vain this morning's flowers 
   Ere to-day and its sun have set.   
Then leap to the saddle, and off! away! 
   How the grass from our hoof-beats springs! 
Let us know to-night we have had "to-day," 
   Whatever "to-morrow" brings!    

First published in The Queenslander, 29 May 1897

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Ringbarked by Kathleen Dalziel

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Gone long ago his hoard
   Of gum-blossom, nut and bough.
No bee or feasting bird
   Cares to visit him now.

Only the bull-dog ants
   Scurry about his base,
Or a lone windhover haunts
   Some high perching place.

At times the magpies use
   Him as a pedestal;
Broadcast their morning news,
   Concerts at even-fall.

Or a phantom cuckoo grieves
   That spring might soon go by;
Otherwise life just leaves
   Him alone with the sky.

Twenty years he has lacked
   The leaves that shimmered and laughed --
How many gales have rocked
   Since then that silvery shaft?

Yet when the bush is drawn
   Into the sky's disputes,
I have seen green kings torn
   Up by heir mighty root,

While, last of his tribe, alone
   He stands upon the rise
Pointing a useless bone
   At the uncaring skies.

First published in The Bulletin, 28 May 1947

Author reference site: Austlit

See also

My Books by Zora Cross

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My books are like a lovely land
Where Life and Death walk hand in hand,
Where I may pluck in happy ease
A branch of faëry fantasies;
Or take the little skiff of dreams
And sail enchanted summer streams
To reach a blessed isle of light
Where there is never fear of night.

My books are as a magic world
Within this dull one wisely curled --
A realm of immortality
Where I am queen of land of sea,
And all the subjects of the soul
That wander there in Love's control
Through my serene imagining.

Hector in anguish fights for me,
Ulysses sails a stormy sea;
Queen Guinevere and Lancelot ride
Between the elm-trees side by side,
And many a man and many a maid
In leafy lane and glad, green glade
To faëry cymbals lightly dance
From out the leaves of old Romance.

Ah, mighty kingdom of the mind,
That rules the hearts of all mankind,
When I remember that for me,
For my undreamed mortality,
My little soul, unthought, unborn,
Great poets sang in some far morn,
I am unhumble than the air
Lingering here on Song's first stair.

First published in The Bulletin, 27 May 1920

Fear by Mabel Forrest

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Like some bruised hand the purple sky strikes down,          
Pressing to the wet earth, and from the moor    
And crawling, sluggish runnels comes a mist 
Like the thick breath of fever-smitten things  
That lie half-unconscious, yet afraid to move, 
Lest movement bring activities of pain.

No star - a diamond on a giant hand,
To show it once was decked with consequence--    
Only the purple clouds like swollen veins 
That cannot ease to the relief of rain,
And threaten merely stirless tree and hedge,   
And the blank windows of an unlit house
That sentinels a garden, where the fence 
Has rotted over memories of a rose     
And mouldered bones of scentless eglantine; 
Where dead leaves cling as if they feared to break        
The brooding silence with their rustling fall; 
A rick of hay that now is blackened straw, 
Wherein no shivering mouse would care to creep;  
A broken halter hanging on a rail, 
Spotted with yellow fungus like a plague,
As though some steed of death had tethered there:        
A door ajar, yet rigid, as if wedged  
By something flung upon the other side.

And suddenly, where Nature holds her  breath,  
And the dark boughs seem craning as a witch    
Whose skinny fingers point the victim out
(Like the small shriek the doubling rabbit gives                      
When on its trail it hears the slavering hounds,     
Betraying in its terror, where it hides 
Invisible amidst the folding grass),     
So to the monster watching of the night   
Comes the thin horror of a human cry!

First published in The Australasian, 26 May 1917

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Irish Players by Zora Cross

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Coming down to see the play,
Sang my heart the whole brown way
"Fairyland with torches white
Comes to town this little night;
I shall laugh, for I shall see
Dublin laughing home to me."

Then I saw the play and heard
Magic of the spoken word --
Voices out of memory tell
Simple things I loved so well
In the soft, rich tones I knew ...
Ah, my father's eyes were blue!

Did I say the play was good?
It was home. I think I stood
Somewhere in the parlor there,
By Aunt Ellen's straight-backed chair.
Tears were in my eyes to see
Ireland laughing home to me.

First published in The Bulletin, 25 May 1922

The Armchair by Myra Morris

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Here from this cozy armchair by the fire
Each thing seems rare, and warm, and beautiful!
I can believe the crowded world all good;
Can think of happy people and the flowers,
Slender and sweet, from rich old garden-beds;
Of pictures and the smell of fresh-brewed tea
swimming in hollowed Wedgwood, and the sound
Of clicking spoons in saucers; and the drip
Of glowing ashes falling silverly.
Here God is very real, benignant, good,
A placid presence hovering around
The teacups with a large contended smile!

But I -- but I am sick to death of washed
Hypocrisies! This is not all, I know!
This is not all -- the shameful armchair lies!
I know that there are things unspeakable --
Dark, stinking streets with slimy gutters where
The children feed on filth, pale-eyed and wan;
And tottering houses where the drunken man,
Lustful and loud, kicks at his cowering wife;
And there are girls with weary feet who climb
Innumerable stairs -- pale girls who bend 
Above long tables in a whir of wheels,
And pack unending tins day after day,
Day after day, where nothing ever comes;
And crowded wards of hospitals marked out
In beds -- white beds with faces o'er the sheets
Ravaged and torn beneath the lash of pain,
Frightful and hungry and malevolent!

And yet this cursed chair all softly sprung
Would have me think that it was otherwise! 

First published in The Bulletin, 24 May 1923, and later in the same magazine on 3 July 1929.

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Too Late by Kathleen Dalziel

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Where soft wreaths of mist are curling
   Round by nail and ruined stone --
Where wild gusts of Night are whirling
   Brown leaves, scattered wide and blown
O'er the graves of silent sleepers,
   Kneeling weary and alone;--

Hating now with Hate's own essence,
   Wedding ring and binding vow;
Loathing, too, his very presence,
   Bound with gilded fetters now;
Thro' the elm tree and the cypress,
   Loud the breezes sob and sough.

Oh! to clasp your hand, my true love,
   Just a long look at your face!
There is neither old nor new love
   That could ever take your place.
Tho' your voice is hushed for ever
   And the grass grows o'er your face.

Many seasons, many changes
   Rise and gather, fade and fall;
But my heart ne'er roams or ranges
   From the truest love of all,
Tho' the years have bound me closely
   Prisoned in a hateful thrall.

Only here in God's Own Acre
   Where the silent sleepers rest,
I may pray to God, my Maker,
   In the regions of the Blest,
To forgive my sins and follies
   While the moon sinks in the west.

And before the gray of morning,
   Just to set my spirit free
From all the weariness and scorning,
   And, throughout Eternity,
Just to dream the old dream over,
   As in days of used-to-be.

Where the wreaths of mist are curling,
   Where the silent sleepers lie,
Where the wild night winds are whirling
   'Neath the dripping winter sky,
In the close of God's own acre
   Maybe He will hear my cry.

First published in The Bulletin, 23 May 1903

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

On the Road by Mabel Forrest

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The dust is on my hurrying feet, the dust is in my eyes, 
And far behind me in the vale that o'er the rough hill lies
There is a garden soft with dew and bright with butterflies.

There is a sweet, white maiden bed, a little crucifix,
Beyond a patch of weeded ground where the the phlox and daisies mix,
And in the spring bean blossoms curl about their rigid sticks.

The window swings wide through the day; it looks towards the hills,
The mignonette all big with bees, the room with incense fills,
Sometimes a blundering moth lights on the pillows virgin frills.

Oh! If a man can judge of Hell or Heaven with mortal eyes,
I sometimes think that each for me in an old memory lies,
A homely garden, soft with dew and bright with butterflies!

First published in The Bulletin, 22 May 1913

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

May in the Dandenongs by Kathleen Dalziel

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Today in the Dandenongs the white mists, rolling through
The gullies and foothills, dissolve and are not built up anew.
See! Donna Buang in the distance blue as a grape is blue.

Closer down in the orchard, the blunt mushrooms unfold,
Spreading their pin umbrellas over the brown mould,
And the gay wings of rosellas flash in the morning gold.

I hear the low-toned gossip and guess at the things they say
As they plunder the scarlet rowans or swing from a hazel spray;
Fruit and seed and berry they gather -- nuts in May.

The Sylvan Dam is a mirror like that which hung on the wall
In Grimm's old fairy story. From dawn to evenfall
She tells the hills, the skies and the trees who is fairest of all.

First published in The Bulletin, 21 May 1947

Author reference site: Austlit

See also

Silver Morning by Myra Morris

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Silver the air
And all the cloudy trees
Building along the sky
A filmy frieze!
The grass is wet
And tremulous with silver threads that shake
Pellucid drops
Among the thrusting mushroom-tops.
the lake
Is lost in silver nothingness --
Wan, leaden, large,
Void of all life and form
Save at the cold grey marge
Where spectral rushes lean
Mirrored in silver grass and green. 

Out on the flats the little hollows hold
Pale silver brimming clear and cold.
The huddled farmhouse-roofs take shape
Through silver curling fold on fold.
Each fence is swathed in silver floss.
Each pathway makes a silver stroke
Where the dim cattle go across
Rimmed in silver smoke.

And hark!
Under the silver arc
Of sky the magpies sing! --
A song mysterious, remote,
Each long-drawn note
Seeming as though 'twere flung
From some high silver tower that hung
In quivering space --
A place
With airy battlements empearled,
Whose silver pinnacles enlace
Some lost enchanted world.

First published in The Bulletin, 20 May 1936 

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Loquat Blossom by Kathleen Dalziel

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A fugitive drift of faint perfume,
   A poem caught on a spray,
The loquat branches are all in bloom,  
   The delicate blooms of May.

All day, all day, the last late bees
   (Forgetting their day was done)
Laboured and roamed in the loquat trees,  
   In the last light warmth of the sun. 

All day, all day, the quiet airs heard,
   Hung from a grey gum's sconce;
The shaken bells of the butcher bird
   (Warble and laugh at once)

Till the sun dropped down and the shy stars came
   In ones and twos and threes;
Till night was nothing but stars, aflame,
   In glorious companies.

A fugitive drift of faint perfume,
   A poem caught on a spray;
The loquat's glimmering boughs illume
   The delicate nights of May.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 May 1934

Author reference site: Austlit

See also

Flowers by Zora Cross

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At even when the dusk is dewy-dark
   Over my garden, as pink twilight shakes
Bells of pure peace through sleeping leaf and bark,
   A dream of other blossoms softly wakes.

Ah, God! the flowers that I have seen go by
   In clouds of glowing color, red and gold --
Bright marigolds and daisies morning-shy,
   Verbenn, stock and hollyhocks night-old!

Blue flowers! The Brisbane River choked at morn,
   Thick with wild hyacinths, whose sapphire hands
Held in a flowery bondage, swampy-born.
   Steamer and ship that dared the blossomy bands!

Roses at Ayr, more pink than flowers of cane,
   Fluffily rosy as a baby's hair.
Redder than Delta twilights before rain.
   Softer than cosmos skies that gather there.

Flame-flowers! Great Indian cottons in the dusk
   Showering their blood beside a Macnade home,
Hiding the eastern houris of pure musk
   Within their hot, incarnadine bright foam.

Banksia! Golden, brown and ruby-red,
   Lining the gladstone creeks in bonfire-hues,
Staining the lilied waters with its dead,
   As sunset stains the skies quick evening wooes.

Wild bottle-brush! I gathered it last year.
   Bronze-red as temple censers at my door,
Where banners of bright cannas yellow-clear
   Shake their triumphant gold on Twilight's floor.

And, walking here at eve through dahlia-rows,
   By bowers of budding roses pink and red,
Memory her mantle of white magic throws
   And old flowers bloom for me in each new bed.

First published in The Bulletin, 18 May 1922

In the Ashes by Mabel Forrest

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I found the cold grey ashes of a fire
Which these two lit, whom Vengeance followed fast,
Although the dragging lawyer-vines were cast
To stay the following footsteps - Hate's desire,
Breaking all barriers that the scrubs et up,
Thirsty to fill with blood its brazen cup.

I found the ashes that such memories keep.
Tall ironbarks were round them, scored of trunk;
And here and there a wan bush flower, drunk
With sun and dew, and falling into sleep,
Yet murmuring nothing of the vows it heard,
Though its pale heart was redder by a word.

And overhead a bronze-wing in the boughs
Rippled swift pinions, and a pink galah
Strutted in seeding grass, yet kept afar
From that grey ring that wed to Life's carouse
Pursuing Death. The blue smoke o'er the trees
Betrays no more the rendezvous of these.

With stirless leaves the ironbarks look down,
Yet they must know that never human tongue
Can tell of how those lovers kissed and clung,
And how grey eyes struck flame from eyes of brown.
And least they did not live to see Love pass
Into a sear of ashes on the grass.

Beneath her hair they told me, when she lay
Ready for burial, in the small bush inn,
There was one bullet mark to pay her sin.
Her small white hands were folded. Did she pray?
After her death? (In life not much, I vow!)
Pray to the God who would not hear her now!

But he died harder! When I saw her there
I understood how he would fight for life.
Although he had no weapon but a knife
With which to parry bullets. She was fair,
And Death was not an easy thing to choose
When there was life -- and life with her -- to lose!

But they were very quiet when they slept
On those tough trestles. So we laid them down
Under the weeping myalls. Then to town
One for the sergeant went. But I -- I kept
Pact with the promptings of a strange desire
And rode to find their little burned-out fire.

There was a wattle blooming at the edge
Of that thick timber, and it spilled its gold
Before my horse's hoofs as though it told
Of golden reeds that rustle through Life's sedge,
Making papyrus over which to write
Record of hours that were all too bright

For mortals living. Death had given them these
Ere for himself the price he claimed, I know
There was some special glory in the glow
Of that small camp-fire shining through the trees
And that, ere each crisp twig on it they set.
Often across its warmth their hands had met.

I left my horse, and idly, in the cold
Of that dull pyre, with gum-switch stirred.
It was no sob of shattered hopes I heard
(Dead leaf and chip that once were fairy gold!),
No hieroglyph of graves in cinders spelled --
One quick, sweet laugh was all the ashes held!

First published in The Bulletin, 17 May 1917 

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Hills by Zora Cross

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Hills, you must hold the very heart of thought,
Untrammelled in your cold, remote repose, 
As round about my solitude you close  
In sapphire silence immemorially caught
Oft, oft at eve some message I have sought 
In your grave grandeur every lover knows. 
Only your quietness replies through those 
Majestically azure summits -- nought.

O distant, dear, sequestered sentinels
Of days unborn and everlasting nights,
Breathe the grand ample peace you keep in me;
And lift me where no earthly spirit dwells;
And make me one with you, O healing heights! 
Blue hills that mate with God's eternity!  

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 May 1931

The Moon Path by Mabel Forrest

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The moon has found the path between the trees;
   The moon has peopled it with silver dreams,
   And those who wake at night to see in its gleams
The fragile wraiths of vanished destinies --
   High destinies that Time has diced away,
   And then dissolved upon the board of Day.

Between the dusky wavering of the pines,
   Between the subtle tenderness of leaves,
   The queen who lost her heritage believes
That on her brow the vanished circlet shines,
   And bears right proudly in that moonlit dell
   The small white neck that met the axe so well.

Or the great Corsican, with hand inthrust,
   Rules the still world with condescending smile
   That keeps no shadow of a lonely isle,
Or broken battlefields where snapped swords rust,
   As, hurrying, when friendly branches lean,
   He holds a passionate tryst with Josephine.

But there is one no silver path shall greet,
   Nor whispering pines protect. Where he would come
   There stands a woman, and her mouth is dumb.
But she points always at the Bloody Feet
   That led the legions in a devil's dance
   Across the fields of Belgium and of France!

First published in The Bulletin, 15 May 1919

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Autumn by Kathleen Dalziel

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The grape bloom lies on the ridges
   And the dusty gold is blown,
And a wavering cloud of midges
   By the way that I walk -- alone.
Well, I gave you the Spring and the Summer,
   But the Autumn is my own!

There's a blue haze over the mallee,
   Where the fallowing acres lie;
There's a low mist down in the valley
   And the sun gone low in the sky.
And Peace has measured her steps with me,
   This many a day gone by.

I may dream of youth and the Spring-time,
   And the wild sweet gladness flown;
I may grieve for love and the Summer lost
   When the Winter's challenge is thrown,
But the calm of Heaven is round em now,
   And the Autumn is my own!

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 14 May 1929

Author reference site: Austlit

See also

Silence-Song by Zora Cross

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Locked out of life the singing shadows creep,
Trailing old melodies of mournful sleep.
Slow bells of Rest they ring about the soul,
Ding-dong, ding-dong the muffled measures toll.

Love, I have heard them how they swing and sway
High in the turret-dreams of yesterday.
Oh, wind your arms about me closer still;
Hold me and fold me till the moonbeams thrill.

Heart, make no murmur as we kiss and cling.
Hush! hush! be still, and let our sad souls sing.
Perchance some shadow at the sound may yearn.
Yearn and remember and with tears return.

First published in The Bulletin, 13 May 1920

England by Myra Morris

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England is mine, and I am England's own!  
All that is best within me lives for her alone. 
That which is base and vile I spurn from me 
Lest she with her unsleeping eyes should see,
And me condemn. She bore me in her womb
Where wild winds blew; and through the storm-lashed gloom  
      Came ocean's boom.
And I was wove a living thread here strung
      In the vast loom.
She was my mother mighty-voiced. I hung  
Upon her breasts and greedy-mouthed did drink   
Her noble sustenance. And on the brink
Of secret things I stood, when sweet and high 
Her slumber songs lulled me to sleep, and I
Heard through their mounting cadence, wild and free,
The low andante beating of a sea.

England is mine, and I am England's own!    
I am a singing harp, and hers the hand alone
That plays the strings. Without, I am a thing, 
Dead, dumb, inanimate. So shall I sing!   
Here at the door-way of her room I keep
A ceaseless watch, untouched by straying sleep --
      Dream shadowed, deep.
A living flame of fire from out its sheath
      My sword shall leap,
If I should hear her proud soul moan beneath
A weight of woe. My voice shall beat the stars
And thund'ring shake the might of Heaven's bars 
Till earth's dark caverns echo with the cry: -- 
"Here, mother, mighty-souled, O England, I     
Am here to serve! Born of the wind and sea 
I give thee back the life thou gav'st to me!"  

First published in The Argus, 12 May 1917;
and later in
England and Other Verses by Myra Morris, 1918.

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Flowering Eucalypt by Kathleen Dalziel

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Seared and unvarnished
   The plane branches swing,
Summer has tarnished
   The tinsel of spring;

Flaying the brittle,
   And spoiling the bright,
Chasing the little
   Winged seeds out of sight.

But, among shouldering
   Silvers and greys,
The redgum is smouldering,
   Ready to blaze.

Splendid and forthright,
   The conquering one,
Here is his birthright,
   The lodestar, the sun.

Careless of cruel
   Winds avid to scorch,
The beautiful fuel
   But waits for the torch.

Then, bright in that alien
   Tame company
Burns the Australian
   Bonfire tree.

Up runs the scarlet --
   The mad flowering,
No sober varlet
   Is he, but a king.

Colors flung higher
   His crowning proclaim
With bugles of fire,
   And trumpets of flame.

Honey-flies gather
   On every crest;
Even still weather
   Will not let them rest,

But, trembling and stirring
   Without any breeze,
They are rocked by the purring
   Of passionate bees.

While every blue
   Summer day that goes by
Crowns him anew
   In the courts of the sky.

First published in The Bulletin, 11 May 1949

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

Mortality by Zora Cross

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Slaves to ourselves, and shackled each to each,
We strive and struggle for things out of reach.
Thro' loops of dreams we see the shores of Hope,
Whereon repose the things for which we grope.

Lives within lives, we muddle on and on,
Scarce knowing friend or foe, till each is gone,
Born out of darkness, back to it we go,
Nor dare to wonder why it should be so.

Caught in the snare of Circumstance and Fate,
We close the roadway to our real estate
By fence and gate. Our souls, behind the lock
Of doors we close, scarce ever hear a knock. 

Yet stars that spin in riddles o'er our heads
Promise us other worlds. We pause in dread, 
Too much afraid to venture forth alone.
We wait for others and remain unknown.

So doubting, dreaming, blind, we lose our way,
While those who might have helped pass day by day.
Fast in our shell of self we shrink, we die, 
And in the dust we spurned forgotten lie.

First published in Queensland Figaro, 10 May 1924

The Disloyal by Mabel Forrest

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["We have no time for men who spit on their country's flag." -- "Sunday Times,"  April 18, 1909.] 

Her brown hair trails in the ridges, while her blue eyes laugh in the bays;   
Her sinews are girded bridges, and her veins are the river ways.   
Her arms fold the golden hours, and her breast is the green-grassed plain     
That breaks into laughing flowers from the kiss of the Autumn rain. 
Her robe is the mist of morning, and her girdle the wealth of mines, 
And sweet for her sole adorning the star-snow of clematis twines;   
She has rocked you on her ocean, she has cradled you on her heart;   
Did she dream of unchanged devotion, of the pride of your manhood's part?   
The breast that has nursed your childhood, and the wings that were bent above,             
In dusk of the tangled wildwood, with the warmth of a mother's love, 
You have spurned in idle folly, you have seared with treacherous flame --     
From Palm-world to Land of Holly, there is flashed forth your deed of shame!   
Go! Slink to your hiding places, where the Cowards and Ingrates breed;     
We ask for no shame-dark faces in the hour of our Country's need.   

First published in The Sunday Times, 9 May 1909  

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The House of Poesy by Zora Cross

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I'd like to dwell with Poesy
   In a small house alone,
Where everything should always be
   Still as a mossy stone.

I'd like a little garden near
   Where I should walk myself
And never even softly hear
   A singing flower-elf.

The young Spring might come visiting
   On noiseless, dewy feet,
And at my gate the morning sing
   Her carol cool and sweet.

Hushed whispers of the blue-robed night
   Perhaps I'd gladly share,
While through her starry valleys white
   The moon moved wise and fair.

But no one else should come at all
   Within my singing gate,
Lest such disturb a leaf's brown fall,
   A flower about to mate.

So could I dwell with Poesy,
   Be glad for evermore --
That's if the gods were kind to me,
   And made Love lie next door.

First published in The Bulletin, 8 May 1924

Convalescent by Mabel Forrest

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While I was ill how green have grown the poinsetta leaves,
And a wee bird has built a nest among the vine clasped eaves.
The red geraniums flank the walks, the pine tress climb the hill,
And all the world has been renewed -- since I was ill!

How vivid are the summer skies, how white the long low fence,
How distant grows the beckoning hand that almost drew me hence;
The scent of roses is so sweet -- it seems the world to fill:
I never knew how I loved life -- till I was ill!

In the far paddocks over there the wattle is in flower;
Perhaps I shall walk there some day, and dream away an hour,
To leave the four grey walls behind and climb the grassy hill;
How precious grows the outside world -- since I was ill!

How nice it is to see a face I used to think grown cold
Smile on me, gladden me once more as in morns of old.
I did not know I held a place no other could fill:
I did not know they wanted me -- till I fell ill!

First published in Steele Rudd's Magazine, 7 May 1904 

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Late Summer by the Goulburn by Kathleen Dalziel

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Brown waves, bobbing
Across the stones
Dance to the thundering undertones
Of crickets strumming in grasses rank.
Grasshoppers drumming from bank to bank
The same old rhythms, the same roll-call,
And the bleaching noon-day above it all.

The brown swimming-hole mirrors, out of plumb,
The tawny bole of a river gum
where, top of the slant-leafed, twisty tree,
A brown hawk scans

Looks the earth and its outskirts over:
Cocksfoot, fescue, withered clover
Dusty and dull, unbeautiful.
The slopes run up and the road runs down,
Drifts and dwindles and disappears
In a mirage of shaking, spangling airs.
All the world
Shrivelled and curled,
Leaf-dry, sapless and summer brown.

I like it thus.
It suits my mood,
This murmurous brown solitude;
With the sap dried out
Of the heart of things --
Of being, after the heart's long drought.
Though no bird sings,
It is not the greyness of pain or fear,
Never the blackness of despair:
For paddock and hillside, ridge and slope
Are heavy with promise, rich with hope,
Only waiting the autumn rain
To shiver and spring to life again.

First published in The Bulletin, 6 May 1953

Author reference site: Austlit

See also

May! by Zora Cross

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This morn I saw a troop go by,
Dragging a damsel, white and shy,
Whose small, soft feet, as pink as shells,
Tinkled like little rosy bells:
"Come out! Come out! Come out to-day
And fill the pipes of Time with play!"

I ran by leafy path and pool,
I followed them through shadows cool,
And, in the greenest, mossy place,
Where Silence lifts her grave, still face,
I watched them loose the damsel fair
And dance about her light as air.

On pipe and lyre and grassy flute.
They made a song that kept me mute,
The while she tapped her little feet
And on the earth a music beat
As wild as laughter Pan might chase
Through flowery fields of haunted Thrace.

I yearned to join the revel dance,
And, like a leaf of old romance,
I fluttered nearer to the ring,
And made my warm voice lilt and sing:
"Be kind! Be kind! O things of air!
And let my heart this rapture share!" 

They called me in with sunlit eyes,
They bade me welcome in surprise;
But when I sought to touch them, lo!
From fragrant finger-tips aglow
A million violets they blew
And scented all the valley through.

And then I knew the damsel there,
Her snowy arms, her golden hair.
It was the lily-sender May
With all her happy maids at play,
Mocking the winter while the hill
Was yellow as a daffodil.

First published in The Bulletin, 5 May 1921

Days Like Today by Kathleen Dalziel

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A little while longer! the grasshopper sang;
Seed-pods and silver-beards rippled and rang;
The very airs shook to his passionate cry
Under that uncaring autumnal sky,
Through the evenings draw in and the breeze of the morning,
A blade with an edge to it, gives me fair warning.
Stay a while, Summer, not bid the days pass.
Leave me a season to sing in the grass.
Lord of the universe, grant me, I pray
One little day longer -- just one little day. 

Madly the honey-bee buzzed in the tall
White Easter daisies against the brick wall,
Scrabbled and scrambled and fumbled and fell
Out of the door of a red-fuschia bell;
With pollen to gather and honey to seek,
Crammed in an hour the work of a week;
Blundered and floundered and buzzed as he flew.
Oh, sunlight and summertime, wait for me too;
Grant me, high heaven, before my wings fray,
One little day longer -- just one little day.

Nature, regardless of praise or protest,
Lauds, alleluias, or frantic requests,
Drowses in somnolent warmth and content,
All rivalries over and all passion spent.
But many a mortal still cries to the moon
Oh, surely, it cannot be ended so soon ...
Here's one old lover of days like today
At one with the insects, as foolish as they;
Deep in the hearts whispers, Lord, I implore
One more little season -- one little life more.

First published in The Bulletin, 4 May 1955

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

From a Little Window by Myra Morris

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My little window, four by three,
Opens on to worlds of witchery.

I watch the clouds go riding by --
White sails athwart the windy sky;

And limned against the sunset fires,
Plump sparrows huddled on the wires.

Away where curves the sky's blue cup,
Thin-etched masts go dreaming up,

And drawn within the disk's dark nets
Frail cupolas, and minarets --

Sweet, fairy-fashioned shapes that soar,
Far from the window three by four!

And outward-winging whirl my dreams
Unto these walls, until it seems

Only the empty husk of me
Waits at the window four by three!

First published in The Bulletin, 3 May 1923

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

In the Slumber-House by Mabel Forrest

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You, who have dreamed all your life, here shall you dream no longer.
Red and strong is the shield of Life -- but the sword of Death is stronger;
His white wings hover overhead, and his white feet press the grasses,
And his whisper thrills round your bed when the silken north wind passes.
By the railing within the gate that your slumber-house encloses,
There you couch in your maiden state, with the grasses and the roses.
The wattle in the corner patch stretches arms across the fences,
Spills its gold on the rusted latch and smothers Death's bare defences.
Girl, of lands where the sun is bright, and girl who was made for loving,
Here you lie in the moonless night while the long, long hours are moving --
Lie where the tall blue grass is spread, alone, with no dreams to flout you,
Of lover's breast for your brown head, and a lover's arms about you.
I, who rode when the sun was low, to the unbarred western gate,
Undreading, careless, certain, slow -- to find that I rode too late,
Can call your name where the grass-spears start, can dream of ungarnered blisses,
But never hold you against my heart and teach you to wake with kisses!

First published in The Lone Hand, 2 May 1910

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Soldier's Wife by Myra Morris

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Home he has come from battles far away  
   Where he has heard Death breathing at his side,   
And out-paced Fear like some swift runner who,
   Labouring at first, speeds on with easy stride.
Home he has come with coloured tales to tell,
   But they remain untold; fencing, he parries   
Questions that fall like empty-sounding rain.
   "We did our job, no more," he says, and carries 
   Pride in his careful voice that outlaws pain. 

He is a stranger now -- a new dark man
   Entrenched behind the knowledge in his eyes. 
Dangers are thick between us that I could
   Not share -- hot, tropic seas, relentless skies. 
Rivers divide us. Look! I see him walk
   Down jungle-depths where writhing roof-trees fashion 
Macabre twilights starred with poisonous bloom.
   Here was a lad knowing joy and hope and passion -- 
Now a lost thing stalking and stalked by doom! 

Something is there that, was not there before.
   He is transmuted by experience   
Into a different clay: soft-edged is he  
   As yet, and vulnerable, without defence. 
I speak to him -- one moment he is there
   Then gone away (his haunted eyes all hollow, 
His memory linked with old, remembered, pain)
   Into some, fastness where I cannot follow. 
   He will not be entirely mine again.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 May 1943

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

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