I rode through the Bush in the burning noon,
Over the hills to my bride, --
The track was rough and the way was long,
And Bannerman of the Dandenong,
He rode along by my side.
A day's march off my Beautiful dwelt,
By the Murray streams in the West; --
Lightly lilting a gay love-song
Rode Bannerman of the Dandenong,
With a blood-red rose on his breast.
"Red, red rose of the Western streams"
Was the song he sang that day --
Truest comrade in hour of need, --
Bay Mathinna his peerless steed --
I had my own good grey.
There fell a spark on the upland grass --
The dry Bush leapt into flame; --
And I felt my heart go cold as death,
And Bannerman smiled and caught his breath, --
But I heard him name Her name.
Down the hill-side the fire-floods rushed,
On the roaring eastern wind; --
Neck and neck was the reckless race, --
Ever the bay mare kept her pace,
But the grey horse dropped behind.
He turned in the saddle -- "Let's change, I say!"
And his bridle rein he drew.
He sprang to the ground, -- "Look sharp!" he said
With a backward toss of his curly head --
"I ride lighter than you!"
Down and up -- it was quickly done --
No words to waste that day! --
Swift as a swallow she sped along,
The good bay mare from Dandenong, --
And Bannerman rode the grey.
The hot air scorched like a furnace blast
From the very mouth of Hell: --
The blue gums caught and blazed on high
Like flaming pillars into the sky; . . .
The grey horse staggered and fell.
"Ride, ride, lad, -- ride for her sake!" he cried; --
Into the gulf of flame
Were swept, in less than a breathing space
The laughing eyes, and the comely face,
And the lips that named HER name.
She bore me bravely, the good bay mare; --
Stunned, and dizzy and blind,
I heard the sound of a mingling roar --
'Twas the Lachlan River that rushed before,
And the flames that rolled behind.
Safe -- safe, at Nammoora gate,
I fell, and lay like a stone.
O love! thine arms were about me then,
Thy warm tears called me to life again, --
But -- O God! that I came alone! --
We dwell in peace, my beautiful one
And I, by the streams in the West, --
But oft through the mist of my dreams along
Rides Bannerman of the Dandenong,
With the blood-red rose on his breast.First published
in The Bulletin
, 10 January 1891,
and later in :The Bulletin
, 24 March 1900;An Anthology of Australian Verse
edited by Bertram Stephens, 1907;The Golden Treasury of Australian Verse
edited by Bertram Stepehens, 1909School Paper: Grades V and VI
, March 1926;The North Queensland Register
, 16 July 1928;On the Track with Bill Bowyang: With Australian Bush Recitations
edited by Dawn Anderson, 1991-92; andTwo Centuries of Australian Poetry
edited by Kathrine Bell, 2007.Author:
Alice Werner (1859-1935) was born in Trieste, Italy in 1859 and moved with her family to Dunedin, New Zealand the same year. She later became an expert in African Languages and dialects, teaching at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities.Author reference sites: Austlit