Recently in Date Celebration Category

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

A New Year's Toast by C.J. Dennis

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Here's to every Aussie fellow,
Who refused to show the yellow
When depression's clammy hand
Cast its shadow o'er the land.

Here's to them who never altered
When the timid feared and faltered,
But with dogged confidence
Backed their nation's sound good sense.

Here's to them who, ne'er reviling,
Took the knock and came up smiling -
Battlers with their steadfast gaze
Fixed ahead on better days.

Aussie cobbers, strong thro' striving,
Chastened by ill-luck are thriving;
Now that better days are near
Here's a prosperous New Year!

First published in The Herald, 31 December 1931

Birthday Toast: February 29 by C. J. Dennis

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Here's to all happy people born
   On February twenty-nine.
Tho' thro' four years they wait forlorn
   For their next natal day to shine
They've this o'er ordinary folk
Each date revives an ancient joke.

And Dad, whose years are eighty-four,
   Born in a leap year, heaps disdain
On those, who count him old and hoar.
   And chuckles, "Why should I complain?
My bright young life has just begun,
Why, man, I've just turned twenty-one!"

First published in The Herald, 29 February 1928

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

See also.

February 14 by C. J. Dennis

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"Oh, will you be my valentine?
The sighing swain of 'eighty-nine,
   Hirsute and oiled, on bended knee
   Offers his queen idolatry.
She starts, she sighs, she hangs her head,
She droops her eyes and blushes red,
   Her heart beats high, her nerve is gone:
   "Oh, Cedric how you do go on!"

"Hey, touching valentines, old skate."
The brisk young sheik of 'twenty-eight
   Hugs his short-skirted, shingled miss,
   And on her shoulder plants a kiss.
She taps a fag upon her knee
And ogles him complacently:
   "Give us a light, and cut the rot,
   I'm simply aching for a spot."

First published in The Herald, 14 February 1928

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

See also.

February by Zora Cross

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A red, dull, purple haze that lingers still
   Proclaims the way the fierce December went
   In sudden wrath, with awesome flames bespent,
As if on blood some savage gorged his fill.
Lean January, like a vuture shrill,
   Soared o'er the waste on evil missions bent,
   And, at the dried creek, flapped her wings and sent
A shower of sullen sparks across the hill.

Now, dazed, we watch the skies and almost pray,
   We are so sick of fiery red and black.
Brown desolation stares from every side,
And there is not one day one does not say,
   "Come, February, take the bridle track,
And through the land your wild, wet horses ride!"

First published in The Bulletin, 1 February 1923

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of BiographyOld Qld Poetry

See also.

A Happy New Year by John Rae

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Again we stand on the silver strand
   By the edge of life's feeling tide,
And fill our hand with the shifting sand
   That we find by the ocean side.
The sand will go, and the stream will flow,
   While the leaves grow yellow and sere;
The tongue of the warning bell, we know,
   Tolls the end of the dying year.

Our barque has sailed through the good old year
   With a fair and a gentle gale;
The year grew dear, and now with a tear
   We must bid the old friend farewell.
We lift our hat as we closely stand
   By the side of the passing bier,
Then turn and offer our heart and hand
   To welcome the coming New Year.

May peace abide in Australia's shore,
   And may all her industries thrive;
May all the blessings of old Eighty-four
   Be with us in new Eighty-five.
With kindest love let our hearts expand
   For friends who are loving and dear;
We offer a hand to all in the land,
   And wish them a happy New Year.

It looks but a span since the year began;
   It ends like a tale that is told;
It tells how short are the days of man ---
   For we, like the year, shall grow old.
We hope and pray that when we pass away
   A Friend at the end will appear
To welcome us home to eternal day,
   And wish us a happy New Year.

First published in The Queenslander, 3 January 1885

Author:  John Rae (ca1826-??) was a school teacher in Victoria who started a school in Bendigo before being moved to Port Meblourne State School.  He retired from teaching in 1891.

Author reference site: Austlit

Christmas Song by David McKee Wright

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Old star up in the tree,
   What is thls, what is this?
The orchard sits on the hill's knee
   And the high corn-stems kiss.
But you have something to say to me:
And how should a word be stranger
Than a star-shine and a thought divine
Of a King of Babes in the manger?

Old star, you have said it long,
   What is this, what is this?
The wind makes a low song
   For something it seems to miss.
Wind, what is it that blows you wrong?
Wise Men, their wisdom scorning,
Have come far at the shine of the star
To beat at the gates of the morning.

Old star, going high and high,
   What is this, what is this?
Angels are out on the steps of the sky
   Chanting the hymns of their bliss.
Out of the dead, dead years that lie
The truth of the faith comes winging;
After red tears and the long, long fears
There is wider room for the singing.

First published in The Bulletin, 25 December 1919

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Queen of the North by George Essex Evans

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Stand forth, O Daughter of the Sun,   
   Of all thy kin the fairest one,   
It is thine hour of Jubilee.  
   Behold, the work our hands have done
Our hearts now offer unto thee.
   Thy children call thee; O come forth,
         Queen of the North!  

Brow-bound with pearls and burnished gold
   The East hath Queens of royal mould,
Sultanas, peerless in their pride,
   Who rule wide realms of wealth untold,
But they wax wan and weary-eyed:
   Thine eyes, O Northern Queen, are bright
         With morning light.

Fear not thy Youth: it is thy crown --
   The careless years before Renown
Shall load its tines with jewelled deeds
   And press thy golden circlet down
With vaster toils and greater needs.
   Fear not thy Youth: its splendid power
         Awaits the hour.  

Stand forth, O Daughter of the Sun,
   Whose fires through all thine arteries run,
Whose kiss hath touched thy gleaming hair --
   Come like a goddess, Radiant One,  
Reign in our hearts who crown thee there,
   With laughter like thy seas, and eyes
         Blue as thy skies.  

Ah, not in vain, O Pioneers,
   The toil that breaks, the grief that sears,
The hands that forced back Nature's bars
   To prove the blood of ancient years
And make a home 'neath alien stars!
   O Victors over stress and pain
         'Twas not in vain !  

Jungle and plain and pathless wood --
   Depths of primeval solitude --
Gaunt wilderness and mountain stern --
   Their secrets lay all unsubdued.
Life was the price: who dared might learn.
   Ye read them all, Bold Pioneers,
         In fifty years.  

O True Romance, whose splendour gleams
   Across the shadowy realm of dreams,
Whose starry wings can touch with light
   The dull grey paths, the common themes:  
Hast thou not thrilled with sovereign might
   Our story, until Duty's name
      Is one with Fame!  

Queen of the North, thy heroes sleep
   On sun-burnt plain and rocky steep.
Their work is done: their high emprise
   Hath crowned thee, and the great stars keep
The secrets of their histories.
   We reap the harvest they have sown
         Who died unknown.

The seed they sowed with weary hands
   Now bursts in bloom through all thy lands;  
Dark hills their glitt'ring secrets yield;  
   And for the camps of wand'ring bands --
The snowy flock, the fertile field.  
   Back, ever back, new conquests press  
         The wilderness.  

Below thy coast line's rugged height
   Wide caneflelds glisten in the light,  
And towns arise on hill and lea,
   And one fair city where the bright
Broad winding river sweeps to sea.
   Ah! could the hearts that cleared the way
         Be here to-day!  

A handful: yet they took their stand
   Lost in the silence of the land.
They went their lonely ways unknown
   And left their bones upon the sand.  
E'en though we call this land our own
   'Tis but a handful holds it still
         For good or ill.  

What though thy sons be strong and tall,
   Fearless of mood at danger's call;
And these, thy daughters, fair of face,
   With hearts to dare whate'er befall --
Tall goddesses and queens of grace --
   Fill up thy frontiers: man the gate
         Before too late!  

Sit thou no more inert of fame,
   But let the wide world hear thy name.
See where thy realms spread line on line --
   Thy empty realms that cry in shame
For hands to make them doubly thine!
   Fill up thy frontiers: man the gate
         Before too late!    

Prepare, ere falls the hour of Fate
   When death-shells rain their iron hate,
And all in vain thy blood is poured --
   For dark aslant the Northern Gate
I see the Shadow of the Sword:
   I hear the storm-clouds break in wrath --
         Queen of the North!

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 7 August 1909;
and later in
The Times (London), 7 August 1909;
The Queenslander, 14 August 1909; and
Queen of the North: A Jubilee Ode by George Essex Evans, 1909.

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

See also.

Centennial. "Sydney Morning Herald", 1831-1931 by Lance Fallaw

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Tamed the shy son and builded many a street:
Comes now a fuller life -- the printed sheet.

   What news, what news in Sydney town?
      What shipping in Port Jackson lies?
   Staid topics must the pen set down
      For its young enterprise.
         Yet in such day-spun stuff
         The searcher finds enough
To garb again the 'thirties and their mode:
         The days of Goulburn's birth,
         The springing out of earth
Of towns along Macquarie's westward road.
         But most through Sydney Heads
         Draw traffic's stretching threads;
What brig from Hobart comes? What hopes attend
         Port Phillip's village growth?
         Are Hunter's valleys loth
To crown the settler's care with fruitful end?
         Passing the southern bounds,
         A Governor rides the rounds,
Sir Richard counts the flocks of Twofold Bay.
         While under Flagstaff Hill,
         The infant capital still
Nestles and grows -- 'tis writ from day to day.
Read and remark; hear the old Brickfield's din,
And see the coaches post to Richmond's Black Horse Inn.

Gold in the Austral soil! Her hidden veins
Reflect the golden wonder of her plains.

   How the crowded columns told the tidings then!
   Where gold grows the world goes -- the world of zestful men
   Through the range of ramparts passed the trudging train
   Bee-like swarm of "rushes" o'er the Bathurst plain.
   Townsmen left the counter, sailors left the ship,
   Many a crewless vessel missed its outward trip.
   Turon and the Ophir -- see the names in print,
   All the vanished diggings, each a season's mint.
   Still the main stream gathers, now at Lambing Flat,
   Now across the Murray, bound for Ballarat.
   Combing countless gullies goes adventure's band;
   Canvastown for vanguards, then the cities stand.
   Gold with guards for escort making for the port,
   Shout and shot in lonely spot, the coach a running fort,
   Who shall get and squander? Who shall grasp and hold
   Turn the page and con the age, the age that's writ in gold.
Shrills the far trump whose breath the war-lords blow.
Again and yet again the sons shall go.

         First to Sudan
The legion sped, the tale of arms began.
         Hint of a day
When round Pretoria closed the larger fray.
         O distant fields,
How faint an echo now their memory yields!
         Yet once they stood
Starred on our maps with dire solicitude,
         And wounding came
The record of their dead in letters of flame.
         Not then was seen
The opening edge of Europe's red ravine,
         Nor guessed the time
Of earth and wave on fire for Prussia's crime.
         Ah! scant their need--
Who saw the apocalyptic years -- to read
         On visible leaf
The story of the grandeur and the grief.
         Is it not stamped
Along the trench-line where the Anzacs camped,
         And blown o'er sea
By winds that croon on grey Gallipoli?

Yet, by no tumults shook, secure of aim
The States are joined-a Nation finds its name.

   Speak, chronicles of those who wrought--
      Those who foresaw, past hesitant eyes,
      The federated fabric rise,
         A chiselled thought.
   Up-looking brows! What if the feet
      Stumbled at many a wayside stone?
      Shall not the pillared pile atone
         With arch complete?
   Mark the great names, the elder race:
      A Wentworth's earlier dreams fulfilled,
      A Parkes -- let those who lived to build
         Keep these a place.
   Who falters now? Shall factions rude
      Dissolve the woven bonds of peace,
      A people's shining saga cease
         In tribal feud?
   Bid the clear creed find trumpet's throat,
      Write the large texts constraining doom,
      And let to-morrow's theme resume
         The epic note.

Still pours the Press its page, and still men say.
"What news, what news in Sydney town to-day?"

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 April 1931

Author reference sites: Austlit

See also.

Ode on the Australian Centennary by George Essex Evans

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      Girt with the wreathing mists
         And shadows of the night,
      Dark-robed, Australia lay
         And waited for the light;
And heard the night wind whisper soft and clear,
"Land of the Southern Cross, the Dawn is near!
      The Dawn is near!"

      Soft in the Eastern skies,
         Flushing the summer sea,
      She saw her morning rise --
         The morn of Liberty.
Then sang the wind across the ocean's foam,
"Land of the Southern Cross, the Dawn has come,
      The Dawn has come!"

      Blest with God's grace divine,
         Queen of the Southern Sea!
      Bright shall thy glory shine,
         Great shall thy future be.
Our hope, our faith, our love, on Him we cast.
"Land of the Southern Cross, the Dawn is past,
      The Dawn is past!"

      Past with its quivering rays ---
         Forecasts of things to be!
      But to the riper days
         Of larger Liberty!
Then sing, ye summer seas that guard our home:   
"Behold! The Dawn is past! The Day has come,   
      The Day has come!"  

First published in The Queenslander, 7 April 1888

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

See also.
Joy be with thee, Elder Sister, on thy proud Centennial Day ---
All thy stalwart sons about thee, and thy daughters, dear as they,
And the sheaves of thy Thanksgiving gladdening with their golden glow
Lands that lay a glebe unbroken but a hundred years ago!

Thou hast crowned thyself with cities --- and no stone is set on Wrong;
Freemen tend thy flocks at pasture, freemen dwell thy hills among.
Never Ural, never Andes, held such wealth as is thine own --
By no sweat of serfdom tainted, purchased by no bondman's groan.

Nor for gain alone thy striving, nor to sit in place of pride;
Whilst thy roof-tree still was lowly, thou didst lodge, in chambers wide,
Learning, Charity, Religion--of thy bard-won store bestowed.
In each steep by thee surmounted thou host hewn for them a road.

On the heights of wave-washed Sydney stand her stately College towers;
Far and wide full many a Hospice waits to soothe Misfortune's hours;   
From the Altar-fires thou kindledst there be brands already borne
To illume the Earth's dark places and to comfort the forlorn.

Joy be with thee, O Our Sister! --- we thy Kin are glad with thee
For the greatness of thy Present --- for the glory that shall be
When the Noblest of the Nations --- She we all alike hold dear ---
Calls thee not alone her Daughter, but for evermore her Peer.

First published in The Queenslander, 21 January 1888

Author: Mary Hannay Foott (1846-1918) was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1846 and emigrated to Melbourne with her family in 1853.  She trained as a teacher and taught in various schools in Victoria and New South Wales before marrying Thomas Wade Foott in 1874 in Bourke, NSW.  She later moved to Queensland where she became editor of the women's page in The Queenslander.  She died in Bundaberg, Queensland, in 1918.

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

See also.

January 1916 by Zora Cross

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Leaves of another year bud on the hills;
   Songs of another year sing in our hearts;
Good luck, good cheer, and recompense for ills,
   Each new-born flower some wistful wish imparts.
See where the mellow sun sheds golden tears  
   A yellow rosebud nods her smiling head;    
And these tall grasses, like a school of seers,   
   Repeat the prayer the wind so lately said.  

So carolling adown the scented way;
   New life, new resolutions everywhere;  
My spirit bows before the shrine of day,
   Swearing allegiance to a thing so fair.

First published in The Argus, 15 January 1916

Author: Zora Cross (1890-1963)  was born in Brisbane and trained and worked as a primary school teacher before the birth of her first child. She married actor Stuart Smith in 1911 but the marriage was dissolved some 11 years later.  She lived with the author David McKee Wright in a de facto relationship and the couple had two children. A pioneering female poet,  she was very prolific and published 4 collections of her work.  She also wrote a number of novels which were serialised in The Queenslander.

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of BiographyOld Qld Poetry

See also.

January 2nd by C. J. Dennis

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How many have you broken up till now?
I know that yesterday you made a vow,
   And most solemnly 'twas spoken;
   But how many have you broken?
Oh, you kept 'em for an hour or two - But How?

You swore at twelve o'clock or thereabouts,
Most resolutely, scorning any doubts,
   That the glad New Year would find you
   With your vices all behind you.
And you'd be the very best of good boy scouts.

But you fell.  And, oh, how quickly did you fall!
And now you're feeling low, and mean, and small;
   For, despite all your devising,
   You have come to realising
That you're really only human after all.

Ah, well, at least you had the will to try;
And you may reform some day before you die,
   And there's this small consolation
   On the road to reformation:
There's another New Year coming by and by.

First published in The Herald, 2 January 1931

Author: C. J. Dennis (1876 - 1938) was born in Auburn, South Australia and moved to Melbourne in 1908.  Best known for his verse novel The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke (1915), he started writing occasional pieces for the Melbourne daily newspaper, The Herald, in the mid-1920s before taking on a more permanent, regular role as staff poet for that same paper in 1927. This position continued until his death in 1938.

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

See also.

Ode for Commonwealth Day by George Essex Evans

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Awake! Arise! The wings of dawn
    Are beating at the Gates of Day!
The morning star hath been withdrawn,
    The silver vapours melt away!
Rise royally, O Sun, and crown
    The shoreward billow, streaming white,
The forelands and the mountains brown,
        With crested light;
Flood with soft beams the valleys wide,
    The mighty plains, the desert sand,
Till the New Day hath won for bride
        This Austral land!

Free-born of Nations, Virgin white,
    Not won by blood nor ringed with steel,
Thy throne is on a loftier height,
    Deep-rooted in the Commonweal!
O Thou, for whom the strong have wrought,
    And poets sung with souls aflame,
Born of long hope and patient thought,
        A mighty name ---
We pledge thee faith that shall not swerve,
    Our Land, Our Lady, breathing high
The thought that makes it love to serve,
        And life to die!

Now are thy maidens linked in love
    Who erst have striven for pride of place;
Lifted all meaner thoughts above
    They greet thee, one in heart and race:
She, in whose sun-lit coves of peace
    The navies of the world may rest,
And bear her wealth of snowy fleece
        Northward and West;
And she, whose corn and rock-hewn gold
    Built that Queen City of the South,
Where the lone billow swept of old
        Her harbour-mouth;

And the blithe Sun-maid, in whose veins
    For ever burns the tropic fire,
Whose cattle roam a thousand plains
    With opal and with pearl for tire;
And that sweet Harvester who twines
    The tender vine and binds the sheaf,
And the young Western Queen, who mines
        The desert reef,
And she, against whose flowery throne
    And orchards green the wave is hurled ---
Australia claims them; They are One
        Before the World!

Crown Her --- most worthy to be praised ---
    With eyes uplifted to the morn;
For on this day a flag is raised,
    A triumph won, a nation born!
And Ye, vast Army of the Dead,
    From mine and city, plain and sea,
Who fought and dared, who toiled and bled,
        That this might be,
Draw round us in this hour of fate ---
    Here, where thy children's children stand ---
With unseen lips, O consecrate
        And bless the land!

Eternal Power, benign, supreme,
    Who weigh'st the nations upon earth;
Without whose aid the Empire dream,
    And pride of states is nothing worth
From shameless speech, and vengeful deed,
    From license veiled in freedom's name,
From greed of gold and scorn of creed,
        Guard Thou our fame!
In stress of days that yet may be
    When hope shall rest upon the sword,
In Welfare and Adversity,
        Be with us, Lord!

First published in School Paper for Classes V and VI, no.26 December 1900,
and later in:
The Advertiser, 1 January 1901;
The Brisbane Courier, 1 January 1901;
The Australian Town and Country Journal, 5 January 1901;
The Bulletin, 5 January 1901;
The Coo-ee Reciter: Humourous, Pathetic, Dramatic, Dialect, Reciations and Readings compiled by William T. Pyke, 1904; and
The Secret Key and Other Verses by George Essex Evans 1906.

Author: George Essex Evans (1863 - 1909) was born in England and migrated to Australia in 1881. He is generally considered one of Queensland's best ever poets.  A memorial to him was raised in Toowoomba after his death.

Notes: "In 1901 [Essex Evans] won first prize in the New South Wales Government's Competition for a commonwealth ode with a poem that had been edited by Alfred Deakin prior to the competition."* The competiton was run to mark the inauguration of the Federation of the Commonwealth of Australia on January 1, 1901.
* - see the "Toowoomba's Literary History" webpage.

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

See also.

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