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Grandmamma by Mabel Forrest

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Grandmamma had a lover once, 
   And he forgot and he ceased to woo. 
"Did you mind. Grandma, when he rode away"?
   And Grandma chuckled, as old folk do. 
"Friendship is fickle and love has wings, 
I have got to the other side of things." 

Grandmamma, is so old her chin 
   And her nose, you know, they almost meet;   
Yet sometimes I fancy that little things 
   Stir in the grasses about her feet, 
And if friends forsake her and kin grow cold
The fairies love her -- altho' she's old.   

For all her life the fairy folk 
   Have come to Grandma with tale and song. 
And I think when she dreams in the summer sun
   The fairies stay there the whole day long.
Tho' grown-ups are weary and children stray
The fairies are with her the live long day.   

Grandma is seventy, I am four, 
   Yet I wonder someday when Grandma dies 
Will she leave the fairy folk to me, 
   And the magic spectacles from her eyes? 
A fat black cat and a hazel switch, 
For she is the nicest kind of witch! 

I don't think I'd mind being old at all, 
   With nobody caring, if I could show 
That the fairies came to me day and night 
   With the wonderful things that fairies know.   
Roads thro' the fern, and secret things 
That are only carried on unseen wings.

First published in The Courier-Mail, 23 June 1934

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

"Son and Heir" by Mary Hannay Foott

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"He is like my father," Aunt Madge declared,
   As she bent o'er the baby's face;
"He will be" --- (with the air of a prophetess) ---
   "The flower of a handsome race!"
"He is like my father," said Uncle John;
   "Yes, the youngster has just his head!
Ah, I only wish I'd a five-pound note
   For every book he's read!"
But the baby's mother sat pale and still,
And she thought to herself "He is just like Will."   
"There's a look of my mother, too," said Madge.
   "And of mine, I am sure," said John,
"She sang like a seraph!" -- "So small her shoes
   No one else could have put them on!"   
Thus, branch by branch, through the family tree,
   Went each of the kin who came,   
As they dwelt on the brave and the beautiful,
   On riches, and rank, and fame.
And they "hoped dear Baby" high place might fill,  
Yet nobody seemed to remember Will.

But Nellie delivered her soul at last:
   "I have hopes of our son," said she,   
"Although he should 'take after' never a one   
   Of all you have named to me.
From brass and vellum the tales you bring
   Of the fearless and of the fair,   
But his record who rests in the Austral wilds
   Should be set with the proudest there."
The words were bold, but there ran a thrill
Of pain through her voice-though she named not Will.

"The sun of the South had bronzed his cheek,
   And his hands were chafed with toil --
Yet the spirit of heroes was ever his,
   And his soul was free from soil.
He has given to the wilderness water-springs,
   To the forest dank the day;
And the world is the better for evermore
   For him who has passed away.
And I pray that his son may but fulfil
His duty so!" --- (Could you hear her, Will?)    

First published in The Queenslander, 28 July 1888

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

See also.

Hy-Brasil by Henry Kendall

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"Daughter," said the ancient father, pausing by the evening sea,
"Turn thy face towards the sunset -- turn thy face and kneel with me!  
"Prayer and praise and holy fasting, lips of love and life of light,  
"These and these have made thee perfect-shining saint with seraph's sight
"Look towards that flowing crescent -- look beyond that glowing space,
Tell me, sister of the angels, what is beaming in thy face?"
And the daughter who had fasted-who had spent her days in prayer
Till the glory of the Saviour touched her head and rested there,  
Turned her eyes towards the sea-line -- saw beyond the fiery crest,
Floating over waves of jasper, far Hy-Brasil in the West.

All the calmness and the colour -- all the splendour and repose
Flowing where the sunset flowered like a silverhearted rose!
There indeed was singing Eden, where the great gold river runs
Past the porch and gates of crystal ringed by strong and shining ones!
There indeed was God's own garden sailing down the sapphire sea --
Lawny dells and slopes of summer, dazzling stream and radiant tree!
Out against the hushed horizon -- out beneath the reverent day, --
Flamed the Wonder on the waters -- flamed, and flashed, and passed away.    
And the maiden who had soon it felt a hand within her own,
And an angel that we know not led her to the Lands unknown.

Never since hath eye behold it -- never since hath mortal, dazed
By its strange unearthly splendour, on the floating Eden gazed!
Only once since Eve went weeping through a throng of glittering wings
Hath the holy seen Hy-Brasil, where the great gold river sings!  
Only once by quiet waters -- under still, resplendent skies
Did the sister of the seraphs kneel in sight of Paradise!       
She the pure, the perfect woman, sanctified by patient prayer
Had the eyes of saints of Heaven -- all their glory in her hair;
Therefore God the Father whispered to a radiant spirit near --
"Show Our daughter fair Hy-Brasil -- show her this and lead her here."

But, beyond the halls of sunset -- but within the wondrous West,
On the rose-red seas of evening, sails the Garden of the Blest.
Still, the gates of glassy beauty -- still the walls of glowing light
Shine on waves that no man knows of: out of sound and out of sight.  
Yet the slopes and lawns of lustre -- yet the dells of sparkling streams
Dip to tranquil shores of jasper where the watching angel beams.
But, behold, our eyes are human, and our way is paved with pain,
We can never find Hy-Brasil -- never see its hills again!
Never look on bays of crystal -- never bend the reverent knee
In the sight of Eden floating -- floating on the sapphire sea!

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 14 June 1879;
and later in
The Freeman's Journal, 18 December 1880;
Songs from the Mountains by Henry Kendall, 1880;
An Anthology of Australian Verse, edited by Bertram Stevens, 1907;
The Golden Treasury of Australian Verse, edited by Bertram Stevens, 1909;
Selections from Australian Poets edited by Bertram Stevens, 1925;
Rose Lorraine and Other Poems edited by Henry Kendall, 1945;
Selected Poems of Henry Kendall edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1957;
The Poetical Works of Henry Kendall edited by Thomas Thornton Reed, 1966;
A Treasury of Colonial Poetry, 1982; and
Selected Poems of Henry Kendall edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1988.

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

See also.

Song of the Rain by Hugh McCrae

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Night,
and the yellow pleasure of candle-light....
old brown books and the kind, fine face of the clock
fogged in the veils of the fire - it's cuddling tock.

The cat,
greening her eyes on the flame-litten mat;
wickedly, wakeful she yawns at the rain
bending the roses over the pane,
and a bird in my heart begins to sing
over and over the same sweet thing--

Safe in the house with my boyhood's love
and our children asleep in the attic above.

First published in The Lone Hand, 1 January 1913;
and later in
A Book of Australian Verse edited by Judith Wright, 1956;
The Penguin Book of Australian Verse edited by John Thompson, Kenneth Slessor and R.G. Howarth, 1958;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964;
Australia's Writers by Graeme Kinross-Smith, 1980;
The Collins Book of Australian Poetry compiled by Rodney Hall, 1980;
The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse edited by Beatrice Davis, 1984;
My Country: Australian Poetry and Short Stories, Two Hundred Years edited by Leonie Kramer, 1985;
Peace and War: A Collection of Poems edited by Michael Harrison and Christopher Stuart-Clark, 1989;
The Language of Love: An Anthology of Australian Love Letters, Prose and Poetry edited by Pamela Allardice, 1991; and
The Oxford Book of Australian Love Poems edited by Jennifer Strauss, 1993.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

A Christmas Letter by Douglas B. W. Sladen

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'Tis Christmas, and the north wind blows;
   'Twas two years yesterday
Since from the Lusitania's bows
   I looked o'er Table Bay,
A tripper round the narrow world,
   A pilgrim of the main,
Expecting when her sails unfurled
   To start for home again.

And steaming thence three weeks or more
   I reached Victoria,
Upon her hospitable shore
   To make a few months' stay;
But month on month unnoticed fled,
   And ere the year had come
I chose the land I visited
   To be my future home.

'Tis Christmas, and the north wind blows;
   Our hearts are one to-day,
Though you are 'mid the English snows,
   I in Australia.
You, when you hear the northern blast,
   Pile coals upon your fires;
We strip until the storm is past,
   While every pore perspires.

I fancy I can picture you
   Upon this Christmas night
Just sitting as you used to do ---
   The laughter at its height;
And then a sudden silent pause
   Falling upon your glee,
And kind eyes glistening because
   You chanced to think of me.   

This morning, when I woke and knew
   Christmas had come again,
I almost fancied I could view
   Rime on the window pane,
And hear the ringing of the wheels
   Upon the frosty ground,
And see the drip that downward steals
   In icy fetters bound.

I daresay you've been on the lake,
   Or sliding on the snow,
And breathing on your hands to make
   The circulation flow,
Nestling your nose among the furs
   Of which your boa's made.
The Fahrenheit here registers
   A hundred in the shade.

It doesn't seem like Christmas here,
   With this unclouded sky,
This pure transparent atmosphere,
   And with the sun so high:
To see the rose upon the bush,
   The leaves upon the trees,
To hear the forest's summer hush,
   Or the low hum of bees.

But cold winds don't bring Christmas tide,
   Or budding roses June;
And when it's night upon your side
   We're basking in the noon.
Kind hearts make Christmas, June may bring
   Blue sky or clouds above,
The only universal spring
   Is that which comes with love.

And so it's Christmas in the South,
   As on the North Sea coasts;
Though we are starved with summer drouth,
   And you with winter frosts;
And we shall have our roast beef here,
   And think of you the while,
Who in the other hemisphere
   Cling to the mother-isle.

Feel sure that we shall drink to you,
   We who have wandered forth;
And many a million thoughts will go
   To-day from South to North.
Old heads will muse on churches old
   Where bells will ring to-day,
The very bells perchance that tolled
   Their fathers to the clay.

And now, good night. Maybe I'll dream
   That I am with you all,
Watching the ruddy embers gleam
   Over the panelled hall.
I care not if I dream or not;
   Though severed by the foam,
My heart is always in the spot
   That was my childhood's home.

First published in The Queenslander, 24 December 1881

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Father's Pipe by Edward S. Sorenson

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There's times when things are lively in
   The hut on Farrell's Flat,
When father's bluchers make a din,
   His language scares the cat;
When e'en the dog slinks off and hides,
   Lest he should get a swipe;
But peace, the sweetest peace, abides
   When father fills his pipe.

Occasions come when mischief plays
   (As mischief always will)
Some pranks that make red-letter days,
   And leave a bill to fill:  
And then the imps of Farrell's Flat
   Are designated "tripe,"
And lie as low as any rat
   Till father lights his pipe.

The "Pipe of Peace" is aptly named,
   It soothes his troubled brow;
The rampant spirit's quickly tamed,
   And calm succeeds the row;
And rebel imps, in hiding, know
   That then the time is ripe,
And one by one their faces show
   While father smokes his pipe.

We really love that old dudeen,
   It's saved our hides so oft,
And Dad looks far more pleasant soon
   Through whiffs that curl aloft;
Besides, he's entertaining then,
   He earns a yarner's stripe;
And so we cluster round him when
   He sits behind his pipe.

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 16 November 1904;
and later in
Melbourne Punch, 12 December 1911.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Something New by Ethel Turner

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There's something new at our house; I'm s'prised you didn't know it.
It makes papa awful proud, although he hates to show it.
The thing is not so very big, but money couldn't buy it;  
If any fellow thinks it could, I'd like to see him try it.

It's half a dozen things at once -- a dove, a love, a flower;
Mamma calls it a hundred names, and new ones every hour;  
It is a little music-box with tunes for every minute;  
You haven't got one at your house, and so you are not in it.

It puckers up its wee, wee mouth, as if it meant to whistle;
A gold mine weighed against it then were lighter than a thistle;
Papa said so the other night; I thought it sounded splendid,
And said it to myself until I fell asleep and ended.

Of course you've guessed it by this time, our gift that came from heaven --
Mamma declared the darling thing was by the angels given;
But then some folks are very slow, and some are stupid, maybe.
I ought to say, right straight and plain, come home and see our baby.

First published in Australian Town and Country Journal, 26 October 1895

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Two Brothers by Douglas B. W. Sladen

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In an old manse mid purple heather,
Vigorous with the bracing weather
   Of breezy Scottish hills,
Two bright children grew up together
For triumphs or for ills.   

Bred in the parish-school to knowledge,
Bent in their ripening years to college
   In the old classic towers,
Their wild blood forced them to acknowledge
   That there are inner powers

Which bow not to the calculations
Of those who tend our education,
   But mould us at their wills,
Our several predestinations
   In due time to fulfil.

Both left those towers without emotion,
Both tendered their young life's devotion
   To the time-honoured hope
And refuge of high-hearts --- the ocean
   With its prodigious scope;

And there they parted, one to mingle   
With clenched hilt and tight-drawn surcingle
   In the fierce surge of war,
Far from the Highland fireside's ingle,
   From his boy-brother far.

And after to lay down the sabre,
And through unheard of risk and labour
   To wield a soldier's pen;
To make grim war his next-door neighbour,
   And live with dying men,

Until all Europe rang the praises
Of him who chronicled the phases,
   Events, and daily stride
Of warfare in such glowing phrases,
   And for his work defied

The lurking perils of night-watches,
And a great fight's shell-mangled batches,
   Like combatants themselves:
That we might have exact depatches
   To range on our bookshelves.

The other on the sea went roaming,
Until some chance controlled his coming
   To Queensland's sunny shore,
Unconscious that the Powers were dooming
   That he should leave no more.

And here the same fierce blood, which hurried
His brother swift and undeterred
   To where the war was waged,
Left him no rest till he was buried,
   As in his veins it raged.

Now you could hear his stockwhip rattle,
Mustering roving herds of cattle
   Out on a western run;
Now he was fighting a stark battle
   Under a northern sun

With quartz reefs for their golden treasures,
Enshrining his wild pains and pleasures
   In strong pathetic verse,
And giving in his rugged measures
   A picture rich and terse

Of miners and their wild existence,
Of bush life in the untamed distance,
   Of shanty-revelry,
And of stern struggles for subsistence
   When creek and run were dry.

Ten years had passed since last the tidings
Of his migrations and abidings
   Had reached his far-off friends,
When, following the inner guidings
   Which shape us to our ends,

Or by some chance, the elder brother
His footsteps turned to where the other
   Had breathed out his bright life,
Without the hand of child or mother
   To soothe in the last strife.

He knew not where to seek, nor even
Whether a kind and gracious Heaven
   Had held a shielding hand
Over that head, and it were given
   To him in this far land

To clasp his long-lost brother to him;
Nor could he learn till those who knew him,
   The lost one, in old times,
Came shyly one by one unto him
   With wild yarns and stray rhymes

Of the bush-poet --- brother drovers
And mining-mates and some few rovers,
   And Jacks of ev'ry trade,
Like the dead brother, all staunch lovers
   Of him, who 'neath the shade

Of the God's-acre trees was lying,
Where nightly the hill-winds come sighing
   Over Toowoomba's heights.
Where friendly hands received him dying,
   And tended his faint lights

So tenderly. And some wild rover,
Stockman or mining-mate or drover,
   Brought out one day a book
Well-thumbed, with torn green-paper cover,
   And bade the brother look

Onto the pages ornamented,
In type unevenly indented,
   And lines that were not flush,
With stirring rough-hewn poems printed
   As "Voices from the Bush."

Adieu, staunch mates who fondly cherished
The memory that else had perished
   Of him with his wild rhymes,
Who faithfully maintained and nourished
   His fame till better times!   

Adieu, great, tender, soldier brother
Come from so far to seek the other
   Who here breathed out his life
Too soon, without a child or mother
   To soothe in the last strife.

And thou adieu, bright, genial poet,
Given at last, couldst thou but know it,
   Thy tardy well-earned fame,
And with the bay, could we but show it
   To thee, twined round thy name.

First published in The Queenslander, 22 September 1883;
and later in
A Poetry of Exiles and Other Poems by Douglas Sladen, 1884.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Stanzas at Sea by Henry Parkes

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Written on board the barque Strathfieldsay, on the night of the 1st May, 1839.

A storm in distant darkness cowers upon the stilly deep;
   Within a low cloud's parted folds, three stars their lone watch keep:
Frequent the tropic lightning flings its ocean-flash o'er heaven,
   And, through the gloom, the shaded moon's wan outline still is given!

There's mingled in the scene to-night a splendour and a gloom,
   All, all unlike life's other scenes of dreariness or bloom;
Yet my sad thoughts hang o'er the past -- the lovely and the dark,
   As o'er the sleeping water floats our lone and lazy bark.

The wet sails, flapping o'er my head, to me sweet music make
   The light'nings seem an angel's smiles, as through the clouds they break;
For musings of a deep, dear kind, to-night are stealing o'er me,
   Of things for ever left behind, and things all new before me.

Ev'n while hope's golden future opens round me, and I bless,
   With the heart's tears, some fairy dreams of far off happiness --
Ev'n while I picture a sweet home for her I love so well,
   A mother's tears, which flow afresh, dissolve, alas! the spell!

Those tearful eyes are absent now -- the time may come no more,
   When I shall see them smile, or weep, on England's distant shore;
But He who gave a mother's love to cheer life's younger day,
   Will help the weary wanderer on the world's unfriendly way.

O, God, let virtue elevate my solitary heart!
   Whate'er of joy or grief may fall to my allotted part --
Whate'er may lift my spirit, or my sinking soul enthrall,
   In the world's struggles, strengthen me to hold the right through all!

First published in The Australasian Chronicle, 6 March 1840;
and later in
Stolen Moments: A Short Series of Poems by Henry Parkes, 1842.

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

See also.

The Martins' Place by Zora Cross

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The Martins' place I love the best;
   They all have names I like,
That Mrs. Martin calls them lest
   She might mix Tom with Mike.

There's Silver Hair and Little Mum
   And Old Man in the Corner;
And Cherry Ripe and Little Tom Thumb
   And Humpty Dumpty Horner.

At home I'm just called Lucy May;
   My sisters name is Nell;
But Mrs. Martin says, "Good day,
   Snow-white and Bonnie Bluebell."

And that's why I like Martin's Place,
   Because it's fun to be
Snow-white and sometimes Daisy Face,
   And not just freckled Me.
   
First published in The Sydney Mail, 22 February 1928

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of BiographyOld Qld Poetry

See also.

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