Recently in Flowers and Gardens Category

Foxgloves by Myra Morris

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Facing the dusty street,
   All along the wall,
The foxgloves stand there dreaming,
   Slender and tall,
Shaking their lovely bells
   That float before they fall.

Shaking their lovely bells,
   Lilac, white, and rose,
They lift their fretted linings,
   And carelessly disclose
The cool green of their secret hearts
   With every wind that blows.

Voiceless they dream all day,
   But in the thick, dark hours,
Ghostly little chimings
   Ring from their trembling towers --
An airy music far away
   From tall, town-rooted flowers.

Sweet sounds of summer things --
   The songs of latticed lanes
Are there behind that tinkling --
   The creak of old hay-wains --
The trill of larks among the corn,
   And the croon of English rains!    

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 November 1937

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Jacarandas by Mabel Forrest

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In purpling patches on the path the fallen blossoms lie,
   Unfettered blooms that every breeze  
   Drifts downward, from the laden trees,
Heaped clouds of mauve, against the blue of an unclouded sky.  

Set thick about the open parks the jacarandas rise, 
   Transformed by Spring's uplifted wand,   
   They make the earth a fairy land,
Where slum'bring in the drowsy noon, the hill-bound city lies.  

Blue skies, gay buds, and misty hills, I want to see you only,  
   I would forget that far-off place,
   That dreary sweep of wind-swept space,  
And o'er the hare and flow'rless plain, a horseman riding lonely.

Beneath this bloss'ming tree I wait, in green, gold-flickered gloom,
   With Springtide laughing everywhere, 
   And all about me tender, fair,  
The squandered wealth, of jewelled mauve, in jacaanda bloom.

I wait, and know love comes to me, sweet as fresh love is only ...
   Ah! to forget that old, old pain,
   That barren wild and wind-swept plain,
And by the dark brigalow patch, a horseman riding lonely.

First published in The Australasian, 18 November 1905;
and later in
The Capricornian, 25 November 1905.

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also

The Daisy by Zora Cross

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Our little Paul has grown a daisy white.
   All snowy frills of petals soft and fair,
   It stands erect for him in the Spring air.
Nought gave a child, I think, more pure delight.
He kneels by it each morning, brown and slight.
   Its small still life he stoops to know and share.
   I hear him asking it when none is there
If it shuts up and sleeps through the long night.

O happy flower, in lovesome solitude,
   Calling a child to worship morn by morn,
Has the earth breathed you in remembrance
Of all the daisies man has ever viewed?
   And do they dream again for him, new-born
In the frank wonder of Paul's baby glance?

First published in The Bulletin, 13 November 1924

Tea-tree Blossom by Myra Morris

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The wide beaches gleam with a glint of golden money,
   The brown nets are tight in the little fishing ships,
The wind sweeps the heath-plains bringing scents of honey,
   And ruffling the pools on the narrow sandy strips.
Long since have vanished all the winter's stormy terrors,
   But a thin, white spray frosts the tattered tea-tree tips.

For the tea-tree's out in the wild, wild reaches,
   The tea-tree's burst into blossom small and frail,
Painting the air of the blue-rimmed beaches,
   From Half-Moon Bay on to windy Aspendale!
There's a white rain blown to the sea's faint edges, 
   Where Carrum lies with her paths spread pale;
And the white gulls sweep over whiter branches
   Where Chelsea sleeps 'neath a filmy-petalled veil.

The wee, rosy buds that, breaking whitely, waken,
   Look toward the sea with its boats and crusted piles.
Tangled, tortured branches that the savage storms have shaken,
   Bursting into blossom over miles, and miles and miles!
Bursting into sweetness while the flitting wrens are singing,
   And the happy lovers wander down the sun-splashed, leafy aisles!

For the tea-tree's out where the sea-wind races --
   The wild, red cliffs and the shores are a-blow!
Its scent stays caught in the little sunny places
   Where the pig-face curls and the green-hoods grow.
Black Rock swims in a haze half-crowing,
   White clouds heap on the sky and down below,
The faint air breaks in a mist of magic
   Where Frankston dreams 'neath a drift of petalled snow!

First published in The Bulletin, 6 November 1929

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

In a Garden by Zora Cross

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In this old garden where I walk 
   Laughter and tears I find 
Pursue me, and in silence talk 
   Sweet memories in my mind. 

Here are red roses dropping blood! 
   I see Adonis fly, 
And hear from every crimson bud 
   Warm Cytherea sigh. 

And there are lilies lost in thought 
   Whose leaves divinely grieve, 
As in each chalice closely-caught 
   I mark the tears of Eve. 

I move along from flower to flower 
   And pluck them wonderingly, 
When sunset chimes the golden hour 
   Of twilight's reverie. 

I twine the lily and the rose 
   With sprays of milky may, 
And violets whose odor flows 
   Fresh from the Appian Way. 

A sigh breaks from the ruby rose, 
   I hear a step all-light 
Ring rapture where the evening glows 
   Upon the heart of night. 

It nears, and from the garden spring 
   Delicious dreams and true. 
I stand in Eden marvelling, 
   Yet knowing it is you. 

I pause....I wait....The minutes die 
   And drop out one by one. 
Your step, film-footed, falters by 
   As it has ever done. 

Blind-eyed with tears the shadows crowd 
   Upon my helpless head. 
I make the flowers my bridal shroud.... 
   Joy lives and yet is dead. 

The mirthful stars spin bliss above. 
   I weep in agony, 
Weaving the pall of hopeless love 
   Here in Gethsemane.

First published in The Bulletin, 18 October 1917

Resurrections by Mabel Forrest

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When the white roses die, they make a cloud,
Threading the wind with fragrance pure and sweet,
When the pink roses die, they trail the sun,
And faint in carmine wreaths about his feet;
But where the pansies huddle from the light
They merge in death, into the purple night,
Filched from the sun of some high summer's noon,
Their hearts have left us many a yellow moon.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 October 1931

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also

The Bowed Foxgloves by Myra Morris

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[Note - It is an old wives' tale that foxgloves have "knowledge." When a spirit passes, they know, and bow their heads.] 

The foxgloves bow their lilac heads to-night,
   Although no leaf is shaken on the rose, 
And no soft-singing wind steals by on light, 
   Quick steps, to woo the last-born bud that blows. 
So still the day has gathered sunset up. 
   So still the red has gone, the dusk has come, 
The brown bee dreaming in the poppies' cup, 
   Spills dust upon the cool delphinium. 
Like cloistered nuns, pale-eyed, the scented stocks 
   Kneel shrouded In the larkspur's filmy blue. 
The heaped-up, passionate, wan hollyhocks 
   Wait dumbly for the stars to glimmer through. 
So still the flowers are, as though they slept 
   With soft, expectant faces, borne upright! 
No laggard breeze among the bloom has crept --
   But how the foxgloves bow their heads to-night! 

Oh, hush! Some soul has passed a breath ago! 
   But I -- I did not hear the death-bell ring! 
Only the foxgloves in the garden know, 
   And droop their heads and move a-murmuring! 
What unloosed soul has winged its lonely flight 
   Across the ocean of infinity? 
Some spirit straight from youth, all radiant-white, 
   To go while sap runs singing in the tree? 
To go, dear God, when elm and lilac bud 
   And gorse thrusts out in flaming spikes of gold! 
Ah! let me think it fled from one whose blood 
   Ran chill and slow, whose faded eyes were old --
Not from the house of him whose eager feet 
   The stones of life had scarce begun to know! 
How sweet this purple dusk! Dear life, how sweet!
   Yet some winged soul has passed a breath ago!
I cannot bear it if it were some child 
   Whose soul has fled the blazing white of Spring, 
While spangled paths among the grasses wild 
   Invite bore feet to go a-wandering! 
Some child who, dreaming 'neath a blue-topped hill, 
   Looked out upon the edges of the world --
For whom the capeweed cups held gold to fill 
   Unto the brim, his little hand in-curled! 
Who knows? I may have heard his shrill young song 
   Float down the early morning clear and mild,
Or glimpsed him bending where the cowslips throng --
   I cannot hear it if it were some child!...  
Oh, think of this! One day some friend may pass, 
   And see these drooping bells, and weep to see
And say: "They bow for one who loved the grass  
   And shining trees and sun!" They'll bow for me!

First published in The Bulletin, 14 September 1922;
and later in
White Magic by Myra Morris, 1929.

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Aunty's Garden by Zora Cross

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In Aunty's dear old garden grow
The very sweetest flowers I know --
Tall Larkspurs and white hollyhocks,
Sweet Alice and pink four o'clocks.

There is a sundial Uncle made,
And Aunty keeps the tiny spade
Dead little Lena used to own ...
She went away before she'd grown.

I love to pick the sunflowers tall,
The bachelors' buttons tight and small,
And gather great white sprays of may,
Coronations bright and zinnias gay.

And when sometimes I sit and dream
Among the roses red and cream,
The daisies white and violets blue,
Dead little Lena dreams there too. 

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 1 September 1925

Brick Red Azaleas by Mabel Forrest

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Red as old walls that hide dim gardens, where
The mists seem tethered on the morning air, 
And the hot gold of autumn sunshine burns 
In tempered glory down grey ivied urns,
And slips to blunt among the grassy caves 
The noontide sharpness of its glittering glaives.          

Red as the slender shoes a dark coquette 
Fits to her long, arched foot, a brilliant set                      
Below the silken instep's veiled rose,  
A some lit lantern in the twilight glows, 
You flicker thro' my fancy's secret bowers, 
Like jewelled hands above ungathered flowers!  

First published in The Australasian, 27 July 1918

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also

Old-Time Flowers by Zora Cross

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Make me a garden of old-fashioned flowers --
Sweet William, wallflower, pink, and mignonette 
With here and there a purple violet
And four o'clocks that tell the tea-time hours.
Border it all with bachelors' buttons bold, 
Set red geranium that needs no weeding,
Leave a tiny corner for love-lies-bleeding
And a few daffodils, yellow as gold.  

Sow blue forget-me-nots and pale sweet peas, 
Nasturtium, candytuft, and Canterbury bell. 
And to remind me lest I love too well,
Prithee! Do not forget to plant heartsease.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 July 1938

Flower Seeds to Sow Now! by Mabel Forrest

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Flower seeds to sow now! Cineraria?
Launch the tiny vessels holding freight so fair,
Butterfly delphiniums in their capes of blue,   
Marigold-dissenters of an orange hue!
Stocks of Old Virginia, mauve and pink and white,
Making sweet a garden old by day and night;   
Such a grey old garden terraced to the sea,
With the land wind bringing many a lucky bee;
Fussing its gold pit, staking out a claim; 
Viola and pansy, gillyflower of flame!
Sun among the larkspurs, vain and ruffling things,
Slim, usurping pages in the cloaks of kings!
Cornflowers, shy plebeians coming up to town,
From the country meadows, in a Sunday gown!
Oriental poppies, wonderfully dressed,
As a languid beauty by a king caressed.
Heavy with some secret no one ever tells, 
Swing to silent music Canterbury bells;     
While among the grasses, tasselled and unshorn,
Of the Wind and Sunshine, many a rhyme is born!    

Far off sails like silver on the silver seas,
One brown island rising to a crest of trees; 
Or the hunchbacked wavelets, sighing up the sand,
Passion for the roses, married to the land!   

Do I own a garden lying by the sea?
Do I dream a garden grown by witchery?   
No, my sleeping beauty, into life you're kist
Only by magic of the seedsman's list!

First published in The Australasian, 13 July 1918

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also

Iceland Poppies by Kathleen Dalziel

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A little wind goes hunting through the garden close to-day
He has caught the last forgotten rose and flung it far away --
But the golden poppy-ladies, they are gay.

They toss their herds and hold him but a light and careless rover
Who has cross the ferny ridges and the fields of faded clover
And has hastened back to tell them Autumn's over.

When the clouded sky's the color of a grey goose-feather
Like scraps of scattered sunshine in all the sullen weather,
the sprightly poppy-ladies dance together,

Each silken skirt a-flutter like a captured butterfly.
From the elbow of an apple-gum a magpie warbles high --
And the old earth still has beauty in July.

First published in The Australian Women's Mirror, 2 July 1929

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

Boxthorn Shelter by Myra Morris

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Gone is the red
From all the boxthorn bushes --
Gone are the lacquered globes that Autumn spread --
But fantails, now, and smooth, grey-feathered thrushes  
Burden the boughs.
And take the eye instead! ....
Hear how the honeyeaters hush their singing
Under the pale, green leaves --
Hanging head-down, their claws like tendril clinging
To rain-dark stems, their bills   
Drawing the sweetness that each mauve-white flower
Deep in its tiny cup distils! ....   
Polished each pointing thorn,
Bright-hung with glassy drops that shake like wind-loosed bells, 
Seeming to make
The crystal song that falls
From the blue-painted wrens who seek
Shelter within the boxthorn's spiney walls.   

Only the plover,
The loud, fierce plover, 
Flying aloof,
Seeks for himself no cover  
Beneath the green thorn-raftered roof,   
But wings across the wide and empty plain,     
Screaming an imprecation to the rain!

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 June 1938

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Dying Garden by Myra Morris

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I have come back unto this spot most dear,
The garden green that only Beauty knew. 
Where thick upon the boughs of yester-year
Bright flowers blew!

And now grey desolation haunts the place,
And bed and border dreary secrets hold,
Like some long-loved and well-remembered face
Grown tired and old.

Whither has fled the starry clustered green?
The canna's crimson flame, the dewy rose? 
The gladiolus spikes that soared serene?
Alas! who knows?

Oh! silent garden, now the realm of ghosts,
Dark-stemmed, grey-cowled, with clutching finger-rings!
I see them standing there -- dim, huddled hosts
From bygone Springs!

And in the nights, adown each barren walk,
I hear their hands rattling like shaken bones
Above the dusty paths, and hear them talk 
In whispering tones.  

In whispering tones, brushed over with the sighs
Of wind that shuffles through the bleaching grass.
O, gods of rain, and round, white moons, and skies,  
Can beauty pass?

Some night shall I awake to hear the song
Of rhythmic raindrops dancing on the sill,
And looking upward see, throng after throng,
The bare boughs spill

Their silver shakings all along the wind,
Until each in-curled leaf is brimmed with tears?
Oh, tell me I shall yet stoop down and find
The jonquil spears!

First published in The Australasian, 9 June 1923

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Poet's Garden by Zora Cross

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When in the long lagoons of slumber sink
   The tired flocks of men surrounding me,
On naked feet I walk the lilac brink
   Of my own Memory.

And in an alley of the hanging air
   Dim blossoms of a garden softly swing
Love lyrics, happy odes, and sonnets fair
   Through my Imaginings.

I lean my cheek upon the garden rail
   Tasting the fragrance of that company,
Who through the ferny aisles and angles trail
   White Immortality.

Odorous daisies from far milky meads
   Waft o'er my wall the innocence of Truth,
And from a pool asway with rhyming reeds
   I breathe eternal Youth.

Oh haply, in some velvet noon of night,
   A glimmering hand, flower-full, will soft unclose,
And slipping through the silence, filmy-light,
   Drop on my heart a rose.

First published in The Bulletin, 7 June 1917

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.

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

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

Gladioli by Myra Morris

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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.

Flower-Dance by Myra Morris

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The white lady lilies
   Dance a minuet,
Dropping stately curtseys
   Where the lawns are set.

Silken-frocked godetias,
   Under Summer's spell,
Twinkling in the sunshine,
   Spin a tarantelle.

Blowsy scarlet poppies,
   Flaunting every frill,
In among the grasses
   Whirl a wild quadrille.

The wind has led their frolics,
   Tapping seeded drums,
Singing, "Dance your blithest --
   Old Man Autumn comes!"

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 21 February 1928

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Snapdragons by Mabel Forrest

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They are women with a secret, these snapdragons,
That is why they shut their mouths so tight
That every man may know
By the haughty way they go
They have something worth the telling to a wight!

Tenderly I prise them open -- find the tongue is all of gold,
Surely, 'tis the tongue of poets, mellow in a story old,
Some fair runs of morning meadows, lit with many golden flowers
That the wizard sun has made us from the silver of the showers!

See them in their velvet bonnets, very modest and demure,
But I hold their shy demeanor just a cunning form of lure --
Yonder bloom is striped and fluffy as the skirts of a Pierette
Lifted on a curve of beauty sly Pierrot will not forget!

Here is one all soft and creamy as a bride in langorous hours --
They are women....they are poets....and they, best of all, are flowers!

First published in The Bulletin, 19 February 1914 

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Rose and the Bee by C.J. Dennis

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"Well, what tidings today?" said the bee
   To the burgeoning rose.
"You are young, yet already you see
   Much of life, I suppose."
Said the rose, "Oh, this life is so filled 
   With astonishing things
That I think I could not be more thrilled
   E'en if roses had wings.

Three lupins have bloomed by the pond
   Since last you were here;
In the nest of the blue-wrens beyond
   Three nestlings appear.
A gay butterfly slept by my side
   All yesternight thro'
Till dawn, when a thrush hymned his pride.
   But how goes it with you?"

"There are great things at hand," said the bee.
   "Change comes to my life.
In my hive in the woollybutt tree
   Strange rumors are rife.
The old queen grows restless, I fear,
   She is planning to roam;
And I must adventure this year
   From the old, safe home.

"Old Black Wallaby's limping, I see,
   Trap again, I suppose.
Life is full of mischance," said the bee.
   "Ah, no," sighed the rose.
"Despite all the folly and sin
   And the gala and the strife,
It's a wonderful world we live in,
   It's a wonderful life."

First published in The Herald, 30 November 1935

Perpetual Motion by C.J. Dennis

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"What beautiful lawns!  Here is a place to dream in."

What (said the poet) should we care
   For all this mad world's phantasies,
For rumours rife upon the air
   Of terrors looming overseas?
If so, the soul were plagued alway
   With far-fetched grieving, what of mirth?
For somewhere sorrow broods all day;
   Yet laughter, too, inhabits earth.

For the sun shines and the grass grows,
   And the ferns nod above the stream
That down this placid valley flows;
   Then let us rest a while, and dream.
For the grass grows as the sun shines,
   And the stream flows and sings a song
To chide the sad heart that repines
   Ah, summer, summer, linger long!

What (I gave answer) badgers me
   Are not the tragedies of earth.
Despite your gay philosophy
   Of seeking joy and claiming mirth
For boon companions as you go,
   Oft times these very joys oppress
And suns that shine and streams that flow
   May be a source of weariness.

For the grass grows and the sun gleams
   To sear the grass and, where they flow,
I must bring water from the streams
   To make the blinking grass to grow.
And the sun gleams and the grass grows --
   Indeed I know it well enough;
For as it springs where water flows
   I've got to cut the blasted stuff.

First published in The Herald, 22 November 1934

The Aldermen and the Antirrhinum by C.J Dennis

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Melbourne civic authorities seem to be greatly disgruntled -- not to say chagrined -- about some floral window boxes which seek to lend a little vernal gaiety to Collins Street.  It is alleged that they encroach a few inches over the footpath, and the removal of the "obstruction" is demanded.

I walked out with an alderman, all on a bright spring day.
He was an august alderman, and much had he to say
Of roads and drains and bridges .... Then, as he pulled up short,
His veins stood out in ridges, his breath fled with a snort.
Then anger aldermanic came as the tempest comes;
His aspect grew satanic, his eyes stuck out like plums;
And, as it rent asunder the ambient atmosphere,
Rolled detonating thunder of civic wrath severe: --

"Tear down them antirrhium!  Tear down them columbine!
Or else, by gum, we'll fine 'em.  We'll mulct in a fine!
I won't have antirrhinum!  To Tophet I consign 'em!
Surveyors can't align 'em plumb with our buildin' line!"
(They were begonias truly; but that did not unduly
Affect his wrath unruly.  The darn things weren't in line.)
"A blot on civic beauty!  The Mayor must do his jooty,
An' have them antirrhinum abolished, or resign!"

Then, as his rage he swallowed, and joined the traffic's stream,
I diffidently followed, and sought to change the theme.
"Think you the vernal season," quoth I, "grows subtly sweet?"
Said he: "That ain't no reason for shovin' in the street
Them bloomin' antirrhinum three inches off the line.
Our officers must fine 'em.  It's breakin' Bylaw nine,
Part seven.  Schedule thirty.  Clause eight in Section A."
He really seemed quite shirty; and so I sneaked away.)

But still, o'er traffic crashes, I heard his strident tones
"Them antirrhinum clashes with our pretty safety zones!
Calliopsis an' eschscholtzia!  In streets where soft trams roll!
It's a pitcher that revolts yeh, if yeh got a civic soul! . . ."
And then his fuming faded; faint and far it died away.
'Pon my word, I felt quite jaded; I'd had a trying day.
And, tho' it seem splenetic, from this truth I may not shrink
Aldermen are NOT aesthetic.  Not so very -- do you think?

First published in The Herald, 7 October 1935

Possession by C.J Dennis

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Wild flowers within motor car radius of Melbourne are threatened with extinction, owing to the senseless depredations of greedy excursionists.

I find it hard to understand
The man who wanders through the land
   Seeing in beauty this alone:
   Some precious thing that he may own.
A field of bloom, a flowering tree
Breaks on his gaze, and instantly
   Greed wakes the predatory whine:
   "Ah, give me! Give me! It is mine!"

Down thro' the sylvan scene he swoops,
And in an hour each blossom droops;
   And, at his passing, beauty dies
   That might have blessed a thousand eyes.
Visions I have of fairies slain
Where he has trod, for no man's gain.

And not alone where blossoms smile
Does greed destroy all things worth while;
   For all in life that means so much
   Wilts at his devastating touch:
All beauty moulders to decay
Because, poor fool, he passed that way.

And so, until the world has learned
Content in beauty must be earned
   Thro' sharing heaven's bounteous joys,
   The predatory fist destroys
Ever the joys for all men meant;
And ever fails to find content.

First published
in The Herald, 27 August 1930

Song of the Insane Gardener by C.J. Dennis

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The dry conditions prevailing have resulted in unprecedented frosts in several districts.  As many as 14 in succession have been registered in some places, and they are expected greatly to reduce numerous garden pests.

Oh, I dance upon the lawn in the cold, white dawn,
   And I gloat upon the corpses of a countless million slain;
Where the frost about my feet spreads its winter winding sheet
   There I chuckle and I chortle as I chant my mad refrain;
"Lime and sulphur, Paris green, arsenate of lead,
Benzole couldn't kill 'em; but they're dead, dead, dead."

Men have said I went insane when the Summer brought its bane:
   Beetle, bug, and butterfly, weevil, wog and worm,
And a thousand million thrips with my garden came to grips
   Plus a plague of things that fly and creep and crawl and squirm.
Lime and sulphur, Paris green, arsenate of lead,
They sneered at 'em, and leered at 'em, and gaily gorged ahead.

They fell upon my fancy phlox, hyacinths and hollyhocks;
   Amaryllis, antirrhinum, lupin, lily, all were lost.
All my garden's vanished glory now remained a sorry story,
   While, dismayed, I sprayed and sprayed and reckoned not the cost.
Lime and sulphur, Paris green, arsenate of lead --
Vain were these till nights afreeze dire destruction spread.

Lifeless lie the pupa cases, larvae leave no least lone traces.
   Apphis eggs (if there be any) are a pest now haply past.
With a mad song in my throat, in the dawn I dance, I gloat;
   For my evil days have ended, and revenge is here at last.
Vain the Paris green, the sulphur; vain the arsenate of lead;
Fourteen frosty nights have finished all the olden dread.

So I dance upon the lawn in the cold, white dawn,
   And I chortle o'er cadavers of a countless million slain.
Men may moan and deem it sad, vowing that I am as mad
   As a hatter.  what's it matter?  Join my maniac's refrain:
"Lime and sulphur, Paris green, arsenate of lead,
Benzole couldn't kill 'em; but they're dead, dead, dead."

First published in The Herald, 31 May 1934

Reverie in a Garden by C.J. Dennis

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This week is Garden Week in Melbourne.

I'd never known these peaceful hours
   Till on a summer long ago
I won the gift of friendly flowers,
   And learned their ways, and came to know
   From what drab earth may beauty grow.

But since I learned, as might the bees,
A garden's myriad mysteries
   Of alchemy when seeds are sown,
   I've known delights I've never known.

Endless delights the garden holds:
A still pool fringed by marigolds;
   A rose-lined walk; a shaded lawn;
   A dew-wet iris in the dawn --

The gift of color tulips win
In the dark night; how seeds begin
   In downy cradles, snugly set;
   The incense of one violet.

"A garden is a livesome thing,"
The poet sang. Well might he sing,
   Knowing what love and loveliness
   One simple garden may express.

"God walks in mine," the poet cried.
By whom shall such words be denied?
   Never by him whose secret heart
   Holds all a garden may impart.

Had I the choice to walk with kings
Or walk alone where lilac swings
   Its censers, wreathed in wondrous scent,
   I'd walk alone, and know content.

Yet, might I walk alone?  He knows
Who, where some well-loved garden grows,
   Feels, at a flash, his heart set free
   In beauty-bidden ecstasy --

As if, unheralded, unguessed,
   An accolade of peace had crowned --
A sudden gift of grace had blest
   The garden's glory, and he found
   His feet on consecrated ground.

First published in The Herald, 7 April 1933

Gorse in Bloom by Mary Hannay Foott

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A steep red road in a tropic town, 
   Shut, end and end, by the timbered range; 
A peep of palms with their orchid crown; 
   And the perfume of scrub plants, rich and strange. 

No gleam of ocean; no glimpse of plain; 
   No far horizon of lessening blue; 
Nor breeze from the downs; nor breath from the main;   
   Nor the first star's place when the moon is new. 

Small garden spaces, all square and square, 
   By the gravelly footpath's scanty room; 
And the roar of the quartz-mill everywhere; 
   And here--the Highland gorse in bloom! 

The faint far odour, that came of old 
   With the scent of heather and fir and the sea! 
The green dark spines and the blooms of gold! 
   How sweet, how fair is it all to me! 

In the North 'tis fragrant when flowers are dead; 
   In the North 'tis faithful when swallows go; 
On the Arctic blast its gold is shed -- 
   The last-left blossoms that brave the snow. 

One spray for my own ere I pass again, 
   Whither dreams I dreamed have no place nor room-- 
The dreams that a moment came back amain 
   At the sudden sight of the gorse in bloom.

First published in The Queenslander, 19 December 1891;
and later in
The Bookfellow, 29 April 1899.

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

See also.

Real Estate by Ella McFadyen

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The fairies live in garden flowers,
   As doth the caterpillar;
The mignonette a cottage is,
   A larkspur is a villa.

In rose-trees' old embattled walls
   Proud fairy earls are dwelling;
Campanulas are churches tall,
   Where bells the hours are telling.

Acanthus flowers let out as flats,
   Whose tennants are erratic;
I knew an artist fay who climbed
   Twelve stories to his attic.

And there's a fairy architect
   A curious gift discloses,
Restoring most artistic homes
   From ruinous moss-roses.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 October 1931

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

The Rosebud by Emily Coungeau

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From out the fragrant basket of the blushing morn
   I took a golden rose,
A bud of hope 'mid leaves of promise borne,
   Would its pure heart unclose?  

From out noon's bowl of molten radiance bright
   I stole one jewelled hour,
Its facets flamed with pulsing, quivering light,
   Charged with enchantment's power.

From out the lap of eve a guerdon sweet  
   I e'er so softly drew.  
How the pale moments fled on dewy feet
   Only one spirit knew.

From out night's arch, which half her charm conceals,
   Swept as the flash of oars
Those golden steeds which move the whirring wheels
   Of her resplendent cars.

From out the arms of rapturous repose
   The answer came to me,
Love smiling held my full-blown golden rose
   Its glowing heart to see.

From out that garden with the wondrous maze
   Which mortals know as Time
There sounds a luring note where parts the ways,
   And we can hear the chime.

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 16 September 1914;
and later in
Rustling Leaves: Selected Poems by Emily Coungeau, 1920.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Purple Violets by Ivy Moore

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Imperial Roman Caesar never wore
   More lovely robe of royal, purple hue,
Than glows to-day amidst the fragrant store    
   Of violets, sparkling 'neath the pearly dew!      

From amethystine tint to darkest shade    
   Of lapis lazuli the violets shine,
Weaving a subtle, magic spell, all made  
   Of beauty woven from the years divine!  

A cloud of perfumed sweetness rises fair,
   With scented memories of bygone days,
From crystal bowl, and fills the cool June air,  
   Old Friends; long-dead Romance; and half sung lays!  

Hail! Purple violets in Imperial state!  
   You come to bring the past to life again.
Sweet-scented floral messengers of Fate,
   You whisper low that Love shall conquer pain!

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 September 1934;
and later in
Australian Violets by Ivy Moore, 1937.

Author reference sites: Austlit

See also.

Pink Boronia by Ella McFadyen

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Little pink Boronia,
   In your gingham gown,
Mid the silken poppies
   On a florist's stall in town.

Never droop your head ashamed;
   Fairer far than they
Are you in your native home
   Of the sandstone grey.

Would they leave your loveliness
   Where it aye belongs,
Dancing to the gay wind's kiss
   And the free birds' songs.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 August 1929

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

The Uninvited Guest by Edith Sterling Levis

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I planted me a garden close with blossoms all ablow,
Where mignonette and heliotrope and cool white roses grow,
And hollyhocks stand tall and straight, like spear points in a row.  

My garden glows with lovely things -- delphiniums, lapis blue
And wistful pansies, purple-slaahed across their midnight hue,
And gold nasturtiums pierce the shade like sunshine breaking through.

To-day, beside my petalled path, I found a stranger fair,
A slender swaying bushland flower no hand had planted there,
Whose fragrance burned like incense thro' the langurous noontide air.

And sweet and frail it shyly blooms beside a flame-tree tall,  
Where blue-winged butterflies flit past and honey-eaters call,
And happy morning glories cling about my garden wall.  

A dainty lady, primose gowned my uninvited guest,
As faintly gold as that last ray when day dies in the west.
I think in all my garden sweet, I love her much the best.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 April 1931

Author: Edith Sterling Levis (1881-1971) was born in Glen Innes, New South Wales, and died in St Leonard's. also in New South Wales.  Beyond this little is known about this author.

Author reference site: Austlit

March 17 by Victor J. Daley

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If I could keep a garden fair,
   Red poppies there would be;
No tragic bloom would whisper there --
   "Dost thou remember me?"

She walked the lonans long between,
   And lightly laughed at me.
Her head was draped in Irish green,
   Her limbs in cramoisie.

She held two roses in one hand
   (A sword swung to her knee),
The Scarlet Rose of Valor and
   The Rose of Purity.

She said -- "When I am rich, my Sweet,
   As I shall always be,
Three States shall march down Sackville-street,
   And I the first of Three."

First published in The Bulletin, 17 March 1904

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

See also.

Lassiandra by Ella McFadyen

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Blue loveliness the Lassiandra flings
   Across the lawn and down the stone-flagged path --
A scattered host of broken, violet wings.
   The frail, drenched harvest of the storm wind's wrath;

Like songs some sweet, uncertain poet sings
   Amid life's storm - his heart's imaginings,
Lovely in hope, in young ambition's flings,
   But loveliest of all in aftermath.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 February 1928

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

The Scent of Lilac by Myra M. Campbell

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The night is hot -- the air is still,
   And Drought lies brooding o'er the plain.
Then -- mem'ry brings, without my will,
   The scent of Lilac in the rain!
The drying swamp gleams weirdly white,
   The Plovers eerily complain;  
Yet -- stealing through the stifling night
   This thought of Lilac in the rain!
It comes like echo soft and low
   Of some soul-haunting, sweet refrain.
Do you remember . . . long ago
   The scent of Lilac in the rain?

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 January 1933

Author: Nothing is known about the author of this poem.

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

To the Sun Flower by Emily Coungeau

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Thou orbed emblem of the sun,
   How deeply glow thy fires;
So thrilled with life thy magic zone,
   Aflame with dear desires.

Tell me! Oh spirit of the flowers,  
   One thing I fain would learn,
Why thou, as mortals, dream swift hours,
   Then unto dust return.

Thy life is briefer than our own,
   And lovely is thy core;
Wherefore, sweet flower, for thee alone,
   I weave this metaphor.

As planets of the solar sphere
   Move round a central sun,
The tapering golden leaves, so fair,  
   Surround thy cushioned throne.

I am, though brief my span may be,
   For him who doubts or grieves
A mentor of Eternity.
   Go; seek it in my leaves.

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 23 December 1914;
and later in
Rustling Leaves: Selected Poems by Emily Coungeau, 1920.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

November Lilies by Annie MacDonald

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(In the Botanic Gardens, Sydney.)    

November Lilies! Sculptured, regal, gleaming,
   Each petalled chalice alabaster white,   
Gold pollen-dusted; melody is dreaming   
   Within your loveliness of carven light.

November Lilies! Etched 'gainst palms, low bending;
   And Kurrajong and River-oaks soft green;
Pale summer leaves of Peach and Plum are blending --   
   Adding their beauty to your lovely sheen.     

November Lilies! Butterflies are winging,
   Their lovely colours painting your white flow'rs;
Drowsy bees humming-birds their carols singing --
   Rich beauty pent in Sydney's garden bow'rs.

November Lilies! When in far East dwelling,
   Did your rich splendour to the gods belong?
And is the music your sweet scent is telling,
   Part of the morning star's harmonious song?

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 November 1935

Author: Annie MacDonald (1870-??), nee Lowe, was born in Kew in Victoria in 1870.  Beyond this nothing is known about this author.

Author reference site: Austlit

Nasturtiums by Ethel Davies

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One led me through a garden, wide and fair,  
   "Are not my roses beautiful?" she said;   
And so I praised them, delicately bred,
   And wisely tended with another's care.  

I love nasturtiums best, with thready hearts,  
   And flamy petals brave as poverty    
Decked out in hope, for in my memory  
   There is a picture, solaces and smarts --  

A little barefoot girl, upon her knees,    
   Pondering nasturtiums by a ragged fence.  
I hear again the childish confidence,
   That whispered reverently. "God planted these!"   
First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 November 1932

Author: Ethel Davies (1897-??) was born in Oxfordshire, England and was a founding member of the Western Australia branch of the fellowship of Australian Writers in 1938.  Other than this, nothing is known about the author.

Author reference site: Austlit 

The Rose Tree by Ella McFadyen

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We wandered where the tail ferns fringed and filled from bank to bank
   The amber-watered, creek, and stooped, Narcissus-like, to wed
Their shadows, and the lillyplllies, berry-laden, drank
   The stream, and on the fallen trunks the fungus blossomed red.            

We followed from the stagnant creek, by narrow cattle path,
   Where scarlet peas and tangled vines their tendrils interlace.
And found the tumbled stones that marked a long-deserted hearth,  
   A rose tree spread its thorny arms in vacant, sad embrace.

More faithful than the other works that long-stilled hand had raised,
   More constant in its long neglect, the rose that lingered there,
And may be lips, and laughing lips, its early bloom had praised,
   And one who reeks not now had judged its fragrant burden fair.

The dying splendor of the sky illum'ed the darkened range,
   Where rustling spirits of the night among the shadows roam.
We left it with its untold tale, its tragedy of change --
   The rose amid the stones that once had borne the name of Home!  

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 21 November 1906

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

I Spoke to the Violet by John Shaw Neilson

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Shy one, I said, you can take me away in a breath,
But I like not the coat that you come in -- the colour of death.  

The silence you come with is sweeter to me than a sound,
But I love not the colour -- I saw it go into the ground.            

And, though you haunt me with all that is health to a rhyme,
My thoughts are as old as the native beginning of Time.  

Your scent does encompass all beauty in one loving breath,
But I like not the coat that you come in -- the colour of death.        

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 July 1937;
and later in
Beauty Imposes: Some Recent Verse by John Shaw Neilson, 1938;
A Book of Australian Verse edited by Judith Wright, 1968;
Cross-Country: A Book of Australian Verse edited by John Barnes, 1984; and
John Shaw Neilson: Poetry, Autobiography and Correspondence edited by Cliff Hanna, 1991.

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

See also.

Old Flowers by Zora Cross

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Give me the flowers our great grandmothers grew--
The bachelors' buttons in a small tight row--
Old lavender for linen white as snow--
Heartsease and marigolds and violets blue.
Bring me the pinks and mignonette they knew,
Dark grannies' bonnets, crimson phlox aglow
Beside the hollyhocks, as long ago
They walked Great Aunt Maria's garden through.
I know the aster, Iceland poppy bright,
New daisies and now dahlias have their hour.
I want an old rose in my greying hair,
A posy of such blooms from an old bower
As with a valentine thrilled some love night--
Sweet Alice to sweet William, greeting fair!

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 March 1925

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of BiographyOld Qld Poetry

See also.

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