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My Song by Mabel Forrest

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The moon was yellow as a plum,
   The river made no sound,
That night I wove a song for you
   And hit it in the ground.

But from the ground tall roses grew,
   Ragged and sweet and red:
They built a wall against the song
   I sang for one long dead.

Perhaps the flowers, more wise than
   Set up those perfumed bars
Knowing your dust had left the earth
   And blossomed into stars.

First published in The Bulletin, 14 March 1934

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Two Sunsets by Victor J. Daley

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On the Shore

The day and its delights are done;
   So all delights and days expire:
Down in the dim, sad West the sun
Is dying like a dying fire.

The fiercest lances of his light
   Are spent; I watch him droop and die,
Like a great king who falls in fight;
   None dared the duel of his eye
Living, but, now his eye is dim,
The eyes of all may stare at him.

How lovely in his strength at morn
He orbed along the burning blue!
The blown gold of his flying hair
Was tangled in green-tressèd trees,
And netted in the river sand
In gleaming links of amber clear.
But all his shining locks are shorn,
His brow of its bright crown is bare,
The golden sceptre leaves his hand,
And deeper, darker, grows the hue
Of the dim purple draperies
And cloudy banners round his bier.

O beautiful, rose-hearted dawn! ---
O splendid noon of gold and blue! ---
Is this wan glimmer all of you?
Where are the blush and bloom ye gave
To laughing land and smiling sea? ---
The swift lights that did flash and shiver
In diamond rain upon the river,
And set a star in each blue wave?
Where are the merry lights and shadows
That danced through wood and over lawn,
And flew across the dewy meadows
Like white nymphs chased by satyr lovers?
Faded and perished utterly.
All delicate and all rich colour
In flower and cloud, on lawn and lea,
On butterfly, and bird, and bee,
A little space and all are gone ---
And darkness, like a raven, hovers
Above the death-bed of the day.

So, when the long, last night draws on,
And all the world grows ghastly gray,
We see our beautiful and brave
Wither, and watch with heavy sighs
The life-light dying in their eyes,
The love-light slowly fading out,
Leaving no faint hope in their place,
But only on each dear wan face
The shadow of a weary doubt,
The ashen pallor of the grave.

O gracious morn and golden noon!
With what fair dreams did ye depart --
Beloved so well and lost so soon!
I could not fold you to my breast:
I could not hide you in my heart;
I saw the watchers in the West ---
Sad, shrouded shapes, with hands that wring
And phantom fingers beckoning!

On the River

Fade off the ridges, rosy light,
Fade slowly from the last gray height,
And leave no gloomy cloud to grieve
The heart of this enchanted eve!

All things beneath the still sky seem
Bound by the spell of a sweet dream;
In the dusk forest, dreamingly,
Droops slowly down each plumèd head;
The river flowing softly by
Dreams of the sea; the quiet sea
Dreams of the unseen stars; and I
Am dreaming of the dreamless dead.

The river has a silken sheen,
But red rays of the sunset stain
Its pictures, from the steep shore caught,
Till shades of rock, and fern, and tree
Glow like the figures on a pane
Of some old church by twilight seen,
Or like the rich devices wrought
In mediæval tapestry.

All lonely in a drifting boat
Through shine and shade I float and float,
Dreaming and dreaming, till I seem
Part of the picture and the dream.

There is no sound to break the spell,
No voice of bird or stir of bough;
Only the lisp of waters wreathing
In little ripples round the prow,
And a low air, like Silence breathing,
That hardly dusks the sleepy swell
Whereon I float to that strange deep
That sighs upon the shores of Sleep.

But in the silent heaven blooming
   Behold the wondrous sunset flower
   That blooms and fades within the hour ---
The flower of fantasy, perfuming
   With subtle melody of scent
   The blue aisles of the firmament!

For colour, music, scent, are one;
   From deeps of air to airless heights,
Lo! how he sweeps, the splendid sun,
   His burning lyre of many lights!

See the clear golden lily blowing!
   It shines as shone thy gentle soul,
   O my most sweet, when from the goal
   Of life, far-gazing, thou didst see ---
   While Death still feared to touch thine eyes,
Where such immortal light was glowing ---
   The vision of Eternity,
   The pearly gates of Paradise!

Now richer hues the skies illume:
The pale gold blushes into bloom,
Delicate as the flowering
Of first love in the tender spring
Of Life, when love is wizardry
   That over narrow days can throw
   A glamour and a glory! so
Did thine, my Beautiful, for me
   So long ago; so long ago.

So long ago! so long ago!
   Ah, who can Love and Grief estrange?
Or Memory and Sorrow part?
   Lo, in the West another change ---
   A deeper glow: a rose of fire:
   A rose of passionate desire
Long burning in a lonely heart.

A lonely heart; a lonely flood.
The wave that glassed her gleaming head
And smiling passed, it does not know
That gleaming head lies dark and low,
The myrtle tree that bends above;
I pray that it may early bud,
For under its green boughs sate we ---
We twain, we only, hand in hand,
When Love was lord of all the land ---
It does not know that she is dead
And all is over now with love,
Is over now with love and me.

Once more, once more, O shining years
Gone by; once more, O vanished days
Whose hours flew by on iris-wings,
Come back and bring my love to me!
My voice faints down the wooded ways
And dies along the darkling flood.
The past is past; I cry in vain,
For when did Death an answer deign
To Love's heart-broken questionings?
The dead are deaf; dust chokes their ears;
Only the rolling river hears
Far off the calling of the sea ---
A shiver strikes through all my blood,
My eyes are full of sudden tears.

The shadows gather over all,
   The valley, and the mountains old;
Shadow on shadow fast they fall
   On glooming green and waning gold;
And on my heart they gather drear,
Damp as with grave-damps, dark with fear.

O Sorrow, Sorrow, couldst thou leave me
   Not one brief hour to dream alone?
Hast thou not all my days to grieve me?
   My nights, are they not all thine own?
Thou hauntest me at morning light,
   Thou blackenest the white moonbeams --
A hollow voice at noon; at night
   A crowned ghost, sitting on a throne,
   Ruling the kingdom of my dreams.

Maker of men, Thou gavest breath,
Thou gavest love to all that live,
Thou rendest loves and lives apart;
Allwise art Thou; who questioneth
Thy will, or who can read Thy heart?
But couldst Thou not in mercy give
A sign to us --- one little spark
Of sure hope that the end of all
Is not concealed beneath the pall,
Or wound up with the winding-sheet?
Who heedeth aught the preacher saith
When eyes wax dim, and limbs grow stark,
And fear sits on the darkened bed?
The dying man turns to the wall.
What hope have we above our dead? ---
Tense fingers clutching at the dark,
And hopeless hands that vainly beat
Against the iron doors of Death!  

First published in The Bulletin, 26 September 1885;
and later in
A Golden Shanty: Australian Stories and Sketches in Prose and Verse, 1890; and
At Dawn and Dusk by Victor J Daley, 1902.

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

See also.

Afterwards by Myra Morris

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Laughter will come again  
As grass-shoots after rain,  
We shall forget the secret fears,  
The grieving and the pain.

Things once we counted small
Will hold our minds in thrall,
One blade of grass be dear to us
Who might have lost our all.

Enough for us to lie
Under an empty sky,
Able at last to look ahead
With hope and courage high.

Laughter will come again
As grass shoots after rain.
We shall forget the secret fears,   
The grieving and the pain.
But not the shining sons of men
Else these have died in vain.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 May 1942

Author: Myra Evelyn Morris (1893-1966) was born in Boort, Victoria.  She spent most of her life in small Victorian country towns.  She published a steady stream of short stories and poems throughout her life, as well as three novels.  She died in Frankston, Victoria in 1966.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Captive's Complaint by Henry Parkes

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My lady they have torn away;
   My boys are with the slain;
My heart is cold as lifeless clay;  
   My tears but rust my chain.   

The mansion of my forefathers
   Is in the foe's possession;   
My country -- ah! each home of hers
   Is subject to oppression.

My lady -- she may still survive,
   Our children all departed;
Perchance we both remain alive,
   Alike both broken-hearted.

But never more may I behold
   My beautiful oppressed,
The country of the warrior bold,
   Where Freedom's martyrs rest!

Ev'n to my wandering soul in dreams,
   Along my native mountains,
Th' invaders standard, startling, gleams,
   And carnage chokes the fountains!

Oh God! I would not live to see
   To-morrow's sun ascending,
Might I to-night but perish free,
   My country still defending!

First published in The Australasian Chronicle, 5 May 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.

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