"Have you never travelled?" "No; never, Sir; I am the native born.
And my journeys lie in Australian nights to the red Australian morn.
I know the path of the leopard gum and the trail of the kumquat ridge,
And the way I go to the east and west is over a fancy bridge.
I am shut in by my turquoise sea, and walled in by my coral strand;
Oh, tell the tales of your journeying, and your lilt of a further land."
He looked at her with his world-wise eyes, and he smiled with a practised lip.
And he let the pearls of a polished tongue o'er the records of mem'ry slip,
And he told her legends of Irish lakes of heather and Scottish highland,
But the one she loved the best of all was the tale of the unknown island.
For he was king of that magic land, he was lord of the story,
And he painted fields of unfading flow'rs; skies of unclouded glory,
Till the gum trees drooped to blinded eyes, and the badge of the Queensland spring
In the wattle tufts on the scrubland edge was only a tarnished thing.
He loosed his rein, and he rode away, away to the cloud-cloaked highland,
And now she knowns 'tis a sea of tears that girdles the unknown island.
First published in The Sydney Mail, 8 December 1909