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"The Outsider" by Myra Morris

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Beneath the painted roof,
The people pray an' sing.
I stand here outside,
Where barren branches swing,
I hear the she-oaks drip,
I hear the tree-trunks strain.
The lamps are ruby-red --
My shoes let in the rain.

   O, heart, my bleeding heart!
   The cruel wind that moans,
   An' lifts this tattered shawl
   To chill my aching bones!

"O, God of Love," they sing.
"He is the King of Peace!"
I beat my withered breasts,
An' hear the anthems cease.
I hear the preacher say,
"A sparrow shall not fall
Unto the ground, unless
He know. He knoweth all."

   O God -- what God is this?
   I laugh unto the moon;
   While chiller blows the wind
   An' soft the she-oaks croon.

I wonder if He knows
That he who was my own,
He who was part of me,
My breathing flesh an' bone,
Lies dead! An' if He hears
Before the morn has broke,
About the half-dug grave
The hungry ravens croak.

   O, heart, my bleeding heart!
   You only know the pain --
   None else! ... I go my way;
   My shoes let in the rain.

First published in The Triad, 10 April 1918;
and later in
England and Other Verses by Myra Morris, 1918.

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

"Where Shall My Heart Go?" by Mabel Forrest

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Where shall my heart go--east or west? 
   Long gray river or level plain? 
Where shall my warm heart find its nest, 
   Calling you to my arms again,
After the worst to find the best 
   Of joy which cometh after pain? 

Where shall my heart go? Granite heights 
   Block the west; but love knows the way; 
Lone camp fires in the starless nights, 
   Lone bush tracks in the sultry day, 
Still swamp lands--where the morning's lights 
   Turn to golden the dawn's cold gray. 

There shall my heart go yearning still, 
   Never resting, but seeking yet 
Barren desert, or wooded hill, 
   Down to where salt waves surge and fret -- 
Just to show you I love you still, 
   Just to tell you I can't forget!

First published in The Queenslander, 28 January 1899

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

To My Soul by Adam Lindsay Gordon

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Tired and worn, and wearisome for love
   Of some immortal hope beyond the grave,
Thy soul thou frettest like the prisoned dove
   That now is sick to rest, and now doth crave   
To cleave the upward sky with sudden wing!
   The heaven is clear and boundless, and thy flight
To some new land might be a joyous thing,
   Within this cage of clay there is no light;
Glimpses between its mortal bars there be
That bring a powerful longing to be free,
And tones that reach the ear so mysteriously
When thou art wrapt in thy divinest dream.
Yet thou art but the plaything and the slave
   Of some strange power that wears thy strength away ---
Slowly and surely, which thou dar'st not brave
   Because pale men in some tradition say
It is a God that would not have thee 'scape
The torture that He wills to be thy fate.
'Tis but a tyrant's dream, and born of hate;
Then, soul, be not disquieted with doubt;
Step to the brink --- this hand shall let thee out.  

First published in The Queenslander, 10 August 1895

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Song of the Grey Water by Ella McFadyen

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No man's step on the threshold, nor voice of him returning,
   Bar out the fear, the shadow -- thus lonely nights have taught her.
Oh, see the cradle rocking, and smell the drift fire burning,
   And hear a woman singing the song of the grey water.

Not when in rifted saffron, the prisoned day is breaking,
   Behind the eastward ranges, a winter dawning cold,
And fretted channel water foretells the wind awaking,
   Not when the mists are winding across the morning gold.

Not when, with sleep-dipped fingers, her chain of silence linking,
   The still sea for her mirror, slow slides the listening noon,
With lazy weeds awashing, and long green drinking,
   The sleepy shadows slipping beneath the leaves aswoon.

Not when with she-oaks droning like task-tired children singing,
   And shoreward steals a sea wind, brine gathered, blowing cool,
Not when, from leafy vantage, blue pinioned, potent, flinging,
   Amongst the shoaling silver death darts upon the pool.

But when the dry bark rustles along the forest dying,
   Through scarfed and peeling branches the night winds sough and fret.
Oh, leagues of lonely water, grey leagues beyond you living.
   What is it you have taken in years that I forget?

The voice of wind and water, like step and stumbling start is,
   And voices hushed and humbled, of those that bear the dead.
The fear of grey water in every woman's heart is,
   As one that hath a treasure, and wakes at night for dread.

No man's step on the threshold, nor voice of him returning.
   Bar out the fear, the shadow -- thus lonely nights have taught her.
Oh, see the cradle rocking, and smell the drift fire burning,
   And hear a woman singing the song of the grey water.

First published
in The Sydney Mail, 12 July 1911;
and later in
Outland Born and Other Verses by Ella McFadyen, 1911

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

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