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Mortality by Zora Cross

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Slaves to ourselves, and shackled each to each,
We strive and struggle for things out of reach.
Thro' loops of dreams we see the shores of Hope,
Whereon repose the things for which we grope.

Lives within lives, we muddle on and on,
Scarce knowing friend or foe, till each is gone,
Born out of darkness, back to it we go,
Nor dare to wonder why it should be so.

Caught in the snare of Circumstance and Fate,
We close the roadway to our real estate
By fence and gate. Our souls, behind the lock
Of doors we close, scarce ever hear a knock. 

Yet stars that spin in riddles o'er our heads
Promise us other worlds. We pause in dread, 
Too much afraid to venture forth alone.
We wait for others and remain unknown.

So doubting, dreaming, blind, we lose our way,
While those who might have helped pass day by day.
Fast in our shell of self we shrink, we die, 
And in the dust we spurned forgotten lie.

First published in Queensland Figaro, 10 May 1924

Mobilite by Emily Coungeau

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I sought the fragrance of the Roses' breath  
   Bending beneath their burden of sweet dew.
How could I reconcile the thought of death
   With blooms which in such matchless beauty grew?
I sought the Lily, pure as a pale bride.
   So stately with its waxen petals wet,
Green-stemmed and slender, and it gently sighed,
   "Yet a few days and all my sun is set."

I sought the woods wherein the whispering wind
   Chanted a lullaby into my listening ear,
And faintly came an echoing voice behind,
   "E'en as the leaves I change and disappear."

I sought old Ocean with its ceaseless moan
   Flinging white clinging arms of spumy spray
To grasp the shore, then in a solemn tone
   It made reply, "I too must pass away."

I sought the Stars which in their orbits sway
   And just as day obscures their brilliant light  
The star of Faith, though doubt may cloud the way,    
   Illumes with fervent glow the mists of night.

Oh! earth. Oh! heaven. Oh! death, which is but Life,    
   That still small voice within doth ever say,  
Here for a season set amid the strife,
   Live thou thy best for all must pass away.

Passing away where crowns and sceptred right
   Kings lowly meekly lay before the Throne
And saints with creeds, and sinners, in the light
   Of God's great dawn, will worship Him alone.

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 19 November 1913;
and later in
Rustling Leaves: Selected Poems by Emily Coungeau, 1920; and
A Book of Queensland Verse edited by J.J. Stable and A.E.M. Kirwood, 1924.

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Sum of Things by Arthur W. Jose

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This is the sum of things...that we    
A moment live, a little see,    
Do somewhat, and are gone; for so    
The eternal currents ebb and flow.    
This is the sum of work--that man
Does, while he may, the best he can,   
Nor greatly cares, when all is done,   
What praise or blame his toils have won.   
This is the sum of fight--to find   
The links of kin with all our kind,
And know the beauty Nature folds   
Even in the simplest form she moulds.   
This is the sum of life--to feel   
Our handgrip on the hilted steel,   
To fight beside our mates, and prove
The best of comradeship and love.   
This is the sum of things--that we   
A lifetime live greatheartedly,   
See the whole best that life has meant,   
Do out our work, and go content.

First published in The Lone Hand, 1 August 1908;
and later in
The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse edited by Walter Murdoch, 1918; and
An Australasian Anthology: Australian and New Zealand Poems edited by Percival Serle, R.H. Croll and Frank Wilmot, 1927.

Author: Arthur Wilberforce Jose (1863-1934) was born in Bristol, England, and studied at Oxford University before arriving in Australia in 1882.  He taught at All Saints College in Bathurst for nine years before becoming Acting Professor of Modern Literature at Sydney University. Followiing a period of travel he returned to Australia and became a correspondent for the London "Times".  He served as a captain in the Royal Australian Navy during World War I.  He continued to write after the war and died in Brisbane in 1934.

Author reference site: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

Nemesis by Arthur H. Adams

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All things must fade. There is for cities tall
The same to-morrow as for daffodils:
Time's wind, that casts the seed, the petal spills.
Grim London's ruined arches yet shall fall
Back to the arms of Earth. A quiet pall
The mother draws o'er those she loves --- and kills;
And though brief nations vaunt their upstart wills,
The nemesis of grass shall cover all.

So -- from a caravan to Mecca bound
Getting no more than one incurious glance ---
Tremendous Babylon, thrice-girt with walls,
Sick of her thousand years of arrogance,
With a few tamarisks upon a mound
Her epitaph upon the desert scrawls.

First published in The Lone Hand, 1 December 1910;
and later in
The Collected Verses of Arthur H. Adams, 1913; and
An Australasian Anthology: Australian and New Zealand Poems edited by Percival Serle, R. H. Croll, and Frank Wilmot, 1927.

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

See also.

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