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The 'Cello by Mabel Forrest

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Long waves of grey regret on beaches lost, 
   Or glimmering thro' the fabric of a dream
An empty boat upon a pale sea to'st,
   Or, seen thro' driving mist, a lighthouse gleam: 
Sand winds in pines, a pathway on a hill 
Rain swept and desolate, and haunted still,
   A forest without end of dark boled trees;
   A fern brake, full of crouching mysteries.  

Straight lines of chairs a large, slow-moving fan; 
A row of footlights, and a small stout man 
   Drawing the echoes of old tragedies  
   From the brown 'cello gripped between his knees.

First published in The Australasian, 4 November 1916

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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Fairy Music by Myra Morris

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I passed beside the haunted hill
   When all the mushroom caps were white.
I heard a music on the air -
   It filled each crevice of the night!

It filled each crevice of the night,
   And played the wandering wind upon;
More sweet that singing Israfel.
   It called to me and then was gone.

It called to me, and then was gone!
   I waited by the brown reeds, stark.
There only was the dying moon --
   And the wind blowing in the dark --

And the wind blowing in the dark,
   And tears upon my lids like rain.
God help me! I can joy no more
   Until I hear those sounds again!

First published in The Australasian, 21 October 1922

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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Moonlight Sonata by Mabel Forrest

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As played by Mark Hambourg

Warm is this moonlight! Like a rippling flood 
It softens all the landscape; the high towers 
Are bathed in its effulgence. Here and there 
It smites a deeper blueness to a pool,
Or makes the gross still brighter in its rays, 
Like fine green rain from some pale Indian moon
Seen on the ocean, ere the sun has set.

It spreads across the world; it lips the rim 
Of Heaven, until music melts with stars
And meets and mingles with the angel choirs 
And in a vision, Beethoven is there
Beside a painted window, waiting Her 
Who was his inspiration and his love!

Oh! there was never one moon fair as this!   
It is the essence of a thousand moons, 
That saw proud Cleopatra on the Nile, 
Or Juliet leaning from a balcony.
Its light has drenched the tombs of Egypt's Kings,
Its light has kissed the lips of Pharaoh's Queens,
And turned to gold the shackles of a slave
Till she could almost dream herself a Queen,
Bound only with the chains that passion made. 

Upon a lonely plain where Sargon rode,
Such moons have helped him to a high emprise; 
Shone on the Alps and spurred swart Hannibal 
Who with his fighting elephants has passed, 
Each swaying trunk outlined n silver wire,
Each tusk tipped with the gildings of the moon. 
It has made lovelier the Taj Mahal,
Or danced with pixy wings among the leaves 
Of over-hanging jungles. On bare heights
Where the Pan-Buddhists note the flights of birds,
Such moonshine must have brought them close to God.
By hoary castles on the storied Rhine 
It has spilled silver coins for Lorelei,
And combed their hair with fingers made of light.

There is so much of kindness in its flow 
So much of healing, tenderness, and rest, 
That I can scarce believe its fount is here 
In mortal hands upon mere ivory keys!

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 June 1931 

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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The Disagreeable Musician by C.J. Dennis

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'E wouldn't play the flute; the sulky cow.
   An', after all the trouble that we took
To try an' cheer,'is spirits up some'ow,
   'E jes' sat there an' slung a glarsy look
To orl the crowd.  The diserbligin' coot!
'E wouldn't play the flute.

After we'd done our gilt in on the spread --
   Fish from the Dago joint, an' bottled beer,
An' froot, an' 'am, an' saverloys an' bread --
   'E wouldn't eat.  Jes' shook 'is silly 'ead.
An' though we begged 'im for some choonful toot,
'E wouldn't play the flute.

I puts it to yeh: Wuz we actin' fair?
   Wot more could neighbors do to cheer a bloke?
We knoo they 'e 'ad troubles fer to bear,
   An' jes called in to 'ave a friendly joke.
An', though we tempted 'im with 'am an' froot,
'E wouldn't play the flute.

There wuz Flash Liz, an' me, an' Ginger Mick.
   An' Mother Gumphy frum the corner store.
An' Bill the Rabbit-o, an' Dirty Dick,
   An' Nan the Nark, an' 'arf a dozzing more.
But strike!  It seemed the comp'ny didn't soot!
'E wouldn't play the flute.

I want yer dead straight griffen.  Wuz we right?
   Wuz it unneighborly to look 'im up
An' 'ave a little beano on the quite?....
   Fer Grief an' 'im wuz cobbers on that night.
But there 'e sat, like 's if 'e'd taken root,
An' wouldn't play the flute.

We sung a song er two to give 'im 'eart,
   'An' jes' to show yeh wot a nark 'e wuz,
'E wouldn't sing. 'E wouldn't take no part.
   'E wouldn't eat no matter wot we does.
'E wouldn't drink, 'e wouldn't touch the froot.
Or play 'is flamin' flute.

A blimed wet blankit at our little feast.
   Thet's wot 'e wuz.  'E jes sat there an' stared
Straight out afore 'im. Wouldn't take the least
   Account o' wot we did. 'E'd never cared
If we wuz rooned wif buyin' fish an' froot.
'E wouldn't play the flute.

Aw, it wuz crook!  I swear I never seen
   So mean a coot.  An' 'e could play a treat --
Play like a blinded angel, for 'e'd been
   A star pufformer -- played afore the Queen!
An', though 'e knoo we knoo of 'is repute,
'E wouldn't play the flute.

We knoo 'e'd been a bonzer in 'is day
   Afore 'e struck the slum in Scrooge's Lane.
I've orfen 'eard it said 'e useter play
   In some swell orchestrer fer fancy pay.
An' there 'e sat, in 'is ole shabby soot,
An' wouldn't play the flute.

We knoo 'e'd struck tough luck an' drifted down --
   'Im an' 'is missis -- till they come to live
On 'arf o' nothink in our part o' town.
   It weren't no fault of ours that they wuz driv
Frum bad to worse, till they wuz destichoot.
'E wouldn't play the flute.

'E wouldn't play.  Jes shook 'is silly 'ead.
   We done our best to cheer 'im, fer we knoo
'Is wife wuz lyin' in the nex' room, dead.
   Died 'cause of sooicide, the neighbors said.
But, spite of all we done, the selfish brute,
'E wouldn't play the flute.

First published in The Bulletin, 7 January 1915

The Birth of Music by Emily Coungeau

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Once, in the dawning of the splendid years,
When Fauns and Satyrs haunted woods at night,
Where deep arboreal vistas arched away
To spangled glades, and nymphs would, on tiptoe,
Dance graceful rhythms beneath the moon's soft glow,
Invisible, unheard by mortal ears,
A Spirit hid... As leaves absorb the light,
And never really die. . . It dormant lay.

He whispered to the trees with lips of fire,
Lord of the blue, domed hall .. the poet Wind
Faint, fingered, trembling, he would softly pour
Adoring passion in a minor key.
Till, like a bud that flowers impetuously,
Responsive to the breath of warm desire...
The sleeping Soul of Music woke, to find
Its magic spell would live for evermore.

And Thraeian Orpheus made the Spirit sing,
Charming the serpents wound about his feet;
And fair, frail Sappho in her Lesbian shrine,
Reeking eternal yonth at Music's fount...
Framing her lyrics on that Leucan mount...
Touched chords that down time's corridor still ring,
Though faint the echoes and the incense sweet,
She was the Muse who fanned the flame divine.

Music, the bay-crowned, of the golden tongue,
Falling in soft, celestial dews around,
A new inheritance, yet old as Time ...
The Chrysalis, whence comes seraphic wings,
To bear the spirit's sweet imaginings,
Past the supernal maze where stars are hung,
To bathe in waves of multi-coloured sound,
And melt with beauty into the Sublime.

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 14 July 1923

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

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