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Midnight Rain by Kathleen Dalziel

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In the midnight when infinity is wrapping 
   In a black shroud sea and shore, 
With the wet boughs at the wooden lintel tapping, 
   Like darkness knocking at the door, 
Then I listen to the loud-voiced hours, 
   To the steady beat of castanet and drum, 
Impervious, aloof, on the streaming iron roof, 
   On the roof, when the great rains come. 

A thousand rifts and runnels meeting, merging, 
   And all streams hurrying to the sea; 
And always through the smother and the surging, 
   The prisoned soul of something breaking free. 
Through the silvery assault of blunted arrows, 
   The music, the interminable refrain 
Of the pouring, pelting water, in the magic midnight wrought her, 
   In the interwoven rhythms of the rain. 

In the midnight in the ancient hour, 
   In the earth-reviving flood, 
There was ever an old kinship with the shower 
   That beat a living measure in my blood. 
And now another note is in the torrent, 
   Another voice among the many hurled 
On iron, slate or shingle, when the drumming waters mingle 
   In the oldest marching music in the world.

In the midnight, with never gold or amber 
   Nimbus of a night-light's spark, 
There's a part of me that leaves the quiet chamber, 
   And goes out, free-footed, in the dark. 
In the unleashed savagery, the unpent rapture, 
   I have washed me free from failure once again, 
I am futile, petty, tired, but the strength my soul desired 
   Is mine a little moment with the rain. 

And when at last the drugged mind stumbles 
   And sinks to the tranquillity of sleep, 
While down the night the singing torrent tumbles, 
   My slumber is most passionless and deep. 
I am carried like a leaf along the current 
   Of oblivion, past any grief or pain, 
Deep and passionless.... I wonder shall I sleep as soundly under 
   The wet leaves and grasses, some day, in the rain.

First published in The Bulletin, 28 September 1932

Author reference site: Austlit

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Moon of Gold by Myra Morris

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A moon of gold
   In mists of sky!
Across its face,
   Swans drifting by,
Far-fluting where the forest weaves
   An arabesque of inky leaves!
A plover's call!
   The lake's long sigh!
A moon of gold --
   And you and I!

A moon of gold,
   And ferns piled high!
From shadowy brake -
   A peeping cry!  
The night wind blowing near and near,
   Spilling soft sounds too small to hear!
And in the close
   Dark you and I,
Telling our dreams  
   Too grand to die!

When I am old
   (Yea, even I!)
I shall hark back,
   And in some sky
See once again that round gold moon --
   Hear echoing still the swans' wild tune...
But who was this
   That looked so high?
Who dreamed those dreams?  
   Oh, was it I?  

First published in The Australasian, 27 September 1924

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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Moonlit Night by Mabel Forrest

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God had a fancy to make a gem
   Out of the world to-night,
And He used the moon as an emery wheel
   To polish it smooth and bright.

One facet was the crest of a hill,
   Another a shining stream;
And the dust of the wheel He filtered down
   To fashion a lover's dream.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 June 1930

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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Nocturne by Kathleen Dalziel

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Smoke rising straightly in the green airs of even,
   The husky note of an early owl,
Swift, like a dark line drawn 'cross heaven,
   The homeward flight of the marshland fowl.

Some late wren in the tea-tree thicket
   Tinkles his thin, sweet notes of glass;
Somewhat sadly a lonely cricket
   Fiddles away in the fescue grass.

The table is set and the kettle's singing,
   Grey dusk gathers, and it's growing late.
Silent at last is the axe's ringing,
   And a step turns in by the homestead gate.

Someone's smile has the sunshine's lending,
   Eager the welcome in someone's eyes....
Ah, well for the toiler at the long day's ending
   In his own little corner of Paradise!

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 1 January 1929

Author reference site: Austlit

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Moonlight by C.J. Dennis

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I love you, dear, o' morn and moon.
   I love your ev'ry mood and guise;
But, neath the soft, enchanting moon,
   Such loveliness the gods must prize.
'Tis then I long to dare and fight
   The world for you, my queen o' night.

We wander in a jewelled bower;
   And, tho' I be your humble slave,
Within that brief, enchanted hour
  I know that I am strong and brave.
'Tis then red war I yearn to make
   And conquer worlds for your sweet sake.

And old romance in splendour comes
   From out the hills to linger nigh;
And in our cause the brave old gums
  Stand sentinel against the sky.
'Tis then I would outrival Mars
   For you -- the sovereign of the stars! 

First published in The Gadfly, 12 December 1906;
and later in 
Backblock Ballads and Other Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1913.

Hyde Park by Night by Dorothea Dowling

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'Tis surely here that Freedom comes to dream!
   The spacious grandeur of its lawns wide flung,
The slumb'rous beauty of its lights that gleam
(Like scattered mist-encircled moons they seem),
   And hallow'd shrine where Freedom's songs are sung.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 September 1935;
and later in
When I Am Free by Dorothea Dowling, 1940.

Author: Dorothea Helena Dowling was born in Sydney some time in the decade of the 1910s. She was a classic ballerina as well as a poet.

Author reference sites: Austlit

See also.

Night Song by P. Luftig (Peter Airey)

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In the heavens the earth is nestling,
   Softly bathed in starry light;
On the gleaming earth a garden
   Sleepeth sweet --- all flower-bedlight ---
            Dear earth --- Good-night!   

In the garden stands a cottage
   Girt with vine and glimmering white,
And a dark-winged bird is warbling
   'Neath the window soft "Good-night!"
            Dear cot --- Good-night!.   

In the chamber dreams a maiden,
   Dreams of flowers all fairy-bright;
Pure and peaceful beats her bosom ---
   Angels --- guard her through the night!
            Dear love --- Good-night!   

First published in The Queenslander, 13 April 1895;
and later in
The Bulletin, 14 December 1916.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

A Summer Midnight by Harry "Breaker" Morant

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Athwart the star-lit midnight sky
Luminous fleecy clouds drift by,
As the mysterious, pallid moon
Sinks in the waveless still lagoon.
Now that the queen of night is dead,
The starry commonwealth o'erhead
(Softer and fairer than gaudy day)
Sheds lustrous light from the Milky Way;
While the Dog-star gleams, and the Sisters Seven,
Float tremulously in the misty heaven.
Faintly, afar the horse-bells ring;
Myriads of wakened crickets sing;
And the spirit voices of the night
Sing snatches of fairy music bright,
Old-world melodies - lang syne sung -
Recalling days when the heart was young,
Whose wonderful cadences fall and rise,
As the wind in the casuarina sighs;
And the world seems 'gulfed, this summer night,
In a flood of delicious, dreamy light.

First published in The Bulletin, 26 December 1891 and again in the same magazine on 30 July 1930;
and later in
The Poetry of "Breaker" Morant: from The Bulletin 1891-903 with original illustrations by Breaker Morant

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Bush Night by Furnley Maurice

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On either hand
The gums like bowed monks stand;
The night's deep blue
Shines like a staunch faith through.

When over this shaken blue
   Comes the moon's encrusted light,
Whatever I want to do
   Seems right.

First published in The Bulletin, 16 October 1929;
and later in
The Gully and Other Verses by Furnley Maurice, and
My Country: Australian Poetry and Short Stories, Two Hundred Years edited by Leonie Kramer, 1985.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Moonlight by Alice Ham

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"Oh! Luna, you whose pallid face
   Bends from the walls of Heaven serenely blue;
What sorrows have you witnessed as our race
   Has lifted claspèd hands or tear-wet eyes to you?"

"Hush! I have answer sweeter than your quest:--  
   I am a thought of God; in ancient night
My fires burned ont, for such was Love's behest.
   Life died in me that you might have my light!"

First published in The Queenslander, 11 October 1890

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

Eulone by Helen E. Eades

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The winds that here so faintly sigh,
   A soft and gentle breeze,
Are wailing where we need to be,
   Through grand old forest trees.
With a weary, weary sobbing,
   Like a restless spirit's moan;
Oh, the sweetness and the sadness
   Of the music at Eulone!

The same sweet moon is shining
   O'er the river banks to-night,
Changing the deep still waters
   To a sheet of gleaming light;
Turning darkness into blackness,
   'Neath the river gums that grew
Where they used to camp the cattle,
   Round the bend at Woomaroo.

Now the camp fires never blazes,
   Where the drover slept so sound,
With nothing for his pillow,
   But his saddle on the ground;
But now, through all the silent night,
   And through the long warm day,
No sound is heard but the waters
   Falling, falling, far away.

Only the distant waterfall
   Makes music all day long,
Singing to the forest trees,
   Its sweet melodious song;
The wild ducks there are seen at noon
   The rushes green among;
No footstep nears the broad lagoon,
   No sportsman with his gun.

And only through the night time,
   The morepoke's voice is heard,
And coming though the darkness,
   The cry of startled bird;
Only the song of the waters,
   And winds that wail and moan,
And whisper though the native oaks,
   All round silent Eulone.
Perhaps the winds that whisper,
   And sighs the boughs among,
Could tell a tale of other times,
   Of hearts so glad and young;
Of merry festive parties
   That will never meet again,
of boating on the river,
   And of riding on the plain.

And then at eve returning,
   Coming home to warmth and light,
Or watching sweetest twilight
   Deepen into darkest night;
And of plucking fairest flowers,
   Giving them in play and jest.
Did we offer none in earnest?
   Ah, the giver knoweth best!

And lingering in the moonlight,
   Learning language of the flowers,
Half jest, and half in earnest,
   Passed the pleasant evening hours:
All through the long hot summer time,
   And winter's rain and wind,
We thought not that the life we led
   Must soon be left behind.

The grey owl sits where roses bloomed,
   And hung around the door,
And wild dogs howl along the banks
   Where lovers walked of yore;
The whitewashed walls where swallows build
   With vines are overgrown,
And night birds cry where voices rang,
   All round thee, dear Eulone.

First published in The Australian Town & Country Journal, 14 June 1884.

nothing is known about the author of this poem.

Author reference site:

A Song for the Night by Daniel Henry Deniehy

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O the Night, the Night, the solemn Night,
   When Earth is bound with her silent zone,
And the spangled sky seems a temple wide,
   Where the star-tribes kneel at the Godhead's throne;
O the Night, the Night, the wizard Night,
   When the garish reign of day is o'er,
And the myriad barques of the dream-elves come
   In a brightsome fleet from Slumber's shore!
      O the Night for me,
      When blithe and free,
Go the zephyr-hounds on their airy chase;
      When the moon is high
      In the dewy sky,
And the air is sweet as a bride's embrace!

O the Night, the Night, the charming Night!
   From the fountain side in the myrtle shade,
All softly creep on the slumbrous air
   The waking notes of the serenade;
While bright eyes shine 'mid the lattice-vines,
   And white arms droop o'er the sculptured sills,
And accents fall to the knights below,
   Like the babblings soft of mountain rills.
      Love in their eyes,
      Love in their sighs,
Love in the heave of each lily-bright bosom;
      In words so clear,
      Lest the listening ear
And the waiting heart may lose them.

O the silent Night, when the student dreams
   Of kneeling crowds round a sage's tomb;
And the mother's eyes o'er the cradle rain
   Tears for her baby's fading bloom;
O the peaceful Night, when stilled and o'er
   Is the charger's tramp on the battle plain,
And the bugle's sound and the sabre's flash,
   While the moon looks sad over heaps of slain;
      And tears bespeak
      On the iron cheek
Of the sentinel lonely pacing,
      Thoughts which roll
      Through his fearless soul,
Day's sterner mood replacing.

O the sacred Night, when memory comes
   With an aspect mild and sweet to me,
But her tones are sad as a ballad air
   In childhood heard on a nurse's knee;
And round her throng fair forms long fled,
   With brows of snow and hair of gold,
And eyes with the light of summer skies,
   And lips that speak of the days of old.
      Wide is your flight,
      O spirits of Night,
By strath, and stream, and grove,
      But most in the gloom
      Of the Poet's room
Ye choose, fair ones, to rove.

First published in The Bulletin, 18 May 1895;
and later in
An Anthology of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1907; and
A Treasury of Colonial Poetry, 1982.

Author: Daniel Henry Deniehy (1828-1865) was born in Sydney, the son of parents who had both been transported convicts.  He studied law and was admitted as a solicitor in 1851.  He published his first literary work, a novelette, in 1845 and his love of literature and poetry continued to grow.  As did his interest in politics, which resulted in being elected to the NSW Parliament in 1857.  His parliamentary career was only short, ending in 1860, and Deniehy and his family moved to Melbourne in 1862 where he edited the Victorian.  After the failure of the paper in April 1864 he returned to Sydney but soon moved to Bathurst in an attempt to resurrect his legal practice. Deniehy died in Bathurst in 1865 after a fall in the street resulted in a major head injury. 

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

Mountain Moonlight by S. Elliott Napier

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The weary sun stoops westward to a bed
Made glorious for his coming; and the clouds,
All flush'd with pride, close-curtain him around.
There comes a sigh, as from a giant's breast--
A whispered parting to the dying day--
And all the world is waiting breathlessly.
High up above the sudden tree-clad gorge,
Half-hidden, now, beneath a veil of haze,
I watch the shadow of the coming Night
Sweep o'er the crowded maze of mountain tops,
Which crouch beneath it like a cluster'd brood
Stiffen'd in terror of a passing hawk.
The darkness deepens, and a few first stars
Who boldly note the absence of their lord
Shine out the message to a mighty host
Who follow shyly, till the whole vast vault
Is litter'd with their bright battalions.
And now the moon, holding her gleaming lamp,
Climbs up the azure steeps and puts to rout
The nearer and the lesser lights, who hide
Before the searching splendour of her beams.
O, witchery and wonder of the Night!
O, majesty and magic of the Moon,
The trees put on a livery of gold,
The silent hills are eloquent with light
And all the Earth is robed with grammarye.
This is the faery hour; and this the place
Where all the webs of mystery are spun,
Where Romance walks abroad and dreams come true.
I hear the horns of Oberon, and watch
The coming of Titania and her train;
Bacchantes, purple-mouth'd, with loose-flung hair,
Chase old Silenus and his panting crew,
While Goat-Foot passes, piping to his fauns.
Swift Paculet and Puck go leering by,
And Proserpine -- her lilies all restored--
Takes hand with Perdlta; and there I see
The Little People dancing in the fern.
All these and all their radiant kin are here
And walk with me to-night beneath the moon;
And as the perfum'd hours wend on their way
Their soft, mysterious, myriad voices blend
In sighs not sad, in laughter link'd with tears,
In whisper'd shy confessions, and in song.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 April 1926

Author: Sydney Elliott Napier (1870-1940) was born in Sydney, New South Wales, and was educated at Sydney University where he trained as a solicitor.  He served with the AIF during World War I and began work as a freelance journalist on his return to Australia. He died in Chatswood, New South Wales, in 1940.

Author reference sites: Austlit

See also.

A Song of Nights by David McKee Wright

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The summer evening rudely fell,
A red sun crying "All is well"
To fifty breezes worn and spent
That limped across a continent,
And lurching past the leaf and weed
Bore far the soaring thistle seed
On easy and adventurous flight
Up the brown avenues of night.
A moon bewitched had sailed on high
To thinly light the smoky sky.
Her crescent boat upon the flood
Of darkness was as red as blood,
Where, haloed in a fiery glow,
She gossiped to the trees of woe.

In at my open window flew
The ghosts of nights that once I knew,
Cold goblin wraiths of ancient looks
Escaped from brown forgotten books
With pallid cheek and rigid stare
And cold blood matted in their hair.

I saw the night Macbeth had slain
Stalk in with eyes of haggard pain,
The night of Richard's last distress
Wild with a nightmare loneliness,
The night that heard the awful cry
Of Illion's woman-agony,
And that black night so slow to pass
When, wearied, round Leonidas,
Staggering and proud and drunk with death,
Tall Spartans drew a dreadful breath
And watched the fatal eastern sky
For light to lift their shields and die.

I saw the nights that came and went
O'er ragged hosts with battle spent,
The slaughtered chief, the broken city
That left the ages choked with pity,
While war across the maddened years
Washed out with blood the trace of tears.

I saw the night, moon-white and still,
The hoary olives on the hill,
The city wall, the guarded tower,
Where, helmeted with brazen power,
Great Rome stood watch and watch to keep
The city, restless in its sleep.
Sleep ill, sleep well, it came to me
On the long sigh, "Gethsemane" --
A garden by a kiss betrayed
In the sweet disk its leaves had made.

I saw the night when stark and still
A king lay dead on Senlac hill,
The beaconed night when fear walked free
To tell of Spain upon the sea,
The night when shrieking winds and loud
Tore London's grey, hag-ridden cloud
And broken tile and tortured vane
Looked on a morning wild with pain,
While, in a street below, one cried
That in the tempest Cromwell died.
I saw the night when quiet came
After long noise and battle-flame,
And, awed with victory, strong men knew
The dread and hope called Waterloo.
I saw the night when suden hate
Burst headlong through the Belgian gate,
And, with a catching of the breath,
The startled lands looked stark on death.

All these in long procession came,
And bat-winged nights that bore no name,
Nights cowled with plague or naked-cold
With the sea's sorrows manifold.
But as my blood grew thick with doom
A music trembled in my room;
The air was like the breath of spring
In happy ways of leaf and wing;
And through it, ere my heart could beat,
Stept a blue night on silver feet.

"What happy bride is this," I said,
"That walks behind the nights long dead,
The nights that all my brown books show,
The nights of weariness and woe,
The nights of blood, the nights of tears,
The nights of all the withered years?"
A little wind with whispers shrill
Came stealing softly up the hill.
It stirred the fern, it brushed the tree
And then it wisely answered me:
"It is the night of wait-and-see."

And I am waiting quietly,
While the low wind sings in the tree.
Whatever days or change may bring,
Whatever dirge the darkness sing,
whatever chance, whatever fall,
The night that comes is worth it all!

First published in The Bulletin, 2 February 1922

Author: David McKee Wright (1869-1928) was born in Ballynaskeagh, County Down, Ireland, and migrated to New Zealand in 1887.  He studied for the ministry but this career foundered due to his pro-Boer sentiments and his later bankruptcy.  He worked on various New Zealand newspapers before migration to Sydney in 1910.  He edited the Bulletin's Red Page from 1916 to 1926 and was a prolific contributor to that magazine, publishing some 1600 poems there between 1906 and 1927 under a variety of pen-names.  He lived with the poet Zora Cross from 1918 until his sudden death in 1928.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

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