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The Poet by Myra Morris

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This do I say:
   I am a reed of Pan
Blown out of a blue day!
   Muted within the walls of man,
Where green gods throng,
   I play
My song!

The sun, the moon
   Find marvellous voice in me.
I pipe the lost wind's tune.
   My hollow stem doth hold a bee,
In me runs rife
   The rune
Of life!

A reed of Pan!
   A slender, shaken thing,
Made for so short a span!
   Yet the wild music that I sing
Shall linger on
   When man
Is gone!

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 8 November 1927

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Lost Song by Zora Cross

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I made a thousand little songs
Of laughing harps and fairy gongs,
That rhymed and chimed melodiously
Of earth and air and sea.

O steadily and true I sang,
The airy bells of verse I rang
Till finer singers read my lays
And gave them tears of praise.

But still my heart is sick with fears,
As high above the singing tears,
I hear the song I cannot sing
Flood my imagining.

For no where in the earth or sea,
Nor in the light and life I share,
Is semblance of that melody
That breathes its soul to me.

And yet in every leaf that swings,
through all the grass the lyric sings,
On every wind's ethereal lyre
It thrills in tones of fire.

Some night when all the air is still,
And not a stir on stream and hill
Will it come crying infant-weak
That song of God I seek?

First published in The Lone Hand, 16 June 1919

The House of Poesy by Zora Cross

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I'd like to dwell with Poesy
   In a small house alone,
Where everything should always be
   Still as a mossy stone.

I'd like a little garden near
   Where I should walk myself
And never even softly hear
   A singing flower-elf.

The young Spring might come visiting
   On noiseless, dewy feet,
And at my gate the morning sing
   Her carol cool and sweet.

Hushed whispers of the blue-robed night
   Perhaps I'd gladly share,
While through her starry valleys white
   The moon moved wise and fair.

But no one else should come at all
   Within my singing gate,
Lest such disturb a leaf's brown fall,
   A flower about to mate.

So could I dwell with Poesy,
   Be glad for evermore --
That's if the gods were kind to me,
   And made Love lie next door.

First published in The Bulletin, 8 May 1924

Words by Zora Cross

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Peace with a book beneath this green-glad tree;
   And in the flowery gully at my feet
Deaf stones too dumb for summer's melody
  And the long wind's compassionate, slow beat.

Rest with a book -- your book all fire and dew,
   Wrought of the brown old earths eternal youth;
Light, song, and star-dream -- all the soul of you,
   Guarding herein the treasury of Truth.

Sleep with a book. A dead leaf falls on me,
   So Nature yields her labor to the times.
But till the quiet of eternity
   Love's happy lips shall kiss to your green rhymes.

First published in The Bulletin, 8 April 1920

Three Songs by Myra Morris

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Oh, I would sing,
Oh, I would sing
Of the hot sands in the sun,
The little white waves that one by one
Up to the ti-tree swing,
Of the coarse sea-grass
And the clouds that pass
O'er the dunes on shadowy feet,
And the wind's cry,
And a lad's cry,
And the gulls with their little red feet!


My song shall be of apple-boughs
That still as moon-light stay,
Red-fruited 'gainst a Summer sky
In brilliant applique.
With arms as brown as nuts I lie
Below that filmy blue
And feel the sun 'mid crisp young leaves
Come greenly filtering through.
Once, long ago, old apple-boughs
Patched burning skies for me --
Oh, far away that Summer day
When in the orchard-deeps I lay
In fairy Brittany!


Oh, I would sing a splendid song
Of my love, but I have no words!
I have left my lyre, where its strings belong,
With the fresh, sweet earth, and the sky above,
And the shy little bushland birds.
I would sing a song of my first white love;
But I have no words!

First published in The Bulletin, 19 March 1925

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Medium by Zora Cross

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Who has not felt between the dreams of night
   How larger vices mingle with our own,
   And in full major to our minor tone
Roll out sonorous melodies of Light?

With thunderous surge of wild desires and fierce
   They burn the banners of my brain to air.
   O God! that one hot thought my soul might pierce
To ease the terror of a world's despair!

I grip my hands with force unconquered yet
   By the slow tides of Times I cannot stay.
   My pen bites, scorching, in its young wild way,
But the old tears upon my eyes are wet.

O futile hand! O silent, breathless flute!
   How the great songs throb anguish on my ears,
   Hurling their harmonies down all the years
When I, poor fool, of every sound am mute!

Be still! be still, immortal souls of song,
   Rending my heart with agonies your own!
   Shut out your music. Leave me cold and lone,
Or use my life to lift your dreams along.

Oh, if you need a pen, here is my soul,
   Here is my body's blood for ink of fire.
   Write, write with me your paeans of Desire,
Or break this flute and loosen your control.

First published in The Bulletin, 13 March 1919

The Scribe's Lament by C.J. Dennis

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I slave long hours in solitude,
   And scribble in my inky den;
From fat M.P. to actor-dude,
   I've made folk famous by my pen.
Pork butchers I've immortalized,
   Praised drapers for posterity,
Discovered virtues, faults disguised,
   But -- no one ever writes of me.

I've puffed important nobodies,
   I've flattered flats in anecdote;
With puff par. and biographies
   I've buttered folks of little note;
I've interviewed fat aldermen,
   And covered pugs with flattery,
Made reputation with my pen;
   But -- no one ever writes of me.


Yet when I view the quaint array
   I've marshalled for the world to see,
I am not filled with blank dismay
   That no one ever writes of me. 

First published in The Gadfly, 26 September 1906

To a Dead Mate by C.J. Dennis

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Henry Lawson died in Sydney on Saturday.

There's many a man who rides today
   In the lonely, far out-back;
There's many a man who makes his way
   On a dusty bushland track;
There's many a man in bush and town
   Who mourns for a good mate gone;
There are eyes grown sad and heads cast down
   Since Henry has passed on.

A mate he was, and a mate to love,
   For mateship was his creed:
With a strong, true heart and a soul above
   This sad world's sordid greed.
He lived as a mate, and wrote as a mate
   Of the things which he believed.
Now many a good man mourns his fate,
   And he leaves a nation grieved.

True champion he of the lame and halt:
   True knight of the poor was he,
Who could e'er excuse a brother's fault
   With a ready sympathy.
He suffered much, and much he toiled,
   With his hand e'er for the right:
And he dreamed and planned while the billy boiled
   In the bushland camp at night.

Joe Wilson and his mates are sad,
   And the tears of bushwives fall,
For the kindly heart that Henry had
   Had made him loved of all.
There's many a man who rides today,
   Cast down and sore oppressed;
And thro' the land I hear them say:
   "Pass, Henry, to your rest."

First published in The Herald, 5 September 1922;
and later in
Random Verse edited by Margaret Herron, 1952; and
More Than a Sentimental Bloke: A Performance, 1990.

Song Without Rhymes by C.J. Dennis

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Lines written after listening on the wireless to the doleful dirge of a sad and inconsolable crooner.

I'd like to write a crooning song
   Of inconsolable regrets
To music of the sweet tom-tom
   With dulcet motor-horn effects.
But when I strive to weave the rhymes
   Harsh dissonances fill the room,
And unmatched mouthings end the lines.
   I wish that I knew how to croon.
I try, but inspiration stops,
And dull frustration thins my locks.

Oh, I want to write a crooning song,
   A blooming song
   Of love.
About a heart by passion torn
While evil stars rage in a storm
(Gosh! That's a rhyme! I'm getting on.
I wonder where I got it from?
   If I could but go on like that
   I'd moon until my tonsils crack.)

I want to serenade my sweet
   In drear and doleful terms
And tell her how my life is bleak,
   How all my being burns
With unrequited love. I roam
   The sad earth, all undone;
But when I raise my metric moan
   The rhymes will never come.
With wilful warring words I strive
Until my tortured brain cells writhe.

Oh, I want to write a moving song
   A soothing song,
   Tho' sad.
If only I could get it right
I even might grow lover-like
   And glad.
(A rhyme again! Yes, that's another!
I could be a luckless lover;
   But, alas, my song must flag
   Because I've no more rhymes in stock.)

First published in The Herald, 11 May 1937

The Mystic by C.J. Dennis

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An "Ode to the Moon" did he indite
   With his two-and-half soul-power.
('Twas the child of a starlit summer night,
   Begot by a gloomy hour.)

And he vowed it was a work immense,
   And he quoted it a lot,
And be published it at his own expense;
   But the cold, hard world said - "Rot!"

And he wrote him ringing verse of horse,
   And the stockman, and his pipe,
And the brooding bushland; but, of course,
   The world just murmured - "Tripe!"

So he sat him down for another fling,
   And his time-exposure mind
Evolved a topical sort of thing,
   Of a gay and hum'rous kind.

And he looked to see the world go wild,
   And laugh until it cried;
But the verse was poor and the humor mild,
   And - "Bosh!" the tired world sighed.

Then he oiled his weird, ball-bearing mind,
   In a dull, despairing mood,
And he wrote a thing of a cryptic kind,
   Which nobody understood.

'Twas an ode to the "Umph" and the "Thingmebob,"
   With a lilt and a right good ring,
And hints of a smirk, a snarl, a sob,
   And a murky murmuring.

Nay, nobody understood a word,
   Nor strove to understand;
But few dared say it was absurd,
   So most agreed 'twas "Grand!"

Then be let his hair grow lank and long,
   And an air intense he got,
And ever he strove to nurse in song
   The cult of the "Dunnowhat."

And now he never writes in vain,
   But a famous man is he,
With a ten soul-power and a chuck-lathe brain,
   And an air of mysterie.

So, of his lot take heed; I wot
   If you aspire to fame,
Don't waste a tune on horse or moon,
   But rave of Whatsitsname;
                       It's tame,
   But still it's Whatsitsname.

First published in The Bulletin, 9 April 1908

The Therapoet by C.J. Dennis

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Someone has suggested that, if window boxes are encouraged in Collins-street, doctors may become poets.

Hail, smiling morn!  The passing tram-car's bell
   Sounds to mine ear like love songs sweetly sung.
The sunlit pavement glows, and all is well --
   Put out your tongue.

Without my window salpiglossis blooms,
   Nasturium nods to laughing columbine.
Sweet odors waft thro' my consulting rooms --
   Say ninety-nine.

Tra-la, tra-la!  Let's troll a merry lay!
   See how my maiden-hair bends to the breeze!
Who could be sad on such a golden day?
   One guinea, please.

First published in The Sun-News Pictorial, 6 April 1927

A Guide for Poits by C.J. Dennis

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I ain't no verse-'og.  When I busts in song
   An' fills the air wiv choonful melerdy,
I likes fer uvver coves to come along
   An' biff the lyre in company wiv me.

So, when I sees some peb beguile an hour
   Be joinin' in the chorus o' me song,
I never sees no use in turnin' sour;
   Fer singin' days wiv no one larsts too long. 

I'd like to see the Rocks an' Little Lon
   Grow centres for the art uv weavin' rhyme,
Wiv dinky 'arps fer blokes to plunk upon,
   An' spruiking poits workin' overtime.

I'd love to listen to each choonful lay
   Uv soulful coots who scorn to write fer gain;
To see True Art bloom down in Chowder Bay,
   An' Culcher jump the joint in Spadger's Lane.

Gawstruth!  Fer us life's got no joy to spare,
   We're short uv bird songs, "soarin' clean an' pure."
A bloke is 'ardly orf the bottle there
   Before 'e's in the jug -- a bird fer sure.

So 'oo am I to say no blokes shall sing
   Jist 'ow an' where an' when sich blokes may choose?
She's got no lines to show, nor yet no ring.
   Lor' blim'me!  I ain't <i>married</i> to me Muse!

An, square an' all, to show there's no offence,
   To show that in me 'eart true friendship lies,
I gives free gratis, an wivout ixpense,
   A few igzamples, just to put 'em wise.

First, choose some swingin' metre, sich as this,
   That Omar used -- per Fitz -- to boost the wine.
An' 'ere's a point true artists shouldn't miss:
   Sling in a bit o' slang to ev'ry line.

An' when yer full o' them alternate rhymes --
As all the true push poits is at times --
Jist ring the changes, as I'm doin' now;
An' find ixcuse to say: "The bloomin' cow!"

Or, comin' back to Omar's style again,
It's easy fer to pen a sweet refrain
   Wiv this 'ere kist a dead-'ead sort o' line,
An' this one rhymin' wiv the former twain.

An' though this style me soul 'as often vext,
   Wiv care an' pains the knack is easy cort;
This line's rhymed wiv the first, an' then the next
   Is cut orf short.
An' if yeh want to round it orf orl neat
Just add a couplet 'ere of equil feet.

An' 'ere's a style I've very often done:
   You swing orf 'ere, an' find a second rhyme,
Then hitch the third line to the leadin' one.
   An' make the fourth lap wiv the second chime,
   An' then you sort o' come another time,
An' jist end up the same as you begin.

It's orl dead easy when yeh know the way,
An' 'ave the time to practise it. -- But, say,
   Although it sort o' takes the eye, no doubt
(An', mind yeh, I'm not sayin' but it may) --
   Wivout a stock uv rhymes to see you out
This style o' rhymin's like to turn yeh grey.

The triplets comes much 'arder than the twins;
But I 'ave 'ad to bear 'em fer me sins.
   'Ere, fer a single line, yeh change the style,
Switch orf an' rhyme the same as you begins;
   An' then yeh comes back at it wiv a smile,
   Pertendin' it's dead easy orl the while.

Them sawed-orf lines 'as often stood me friends;
Fer you kin cut 'em up to serve yer ends.
   An' frequent I 'ave slung the dotin' throng
            This sort o' song.
To ring su'prises on the eye an' ear
Is 'arf the game.  It seems to kind o' queer
   The dull monotony.  Yeh make a miss,
            An' then do this.

Aw, 'Struth! it's pretty; but you take my tip,
It gives a bloke the everlastin' pip
  'Oo tries to live upon the game and gets. . . . 
   Corns on 'is brain an' melancholy debts!

Wiv sweat an' tears, wiv misery an' sighs,
   Yeh wring yer soul-case fer one drop of bliss
To give the cold, 'ard world; an' it replies,
   "Prompt payment will erblige.  Please settle this."

The rarest treasures of yer 'eart yeh spend
On callous, thankless coots; an' in the end
It comes to this: if you can't find a muse
'Oo takes in washin', wot's the flamin' use?

First published in The Bulletin, 18 March 1915;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Other Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1918;
Selected Works of C.J. Dennis, 1988; and
Favorite Poems of C.J. Dennis, 1989.

Burns by Charles Harpur

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My own wild Burns! these rude-wrought Rhymes of thine
In golden worth are like the unshapely coin
Of some new Realm, yet pure as from the mine; 
And art may well be spared with such alloy 
As dims the bullion to improve the die.

I love the truths of Art, but more indeed
The simplest truths of Nature; -- and I read, 
To find her visibly enthroned on all
His Muse hath builded like a fiery wall
Round national Faith, and patriotic Pride,
And Love and Valor, both at Beauty's side.
Yea, more his outward rudeness doth impress 
Upon me still, his innate strengthiness: 
Even as imperfect features oft enhance
The intrinsic power of some fine Countenance. 

How various too, the spirit of his Lyre -- 
How many-hued his soul's poetic fire!
Oft in one Song such quantities we find
Mingled, as most are several in their kind;
Humour, and Scorn, and Pathos, with a reach 
Above all effort -- each exalting each!
Yea, Terror wedding its own sense of evil, 
To mother Pity -- even for the Devil.

But best he moves to tears, or wakes such sighs 
As fan the vital fire in Beauty's lustrous eyes!
Hark! where the " winding Nith" -- the Axton -- Clyde -- 
Rave downward, or in gleaming quiet glide, 
How Passion's very soul keeps burning by 
In his wild Verse, from every dingle nigh!
Or by the "Connie Doon," or "gurgling Air,"
What heart-sweet memories, like perfumes, there 
Re-breathe of bloomy Joys untimely shed,
And Love that followed the beloved Dead
To Heaven! -- and then, while Pity weepeth, O, 
Who would exchange the luxury of her woe,
For all the pleasures that the heartless know? 

Then, should we need relief, -- another page 
Shall blow the trumpet of his warlike rage! 
And vilest of the villain Herd is he,
Who to his battle-dirge can listener be, 
Nor feel that he could die for Liberty!
Or who, whilst volleys forth the charging lay, 
Re-voicing Bannockburne's all-glorious day, 
From his exalted Manhood then not spurns
Whate'er is traitorous -- with a shout for Burns! 

And now, in thought, I track with steps of fear 
The noble Peasant in his wild career.
The haven of his Youth is left, -- the sea
Of Life is loudening all around, -- and She,
Who 'mid its perilous breakers might have stood 
Twixt him and Evil, influencing for Good, --
His first sweet Love -- She is not! -- Heaven looks bright 
Still, and the Hills laugh round him for delight; 
But ah! beneath the Sun he finds no more 
The Eden where his Genius dwelt before! 
And does he wander by his native Air?
A spirit of gladness hath gone up, even there! 
The more he mixes with his Kind in mirth,
The more he feels the homelessness of Earth;
Till Life's lost charm seems beckoning him afar 
In the white beauty of each lovely star. 
She is not; -- only sweeter is the tone
Of his wild Lyre for the wild loss thus known.

But storying thus with love his native Streams 
Thus, by the charm of his poetic dreams,
Breathing suggestions that exalt and thrill 
Into the spirit of each warrior Hill -- 
Yea, beaming Scotia's universal face
With mental beauty and affectionate grace. 
Yet, did he die the victim of Excess?
Alas! even Poesie, by her mute distress,
Admits the blot -- nor could she save her Son! 
Her star-bright Rob, her love-anointed One! 

Whilst yet the Bard, by Fortune unsubdued, 
Had only, like a wild bird of the Wood,
Sung his own simple joys -- then happy, being good; --
Ere he had sounded the World's heart, and spurned 
The soulless tone its hollowness returned,-- 
His habitude how temperate then we find, 
From a self-pleasing tunefulness of mind. 

But afterwards, that such a Being, so 
Alive to joy and sensitive to woe;  
With all in sympathy of rich and rare 
Flushing his soul, as in the evening air
A western cloud grows gifted to the sense
With all the Sun's unspeakable affluence; --
Endowed by Genius as with wings of flame,  
To mount against the burning eye of Fame,
Yet "bounded in a nutshell" -- or but wooed 
By Fortune from his barren solitude,
Just to be stared at by her minions vain-- 
A sort of mental monster, newly ta'en!
That such a Being should resort at length 
To whatsoever might repair the strength 
Of ruined Joy, a moment; or inspire  
The heart of dying Hope, though with fallacious fire! 
Was, I believe, howe'er the truth appal, 
Almost inevitably natural.

Ah, Scotia! it behoved thee then, to guard 
The worldly welfare of thy Peasant Bard!
But no, thou wouldst not -- and thy gifted Son 
So placed, again the like career should run! 
Again be naked left to Fortune's slurs,
A hound-like Spirit in a Land of curs. 

But ah! if such may always be the fate 
Of Genius native to a low estate,
For Mercy's sake-nay, for the sake of Burns,
Whose spirit, methinks, tow'rds each poor Brother yearns. 
Away the mask of kindred let us fling,
At once, and brand it as an outcast thing; 
Above communion with the rude by Mind 
Exalted, and yet shunned by the refined.
Yea, let this warning in its face be hurled, 
As the collective verdict of the World:
   Enrich the Age with beauty if you will, 
   But you must do so at your peril still;
   The sole reward's a life-long lack of bread. 
   And lastly, a most desolate death-bed.
   And then, some century after, when the loss 
   And agony of Genius, on the cross
   Of Passion, shall have sunk into a tale
   Wherewith to spice the tavern-lounger's ale;
   Then shall your lowly Grave, long grass o'ergrown 
   Become a national Sentiment -- in Stone.
   Yes, then, a costly Monument shall grace
   And guard it in the Land -- a sacred Place.

O, must not Scorn have reeled with laughter -- yes, 
Even until shocked at her own bitterness, 
To see by Scotland such a work up piled 
In honor of its so neglected Child?
But there it stands -- a Type (at least to me) 
Of intellectual hypocrisy.
Sad Memory, beholding, from it turns,
And murmurs -- What! a Monument to Burns. 
No: 'tis a sordid scoff perpetual made; 
A final insult to his injured Shade.
The thankless Country that denied him bread,
Now gives this Stone -- for he is safely dead!

First published in The Weekly Register of Politics, Facts and General Literature, 13 December 1845;
and later in
The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 30 September 1846;
The Bushrangers, a Play in Five Acts, and Other Poems by Charles Harpur, 1853; and
The Poetical Works of Charles Harpur edited by Elizabeth Perkins, 1984.

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of BiographyAustralian Poetry Library

See also.

The Poet by Henry Halloran

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How little know the grov'lling mass,
   Immers'd in the pursuit of gain,
The heaven born visionings that pass,
   All glowing, through the poet's brain!

When Evening draws her twilight veil,
   When Cynthia, in her pensive car,
Uprises in the Past, to hail
   The Hesperian planet from afar;

When through the deep re-echoing vale
   The lonely bulbul thrills her note,
And, borne upon the evening gale,
   Angelic voices seem to float;--

'Tis then the poet loves to dwell
   Far from th' unhallow'd haunts of men:
How dear to him each shadowy dell--
   How dear each wild, terrific glen!

How dear the solitude of night
   To one whose thoughts are fix'd above--
How dear the visions of delight
   Thro' which his fancy loves to rove!

What tho' tho world has frown'd on him--  
   What tho' his early love was blighted
By penury's cold hand, and dim
   The torch his youthful fancy lighted?

What tho' the ceaseless flow of thought
   Has withered his once beauteous brow,
And sorrow to his cheek has brought
   A more than deadly paleness now?  

What though the sneer of sun-bask'd pride
   Has often stung his gentle breast?
And what tho' folly may deride,
   The heavenly flame it ne'er possess'd;--

And power neglect, and treach'ry wound,
   And Envy view with "jaundic'd eye"--
And Malice pour her poison round,
   And swell the tide of calumny?--    

Still, Genius! thy sacred home  
   'Midst mountain solitudes shall be;
There shall thy eagle spirit roam--
   There breathe thy deathless energy.

There shall thy deep mystenous tide
   Bear thoughts unknown to ancient lore,
And thy prophetic spirit glide
   Through realms unvisited before.    

Nor time nor space thy pow'r shall quell--
   Imagination's fields are thine--
Music resigns to thee her shell,
   And Thought its inexhausted mine!

First published in The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 8 October 1831

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

McNulty by W.T. Goodge

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What McNulty? Strike me purple! He was champion of the West,
Where the gentle art of cursing has achieved its very best.
You can talk about Maginnis and O'Hara and the rest --
   But they couldn't hold a candle to McNulty!

Now THE BULLETIN may have a hide as tough as e'er a mule's,
But it couldn't print his language 'cause it wouldn't have the tools;
It would use up all the brackets, "startlers", stars and metal-rules
   For to punctuate the language of McNulty!

When McNulty came up country he went out to Seven-wire
Where he got a job at hauling logs from hungry McIntyre
(Him as wouldn't work on Sunday if his homestead was a-fire!).
   He could drive a team of bullocks, could McNulty.

But McIntyre's old bullocks they were hungry as was he;
Like them lean and lanky cattle in the Bible yarn, may be.
Anyway, they wouldn't pull a log and 'twas a sight to see
   How they shivered at the language of McNulty?

"Why the (blank dashed parenthesis) and (starred ellipsis) hell
Don't you pull? You sons of (asterisks)!" and here his accents fell.
"Call yerselves a team of bullocks? Workin' bullocks, do yer? Well,
   You're a mob of (blanky) cows!" exclaimed McNulty.

At this gross and brutal insult every bullock gave a heave,
And they hauled that blessed log out just as Mac. had turned to leave.
"I'm a champion ox-persuader, with some notions up my sleeve,
   And I knows the power o' language!" said McNulty.

But M'Nulty went to Sydney, where he drove a parcels van,
And the suburbs got to know just like Coonabarabran.
Took a load of apples over to a North Shore grocer man:
   'Twas the only time that language failed M'Nulty!

You must know "the Shore,' how steep it is; you've climbed the hills, no doubt?
Well, M'Nulty led his horse up; there were plenty folks about;
And the blessed tail-board came unfixed, and let them apples out --
   A catastrophe unnoticed by M'Nulty!

But a crowd was there a-waiting on the summit of the hill
In the hope of hearing language that would make 'em fairly thrill.
When McNulty found what happened for a second he stood still:
   "Please excuse me, gents and ladies," said McNulty,

"I'm the famed McNulty, of the Castlereagh, no less,
And I am a champion swearer -- but I candidly confess
That I can find NO language was would properly express
   What my feelin's is this minute!" said McNulty.

First published in The Bulletin, 9 September 1899

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Australian Bards and Bush Reviewers by Henry Lawson

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While you use your best endeavour to immortalise in verse
The gambling and the drink which are your country's greatest curse,
While you glorify the bully and take the spieler's part --
You're a clever southern writer, scarce inferior to Bret Harte.

If you sing of waving grasses when the plains are dry as bricks,
And discover shining rivers where there's only mud and sticks;
If you picture "mighty forests" where the mulga spoils the view --
You're superior to Kendall, and ahead of Gordon too.

If you swear there's not a country like the land that gave you birth,
And its sons are just the noblest and most glorious chaps on earth;
If in every girl a Venus your poetic eye discerns,
You are gracefully referred to as the "young Australian Burns".

But if you should find that bushmen -- spite of all the poets say --
Are just common brother-sinners, and you're quite as good as they --
You're a drunkard, and a liar, and a cynic, and a sneak,
Your grammar's simply awful and your intellect is weak.

First published in The Bulletin, 18 August 1894;
and later in
In the Days When the World Was Wide and Other Verses by Henry Lawson, 1900;
Humorous Verses by Henry Lawson, 1941;
The Essential Henry Lawson edited by Brian Kiernan, 1982;
A Camp-Fire Yarn: Henry Lawson Complete Works 1885-1900 edited by Leonard Cronin, 1984;
The Penguin Book of Australian Satirical Verse edited by Philip Neilsen, 1986;
The Sting in the Wattle: Australian Satirical Verse edited by Philip Neilsen, 1993; and
An Australian Treasury of Popular Verse edited by Jim Haynes 2002.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library, The Poetry of Henry Lawson website

See also.

The Poet's Realm by Will Carter

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Wider the Poet's realm is
   Than a kingdom by the sea;
Greater his mind's dominion
   Than sceptered sov'reignty.
Fairer his skies and clearer,
   Deeper his sea that flows
Where rock, in the pale reflection,
   The stars in rippled rows.
His voice is in laughing water,
   It sings in the leaping rill,
It swells in the rolling tempest,
   And truth is in it still.
His tongue hath a mystic message
   That travels the wide earth o'er,
It speaks in the pulsing present --
   It spake in the Long-Before,
Of courage, faith, and duty,
   Of wisdom grave and grand,
Till each ear hath heard its message,
   And each heart doth understand.
He sums the heart's deep passions,
   He marks their ebb and flow;
With Pity's gift he passes,
   With hope he whispers low.
From tower, high, impatient,
   His vision sweeps before;
Time is the winding stairway
   Death is the open door.
And ever, and still for ever,
   His thoughts in music flow;
Sweet is the breath of roses,
   Pure is the falling snow.
Yet sweeter not, nor purer,
   Are these than thoughts when strung
On lyric strings all tender,
   When Songs of Truth are sung,
Filling the grand concordance --
   Psalm of the sacred plan --
The bird and the bee and blossom,
   God and the soul of man.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 July 1931

William Alexander Carter (1867-1956) was a teacher, singer and writer.  he contributed to a number of rural newspapers such as The Camperdown Chronicle.

Author reference site: Austlit

The Pannikin Poet by A. B. "Banjo" Paterson

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There's nothing here sublime,
But just a roving Rhyme,
Run off to pass the time,
   With nought titanic in
The theme that it supports,
And, though it treats of quarts,
It's bare of golden thoughts --
   It's just a pannikin.

I think it's rather hard
That each Australian bard --
Each wan, poetic card --
   With thoughts galvanic in
His fiery soul alight,
In wild aerial flight,
Will sit him down and write
   About a pannikin.

He makes some new-chum fare
From out his English lair
To hunt the native bear,
   That curious mannikin;
And then when times get bad
That wand'ring English lad
Writes out a message sad
   Upon his pannikin:

"Oh, mother, think of me
Beneath the wattle tree
(For you may bet that he
   Will drag the wattle in)
"Oh, mother, here I think
That I shall have to sink
There ain't a single drink
   The watter-bottle in."

The dingo homeward hies,
The sooty crows uprise
And caw their fierce surprise
   A tone Satanic in;
And bearded bushmen tread
Around the sleepers' head --
"See here -- the bloke is dead."
   "Now where's his pannikin."

They read his words and weep,
And lay him down to sleep
Where wattle-branches sweep
   A style mechanic in;
And, reader, that's the way
The poets of to-day
Spin out their little lay
   About a pannikin.

First published in The Bulletin, 28 May 1892;
and later in
Saltbush Bill, J.P., and Other Verses by A.B. Paterson, 1917;
The Collected Verse of A.B. Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1982;
Singer of the Bush, A.B. (Banjo) Paterson: Complete Works 1885-1900 compiled by Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie, 1983;
A Vision Splendid: The Complete Poetry of A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1990;
The Collected Verse of Banjo Paterson edited by Clement Semmler, 1993; and
Classic Australian Verse edited by Maggie Pinkney, 2001.

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

See also.

The Bard and the Lizard by John Shaw Neilson

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The lizard leans in to October,
   He walks on the yellow and green;
The world is awake and unsober,
   It knows where the lovers have been.
The wind, like a faint violoncello,
   Comes up and commands him to sing:
He says to me, "Courage, good fellow!
We live by the folly of Spring!"

A fish that the sea cannot swallow,
   A bird that can never yet rise,
A dreamer no dreamer can follow,
   The snake is at home in his eyes.
He tells me the paramount Treason;
   His words have the resolute ring;
"Away with the homage to Reason!
   We live by the folly of Spring!"

The leaves are about him; the berry
   Is close in the red and the green.
His eyes are too old to be merry,
   He knows where the lovers have been.
And yet he could never be bitter;
   He tells me no sorrowful thing:
"The Autumn is less than a twitter!
   We live by the folly of Spring!"

As green as the light on a salad,
   He leans in the shade of a tree;
He has the good breath of a Ballad,
   The strength that is down in the sea.
How silent he creeps in the yellow --
   How silent! and yet can he sing:
He gives me, "Good morning, good fellow!
   We live by the folly of Spring!"

I scent the alarm of the faded
   Who love not the light and the play;
I hear the assault of the jaded,
   I hear the intolerant bray.
My friend has the face of the wizard;
   He tells me no desolate thing:
"I learn from the heart of the lizard,
   We live by the folly of Spring!"

First published in Aussie, 14 March 1931;
and later in
An Introduction to Australian Literature edited by C. D. Narasimhaiah, 1965;
Cross-Country: A Book of Australian Verse edited by John Barnes, 1984;
My Country: Australian poetry and Short Stories, Two Hundred Years edited by Leonie Kramer, 1985;
Two Centuries of Australian Poetry edited by Mark O'Connor, 1988;
An Anthology of Australian Poetry edited by C. D. Narasimhaiah, 1990;
John Shaw Neilson: Poetry, Autobiography and Correspondence edited by Cliff Hanna, 1991;
Selected Poems edited by Robert Gray, 1993; and
Hell and After: Four Early English Language Poets of Australia edited by Les Murray, 2005.

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

See also.

The Song of the Pen by Allan F. Wilson

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Like my friend the Sword, I am fond of a drink,
   And am intimate with the bottle,
But the tipple is never red blood, but ink,
   Wherewith I moisten my throttle.
That the Sword is a mighty power I know,
   Yet methinks I am more than its match.
For that which requires from the Sword a blow
   I do with a quiet scratch.

That the Sword has travelled the wide world round
   I am quite prepared to own,
But let me ask has it ever found
   A spot where the Pen's unknown?
My faith! though the Sword in times past schooled
   The various breeds of men,
To-day the affairs of the world are ruled
   As much by the peaceful Pen.

Majestic indeed is the ship of steel
   As it ploughs the billowy seas,
But the sailor in charge of the steering wheel
   Can demolish it should he please.
Of the engine's strength we are often told
   With its ponderous driving gear,
But its giant forces are all controlled
   By the hand of the engineer.

I do not flash in the sun's bright ray,
   'Midst the shouting of armed men.
Yet none the less must the Sword give way
   To the mightier power of the Pen.
Yet which of us two has the greatest might
   Let men for themselves decide:
'Tis the role of the Sword to drive and smite,
   'Tis that of the Pen to guide.

First published in Melbourne Punch, 14 November 1907

Author: Allan Fullerton Wilson (1857-1917) was born in Glasgow, Scotland and arrived in Australia around 1861.  Wilson was educated in Geelong and Melbourne, and worked for his father before moving to rural Queensland and New South Wales to work on the land. He eventually returned to Geelong where he died in 1917.

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

"The Bulletin" Stairs by E. J. Brady

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The Mecca of Bohemian men
Was Archibald's untidy den.
Firm-footed near the portals there
Uprose, as now, a spacious stair
That carried nearer to the sky
Their inky hopes in days forebye.

This ladder to Parnassus, they
Expectant climbed - as still one may.
Oft-times upon its steps appeared
The wiry brush of Daley's beard,
Of Henry Lawson's drooped moustache
Would upward glide and downward dash.

Betimes - a gem his pocket in -
Meandered upward Ronald Quinn,
Or Bayldon bore a sonnet new,
Or Broomfield occupied the view
Insistent, in a manner vain,
On making passes with his cane.

These might encounter on the way
The "Banjo" glum, or Hugh McCrae
Or Souter with a leering cat
Or Bedford in a Queensland hat;
And other penmen debonair
Familiar with that famous stair.

The Red Tressed Maiden, all aglow,
And Clancy of the Overflow
And Dad and Dave, in company
With Ginger Mick and Jock MacFee,
From time to time, in singles, pairs,
By hand or post went up those stairs!

Awaiting by McMahon's door
For silver, little, less, or more,
Met jesting genius to abuse
The landlords and the lending Jews.
Anon with cash in hand such drear
Considerations - drowned in beer -

Would pass as pass the clouds of morn;
And from their ready wits, reborn
As from a fount in Arcady,
Would flow fair dreams of Days-to-Be,
When, in this Southland, shore to shore,
Art was enthroned for evermore.

That noble vision yet I hold
More precious is than all the gold
That men have dug from southern earth.
In loyal hearts it had its birth;
In loyal minds it will become
A trumpet-note, a calling drum

To lead this nation onward, and
To glorify and grace the land.
And through that fellowship may ne'er,
As then it was, re-climb the Stair
Its voices echo down the years -
The voices of the pioneers!

First published in The Bulletin, 13 November 1946, and again in the same magazine on 1 February 1950.

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

See also.

Remainders by Louis Esson

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They lie in casual heaps, these lorn, lost books,
   Love lyrics, thrilling tale, historic tome,
Where none but heedless hands and scornful looks
   Take notice of their last neglected home.
A soulless publisher has marked them down
To sixpence each, or eight for half a crown.

"Remainders" now, they have outlived their time,
   Their publisher has cast them out of sight,
Not spareth he the gentle poet's rhyme,
   Nor funny narratives some authors write.
He throws them to the wide, wide world, and eke
The nursemaid's novellete and sage critique.

Here lies "Lord Rudolph's Secret love," and here
   "If Maids but Knew," a passionate romance
That drew from fair frail flappers many a tear,
   Tossed in with Coffyn's "Sermon's," just by chance.
"Roses of Rapture" and "In Chloe's Day"
(Such daring books!) have gone the self-same way.

Here is a name, the pride of yesterday,
   A hundred thousand readers was his score;
His masterpiece, now marked a modest tray,
   None but a passing straggler glances o'er.
Best sellers, like poor blokes without a name,
They drop into the basket just the same.

They lie, poor books, neglected, put to rest,
   "Remainders," now scarce able to entice,
Though lauded loudly as the last and best.
   Reluctant purchasers to risk the price.
This is the end of every author's stocks,
Oblivion in a little dusty box.

First published in The Bulletin, 20 August 1925

Author: Thomas Louis Buvelot Esson (1878-1943) was born in Leith Scotland, and arrived in Australia in 1881.  He studied arts at the University of Melbourne but left Australia in 1904.  He returned in 1906, enthusiastic about drama.  Esson published some poems during his life but was best known for his theatrical works - the annual Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Drama is named after him. He moved to Sydney in the 1930s and died there in 1943.

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

Books by Zora Cross

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Oh bury me in books when I am dead,
   Fair quarto leaves of ivory and gold,
And silk octavos bound in brown and red,
   That tales of love and chivalry unfold.

Heap me in volumes of fine vellum wrought,
   Creamed with the close content of silent speech.
Wrap me in sapphire tapestries of thought
   From some old epic out of common reach.

I would my shroud were verse-embroidered too --
   Your verse for preference, in starry stitch,
And powdered o'er with rhymes that poets woo,
   Breathing dream-lyrics in moon-measures rich.

Night holds me with a horror of the grave
   That knows not poetry, nor song, nor you;
Nor leaves of love that down the ages wave
   Romance and fire in burnished cloths of blue.

Oh bury me in books, and I'll not mind
   The cold, slow worms that coil around my head;
Since my lone soul may turn the page and find
   The lines you wrote to me, when I am dead.

First published in The Bulletin, 1 March 1917

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of BiographyOld Qld Poetry

See also.

Proof Readers by Nina Murdoch

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We sit all day, my mate and I,
   With wan eyes fixed on proof and screed,
While all the world goes streaming by,
   In mad procession as we read.

With wan eyes fixed on proof and screed,
   Ah, who would guess the things we see
In mad procession, as we read
   From morn till night, unceasingly?

Ah, who would guess the things we see!
   The lives and loves of all the earth,
From morn till night, unceasingly -
   Their tragedies and dreams and mirth!

The lives and loves of all the earth,
   We murmur in a lifeless drone,
Their tragedies and dreams and mirth
   Are tempered in a monotone.

We murmur in a lifeless drone,
   The throbbing lynotypes below
Are tempered to a monotone;
   The copy boys run to and fro.

The throbbing lynotypes below
   With us are neither sad nor gay;
The copy boys run to and fro,
   My mate and I no haste display.

With us are neither sad nor gay
   The deeds of men and clowns and kings;
My mate and I no haste display
   Though the world laughs or weeps or sings.

The deeds of men and clowns and kings
   (Through dreams and hopes and fears disproved,
Though the world laughs or weeps or sings)
   We watch with weary eyes unmoved.

Through dreams and hopes and fears disproved
   We sit all day, my mate and I:
We watch with weary eyes, unmoved,
   While all the world goes streaming by.

First published in The Bulletin, 25 February 1915

Author:  Madoline (Nina) Murdoch (1890-1976) was born in Carlton in Melbourne before moving with her family to Sydney when she was young.  She was educated at Sydney Girls' High School and began writing poetry there before marrying James Duncan Mackay Brown and moving back to Melbourne.  She began work on The Sun-News Pictorial before being retrenched during the Depression.  She travelled through Europe in the 1920s and 30s and wrote a number of travel books which were very well received.  Work at ABC radio saw her begin the famous Argonauts Club for children but her writing output slowed as she was forced to nurse her sick mother and husband.  Nina Murdoch died in Melbourne in 1976.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Ballade of the Stumped by Edward Dyson

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I've sung of ladies dark and fair,
   Of blue, and black and hazel eyes;
Of golden, brown and raven hair;
   Of maidens simple, maidens wise;
   Of small, slim dames, and dames who rise
To manly heights: the thin and stout.
   Now, Muse, what more can you devise --
What is there left to rhyme about?

I've rhymed of happy lovers where
   The wind-blown, golden blossom flies;
I've told of fierce-eyed loves who share
   A passion for some wild emprise;
   I've sung of love that shrewdly lies
And love that has no kind of doubt;
   Of love that blights or sanctifies --
What is there left to rhyme about?

Too oft in writing here and there
   A tender song did I devise
Of lovers in a rosy lair,
   Where vengeance came in grimmest guise.
   Of loves who weep and agonise,
Of loves who jubilantly shout
   Their joyance to the smiling skies --
What is there left to rhyme about?


Erato, give thy slave a prize --
   New views of love a bard may spout:
Of love that lives or love that dies --
   What is there left to rhyme about?

First published in The Bulletin, 17 February 1921

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

See also.

The Lovable Characters by Henry Lawson

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I long for the streets but the Lord knoweth best,
   For there I am never a saint;
There are lovable characters out in the West,
   with humour heroic and quaint;
And, be it Up Country, or be it Out Back,
   When I shall have gone to my Home,
I trust to be buried 'twixt River and Track
   Where my lovable characters roam.
There are lovable characters drag through the scrub,
   Where the Optimist ever prevails;
There are lovable characters hang round the pub,
   There are lovable jokers at sales
Where the auctioneer's one of the lovable wags
   (Maybe from his "order" estranged),
And the beer is on tap, and the pigs in the bags
  Of the purchasing cockies are changed.

There are lovable characters out in the West,
   Of fifty hot summers, or more,
Who could not be proved, when it came to the test,
   Too old to be sent to the war;
They were all forty-five and were orphans, they said,
   With no one to keep them, or keep;
And mostly in France, with the world's bravest dead,
   Those lovable characters sleep.

I long for the streets but the Lord knoweth best,
   For there I am never a saint;
There are lovable characters out in the West,
   with humour heroic and quaint;
And, be it Up Country, or be it Out Back,
   When I shall have gone to my Home,
I trust to be buried 'twixt River and Track
   Where my lovable characters roam.

First published in The Bulletin, 8 February 1917 ;
and later in
A Fantasy of Man: Henry Lawson Complete Works 1901-22 edited by Leonard Cronin, 1984

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library, The Poetry of Henry Lawson website

See also.
Great God be thank'd, that there are men like thee,
Who ever rise, in sovereignty of mind,
Lifting against the oppressors of our kind
The voice of genius, -- still most sovereignly,
When boldest waxeth their arch-villainy,
Who, with the tyrant's purpose, are combined;
I thank Almighty God, who intertwined
Justice and truth with man's nobility,
For such as thou, true poet! Nothing can
Enhance the gusts of joyance now that thrills me,
In knowing how thy heart beats in this cause;
Or what I owe thy kindness, Halloran,
Would mingle in the feeling which so fills me
With happy thankfulness, and pure applause.

First published in The Australasian Chronicle, 24 January 1843;
and later in
The Empire, 12 April 1851;
Murmurs of the Stream by Henry Parkes, 1857; and
The Bulletin, 17 December 1881.

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

See also.

[Note: you can read Henry Halloran's original sonnet here.]
How we wish the clever writers
   Of our prose and of our verse
For their characters would take a wider range!
There are some which keep recurring
   Like a decimal -- we curse
Their recurrence, and we're aching for a change.

We are weary of the legend
   Where the sergeant of police
Loves the fascinating sister of a "crook,"
And condones a lot of felonies
   And breaches of the peace,
And won't prosecute when cattle have been "shook."

People say, "It's so Australian!"
   And some similar event
May have happened long ago as in the tale,
But police are not romantic
   Now - at least to that extent -
And the "crooks" they cop are handed to the gaol.

There's the big, gum-booted digger --
   Crimson-shirted, with the sash
Which he wore when Ballarat first played the game.
And he's nearly always doing
   Something venturesome and rash
When he isn't "slinging mullock" in his claim.

All the writers since the "'fifties"
   Have delighted in this type,
Who is always big and masterful and flash.
And, whatever he is doing --
   Diggin' - dancin' - stewin' tripe -
Why, he always wears the shirt and boots and sash.

There's the beauteous bush maiden --
   Though her father keeps a pub,
In the local estimation she is IT! --
And she rides unbroken "brumbies"
   Through impenetrable scrub,
An exasperating female, you'll admit.

She is cultured and accomplished,
   And with virtue she's supplied
In accordance with a lavish kind of scale.
So, when tempted by the squatter,
   She prefers to be the bride
Of a humble chap who runs the local mail.

Ah! these types are too familiar,
   They disturb our peace of mind;
But the one which makes us actually ill,
Is that weird, elusive bushman --
   He's in every tale you'll find
And he bears the simple sobriquet of "Bill."

The great prevalence of William
   Makes our indignation boil --
Every reader of Australian fiction knows
How he praces through the poems
   Which are "racy of the soil,"
While he positively permeates our prose.

He's a shepherd, he's a shearer,
   He's a breaker-in of nags,
And he always swims some river in a flood.
But he wrecks our nervous system,
   And reduces it to rags,
'Till we really feel we want to have his blood.

He's a stockman, he's a drover --
   He's on any kind of "lay"
Which may chance to suit the man who slings the ink --
But he always plays the hero
   In an offhand kind of way --
That's enough to make a reader take to drink.

There is game and there is glory
   To be gathered by the bard,
Or the fiction manufacturer who will
Write a stirring backblock story
   (Oh! we know it will be hard!)
Or a poem that is innocent of Bill.

First published in The Bulletin, 22 January 1914;
and later in
The Macmillan Anthology of Australian Literature edited by Ken L. Goodwin and Alan Lawson, 1990.

Author: George Herbert Gibson (1846-1921) was born in Plymouth, England, in 1846 and emigrated, first to New Zealand in 1869, and then to Sydney, New South Wales, in 1874.  He was well-known for his humorous poetry in The Bulletin and published four collections of that poetry during his lifetime.  He died in Lindfield, NSW, in 1921.

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

The Poets of Australia by Will M. Fleming

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They are rising in endless numbers
   From ways that are wide and lone,
Dream-eyed with the fire that slumbers
   And feeds on the heart, unknown;
Deep-souled, but with lips grown scornful,
   And shallow to careless eyes,
With hearts that are tender -- mournful
   Those cynical writers rise.

From realms of a restless roaming,
   From creeks where the camp-fires glow,
From flash of the waters foaming,
   From plains where the night-winds blow;
From dreams of a mighty longing
   To deeds of a sordid world,
From the memories softly thronging
   To lips that are grimly curled.

By shadow and star, in sadness,
   By dusk and the lonely moon,
By moan of the midnight madness,
   By calm of the deep mid-noon;
Pale-browned o'er their sun-brown faces,
   Hard-handed and soft of heart,
All reckless, the squadron paces,
   And each in his soul apart.

And what are the hopes they cherish?
   And what are the dreams they dream
When cynical scornings perish,
   And lawless the lovelights gleam?
Bent low o'er the sweat-stained bridle
   They rise, with a careless hold;
Each with his broken idol,
   Each with his dream untold.

First published in The Bulletin, 20 January 1900

Author: William Montgomery Fleming (1874-1961) was born in the Wimmera district of Victoria but undertook his schooling in New South Wales.  He was a member of the NSW State Legislative Assembly from 1901 to 1910 when he resigned to contest and win a seat in Federal Parliament.  He volunteered for the First World War and served as a driver with Australian Army Service Corps.  He again took up politics after his return to Australia but lost his seat in 1922 and was never re-elected. He died in Terrigal, New South Wales, in 1961.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

A Reflection on Lawson's Poems by J. Le Gay Brereton

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Seasons bloom and seasons wither; dark or bright, they cannot last.
Must we try with floods of bitter teas to vivify the past?
Vainly chase the brown and broken blossoms blown along the blast?

Shall we scorn the flowers around us -- red, or blue, or white as snow --
Flowers giving loads of fragrance unto all the winds that blow
Must we hide our eyes and falter: "O, the days of long ago!"

Never stop to look behind you, if the blaze of glory there
Blinds you to the splendour stretching round about and everywhere.
True, the past was pleasant, Lawson, but the present is as fair.

I, too, love the days when heroes, seeking treasure, seaward sped;
Days of Drake, when English sailors followed where their leaders led;
Days when Marlowe trod the glowing clouds, that thundered to his tread.

Even then, though, there were cowards, traitors, swindler, "business men,"
Plot and murder, slave and master, secret sneer, and wounding pen;
And the poets thought the present vile and barren even then.

And their comrades were no better than some modern mates we meet --
Even though they don't go wearing tights and feathers in the street;
And the girls are dear as ever, and their kisses just as sweet.

Sing the present; drop the drivel of the "days evanished," please!
Though you pray until your pants are burst or baggy at the knees,
You can't bid the sun go backward -- no, not even ten degrees.

First published in The Bulletin, 18 January 1896, and later in the same magazine on 29 January 1980.

Author: J. Le Gay Brereton (1871-1933) was born in Sydney in 1871. His father John Le Gay Brereton who was a minor poet, and Bererton appears to have used his first initial in order to differentiate his work from that of his father's.  Brereton graduated from the University of Sydney, he worked in the university's library and was later appointed as professor of English.  He was active in the Sydney literary circles of his time - he was friends with Henry Lawson and Christopher Brennan - and published 6 collectons of his work during his lifetime.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Golden Vein by C.G.A. Colles

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Some sing the songs of the storied past, and some of the lights-o'-love;
Some chant refrains of the underworld, and some of the world above,
Let each man sing of the things he feels in a voice that is clear and strong,
That each shall achieve the work of his heart and add to his nation's song.

For there's often a twist of the master-hand in the build of a hodman's brain
That his fellows may fail to understand if he speak not the trite and plain;
And an inexpensive and puerile wit may gird at the thought in rhyme,
Unaware of the message enwrapt in it, addressed to a broader time.

For many a body is like a hearse -- its passenger dead within;
And there's many a mouth to gibe at a verse with a sneering, cynical grin,
While its fellow, bred on the same coarse fare, must suffer the jeers inane,
For beneath the grime of his sordid life is a shoot of the golden vein.

Yea, a man may stand in a dingy bar and traffic in beer and rum,
And the soul of the man go wand'ring far -- though the voice of his soul be dumb --
Apart from the barman's meaner self, a thing of another sphere,
Abhorring the stale tobacco smoke, and loathing the smell of beer.

For there's many a good sea-song been writ in a city garret bare;
And some have scaled the Olympian heights at the head of a creaky stair;
And some have sat on an office stool and dreamed of the deeper things,
While the chrysalis-soul of the man's desire bides ever with folded wings.

Let each man sing of the things he feels, in a voice that is sure and strong,
That each shall achieve the work of his heart, and add to his nation's song;
That the dream of a miner touch the stars, and a barman hear the bees,
And the cabman's soul go out to the bush, and the pawn-broker's to the seas! 

First published in The Bulletin, 16 January 1908

Author: Little is known about the author C.G.A. Colles, other than he lived in Hawthorn, Victoria where he was a local bank manager for a number of years.

Author reference sites: Austlit

The Martyrs of Fortune by Charles Harpur

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Want ground the faces of the Prophets old;     
Our greatest Bards were only rich in song;       
The golden-hearted ever wanted gold;
And they who wronged not ever suffered wrong.
Such, in this unintelligible World,
Seems still the Patriot's, Sage's, Poet's fate!
The mountain of its scorn upon them hurled,
Or grinds to misery, or constrains to hate!
To hate sometimes -- but with a perfect will
To this superior they should ever be;
Though sacrificed, like Jesus, loving still
The injured Spirit of Humanity:
For God's beholding patience makes it plain,
That so to suffer, and to die, are GAIN.

First published in The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser, 13 January 1847,
and later in:
The Poetical Works of Charles Harpur edited by Elizabeth Perkins, 1984.

Author: Charles Harpur (1813-68) was born on the Hawkesbury River, New South Wales to parents who had both been transported: his father from Ireland and his mother from England. Harpur was a very prolific writer - his volume of collected poems runs to over 1000 pages - and is considered by many to be the first great Australian-born poet.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Adam Lindsay Gordon by Lance Fallaw

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Where the gum-trees' long shadows are spearing
   The highway's red zone,
There passes athwart the thin clearing
   A rider alone.
Head bowed over breast, forehead smitten
   By fortune his foe --  
So we see, who have read what is written,
   The Gordon we know.

No! racing apace, not at canter
   We see him to-day.
We hear not the quip or the banter
   Of comrades at play.
But slow in his saddle goes leaning
   The stockrider sick,
And the thinker who sought for life's meaning
   Is tired of the trick.

Around him new lands, but within him
   Old fancies, old themes.
No thunder of horse-hoofs could win him
   From making of dreams.
Let others sweep past us with chorus,
   Exultant of eye.
A hush of grey sunsets comes o'er us
   As Gordon goes by.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 January 1930

Note: the subject of this poem is the poet Adam Lindsay Gordon (1833-1870).

Author: Lance Fallaw (1876-1959) was born in England and arrived in Australia some time around 1907. He edited regional newspapers in Queensland and Victoria, and was, for a time, associate editor of The Sydney Morning Herald (1929-1936).

Author reference sites: Austlit

See also.

Will Yer Write It Down For Me? by Henry Lawson

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In the parlour of the shanty where the lives have all gone wrong,
When a singer or reciter gives a story or a song,
Where the poet's heart is speaking to their hearts in every line,
Till the hardest curse and blubber at the thoughts of Auld Lang Syne;
Then a boozer lurches forward with an oath for all disguise --
Prayers and curses in his soul, and tears and liquor in his eyes --
Grasps the singer or reciter with a death-grip by the hand:
"That's the truth, bloke! Sling it at 'em! Oh! Gorbli'me, that was grand!
Don't mind me; I've got 'em. You know! What's yer name, bloke! Don't yer see?
Who's the bloke what wrote the po'try? Will yer write it down fer me?"

And the backblocks' bard goes through it, ever seeking as he goes
For the line of least resistance to the hearts of men he knows;
And he tracks their hearts in mateship, and he tracks them out alone --
Seeking for the power to sway them, till he finds it in his own,
Feels what they feel, loves what they love, learns to hate what they condemn,
Takes his pen in tears and triumph, and he writes it down for them.

First published in The Bulletin, 3 January 1903;
and later in:
When I was King and Other Verses by Henry Lawson, 1905;
Humorous Verses by Henry Lawson, 1941;
The Collins Book of Australian Poetry compiled by Rodney Hall, 1981; and
A Fantasy of Man: Henry Lawson Complete Works 1901-1922 edited by Leonard Cronin, 1984.

Author: Henry Lawson (1867-1922) vies with "Banjo" Paterson for the title of Best Known Australian Poet.  Prolific, both as a poet and short story writer, Lawson battled poverty, deafness and alcoholism for most of his adult life, finally dying destitute at the age of 55.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library, The Poetry of Henry Lawson website

See also.

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