Recently in Rivers and Streams Category

The Mountain Stream by Mabel Forrest

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O river that ripples by rushes and roadways, 
O river that murmurs a threat and a song, 
There is sough of the pines in the whip of your eddies,
There is earth in your tided as you scamper along! 
Though you flee to the sea as if demons had chased you, 
And never quite rest in the mud, or the morn, 
I know you remember the lair in the Mountains, 
The rent in the rock where your ripples were born.
Oh, you may pretend you are kin to the ocean, 
Oh, you may pretend that your prize is the sea; 
But I know how you wince at a sail on your surface, 
I know how you yearn just to mirror a tree. 
The pines have a lilt that is sorrowful, lonely,
They reach their dark arms o'er the trail a stream, 
And they lavish the store of their cinnamon needles
To thread their regrets like a sob through a dream.
O river, I know how you feign your forgetting, 
When the day gilds your bosom with treasure of noon; 
Or, with make-believe suns in your innocent shallows, 
You steal from the planets to mock at the moon, 
And spread on the plains in a trick at lagooning 
Of something you learned from a mirage asleep --
A mask for the memory of ridges' responses, 
Or brawling in canyons black shadowed and deep.
You may sweep to the reef at the bar of the harbor, 
You may mix with the wave in the friendliest way, 
And the blue sea may welcome with gratified laughter 
The stream that is veined with the ochres of clay; 
You may stifle your moan on the breast of the ocean, 
And wide as the sky-line your kingdom may be; 
But, belted with seaweed and buskined with coral, 
You belong to the Mountains though lost in the sea! 

And the vague valleys know it, the hill flowers know it;
The little ferns, lisping, protest to the rills;
The dry mountain breezes, the hawk-haunted eyries, 
The Nearness to God that you left in the hills. 
When I look in the deep, where you ruffle and rumble 
Between a sheer gorge to a white pool below, 
Though you strive to dissemble in delicate foaming, 
I see the earth stain in your sick heart....and know.

First published in The Bulletin, 19 August 1915

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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Smoky River by Kathleen Dalziel

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Now by drifts of dusty reed. rich with English grasses,
Waving high with feathery seed, summer noontide passes.
Down the far untrodden spaces, steeped in magic strange,
   Round the bends of Smoky River
Somewhere in the range.

Smoky River, ever purling through the myrtle glade
With the early mists unfurling flicked with shining jade!
Once my dreams were distant far, but now my fancy turns
   Always home to Smoky River
Singing through the ferns.

Where the dappled pool of shade is like a phantom lake's,
And the little "painted ladies" flutter round the brakes,
I can see across the haze of many a yesterday
   Butterflies by Smoky River
Golden-winged and gay;

Undergrowth of heath and wattle, haunt of bird and bee;
At the ford the wild hill cattle loiter drowsily
When the evening points long fingers down the valley's fold,
   Far away by Smoky River
In the peaks of gold.

There the kestrel hangs on high, brown wings sure and cruel,
There the airy dragon-fly darts, an arrowy jewel,
Home of summer wren and fairy blue-cap in the bends,
   Home of curlews keening shrilly
As the evening ends.

Smoky River, in the glory that the sunset wears,
Give me back the unread story of the vanished years,
Wrap the cloak of peace about me, fold me with its wings
   Far away by Smoky River
Where the brown flood sings.

First published in The Bulletin, 30 January 1929

Author reference site: Austlit

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The Lapse of Mother Yarra by C.J. Dennis

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All year thro' old Yarra flows
   Ever seaward going,
With her air of prim repose,
What she thinks of, goodness knows!
   But she keeps on flowing
Till, one day in each drab year,
Lo! a miracle is here.

Then old Yarra so precise,
   Trim and very proper;
Scorning all the sane advice
Of the scrupulously nice,
   Comes a social cropper;
Flinging sober thought away
Mother Yarra has her day.

As the wattle in the Spring
   Breaks to efflorescence,
With a sudden burgeoning,
So old Yarra has her fling,
   Aping adolescence;
Gets quite glad and gay and bright
For a day and half a night.

Colors sparkle in the sun
   Shouts of careless laughter
Tell of unrestricted fun
Till the carnival is done.
   If remorse comes after
I am not prepared to say -
Mother Yarra had her day!

First published in The Herald, 28 November 1931

Orara by Henry Kendall

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The strong sob of the chafing stream
   That seaward fights its way
Down crags of glitter, dells of gleam,
   Is in the hills to-day.

But far and faint, a grey-winged form
   Hangs where the wild lights wane --
The phantom of a bygone storm,
   A ghost of wind and rain.

The soft white feet of afternoon
   Are on the shining meads,
The breeze is as a pleasant tune
   Amongst the happy reeds.

The fierce, disastrous, flying fire,
   That made the great caves ring,
And scarred the slope, and broke the spire,
   Is a forgotten thing.

The air is full of mellow sounds,
   The wet hill-heads are bright,
And down the fall of fragrant grounds,
   The deep ways flame with light.

A rose-red space of stream I see,
   Past banks of tender fern;
A radiant brook, unknown to me
   Beyond its upper turn.

The singing, silver life I hear,
   Whose home is in the green,
Far-folded woods of fountains clear,
   Where I have never been.

Ah, brook above the upper bend,
   I often long to stand
Where you in soft, cool shades descend
   From the untrodden land!

Ah, folded woods, that hide the grace
   Of moss and torrents strong,
I often wish to know the face
   Of that which sings your song!

But I may linger, long, and look
   Till night is over all:
My eyes will never see the brook,
   Or sweet, strange waterfall.

The world is round me with its heat,
   And toil, and cares that tire;
I cannot with my feeble feet
   Climb after my desire.

But, on the lap of lands unseen,
   Within a secret zone,
There shine diviner gold and green
   Than man has ever known.

And where the silver waters sing
   Down hushed and holy dells,
The flower of a celestial Spring --
   A tenfold splendour, dwells.

Yea, in my dream of fall and brook
   By far sweet forests furled,
I see that light for which I look
   In vain through all the world --

The glory of a larger sky
   On slopes of hills sublime,
That speak with God and morning, high
   Above the ways of Time!

Ah! haply in this sphere of change
   Where shadows spoil the beam,
It would not do to climb that range
   And test my radiant Dream.

The slightest glimpse of yonder place,
   Untrodden and alone,
Might wholly kill that nameless grace,
   The charm of the unknown.

And therefore, though I look and long,
   Perhaps the lot is bright
Which keeps the river of the song
   A beauty out of sight.

First published in The Sydney Mail, 6 December 1879;
and later in
Songs from the Mountains by Henry Kendall, 1880;
The Oxford Book of Australian Verse edited by Walter Murdoch, 1918;
An Australasian Anthology: Australian and New Zealand Poems edited by Percival Serle, R.H. Croll and Frank Wilmot, 1927;
Selected Poems of Henry Kendall edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1957;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964;
The Poetical Works of Henry Kendall edited by Thomas Thornton Reed, 1966;
Bards in the Wilderness edited by Brian Elliott and Adrian Mitchell, 1970;
The Collins Book of Australian Poetry compiled by Rodney Hall, 1981;
A Treasury of Colonial Poetry, 1982;
Selected Poems of Henry Kendall edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1988;
Henry Kendall: Poetry, Prose and Selected Correspondence edited by Michael Ackland, 1993; and
Australian Verse: An Oxford Anthology edited by John Leonard, 1998.

Down the River by Barcroft Boake

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Hark, the sound of it drawing nearer,
Clink of hobble and brazen bell;
Mark the passage of stalwart shearer,
Bidding Monaro soil farewell.

Where is he making for?  Down the river,
Down the river with eager tread;
Where is he making for?  Down the river,
Down the river to seek a 'shed'.

Where is his dwelling on old Monaro?
Buckley's Crossing, or Jindaboine?
Dry Plain is it, or sweet Bolaira?
P'raps 'tis near where the rivers join
Where is he making for? Down the river.
When, oh when, will he turn him back?
Soft sighs follow him down the river,
Moist eyes gaze at his fading track.

See, behind him his pack-horse, ambling,
Bears the weight of his master's kit,
Oft and oft from the pathway rambling,
Crops unhampered by cruel bit.
Where is he making for?  Equine rover,
Sturdy nag from the Eucumbene,
Tempted down by the thought of clover,
Springing luscious in Riverine.

Dreams of life and its future chances,
Snatch of song to beguile the way;
Through green crannies the sunlight glances,
Silver-gilding the bright 'Jack Shay'.
"So long, mate, I can stay no longer,
So long, mate, I've no time to stop,
Pens are waiting me at Mahonga,
Bluegong, Grubben and Pullitop.

"What! you say that the river's risen?
What! that the melted snow has come?
What! that it locks and bars our prison?
Many's the mountain stream I've swum.
I must onward and cross the river,
So long, mate, for I cannot stay;
I must onward and cross the river,
Over the river there lies my way."

One man short when the roll they're calling;
One man short at old Bobby Rand's;
Heads are drooping and tears are falling
Up on Monaro's mountain lands.

Where is he making for? Down the river,
Down the river of slimy bed;
Where is he making for? Down the river,
Down the river that bears him, dead.

First published in The Bulletin, 6 February 1892;
and later in
Where the Dead Men Lie and Other Poems by Barcroft Boake, 1897;
A Collection of Australian Bush Verse, 1989;
Classic Australian Verse edited by Maggie Pinkney, 2001;
An Australian Treasury of Popular Verse edited by Jim Haynes, 2002;
Two Centuries of Australian Poetry edited by Kathrine Bell, 2007; and
Barcroft Boake: Collected Works, Edited, With a Life edited by W. F. Refshauge, 2007.

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

See also.

The River's Up at Bourke by Gilrooney (R.J. Cassidy)

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The Darling at Bourke is 16ft. above summer level, and still rising.---News item from Outback.

The squatters down its winding course
   Will watch the rising flood,
And Optimism's tingling force
   Is surging through their blood.
For should the stream its volume lack
   To bear the golden bales,
The wool that counts for all Outback
   Will miss the London sales!

The woodmen and the watermen,
   And all the old brigade,
Will seek the Trickle once again --
   The Trickle that is Trade!
The lonely swagmen in the bends
   The whalers' tracks will shirk,
And claim the skippers as their friends,
   For Bourke is always --- Bourke!

The message of a thousand miles
  Is in that yellow mud,
Symbolical of Nature's smiles
   (The Fortune of the Flood!).
The crazy little river craft
   Will waken from their sleep,
And, like Titanic imps of Graft,
   Go threshing down the deep!

Once more the eagle, high above
   Against the vault of blue,
Will see the sailor-men make love
   To Jenny Jamberoo!
And Hebe of the River's Arms
   (Who long since smiled for me)
Will show once more her olden charms ---
   Red lips and lingerie!

For Jack he is a sailor, though
   The heaving deep he sails
Is where the Northern Waters flow
   Through Sunset New South Wales!
The same old voices call to him,
   The name old passions leap
As where the flattened fishes swim
   A hundred fathoms deep!

For I have waited for the Rise
   And idled in the bars
Of Bourke --- and heard the bo'sun's lies
   Beneath the Desert Stars!
And I have waited for the wire
   From sleepy Walgett town:
"The Barwon and the McIntyre
   In flood are coming down."

The coach goes rocking through the dust --
   Its old romance is dead
(Its driver never paints "a bust"
   A thousand miles ahead!);
For all the waters of the North
   Shall take the cargoes South,
And, like lorn lovers, hasten forth
   To kiss the Harbor's mouth!

I wish that I could tread the decks
   And hear the captain swear
At eerie hypothetic wrecks,
   That ancient mariner!
I feel inclined to leave my den
   And sail in quest of work --
For all the sirens call me when
   The River's Up at Bourke!

First published in The Bulletin, 4 November 1909

Author: Robert John Cassidy (1880-1948) was born in Coolac in New South Wales, and was, for a time, editor of the Broken Hill newspaper Sport.  He wrote one novel and published the bulk of his poetry in The Bulletin. He died in 1948. 

Author reference site: Austlit

The Brown Old River by Will Lawson

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There's a river to the nor'ard,
   And a breeze across a bay,
And the breeze is on my forehead,
   Though I'm scores of leagues away.
There is mud there, black and clinging,
   When the tide is half or low,
But I hear the river singing
   River-songs I used to know;
And 'tis calling me, that river --
I can see the ripples shiver
On its breast, and see the quiver
   Of the moon deep down below.

There's a river, and I hear it
   Telling stories to the breeze,
And I'm longing to go near it
   O'er the weary, plunging seas.
When you swing around Cape Moreton,
   Where the silver sandbanks are,
Where the rollers trip and shorten
   Ere they sprawl across the bar;
Then you'll see the river streaming
As I see it now, day-dreaming,
And the Pile Light's lazy gleaming,
   Like an earth-attracted star.

There's a river, and it's muddy,
   But its banks are always green,
And its dark-brown stream is ruddy
   In the sunset's bronzelike sheen.
And 'tis always softly singing
   To fond favored ones like me,
As it takes its course a-swinging
   To the bay that woos the sea,
With a greeting to the bridges
And the mud-banks' rosy ridges
Where the rusty, ugly dredges
   Clank and clatter noisily.

There's a river, haunt of dreamers,
   Black and silver 'neath the moon,
Where the yellow-lighted steamers
   Thrub and hum an ocean-tune.
I can hear the rollers sprawling
   As they stumble o'er the bar,
And I hear the river calling,
   Calling, calling, faint and far.
I can see the moonbeams shiver
On that muddy, brown old river,
And the Pile Light's sleepy quiver
   Like a tired and dozing star.

First published in The Bulletin, 14 July 1900

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

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