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The Stars by C.J. Dennis

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The twinklin', winkin', blinkin' stars
   That besprinkle me roof at night;
When I camp out back on the lonesome track,
   It's them that knows me right.
I confess to 'em all, both great and small;
   To Orion, The Cross, an' the Twins;
For they sort o' appeal, an' make a man feel
   The amazin' amount of 'is sins.

The years roll by, an' a man MUST die,
   An' I've seen most o' me days;
But age ain't brought the remorse it ought,
   Nor taught me to mend me ways;
For when you've bin to yer neck in sin --
   An' the sort of sin that's nice --
Afore you change to tracks that's strange,
   You like to consider twice.

An' where's life's fun if you 'ave to shun
   The things that make life bright;
That's wot I say to meself in the day,
   But I change me toon at night.
For it ain't no use.  When a man's bin loose
   In 'is ways (though 'e never owns)
Oft in a bright, still, starry night
   A FEAR gits into 'is bones.

A kind o' fear that ain't quite clear
   Of somethin' 'e can't make out;
That makes 'im smell the fires of 'ell,
   An' lie, an' think about
The things 'e's done when 'e wus young,
   An' the things that might 'ave bin,
Of wot 'e is, an' wot 'e wus,
   An' the "fleetin' joy o' sin."

An' when yer young an' yer life's ahead,
   An' you count yer chums be the score,
You seldom think that when yer dead
   Ther' might be somethin' more.
But as years go an' life gits slow,
   An' you feel the end draw near,
Alone at night in the pale starlight;
   It's then you feel THE FEAR.

An' so' I lie an' watch the sky
   With its thousand shinin' lights.
As they wink an' blink, I lie an' think
   Through the silent summer nights.
Think of me life.  Of the joy an' strife,
   Of the good I've done, an' the bad,
Of the cash gone through an' the girls I knew,
   An' the seas of drink I've 'ad.

An' the only sound fer miles around
   Is the cracklin' fire o' the camp;
An' all alone, to the stars, I own
   That I've bin a reg'lar scamp.
An' the stars look down an' seem to frown,
   Through a kind o' shimmery haze;
An' I tell 'em straight if it ain't too late
   I'll try an' mend me ways.

Tell 'em I'll try an' put sin by,
   An' be a dif'rent man;
An' take more 'eed of the life I lead,
   An' live the best I can.
An' then the least faint light in the east
   Shows dim, as the night wears on;
Up comes the sun; the night is done;
   An' me resolution's gone.

First published in The Critic, 25 June 1898

The Song of Polaris by Robert Adams

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The mighty stars of Heaven come forth,
   From the halls of night, in their ancient range!  
But I, alone in the stedfast north,
   In moveless splendour, which knoweth no change,
For ever, through polar skies shine down
   As the pilot's lode star, to warn and save,
With my lonely beacon beam on high,
   Whilst he compassless sails the wild sea wave!  

When the awful glory of God shines forth,
   In the mystic change of the deep midnight,
With rapturous awe I watch from the north
   His Angel legions, and seraphs of light,
As they bear His message from star to star
   'Midst the answering praise of their lightning race,
As shining in wondrous splendor afar,
   They gleam in His glory-through farthest space,
And I changeless glow on the endless snow,
   Which shrouds with its mantle of death the land,
Which hath slept whilst the ages come and go,
   And where never a mortal foot may stand!  

Where through the clear black purple night,
   With never a dawn for a hundred days,
It's desolute loneliness to light --
   The pinnacled iceberg grows always
With cold blue bastion and crystal tower,
   Where silence and solitude frozen sleep
With its vast bulk wreathed in the slow snow shower,
   And floating a hundred fathoms deep!  

I saw Sidonias' fleets of old
   Set sail as the silver morning star
Grew pale in the roseate glow of gold,
   Which flushed through the eastern heavens afar,
And watched them creep through the "pillared gate"  
   And fearless steer for the northern isle,
With faith in me, as their star of fate,
   And trustful led by my moveless smile,
O'er the trackless sea, through the deepest night,
   'Midst the wind's and the water's wildest stress,
'Till they saw the cliffs loom greyly white
   Of the faerie land of Lyonnesse!  

In many a lone and fathomless fiord,
   I watched the "Raven's" fierce wings unfurl'd,  
Whilst the Norsemen chanted the "Song of the Sword"
   And sailed for the south to ravage the world!  
And the tawny Lion as fiercely bold
   (His flag flung forth to the northern breeze)
I have watched, as his lone ship staggering roll'd
   'Midst the grinding ice of the polar seas!  
Whilst each heart of oak with frost-bound beard,
   And the dauntless will of a stedfast soul,  
With resolute smile and a strong hand steer'd
   Through the freezing wrack, for the frozen pole!  

Lo! where she reigns, on her island throne!    
   Britannia! Queen of the seas of the world!    
With her sceptre stretching from zone to zone,
   And the wings of her wandering fleets unfurled
To zephyr and tempest-in every clime,
   With a sturdy steadiness never dismay'd
Through a thousand glorious years of time,
   The fiercest in battle, and foremast in trade!  

For the charter to rule the strong sea tide
   Is the power to seize, and the strength to hold -
The courage to dare! - and the brain to guide!
   The resolute will that is prompt and bold! --
And never the sceptre shall pass away
   From the island sons of the old Vikings,
Whilst valour and justice and mercy sway
   The heart and the hand, which fearless flings
The banner of freedom to the breeze,
   And sails with its flowing cross unfurled
With a navy which whitens the loneliest sea,
   And the open oceans of all the world!  

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 4 November 1876

Author reference site: Austlit 

See also.

The Stars of the Southern Cross by Robert Adams

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Alone in the Southern Heaven,
   We gleam like a cross on high,
More bright than the Pleiad seven --
   The lords of the stars of the sky.
And Orion, though belted in glory,
   And Aldebaran's ancient blaze;
And the far dim systems hoary,
   Deep sunk with their nebulous haze--
Are not more mighty in power,
   Than we, as our sacred light
Shines calm in the silent hour
   Of the solemn and deep midnight.

When the children of men are sleeping,
   "Star speaketh unto star,"  
In rhythmical melody sweeping,
   Solemnly sweet afar.
And they sing of light's wondrous dawning,
   As the glow of His gaze sublime,
In creation's glorious morning,
   Gave birth to the beings of time.

When the children of men's salvation
   Was wrought out in Palestine,
His cross grew a sign to each nation,
   Of a hope and a future divine.
But our Heaven hung symbol was never
   Beheld by a Christian eye,
Till Iberia's gaze saw our wondrous rays
   In the deeps of the southern sky.
Yet we glowed through Eternity's ages,
   Undimmed down the vistas of time,
Aloft on night's heavenly pages,
   As a symbol of futures sublime.

As the Mariner's Star sunk slowly,
   Deep hid down the northern night,
We rose like an omen holy
   On his wearied and anxious sight;  
And shone on the awe-struck Spaniard,
   As his lonely caravel,
With storm-bleached shroud and lanyard,
   Surged up the mountain swell
Of the shoreless Southern Ocean;  
   And the gleam of our unknown rays
Awoke all his soul's devotion,
   In an outburst of prayer and praise.
For we rose on his sight as the symbol
   Of a life beyond the grave,
And a heavenly goal for each wanderer's soul,  
   'Midst the wastes of that wild lone wave.  

When the spirits of those whom Heaven  
   Reclaims from their mortal world
Hath new vision unto them given,
   With their angel wings unfurled --
As they soar with the seraph spirits
   Through the depths of the ether space,
'Midst the stars which each soul inherits,
   Of the children of heavenly race --
How they will see with wonder,
   And awe, and reverent love,
The planet orbs sinking under,
   And suns rising bright above.
As their earth grows dimly duller,
   A speck in the lower night --
And o'er them brightening fuller,
   With fathomless seas of light --
Each gorgeous constellation
   Glows in their raptured eyes,
Fresh from life's dull probation,
   'Midst luminous loftier skies.

Then shall they see, with a tender
   And solemn deep joy, the blaze
Of the clear transcendant splendour
   Of our clustering stars, and their rays --
Ruby, and purple, and golden,
   Gleaming a myriad fold,
More than all jewels beholden
   By them in earth's visions of old.
For though we but seem unto mortal
   Four stars, like a hierophic sign,
We show but the mystical portal
   To galaxies yet more divine,--

Whose clustering sunshines of glory --
   System on system afar --
Undimmed through antiquity hoary,
   With many an opaline star,
Burns bright on the broad brow of Heaven,
   'Midst its mightiest diadems,
As we circle around the "great seven,"
   Like His cross, set with worlds for our gems.

First published
in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 14 August 1875

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

To the Morning Star by Ernest Favenc

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Crowned monarch of the starry sky,
   Forerunner of the day
All other orbs that shine on high
   Must pale before thy ray.

If, as to legends old we find,
   Man's destinies are thine,
Whose paths art those amongst mankind
   On which thy fell rays shine?   

Ambition's votaries dost thou lure,
   Up, up the giddy height;
Led on by hopes that ne'er endure
   The test of Truth's stern light.

If so, the historic roll of fame
   Bears witness to thy sway,
Telling of deeds done in that name
   By men long passed away.

Napoleon must have watched thee rise,
   From many a camp-fire's side;
Earth's empires then would scarce comprise
   The yearnings of his pride.

Yet the same beams that coldly kissed
   His flashing spears upborne,
Loured sadly, dimly, through the mist
   Of Waterloo's dread morn.

And hovering o'er the Atlantic spray,
   With thy calm, changeless smile,
Thou sawest him wear his heart away
   On Saint Helena's Isle.

And he, the celestial one, who bore
   Thy name in heaven afar,
From hell's abyss shall rise no more,
   Oh, fatal morning star!   

Still, in lone majesty shine on,
   Creation's radiant king;
The unceasing woe thou look'st upon
   To thee no change can bring.

In some new life the grave beyond,
   Then yet our home mayest be;
When freed from every earth-wrought bond,
   Our souls are fit for thee.

First published in The Queenslander, 1 June 1872

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Dead Stars by Peter Airey

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They tell us yonder new-found star
   That beams on mortal bowers,
It needed half ten thousand years
   To reach this Earth of ours.

And yet -- O strange! -- it may by now
   Be dead in ashes cold,
And quenched may be the tender ray
   That tints our Night with gold.

And so, perchance, thy word may shine
   What time thy life is o'er,
And send abroad a silver sign
   To light a distant shore.

Ay, so, perchance, may proudly gleam,
   When thou hast left this clime,
The mem'ry of thy noble deed
   Adown the deeps of Time!

First published in The Bulletin, 17 February 1921

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Lines Suggested by the Appearance of a Comet by Charles Harpur

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Thy purpose, heavenly Stranger, who may know
But He who linked thee to the starry Whole?
We see thou journeyest, -- and no more; for of
The birth of Motion, save as the first step
Of God's creative power, Mankind even yet
May but conjecture, as they did of old,
The Shepherd Sages of the mystic East.   
Yet may we dream of thee in thy career,
As of a wandering symphony from amidst,
The planetary Voices of the World;   
Singing together, in their sun-led choirs,
The divine song of an eternal order.

Thus may we dream of thee -- and I, methinks,
With an especial privilege; for I,
(Unweetingly indeed) of all who watched
Thy coming, saw thee first in my own Land:
Then having wandered forth alone, as wont,
To steep my heart in the rich sunset -- lo,
I saw, half doubtingly, its fading hues
Leave thee sole wonder of the twylight sky.

But now, since thou hast travelled high in Heaven,
Thousands of wondering Spirits, all are out
Duly each night, with upturned looks, to drink
The mystery of thy beauty.

               In thy dust
Bright visitation, even thus, thou sawst
The young, the lovely, and the wise of Earth,   
A buried Generation, thronging forth
In wonder, to behold thee pass, and then
Know thee no more ; and when the flaming steps
Of thy unspeakable speed shall carry thee
Beyond our vision, all the beautiful eyes
Now opening up at thee, -- eyes made by Love
As tender as the turtle's, or that speak
The fervent soul and the majestic mind,
Shall be fast closed in death, and give for aye
Their lustre to the grave, ere thou again
Shall drive thy fiery chariot round the Sun!
But orbs as beautiful and loving -- yea,
More radiant in their wisdom, from a more
Enlarged communion with the soul of Truth,
Shall gaze at thee instead, heavenly Stranger,
When thou return'st again! -- Ah, what a dream!
Ah, what a shadow is the life of Man!

First published in The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser, 2 December 1846;
and later in
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: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Values by Marjorie Quinn

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Upon the hill there stood, as in a painting,
The old white house the palm-tree, and the star,
Leaning so near, it seemed, so close together,
Is that reality? One shines afar.

A myriad miles! A sun through aeons blazing
In stellar space: what is this house, this tree,
Engirt by time, compared to that star ranging
The dark, lone laneways of Infinity?

And yet the tree that is so kindly growing,
The house that man for man has builded well --
These are beloved within their day, while lonely
The star shines on, remote, immutable.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 September 1935

Author: Marjorie Quinn (1889-1972) was born in Sydney, the daughter of Patrick Quinn and the niece of Roderic Quinn. She was a foundation member and first secretary of the Fellowship of Australian Writers, a foundation member of the PEN Club, and secretary of the Society of Women Writers.

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

The Conquest of Matter by Emily Coungeau

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Lapis lazuli, blue with mystery,
Lay ocean, chiming its low symphony,
Waking pale thought of the eternities,
Of 'tranced dawns, and stellar silences
Of night, when planets in their courses ran
Ere the metonic law of life began,
As slowly rose the mitred sovran steeps,
To form the barriers of the Protean deeps.

The centuries pursue the endless quest,
And, 'mid the tumult of the world's unrest,
Potential units, aching with desire,
Look to the great centrifugal white fire,
Till, marvelling and lost in the immense,
They reason: "Whence came the Omnipotence,
Creator, yet Himself the Uncreate,
Who ever was?" The problem, intricate,
Remains unsolved, for none may fathom Him.
The mind is finite -- theories wax dim;
But genesis of matter is not vain,
For microcosms die to flame again.

The seals are broken; science probes the sod,
Tracing God's footprints where no mortal trod;
Scaling the apex of eternal snows,
Poised on gigantic silver wings, and knows
No languor the supernal heights to climb,
Inspired with aerial visionings sublime:
And mind o'er matter in the strenuous race
Flings wide the gateways of cerulean space.
And man applauds, as, with deep, bated breath
It winnows germs of life from husks of death.
Rich voices that had once divinely stirred
The inmost being, now long mute, are heard
In thrilling numbers of mellifluous sound
The while the singer lies in sleep profound.

Thus is unwound the hieroglyphic scroll,
And clear-eyed sapience with eager soul
Peers into dark abysms unrevealed,
Which in earth's withered matrix lie concealed.
Boccaccio's close ne'er heard a stranger tale
From beauty, carmine-lipped and olive pale --
Than queenly charm, now turned to dust and mould,
Which the vast theatres of age unfold,
When opulence and loveliness clasped hands,
Stealing along the desert's burning sands,
Who seeks may find that essence whence we came,
Whose mystery sets pulsing thought aflame;
But, to the lilting of this antique rhyme,
Emerging from dim galleries of time
In blue magnificence, remotely far,
There, on night's forehead, gleams a splendid star.

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 21 August 1926

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

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