Recently in Trees and Forests Category

Ring-Barked Timber by Kathleen Dalziel

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By giant boles, stemless and sapless,
   Slow growth of the green centuries, 
I look down the hill on the hapless
   Defeat of the trees.

The jagged ranks sore and uneven.
   The stark arms uplifted as though 
Invoking an impotent heaven
   To witness their woe.

For the loaf-mantled ridge and the rill-side
   Do you think this bare pasture atones? 
That seeming snowfall on the hill-side
   Is but the white bones

Of the kings of the primitive forest,
   Whose realm has long passed away.
Now heaped where the slaughter fell sorest,
   And bleached in decay.

And the wind sees no sadder sight under
   The leagues of the wandering sky,
Since it fled through the forest in thunder,
   Or sank to a sigh.

Where the hill-side has long been a stranger
   To the rush of its leaf symphonies,
And drought stalks, a dreadful avenger
   In the wake of the trees.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 December 1938

Author reference site: Austlit

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The She-Oak Tree by Myra Morris

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The she-oak tree outside my door,
   Is like some sombre Nun who stands,  
Upon a cold mosaic floor,

Chanting her prayers in sanctity.
   I hear the beads slip through her hands,
The while she drones her Rosary.

Her rusty-black, wind-lifted veil  
   Conceals the contour of her form;    
I see her face, austere and pale.  

And when the night is full of moan
   I hear her voice blown through the storm,
Praying for them who walk alone.    

And then I think she prays for me,  
Counting each Holy Mystery.
I hear the beads slip through her hands,  
The while she chants her Rosary.  

First published in The Australasian, 12 October 1918

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

River Tea-Tree by Kathleen Dalziel

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Far out, far out where the looming hills lean straightway 
   To the blue of the sky, and the Gap lies grey between 
Where the low boughs interlace at the red road's gateway 
   And the supplejack twines in the tangled undergreen, 
The winds sigh low to the Wannon waters' singing, 
   And the last late heath is a-flower, fairy-belled. 
With the flick of a wren and the flash of a lory winging 
   Through the toss of the tea-tree blossoms at Dunkeld.
Clean is the air by the cool, green mountain passes, 
   Cool is the wind by the rocky scarps austere, 
Where the dusty dogwoods stoop by the green morasses 
   And the grass-tree lifts its velvet-headed spear. 
Ere ever the north wind swings in its burning marches 
   And the bloom of the gold September is dispelled, 
Ah, well to be under the forest's ferny arches 
   In the time of the tea-tree blossom at Dunkeld.
Where the storms roll up from the sea-line, dark and tragic, 
   And the thunder heads are flushed with sunset's stain, 
I wish I could drink of the south wind's crystal magic 
   When the far bush world is fragrant after rain. 
Stars o'er the mountain swung in the velvet spaces --
   Ah, for the glamor the night and morning held! 
Ah, for the grace of the old familiar places 
   Ere the froth of the tea-tree is falling at Dunkeld!
When the winding way is a foam of misty blossom, 
   And the frogs' loud chorus rings from the river's turn; 
Where the wide grey bush rolls down to the brown cliff's bosom, 
   High to the eagle's eerie, low to the fern; 
Oh, fair is the light of the gold September morning, 
   And I wish I might walk by the ridges as of eld, 
In the time o' the year when the wattle gold is turning, 
   And the river tea-tree blossoms at Dunkeld! 

First published in The Bulletin, 18 September 1929

Author reference site: Austlit

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The Whispering Currajong by Kathleen Dalziel

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Come back to the ridge and the river, 
   And the ways where you belong, 
To the plains and the swamps for ever 
   Says the whispering currajong.

In the sun-washed garden ingles, 
   Where the sunflowers nod and sway, 
Is a whispering, voice that mingles 
   With memory's tones alway. 
Come back, come back to the tussock plain, 
   And the Ware where you belong --
Over again and over again, 
   Says the whispering currajong. 

Come back to the swamps and the reaches 
   Where the garb of the green months smiles: 
Come back where the hot haze bleaches 
   Down the long, long mallee miles. 
To the crash and the mighty chorus 
   Of the storm in the tree-tops strong 
To the June gales hammering o'er us, 
   Says the whispering currajong. 

When the clouds roll up in thunder, 
   Or the frost wind whips from the south 
Where the earth lies fainting under 
   The long sick swoon of the drouth, 
All of the red Decembers. 
   And the fair month's blossomry, 
The whispering tree remembers, 
   And never will let me be. 

Whispering there in the quiet 
   Of the sultry summer noon, 
Where the loose-leaved roses riot 
   And the grey doves coo and croon. 
Though never a slow wind passes 
   To the lilt of a cricket's song, 
Telling its tale to the grasses, 
   Stands the whispering currajong. 

When the north wind leaps and rages 
   Hot breathed and red leagues wide, 
And scatters like torn-out pages 
   The leaves of the countryside, 
Low in the lull of the onset, 
   Loud when the strife is long, 
And dying away with the sunset 
   Croons the whispering currajong. 

Come back, come hack to the old days... 
   So long hove the troubled years 
Hidden the way with mist-wreaths grey 
   And covered the track with tears. 
And I would if I could, but, oh, how vain 
   And useless for long and long 
Is the voice of the past and the pleading pair 
   Of the whispering currajong! 

When the heat waves shimmer and quiver 
  When the winter nights are long --
Come back to the ridge and the river, 
   Says the whispering currajong.

First published in The Bulletin, 11 September 1929

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

On Furlough in England by Mabel Forrest

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Lilac out round London, primrose and buttercup;
Fields of glowing poppies and he sweet blue-bell;
But for a bunch of gum leaves, real Australian gum leaves
For a bunch of gum leaves the lot I'd sell!

O! The green of England, the rare green of England!
You've seen nothing like it on Australian plains,
Tho' the burnt feed's springing, emerald bright and springing,
All along the timber in the February rains.

But I'd give the green of England, the dazzling green of England,
And the tidy little holdings where holly hedges run,
For a bunch of gum leaves, apple Australian gum leaves,
Drooping in the glory of the Australian sun!

Oak trees, gnarled a hundred years, elder, ash, and beech,
Immemorial forests, and the cowslips in the dell --
But for a bunch of gum leaves, real Australian gum leaves,
For a bench a gum leaves the lot I'd sell!

First published in The Sydney Mail, 5 September 1917 

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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The Wood by Myra Morris

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I rode into the wood, the wood,
   When the dark was on the tree,
And the ebony boles, as straight as death,
   Stood stark in front of me.  

I rode into the wood, the wood,
   For a hundred thousand miles,
And the cup o' the sun spilled out red wine    
   Between the sombre aisles.

"Clap," went the horse's hoofs, "clip, clap,"    
   And the dark was full of ghosts;
And I watched by the track the shadows change
   To swarming, fairy hosts.

Hard to the silver reins they clung,
   And along the saddle stood,
And the jewel-starred bridle bent and shook
   (I feared the whispering wood)!

Sweet they sang in a wild, love song,
   And caressed my untied hair,
And I bartered my heart for a fairy's kiss,
   And thought I bartered care.

I rode out of the wood, the wood,
   When the road was hard to see,
But I knew that the wood, the dreadful wood  
   Had taken a part of me.

"Clip," go the horse's hoofs, "clip clop," 
   And "clip clop" throughout my brain --
But the heart of me lies in the fairies' hold,
   And I ride not again!

First published in The Australasian, 3 September 1921

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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Almond Blossom by Kathleen Dalziel

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The almonds are out
   In the orchard again,
A fluttering rout
   In the wake of the rain.

A delicate froth
   On the wash of the wind, 
Defying the wrath
   Of a season unkind.

A fairy-land lattice
   Against the low sky; 
A miracle that is
   The crown of July. 

All blowing about,
   So that someone may say 
The almonds are out
   In the orchard to-day.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 July 1938

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

The Song of Trees by Mabel Forrest

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I remember the plain where the lime trees grew, 
   And the grey of the twilight rest, 
And the sun's red couch in the fading blue 
   When he pillows across the west. 
Then life, I had stopped but a pace with you 
   In sight of the homing nest.

I remember the boughs had tales for me, 
   And the flowers a mystic singing, 
As though 'twas some pixie minstrelry 
   Where the fancy sprites go winging. 

I remember the weeds in the lagoon 
   That twined like a sea babe's swathing, 
And the watchful eyes of the mother-moon
   When the moonrays went a-bathing. 

I remember the scrub with sighing tunes 
   Where loves of the trees made story, 
And low in the waning of afternoons 
   A wattle in crested glory. 

I remember the bush fire's orange light, 
   To flicker of stars replying,
And its ragged leap on the loom of night, 
   And its slow and jewelled dying. 

I remember the scent of scorching leaves, 
   The black of the burned earth's gowning, 
And the acrid scent where the flame wind grieves 
   Thro' dusk of the sheaoks crowning. 

I had gained the rim of the stream of life, 
   Had trodden the sodden edges, 
And the will-o'-the-wisps of Hope were rife 
   In reeds by the wave-lipped edges. 

And my boat danced out to uncharted seas, 
   A wave o'er the green past folding, 
And the oars of toil beat back calls like these -- 
But the tails of youth in the songs of trees 
   The strings of my heart are holding!  

First published in The Sunday Times, 19 June 1910

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

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Ringbarked by Kathleen Dalziel

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Gone long ago his hoard
   Of gum-blossom, nut and bough.
No bee or feasting bird
   Cares to visit him now.

Only the bull-dog ants
   Scurry about his base,
Or a lone windhover haunts
   Some high perching place.

At times the magpies use
   Him as a pedestal;
Broadcast their morning news,
   Concerts at even-fall.

Or a phantom cuckoo grieves
   That spring might soon go by;
Otherwise life just leaves
   Him alone with the sky.

Twenty years he has lacked
   The leaves that shimmered and laughed --
How many gales have rocked
   Since then that silvery shaft?

Yet when the bush is drawn
   Into the sky's disputes,
I have seen green kings torn
   Up by heir mighty root,

While, last of his tribe, alone
   He stands upon the rise
Pointing a useless bone
   At the uncaring skies.

First published in The Bulletin, 28 May 1947

Author reference site: Austlit

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Flowering Eucalypt by Kathleen Dalziel

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Seared and unvarnished
   The plane branches swing,
Summer has tarnished
   The tinsel of spring;

Flaying the brittle,
   And spoiling the bright,
Chasing the little
   Winged seeds out of sight.

But, among shouldering
   Silvers and greys,
The redgum is smouldering,
   Ready to blaze.

Splendid and forthright,
   The conquering one,
Here is his birthright,
   The lodestar, the sun.

Careless of cruel
   Winds avid to scorch,
The beautiful fuel
   But waits for the torch.

Then, bright in that alien
   Tame company
Burns the Australian
   Bonfire tree.

Up runs the scarlet --
   The mad flowering,
No sober varlet
   Is he, but a king.

Colors flung higher
   His crowning proclaim
With bugles of fire,
   And trumpets of flame.

Honey-flies gather
   On every crest;
Even still weather
   Will not let them rest,

But, trembling and stirring
   Without any breeze,
They are rocked by the purring
   Of passionate bees.

While every blue
   Summer day that goes by
Crowns him anew
   In the courts of the sky.

First published in The Bulletin, 11 May 1949

Author reference site: Austlit

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The Old Orchard by Kathleen Dalziel

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All lovely in the latticed dew,
   And heavy with low boughs hoary, 
The apple trees put forth anew
   Their old enchanted glory.

Rose-misted mass and myriad,
   White as a white-cloud's bosom,
The clinging, climbing bees go mad
   Among the trembling blossom.

While from a spire of rosy snow  
   The top-most boughs adorning,
A thrush, half hidden, sings below
   The heavenly blue of morning.

Amid celestial peace, where dross
   Material reckoning falters,
The thrush sings on a budded cross
   At Beauty's very altars .... 

Old trees, so gloriously young,
   Thick petals, thronged with bees,
Have I glimpsed heaven to-day among
   The blossoming apple trees?

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 April 1933

Author reference site: Austlit

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The Budding Elms by Myra Morris

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Little Margaret is lying under the ground,
   And the elm trees are awake!  
Little Margaret is lying under the ground,
   And the red buds swell and break.

The sap runs warm where the boughs were chill,
   And the flowers are coming on;
The birds sing loud that have been so still,
   But little Margaret is gone!  

There's a whispering now, there's a long, long sigh  
   Through the limbs of the stirring trees -- 
A purple smoke 'twixt the earth and sky,
   And the drone of moving bees.

"Where are you, Margaret? Come and play!"   
   The elm trees lean and look.
"Where is the child that came each day,   
   With her curls and her picture-book?"  

Where are you, Margaret, where are you now?
   Does your spirit hunt the bees?  
Or court the buds on the last red bough,
   Or catch the sun through the trellised trees?

Little Margaret is lying under the ground,  
   And the elm trees are awake!
Little Margaret is lying under the ground, 
   What shall I do? My heart will break.  

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 April 1930 

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Dark Pines by Myra Morris

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The dark pines climbing up the hill
   With measured footsteps, never turning,
Are like black nuns, with faces dim
Against the sunset's yellow rim,
   Where altar-lamps are burning.

The dark pines climbing one by one
   Into some place enchanted
Are like thin, haggard ghosts that go
Down into dark no man may know,
   With weary mien, undaunted.

The dark pines wild against the sky,
   With restless arms a-swaying,
Are whispering, whispering far away --
And oh, I know, I know they say
   Just what my heart is saying!

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

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Poinciana Tree by Mabel Forrest

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The golden feet of the stars have bathed
   In the scarlet foam of the tree
Which the wind has tossed from the silver keel
   Of a boat of phantasy.

Dame Nature works with her coloured reels,
   And the thread of the brightest runs 
Out of the red, red heart of life,
   And the core of a score of suns.

The gayest silks were unwound for this, 
   Where it trails against the wind;
'Tis an empty reel for the other trees
   And the worker dazzled blind.

For the poinciana above the roofs
   Of the grey and sleepy town 
Is like a gipsy come to kirk
In a new vermillion gown.

The frowns of the godly move her not,
   And their grim looks pass her by;
She carries the shield of the happy hills,
   And the pride of the open sky.

Her tresses are bound in an orange snood,
   And the murmur of the town
Is blent to fasten a summer song
   To the green hem of a gown!

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 January 1928

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

A Forest Scene by C.J. Dennis

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As I went down a forest place
   At the closing of the year
To find me peace, and gather grace
   In this green gladness here.
I saw a scene I knew of old,
   In many a year gone by --
A loveliness to have and hold
Here, with the gully waters cold,
   And the bland, blue peeping sky.
And I saw the blue wrens trooping near,
   And I heard the thrushes call,
And found surcease from worldly fear --
   For a peace was over all.
And my mind went back to long ago,
   For here was a scene I knew
Where the gums and ancient tree ferns grow,
And the ever-lasting waters flow,
   And life yields little new.
And I thought of the world -- of the world of men,
   Who ever seek them change,
And haste, and hectic, haste again
   To a goal beyond their range.
And I heard the thrush and the blue wren there
   Fluting their songs of glee --
For them this world was passing fair,
And they found content and gladness there.
   Why came not peace to me?
Then I saw life, as men see life --
   I who am but a man;
And I dreamed of a scene devoid of strife,
   Built on the good God's plan.
And I came me back from that forest place,
   With a dream to have and hold,
Of men with naught but life to face,
Of men grown young in simple grace,
   And the birds and the bush grown old!

First published in The Herald, 28 December 1933

Forest Sanctuary by C.J. Dennis

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Seek you sorely, for a space,
   Respite from the world's dull fretting?
Come then to a secret place --
   Man's entanglements forgetting --
Deep within the forest dreaming.
   Deep within its shadows cool,
Where the mountain waters streaming
Broaden to the placid beaming
         Of a quiet pool.

Making here a great green tent,
   Ti-tree bough and wattle bending --
As strong lovers' arms are bent
   Shielding beauty -- droop, defending
This green sanctuary sleeping
   In its soft green twilit day;
And a scrap of bright sky peeping
Thro' the tall trees, sentry keeping,
         Seems a world away.

Rage the tempest as it may
   O'er the tree-tops, writhing, broiling;
Burn as may the burning day,
   Frailer loveliness despoiling;
Summer's scorn and Winter's bluster
   Seeks in vain this hallowed spot
Lending its translucent lustre
To the nodding ferns that cluster
         Many a mossy grot.

Steeply slope the banks above,
   All the outer turmoil muting;
Softly, bush birds' sings of love
   Match an organ's mellow fluting.
Here is peace past all conceiving
   In this forest chance, here
Spreads a grace that transmutes grieving
To hushed wonder, to believing
         God is very near. 

First published in The Herald, 22 August 1933

Song of the Saw by C.J. Dennis

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[Mr. M. L_____, whose tender for fifty thousand sleepers has been accepted, proposes to fell many of the magnificent gums growing on his estate. - News item.]

Sing ho for the whirring King of Steel,
   And the bite of his sharp, relentless teeth!
Vanished his prey, till the earth reveal,
   Where rotting veins lie underneath.

Born was I in the heart of flame,
   Born 'mid the roaring furnace blast,
In the land where the grimy workmen came,
  Where giant beams go flashing past.

They fashioned my form with cunning hands,
   Where hammers clash and the anvil rings,
And sent me forth to the tree-clad lands
   To seek my prey 'mid the forest kings.

Fifty years had they reigned, or more,
   Forest monarchs of giant girth;
Far from the smoke, and clash, and roar
   Of the grimy place that gave me birth.

Fifty years had they reigned in peace
   Over a country verdant, fair;
Year by year did their might increase,
   Till I and my ally -- man -- came there.

And they set me up on an iron bench,
   And ground my cruel teeth anew,
That I might better tear and wrench
   These mighty monarchs thro' and thro'.

One by one did they crash to earth;
   One by one did the kings depart,
While I whirred and buzzed, and shrieked in mirth,
   As I gnawed into the very heart.

And lo! in the land that had known their reign,
   The land that was verdure-clad and fair,
Nought but the rotting roots remain
   To tell of the mighty kings that were.

Then -- Ho, for the March of the King of Steel
   And the weary waste that marks his track!
For who may the sign of his path conceal;
   Or give to the land its monarchs back?

First published in The Critic, 3 August 1901

The Gum Tree by C.J. Dennis

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By the side of the track the gnarled old gum 
   Lifts strong arms to the sky; 
He marks the rare bush toilers come, 
   And the tourists trooping by. 
So has he stood thro' many a year 
   And watched them come and go; 
They change, says he, who pass by here, 
Yet forms are straight and eyes are clear, 
   As in the long ago. 

From bullock drays to motor cars, 
From gloom to lights that shame the stars, 
   Change comes indeed; from garb they wore, 
   From moleskin pants to the wide plus four, 
From tall bush wives of sterling grit,   
To laughing girls in riding kit; 
   An outward change, says the old gum tree, 
   But the race seems much the same to me. 

By the side of the back the old gum stands, 
   Last of his giant race, 
Who saw these men from distant lands 
   Change all a country's face. 
From his mountain side where the old gum grows 
   He has watched the fathers press 
Who came not back; but well he knows 
Today's strong men are sons of those   
   Who tamed the wilderness.

First published in The Herald, 11 June 1931;
and later in
The Advertiser and Register, 22 August 1931.

The Tree-Creeper by C.J. Dennis

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My family holds many kinds:
   The red, the white of brow, the brown;
And each a life's emptiness finds,
   Where rugged gum trees lift a crown
Up to the kind, life-giving sun
And here live I, the prying one.
Round and round the trunk I go,
   Ever upward, round and round,
While my long, prehensile toe
   Makes my foothold safe and sound
To the ragged bark I cling;
   A ragged bark am I
I sing and search and search and sing,
   And in the crannies peep and pry.
"Woodpecker" some would have me styled;   
   But well they know, the gum-trees tall,
That my assaults are passing mild
   And most beneficient withal
To hunt the "wog" is my affair,
   To sing awhile, then softly steal
And drag him from his darksome lair
   To be a merry songster's meal.
So round and round the tree I go,
   Round and round and ever up;
And many a secret place I know
   Where I may royally dine or sup.
From tree to tree, from dawn to dark,
   I sing and search and search and sing,
About the ragged storm-scarred bark
   To make a merry banqueting. 

First published in The Herald, 18 February 1933

Forest Summer Idyll by C.J. Dennis

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"Wet day tomorrow!" says the old grey jay;
And all the bush is sweltering beneath the burning day.
      Then comes the contradiction in a sweet melodious rush.
      "Fine hot weather now!" declares grey thrush.
Tall trees are tossing as the north wind blows
"Bush fire! Bush fire!" it is sobbing as it goes.

But the boys are in the forest and the 'plane hums overhead,
And Science bids us exorcise an old-time dread.
      The 'plane is high above us; it is watching for the smoke,
      It brings a sudden comfort now to all bush folk.
But the lees of dread stay with them, the terror never dies:
"Bush fire! Bush fire!" the north wind sighs.

Old Pete, the pensioner, he cocks a bleary eye
Up to the vast blue zenith. As he slowly scans the sky,
      "Sun spots, they're sayin' now, makes weather change that way.
      Pig-swill an' poppcock!" says old Pete Parraday.
"I never hear the like of it, not since me day begun --
Floods an' fires a-comin' out of pimples on the sun!"

"Wet day tomorrow!" shrieks the old grey jay.
"Suns spots? Fiddlesticks!" scoffs Peter Parraday.
      Then sweet above the garden in the noon-day hush:
      "Fine hot weather now," insists grey thrush.
But the boys are in the forest and the high 'plane drones.
"Bush fire! Bush fire!" the north wind moans.

First published in The Herald, 22 January 1936

Summer Sanctuary by C.J. Dennis

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Not upon the crowded beaches
   Where the sun beats fierce and hot;
Not upon the river reaches
   In a shady silvan spot;
But in some deep mountain valley,
   'Mid the sassafras and fern,
Here's the place where I would dally
   When the suns of Summer burn.

Here the sifted sunlight dappling
   Carpets with translucent green,
Flecks and flirts on fern and sapling,
   Where the cold stream peeps between.
"Here," you muse, "since time's beginning,
   Foot of man has never known;
Mine the joy first to be winning
   All this beauty for my own."

"Here," you muse, "is safe seclusion
   Known alone to bee and bird,
From the rude unsought intrusion
   Of the common human herd." . . .
Then a lipstick grossly gleaming,
   And a half-smoked fag you see;
And you waken from your dreaming
   As a shrill voice yells "Coo-ee!"

First published in The Herald, 9 January 1932;
and later in 
More Than a Sentimental Bloke edited by John Derum, 1990.

On a Babe by Douglas B. W. Sladen

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What is the secret of this bud
Of pink and simple babyhood
That thrusts its head above the soil
Into this world of joy and toil?

We presage little of the shoot
That rises from the hidden root
But that leaf and stalk will follow
With the coming of the swallow.

And what its aftergrowth will be --
Whether flower or stately tree --
Only the Power that made it knows;
We can but watch it as it grows,

And, noting each unfolded leaf
The bud detaches from its sheaf,
Call back those of trees and flowers
Which we knew in other hours,

Saying that sweet carnation
Had such a budding as this one,
And yon fair lily in its youth
Just such a soft upspringing growth;  

Or that the pine so tall and strong
Grow in this wise when it was young ;
And the oak that rules the wildwood
Was as this one in its childhood.

What will this bud be--sweet or strong
As the years hasten it along?
Will it be delicate and fair,
Or rear its branches in the air?

Will it be rifled of its bloom
To decorate a gilded room?  
Or with brood trunk scorning danger
Front the rising tempest's anger?

I would that this small bud you see
Just as this moss-rose bud should be --
As sweet to scent, as full of dew,
As beautiful in shape and hue;

And as the lily free from stain,
And fresh as hedgerows after rain;
As the daisy ever-blooming,  
Radiant and unpresuming.

I would that this small bud you see
Should grow into a linden-tree;
Should put forth tender leaves in spring,
And after burst out blossoming;

Should lend in summer heat a shade
Beneath its leafy colonnade,
And each year send out fresh branches  
In green fragrant avalanches:

Or, if its fibre stouter be,
That it turn out a brave oak-tree,
Late in the leaf, in increase slow,
But match for all the winds that blow;   
Standing in green old age alone          
When all its mates are dead and gone;
Type of constancy and greatness,
Grander for its very lateness.

First published in The Queenslander, 31 December 1881

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Forest King by Ella McFadyen

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'Mid figs broad based and hoary,
   Struck deep in good, red earth,
In lawyer-latticed twilight
   The Forest King had birth.

In majesty he lorded
   The guilty depths below,
The little, trembling wattle,
   The wind-warped bungalow.

The barefoot and the orchid,
   That clambered in his arms;
The raspberry vine, red-jewelled,
   Among the sun shot palms.

The wild birds filled his branches
   With carillons of spring;
The grey trunked forest elders
   Were brothers of the King.

He held his wild dominion
   Through undisputed years;
Still in his prime of glory
   He knew the pioneers.

He saw the slab-built cabin,
   A lone star through the night,
And heard the axeblade ringing
   Before the dawn was white.

He saw the ring-barked giants,
   The broad-girth forest sires,
A white-limbed, ghostly army
   Stand waiting for the fires.

He saw the smoke blurred clearing
   In chill white winter nights,
Where in dead ranks his brothers
   Burned red like beacon lights.

he saw his fastness taken,
   His rugged kingdom tamed;
Along the dusty highway
   The red lantana flamed.

He saw the fertile gully
   Filled with heavy grain;
The warm, red, loamy hillside
   Head high with rustling cane.

Now round the fern-filled hollow,
   And along the long, red road,
By two and two the oxen
   Strain hard against their load.

The red dust stirs and settles,
   The long teams sway and swing;
With chains drawn taut and straining,
   They bear the Forest King!

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 30 December 1908;
and later in
Outland Born and Other Verses by Ella McFadyen, 1911.

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

There was a Cherry Tree by Ethel Turner

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There was a cherry tree afoam with flower
As I passed through a village one sweet hour. 
A cherry tree in flower's a half-wild thing, 
Gone back an aeon for its brief, mad spring. 
Sometimes in fruit a cherry tree goes fay,
Steal from your bed and look, some break of day.
But by the side of this one folks had built
A smirking little place, picked out with gilt, 
With paths of concrete and a steel-wire gate,
And curtain-smothered windows, bayed in state. 
Oh, architect who built in that green wild, 
Why were you not a fairy or a child?
Why made you not your walls of warm brown trees.
With rose-wreathed windows singing in the breeze?
Oh, master of that house, why not have planned
Of springing grass the paths on your fair land? 
And hung a little wicket gate, made white, 
For any child to swing on as its right?
I know what happened in the fruiting hour;
The cherries of that singing tree turned sour. 
Ah, touched with faery should a dwelling be, 
Companioned by a foaming cherry tree.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 November 1934

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

To the Ironbark by Maybanke Anderson

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   We'll sing a song for the Ironbark,
   The tree of the land we love.
His skin is tough, but his heart is true,
Winter and summer the whole year through,
In morning sun and evening dew,
He waves green leaves to the azure blue,
   The brave old tree of Australia.

   A sturdy gift was the Ironbark
   To the men who built Australia.
Walls and roof for the homes they made,
While the billy boiled and the children played,
Rest and peace in the leafy shade,
Love of the gum tree ne'er shall fade
   From the mem'ry of Australia.    

   The oriole sits near her pendant nest
   On the fringe of the Ironbark,
Watches the teams that come and go,
While the bush she loves, and the trees lie low,
Sees the men with the plough walk to and fro,
And homes and orchards and wheat fields grow,
   In her own green home, Australia.

   Like her, we'll sing to the Ironbark,
   The tree of our native land,
When the aisles of the bush are dim and cold,
When banners of mist each arch enfold,  
While the moon draws patterns of faded gold
His vigil he keeps like a knight of old,
   The gallant tree of Australia.  

   No tree so brave as the Ironbark,  
   No other land can claim him,.  
When skies are dark, and the wind's a gale,
He laughs at the clouds as they hurrying sail.
For naught cares he come storm, come hail,  
A warrior king in a coat of mail,
   The Ironbark of Australia.

   Then stand we firm like the Ironbark,
   The tree of the land we love.
From the good brown earth to the sunlit air,  
Whether the wind blow foul or fair
Beauty and service and love we'll share
With the tree of a land beyond compare --
   The land of our hope, Australia.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 November 1926

Author: Maybanke Susannah Anderson (1845-1927) was born in Surrey, England, and arrived in Sydney with her parents in 1855. A disastrous first marriage forced Anderson to support herself and her family by opening a school in the 1880s, Maybanke College.  Anderson was active in early feminist politics in Australia and in 1894 she began the feminist newspaper Woman's Voice.  A successful second marriage to philosophy professor Sir Francis Anderson followed.  She died while on tour in Europe in 1927.

The Sisters by Myra M. Campbell

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Together, in a garden that I know,
   Stand two young gumtrees -- tall and straight and slight,
While draped about their slender limbs of snow
   Are two wistaria vines -- one mauve one white.

Like scented ringlets tossed upon the breeze
   Their flagrant blossoms sway in careless grace,
Lending an added beauty to the trees --
   Casting a sweet aroma o'er the place.

Like sisters, stand these saplings, side by side,
   All decked for dancing 'neath the moon tonight --
Or maybe one's a bridesmaid, one a bride --
   The one in mauve -- the other veiled in white!  

With mingled locks and arms that interwine,
   They seem to stoop and whisper secrets sweet;
While soft winds murmur o'er each branch and vine,
   And perfumed petals flutter to our feet!  

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 October 1932

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

Wattle by Walter D. White

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See the splendour far unrolled
Of the glorious wattle gold;
Hear the west wind idly sighing;
And the ibis flighting, crying;
Watch the opal twilight dying.
Where the tall trees, brave and old,
Stand embowered in swaying gold;
All the wayward winds that blow,
All the elves and fairies know
Where the golden wattles grow!

In the Northland, in the Southland,
In the Eastland and the Westland;
In the heat and in the cold,
See the wonder far unrolled
Of the trailing wattle gold:
Sun-kissed blossoms, softly falling,
Out where mighty hills are calling --
Wondrous pageant here on earth,
Miracle that called to birth
Flowers so graceful, rich and true
'Neath the arching dome of blue!  

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 July 1932

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

Oak and Eucalypt by Henry O'Donnell

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Trim Oak! why cast thy garments sere,
That fall as gently as a tear
   Upon earth's saddened face?
Has one short season made them old
By turning green to green and gold,
   And robbed them of their grace?

Dame Nature, wisely, has decreed
One dress a year shall be the meed
   For the English Forest Queen,
In which to play propriety,
And has decreed the shade shall be
   A changing sort of green.

Art thou so lost to love of dress
That, with a girlish fretfulness ---
   But lacking girlish fear ---
Thou°lt shed thy tarnished mantle, and,
Without a blush or tremor, stand
   Stark naked half the year?

Why thus outstretch thy undraped arms,
And bare to wanton winds thy charms
   That eyes should never see?
Erstwhile commended for thy dress,
I call thee in thy nakedness,
   Immmodest symmetry.

Rough Eucalypt! I turn to thee,
The typical Australian tree,
   Who, though thou dost not wear
The queenly Oak's superior grace ---
And hast, perchance, a freckled face --
   Art clothed throughout the year.

Unlike the fashionable Oak,
Thou dost not take thy verdant cloak
   And fling it to the breeze,
When Autumn, with her chilly hand,
Has soiled it, and consent to stand
   For half a year to freeze.

Thy grey-green form is lithe and long,
Thy heart is iron, thy limbs are strong,
   And never made to be
The puppets of life's storm and stress;
And well befits thy common dress,
   A serviceable tree.

Because thou dost not live for show
Where north winds scorch, and south gales blow,
   And dost not doff thy dress,
I have for thee a friendship ripe,
Though, truth to tell, thou art a type
   Of modest ugliness.

First published in Melbourne Punch, 9 March 1905

Author reference site: Austlit.

See also.

Gumleaves by W.M. Whitney

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With low-hung clouds, the sun is draped,
   The bush, with wreckage thick is strewn,
The hour-glass falls, the course is shaped,
   The morn hastes on to afternoon;
The gumleaf falls, the she-oak sighs,
   Love to a shadow'd cavelet flies!

The foliage eaves are whisper-stirr'd,
   The lavish blooms mosaic the grass,
Upon the wind a cry is heard,
   Borne from the burgeon'd mountain pass;
The gumleaf falls, the she-oak sighs,
   Love-pours the sorrow from her eyes!

The world is stern, its features rude,
   Its lips are thin, its bosom cold,
Love's mouth is full and rosy-hued,
   Her breasts are firm with bliss untold!
The gumleaf falls, the she-oak sighs,
   The day is sped, love droops and dies!

The trees are hush'd, the night is dark,
   Impressive silence girds around,
And through the boughs one star to mark
   The vestal sphere my love has found!
The gumleaf falls, the she-oak sighs,
   Love sends a message from the skies!

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 2 March 1901

Author: William Montague Whitney was born in 1866.  Other than this nothing is known about this author.

Author reference site: Austlit

The Olive Tree by Ivy Moore

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A Grecian line of beauty dwells
   Within the slender olive tree;
Its grace a dryad's form excels,
   So lithe and silvery and free.
The rhythmic murmur of the wind,
   Stirs music from the argent leaves;
Whilst the wild birds, undisciplined,
   Have built their nests beneath the eaves.
Neath such a tree Ulysses slept,
   Artemis sped at break of day;
The timid Daphne hid and wept,
   Within its sheltering branches gray.
Alone by day, when moonlight shines,
   To light the dark of night's domain;
Comes, with his forehead crowned with vines,
   The old god Pan, to pipes' refrain.
Then on the carpet of green moss,
   They dance in joy from night till morn;
And nymphs and satyrs lightly toss
   Ripe olives from the branches torn!  

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 November 1935;
and later in
Australian Violets by Ivy Moore, 1937.

Author reference sites: Austlit

See also.

The Silky Oak by Emily Coungeau

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Your trunk was flecked with mosses green and grey,  
   Splendid against the turquoise blue of skies,  
While 'mid the branches errant winds would play,
   And feathered throats lilt sweetest rhapsodies.
The settlers planned your death but yesterday,
   Soon by meek oxen to be borne away.

Serene you stand, and powerless to appeal
   As the sharp axes, flashing in the sun,
Cleave with a singing rhythm until you reel;      
   The work of execution has begun.  
A tearing, grinding sound . . as crashing fall
   Your limbs, and leaves lie o'er you like a pall.

Twelve oxen wait to bear you down the range,
   Their plodding hooves will land you miles below;
How slowly beautiful you grew, while strange
   Weird rites were held by totems, none may know,
Save pixie shapes which danced in moonlit zones,
   And you, who heard Daramulu's deep tones.  

To some boudoir, with its distinctive air,
   Your silken grainings may lend added charm,
And softly mirror beauty's profile fair,
   Who dreams of love with dimpled chin in palm ....
But will she think of you as once you stood,
   Magnificent, a doyen of the wood?  

Only, a tree: emblem of some brave man,
   With proud head lifted, though in mortal pain,
Who, doomed, calm, and dispassionately, can
   Meet dissolution with a cold disdain ....
Down ranks of sentinels which whisper low,
   You, with twelve brown-eyed oxen, slowly go.

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 12 September 1925;
and later in
The Queenslander, 26 September 1925.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Note: Daramulu (or "Daramulum") is a part of the mythology of several Aboriginal cultures of South-East Australia.  He lives in the trees of the bush. 

Scarlet-flowering Gums by Louis Lavater

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Wantons ye are to madden so the bees
   Drunk with your dripping sweetness through long hours
Of shimmering honey-gold! There are no flowers
Dappling the green of any sort of trees
Can match your blaze of scarlet ecstasies.
   Wantons ye are, indeed, whom Nature dowers
With greater wealth than heaped Old Persia's bowers
Or ripened for remote Hesperides.

In time to come (they say) shall trees no more
   Foam up in sudden beauty, nor the furze
With yellow flecks of it be scattered o'er.
   Nor bees nor moths be Cupid's messengers.
How in that day would tender souls be hurled
Back to this era from a blossomless world!

First published in The Bulletin, 29 June 1922

Author: Louis Lavater (1867-1953) was born in St Kilda, Victoria, and entered the University of Melbourne to study medicine. He did not finish his degree deciding instead to follow his love of music.  He was active in Melbourne literary circles and, while he did not write a lot of  poetry, his work was appreciated by those who knew him.  He died in St Kilda in 1953.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

Bush Pictures: A Dead Forest by Henry O'Donnell

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Oh! ashen comrades of the years too brief,
   Grim, shrivelled skeletons, ungainly things,
Like beggars now ye stand, in silent grief,
   Where, but a decade since, ye reigned as kings.

I fled the haunts of men, with ye to be,
   In days when I had mirth, and ye were strong,
But, though superb in mighty majesty,
   Not for your might I loved ye, but your song.

When she, the sunlight of my wayward days,
   Went forth with me, to bid my heart rejoice,
She, with her lute, from you caught such rare lays
   As never raptured minstrel tongue could voice.

And when we told our loves -- ah, me! the tale --
   And lingered long adown the shady lea,
Ye bent your plumes, and over hill and dale
   Proclaimed our secret in a symphony.

With plighted troth when once again we strolled
   To seek the solace of your kindly bowers,
No organ diapason ever rolled
   A wedding march that faintly echoed ours.

And when, aweary of this war for breath
   Too soon she grew, and wrung my only tear,
Ye sang in whispers, in the teeth of death,
   The only requiem I loved to hear.

And now that night is menacing my day,
   Your matchless nocturne, madrigal and glee,
Your crested heads, that kept the storm at bay,
   In memory alone can live with me;

For all your withered tongues are cold and mute
   As riven chords in hearts of adamant,
And, like my vanished love with broken lute,
   To me a dirge of silence now ye chant,

To tell, perchance, to soothe the after years,
   Dead trees, dead loves and songless birds may be --
As we would know but for our deafened ears --
   The deeper tones of Nature's harmony.

First published in Melbourne Punch, 19 May 1904

Author reference site: Austlit.

See also.

The Forest Fighter by Henry O'Donnell

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The clear, crisp air of morning like a silver tocsin rang
   A note that told of fierce but bloodless fight,
And stirred me to a melody that laggard never sang
   When a stripling slew a giant in his might.

Crash! came the monster, but his fall woke no applauding cheers,
   For, silently, the mighty deed was done,
But "Laborare est orare" echoed down the years,
   And spurred the stripling to the task begun.

For, fronting him, an army of a thousand giants stood,
   And tossed their thousand plumes against the sky,
But he swore a vow to wife and child that, all alone he would
   Lay low that horde of forest kings or die.

And morn by morn, with whetted axe, he faced the shrinking foe
   With steady eye, and fearless, measured tread,
And day by day the battle raged, but crushing was his blow,
   For every night a forest king lay dead.

The clear, crisp air of morning like a silver tocsin rang,
   When all the shattered giants lay up-piled,
But, louder than a tocsin, all the rescued meadows sang
   The vict'ry won for home and wife and child.

The God that lent to honest toil its ever peerless charm,
   Who loves the dauntless heart and reeking brow,
Saw a heap of forest giants vanquished by a stripling's arm,
   And marked as "done" a Heav'n-recorded vow.

Thrice noble is a noble deed when done in solitude,
   And Fame the secret never need reveal,
When Heaven sits in judgment on our actions in the nude,
   And stamps them with her everlasting seal.

Pale! gleaming star of Austerlitz; fade! guerdon of the Nile,
   And all the toys that gilded warfare brings.
Beside that crown of victory, wreathed of a wifely smile,
   That decked the man who slew a race of kings.

I'm weary of the paeans, to the glory of the sword,
   That round the woe-struck universe now ring,
But as long as Muse or manhood shall arouse a slumb'ring chord,
   The triumphs of the axe I'll ever sing.

First published in Melbourne Punch, 13 April 1905

Author: nothing is known about the author of this poem

Author reference site: Austlit.

See also.

The Lure of Trees by C. J. Dennis

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"Would anyone really enjoy living where trees were non-existent?" asks the Chairman of the Victorian Forests Commission in a speech explaining why the community owes a great debt to its forests.

I honour all trees well; but, best of all,
I love those scarred old veterans, proud and tall,
      Gazing from eminences, kingly wise,
      Across great sweeps of changing earth and skies;
Gazing with seeming scorn upon the race
Of midgets who despoil this forest place --
      The restless race of men who, with edged tools,
      With fire, have come to serve the end of fools.

Well these patricians know their own high worth;
Well know their task in serving Mother Earth:
      Beckoning rain-clouds sailing overhead
      That earth may drink and living things be fed,
Clutching with myriad roots the precious soil
The sun or sudden flood else would despoil,
      Bending to tempests, spreading to the sky,
      Remote, untamed, unconquered till they die.

I know them in the rose light of the dawn,
Sharp-etched upon the hill-tops, boldly drawn
      Against the light. I know them at high noon,
      Their gleaming arms held up, as for the boon
Of life they offer thanks; know them at night
When, out against the moon's enriching light,
      Some bold phalanger launches from their tops
      And, like a falling leaf, swings down and drops.

And still come stupid men with axe and fire
Scattering death to serve some brief desire.
      "More than our lives are forfeit," says the tree,
      "For as we go, so man's prosperity
Goes with us, till this once green, gracious hill
Shall thirst in vain, when you have wrought your fill."
      I love, I honour all those forest kings;
      They are such wise, such proudly scornful things.

First published in The Herald, 31 January 1935

Author reference sites: C.J. Dennis, Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

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