Recently in Women Category

The Red Coat by Myra Morris

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Beside the heap of smouldering fire
   The poor old woman sits --
Old Madeleine with high-veined hands
   And hardly any wits.

Her skirt drags down a rusty-green,
   Her boots are torn and spread,
But over her thin shoulder-blades
   There hangs a coat of red.

A coat that takes the light and flings
   It back derisively --
A mocking note that challenges
   Old age and penury!

And color-blind no longer I
   See poor old Madeleine,
I only vision splendid things,
   Old passions that have been!

Old pumps and gallantries of youth
   Go by; her voice is drowned
In laughter like a waterfall,
   In bursts of marching sound!

Gay ribbons wave from crowded walls,
   Tap-tap go dancing shoon;
A stooping, long-faced fiddler plays
   Beneath a harvest moon.

So gay the coat of Madeleine
   Around her shoulders flung,
I know that, though her eyes are old,
   Her heart is young, so young!

First published in The Bulletin, 25 December 1929

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Dark Girls by Zora Cross

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Soft brown eyes fringed in lashes black as jet, 
Dark girls are so mysterious, 
I think They are fit subject for a triolet.
Soft brown eyes hinged in lashes black as jet. 
Bright blondes, maybe, are fruit flowers pink and white;
But secret as a dim magnolia night.
Soft brown eyes hinged in lashes black as jet, 
Dark girls are so mysterious I think.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 December 1938

Her Heart was Like a Violin by Myra Morris

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Her heart was like a violin
   Upon whose strings there strayed
Only the singing of the earth--
   The songs that nature made.  

There roamed the voices of the winds,
   The croon of lazy seas,
And little muted murmurings
   Of summer-sleepy bees.

There soared the song of loosened floods
   That laced the waterfalls--
The whisper of uncurling buds--
   A blackbird's madrigals!

Her heart was like a violin
   That sang undreamed of things,
And beauty was the magic bow
   That swept those living strings!

First published in The Australasian, 16 November 1929

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Any Woman by Zora Cross

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I do not matter. I am dust and air,
Blown like a moth, a soft wind everywhere.
Happy am I in this old thought of me --
I am worth nothing to infinity.

I now may laugh, may sing in mad delight,
Wonder and wander in the whispering night:
No one shall care, no one take thought of this --
I'm but a spark, a butterfly, a kiss.

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 6 October 1925

Women's Eyes by Zora Cross

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I like to think Eve's eyes were eyes of blue --
   Two dewy violets as clear as morn --
And garden-wise, girl-shy, she wandered through
   Blue turquoise-tinted Eden azure-born.

Lucretia Borgia's eyes were eyes of black --
   Hate-swift and cold; each wild impassioned glance
Poisoned the very soul as she flung back
   Revenge more cruel than a tyrant's lance.

Gold-headed Helen had soft, dove-grey eyes --
   I will not have them blue though Grecian bright!
The sea, the sky, the happy Summer skies
   Swam in their depths like a far holy light.

I think great Cleopatra's eyes were brown,
   Full, large and strong, and at their queenly glance
The slave bowed down, the king renounced his crown --
   Brown eyes were ever eyes of old romance.

But none had eyes that can compare with these,
   Dancing beneath the fire of golden curl --
Such eyes bring me a captive on my knees
   To you, new Eve, my little baby girl.

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 18 August 1925

The Spinster by Kathleen Dalziel

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I dreamed me of a little home
   All set about with apple-trees;
Bees, and the honey on the comb.
   And blackbirds' harmonies.

I dreamed me that at eventide
   So red the homely hearth would glow
On snowy cloth, and wifely pride
   Of dishes all a-row;

That little feet would pass the door,
   And love would weave a circling band
To keep our happiness secure
   As any in the land ...

Alas! for hopes of brittle glass,
   For love's clear wine like water spilt,
The orchard close came not to pass,
   The house was never built.

Now life has passed me by, it seems,
   And I am growing, growing old.
How scant is my poor cloak of dreams
   Against the Winter cold!

First published in The Australian Woman's Mirror, 2 August 1927

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

Women by Zora Cross

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My mother passed me with cold eyes
   When I had sinned my sin.
My mother's gentle eyes were wise
   And let no girl-sins in.

My little sister was but three
   And knew not right from wrong.
She kissed my shame away from me...
   I hid it in this song.

First published in The Australian Women's Mirror, 23 April 1929

A Woman by Mabel Forrest

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What were her eyes like? Have you seen the spears
Of grass trees, tipped with velvet soft and brown,
Yet lit with little flashing lights as when
The sun, thro' ripples, filters slowly down
And loses in the drifting weed, a glint
Of the immortal brightness of the skies?
Velvet as grass-spear tips and golden as
The lost sun flecks, the wonder of here eyes.

What was her mouth like? Have you seen the sun
On thund'ry nights blood red behind the range
Splashed where the cloud banks gather pile on pile,
Sullen, yet full of magic and of change?
The loves of gods that flame about the sky
Ere all the brightness o'er the world-rim dips,
Burning a man's heart up with the ripe glow,
And all the scarlet promise of her lips!

What was her throat like? Have you seen the sheep,
Fresh from the waters of the still wash pool,
All the stains gone, the yellow yolk washed out,
Leaving the purity of the virgin wool?
Or like a white crane's feather on the swamp,
By moonlight blue. Or lily buds afloat.
Take something from them all, the whitest white,
Crossed by blue veins, and there you have her throat.

What was her shape like? Take a slim young pine,
Straight, strong, and growing on the mountain side;
Add the firm curves of a fair woman's breasts,
Soft as white froth upon a racing tide.
Take a tall pine tree, swaying to the kiss,
The fickle loving of a scented breeze,
And join to that the easy swinging grace
You find in sweeping, drooping myall trees.

What was her hair like? Have you seen the corn
On the selection in the harvest time,
When the harsh challenge of the cockatoos
Shrieks through the patches of the stunted lime,
Red gold against the dry stalks hanging down?
That, of a warmer color and more rare,
Powdered with gold dust filched from hidden claims
That miners dream of? -- and you have her hair.

What was her love like? A white woman loved
A conqueror in Egypt long ago,
And when he died she hid a little snake
Close-nestled to her body's lines of snow.
Once in a thousand years such women are;
Their paths of love have ever thorny proved;
So, just because love was no more for her,
She sank and died -- that was the way she loved.

First published in The Bulletin, 29 March 1906

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Naked Muse by Zora Cross

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The muse of late has grown so bare,
Her naked limbs clothed but in hair
That flows about her naked knees
As she lies swooning under trees.
Or sliding naked down the night
Upon a flake of fairy light.
Or wandering naked by a pool
In evenings old, remote and cool,
That reading through her lines it seems,
Between her naked thoughts and dreams,
Her verse is so divinely bare
Of everything, there's nothing there.

First published in The Bulletin, 10 February 1921

The Cosinic Curve by C.J. Dennis

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Professor H. Priestley, of Sydney University, declares that there is much undernourishment among Sydney girls because of "slimming."  "Better," he says, "have curves and good health than no curves and bad health."

Callithumpus Kevin Kerr was a young astronomer,
   Rich and handsome, eligible, sound and single,
Somewhat absent as to mind, and peculiarly inclined
   To allow his love quest and his work to mingle.
"Jupiter," said he, "and Mars, all fixed and unfixed stars
   And their orbits mid the circular have tarried;
There is nothing straight nor square in the heavens anywhere --
   Which reminds me, I should think of getting married."

Clementina Mumphin-Moore was a modern girl who wore
   Slinky frocks, and her slimming concentrated.
Thus, her health was far from good; but Matilda Mabel Wood
   Was circular in shape -- cats said "inflated."
Both these girls, the thick and thin, were most interested in
   Callithumpus Kevin Kerr, who so austerely
Walked with face turned to the sky; each one rolled a roguish eye
   "With view above," for each one loved him dearly.

Callithumpus Kerr one day went a-mumbling on his way,
   And both maids watched him as he conned his table:
"Jupiter, the Moon and Mars, all the fixed and unfixed stars
   Are circular in shape -- why, hello, Mabel!"
Clementina, oh, so slim, was invisible to him.
   But he gazed at Mabel as he thought of Saturn.
Then he said, quite suddenly, "Mabel!  Will you marry me?
   For an astronomer you're just the pattern."

Thro' a crevice in the floor Clementina Mumphin-Moore
   Slipped; and no one ever heard of her thereafter.
Mabel wed her clever Kerr, and their home, so friends aver,
   Is a place of curves and meals and happy laughter.
Girls!  Be warned in time; because certain universal laws
   Rule creation, and you may not monkey with 'em.
Mould yourselves upon old mars and the fixed and unfixed stars,
   For slim and slinky girls "ain't got no rhythm."

First published in The Herald, 20 November 1935

Synthetic Beauties by C.J. Dennis

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Taking as his subject "Dare to be natural," the Rev. Penry Evans said recently that many women nowadays adopt film stars as models.  He was surprised a few days ago to find himself seated in a tram between Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich.

Where are the girls we used to know
   Ere the movies came to town?
Jane and Jessie, Fan and Flo,
Who borrowed plumes from none to show
   A second-hand renown.
They were their own sweet selves alone --
Or we thought so then; and we must have known.
   There's a treasure lost in the film's mad whirl,
   'Tis the dinkum little Aussie girl.
I wake each morn to a strange new world
   Obsessed by celluloid;
Then cityward by train I'm hurled
With ghostly beauties, prinked and curled
   Whose looks I can't avoid:
Bevies of saucy Clara Bows
And Janet Gaynors set in rows,
   Alike, yet unalike to me
In all their waxen mimicry.
At last, when I have reached the town
   My letters I dictate;
And Greta Garbo takes them down
Arranged in an exotic gown,
   With eyes of brooding fate.
Joan Crawford brings me morning tea
And casts strange languorous looks at me,
   While Marlene Dietrich, flitting by,
   Regards me with a vampish eye.
And when I venture out to lunch,
   Ann Harding serves my hash.
And when I have contrived to munch
A bite, mid an exotic brunch,
   Kay Francis takes my cash.
And so, at last, when day is done
And beauties vanish, one by one,
   I go and buy my evening sheet
   From Marie Dressler in the street.

First published in The Herald, 12 July 1933

Kisses and the Rhythmic Principle by C.J. Dennis

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Dancing is merely the application of the rhythmic principle, when excitement has produced an abnormally rapid oxidisation of brain tissue, to the physical exertion by which the overcharged brain is relieved. - Melbourne AGE correspondent, in the course of a furious controversy, "Is Dancing Immoral?"

My dear ladies -- that is to say, those of you who may happen inadvertently to glance through this dreadful paper --
Most of you, no doubt, have felt impelled, at one time or another, to lightly caper
Round and about a ballroom, clasped in the manly and purely platonic embrace of some intellectual affinity -- some male bird of your type.
There comes a period in the lives of all of us when the time for such festive prancing seems deliciously ripe.
Is it not so?  Then dance, dear ladies, dance every time you get a chance.
Pray, do not think for a moment that I approve of those incomprehensible persons known as Wowsers.
I object to them on principle.  I object to all their works, opinions and prejudices.
But most of all I object to their absurd hats and totally nondescript trousers.
But I digress.  Ladies, I am your friend.
And ever shall I sympathetically lend
An ear to your protestations in defence of the polka-mazurka, and the shottische, and the two-step, and the waltz.
To declare that such dances are indelicate is false.
They are not!
Nor is the turkey-trot
A thing of evil.
And, as some would have us believe, an invention of the DEVIL.
Nay, even the cruelly maligned sticking-plaster
Leadeth in no sense to moral disaster
For always remember, ladies, when you are indulging in intricate terpishchorean evolutions, then that unutterably ecstatic bliss you
Experience for the moment is merely an abnormally rapid oxidisation of the mental tissue.

Dear females - cliners, tarts, peaches, flappers, bits o' fluff, and perfect ladies,
There are those who will tell you that dancing is a direct importation from Hades.
By making such absurd and obviously idiotic assertions nothing can be gained:
For the whole matter may be scientifically, psychologically and biologically explained.
For instance, we will suppose that you are treading some stately measure --
Such as the Gaby-glide -- with a partner whose appearance and deportment give you entire pleasure.
And we will suppose
His is emboldened to propose
A subsequent and somewhat surreptitious adjournment to the conservatory -
(You know the old, old story?)
And, being half inclined to agree, you fall to wondering whether mother would really miss you.
Do not hesitate, dear lady.  Respond immediately to the extraordinary and not altogether unpleasant oxidisation of the aforesaid tissue.

And now, dear lady,
Having discovered a secluded nook both cool and shady,
It is just possible that your partner may fondly place his arm around you.
Nay, do not let this dumbfound you.
Be not alarmed.  No haughty glances, if you please,
For indications such as these
Betray a mind uncultured.  If you would act aright,
I pray you, regard the whole matter in a scientific light.
If, for a moment, I thought you failed to recognise the rhythmic principle I should be sorely grieved.
Remember, always remember, my dear lady, that the poor young man's overcharged brain must, at all costs, be relieved.
(For, in the course of my exhaustive researches, I have discovered, after much labor and infinite pains,
That a very large proportion of dancing men are afflicted with overcharged brains.)
And then, should he, perchance, press you tenderly to his biled shirt, and ultimately kiss you;
No protests, I pray you.  Reflect, again, that this is uncontrovertibly another manifestation of the rapid, not to say furious oxidisation of the aforementioned tissue.

And here, dear lady, endeth my discourse.  I have nothing to add except, perhaps, that it would at this point be advisable to return to the ballroom and your maternal relation.
Not, of course, with any idea of snubbing the poor young man with the overcharged brain; but merely as an ordinary precaution against the possible effects of over-oxidisation.

First published in The Bulletin, 10 July 1913

Campaspe by Henry Kendall

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Turn from the ways of this woman! Campaspe, we call her by name --
She is fairer than flowers of the fire -- she is brighter than brightness of flame.
As a song that strikes swift to the heart with the beat of the blood of the South,
And a light and a leap and a smart, is the play of her perilous mouth.
Her eyes are as splendours that break in the rain at the set of the sun,
But turn from the steps of Campaspe -- a woman to look at and shun!

Dost thou know of the cunning of Beauty! Take heed to thyself and beware
Of the trap in the droop of the raiment-the snare in the folds of the hair?
She is fulgent in flashes of pearl, the breeze with her breathing in sweet,
But fly from the face of the girl -- there is death in the fall of her feet!
Is she maiden or marvel like marble? -- O rather a tigress at wait   
To pounce on thy soul for her pastime -- a leopard for love and for hate!

Women of shadow and furnace! She biteth her lips to restrain
Speech that springs out when she sleepeth by the stirs and the starts of her pain.
As music half-shapen of sorrow with its wants and its infinite wail  
Is the voice of Campaspe -- the beauty at bay with her passion dead-pale.
Go out from the courts of her loving, nor tempt the fierce dance of desire
Where thy life would be shrivelled like stubble in the stress and the fervour of fire.

I know of one, gentle as moonlight -- she is sad as the shine of the moon
But touching the ways of her eyes are: she comes to my soul like a tune --
Like a tune that is filled with faint voices of the loved and the lost and the lone
Doth this stranger abide with my silence: like a tune with a tremulous tone.
The leopard, we call her Campaspe! I pluck at a rose and I stir
To think of this sweethearted maiden -- what name is too tender for her?  

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 October 1866;
and later in
The Poets and Prose Writers of New South Wales edited by G.B. Barton, 1866;
Leaves from Australian Forests by Henry Kendall, 1869;
Selected Poems of Henry Kendall edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1957;
The Poetical Works of Henry Kendall edited by Thomas Thornton Reed, 1966;
The Oxford Book of Australian Love Poems edited by Jennifer Strauss, 1993; and
Henry Kendall: Poetry, Prose and Selected Correspondence edited by Michael Ackland, 1993.

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

See also.

July by Zora Cross

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July is like a lovely Spanish maid.
   Beneath the lemon-tree I saw her stand,
   Her arched foot poised; within her slender hand
The singing castanets with which she played.
Her grass-brown skirt was full, and, as she stayed,
   Robins flashed red across the yellow land;
   And all the willow boughs at her command
Changed into golden shawls their lace of jade.

She passed at dusk. I watched her turn and dance
   Among the violets, the while she drew
      My cold, reluctant soul into her dream,
Softly, seductive, of a Cid's romance...
    Now, from Night's skies of clear Castilian blue,
      Through lattices of stars her dark eyes gleam.

First published in The Bulletin, 27 July 1922

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of BiographyOld Qld Poetry

See also.

Woman by Ivy Moore

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As varying as rainbow's sheen,
   With mystic glamour in her eyes,
Of beauty's arts she is a queen;
   Maid, wife, or mother, still I ween,
She rules our lives with love serene,
   An Eve whose wonder never dies!
As varying as rainbow's sheen,
   With mystic glamour in her eyes!

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 July 1937

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

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