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An Anthology of Australian Verse

Part 3 out of 5

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Than English belles;
Yet southern sun and southern air
Have kissed her cheeks, until they wear
The dainty tints that oft appear
On rosy shells.

Her frank, clear eyes bespeak a mind
Old-world traditions fail to bind.
She is not shy
Or bold, but simply self-possessed;
Her independence adds a zest
Unto her speech, her piquant jest,
Her quaint reply.

O'er classic volumes she will pore
With joy; and true scholastic lore
Will often gain.
In sports she bears away the bell,
Nor, under music's siren spell,
To dance divinely, flirt as well,
Does she disdain.

A Song of Sydney

(1894)

High headlands all jealously hide thee,
O fairest of sea-girdled towns!
Thine Ocean-spouse smileth beside thee,
While each headland threatens and frowns.
Like Venice, upheld on sea-pinion,
And fated to reign o'er the free,
Thou wearest, in sign of dominion,
The zone of the sea.

No winter thy fertile slope hardens,
O new Florence, set in the South!
All lands give their flowers to thy gardens,
That glow to thy bright harbour's mouth;
The waratah and England's red roses
With stately magnolias entwine,
Gay sunflowers fill sea-scented closes,
All sweet with woodbine.

Thy harbour's fair flower-crowned islands
See flags of all countries unfurled,
Thou smilest from green, sunlit highlands
To open thine arms to the world!
Dark East's and fair West's emulations
Resound from each hill-shadowed quay,
And over the songs of all nations,
The voice of the sea.

Francis William Lauderdale Adams.

Something

It is something in this darker dream demented
to have wrestled with its pleasure and its pain:
it is something to have sinned, and have repented:
it is something to have failed, and tried again!

It is something to have loved the brightest Beauty
with no hope of aught but silence for your vow:
it is something to have tried to do your duty:
it is something to be trying, trying now!

And, in the silent solemn hours,
when your soul floats down the far faint flood of time --
to think of Earth's lovers who are ours,
of her saviours saving, suffering, sublime:

And that you with THESE may be her lover,
with THESE may save and suffer for her sake --
IT IS JOY TO HAVE LIVED, SO TO DISCOVER
YOU'VE A LIFE YOU CAN GIVE AND SHE CAN TAKE!

Gordon's Grave

All the heat and the glow and the hush
of the summer afternoon;
the scent of the sweet-briar bush
over bowing grass-blades and broom;

the birds that flit and pass;
singing the song he knows,
the grass-hopper in the grass;
the voice of the she-oak boughs.

Ah, and the shattered column
crowned with the poet's wreath.
Who, who keeps silent and solemn
his passing place beneath?

~This was a poet that loved God's breath;
his life was a passionate quest;
he looked down deep in the wells of death,
and now he is taking his rest.~

To A. L. Gordon

In night-long days, in aeons
where all Time's nights are one;
where life and death sing paeans
as of Greeks and Galileans,
never begun or done;

where fate, the slow swooping condor,
comes glooming all the sky --
as you have pondered I ponder,
as you have wandered I wander,
as you have died, shall I die?

Love and Death

Death? is it death you give? So be it! O Death,
thou hast been long my friend, and now thy pale
cool cheek shall have my kiss, while the faint breath
expires on thy still lips, O lovely Death!

Come then, loose hands, fair Life, without a wail!
We've had good hours together, and you were sweet
what time love whispered with the nightingale,
tho' ever your music by the lark's would fail.

Come then, loose hands! Our lover time is done.
Now is the marriage with the eternal sun.
The hours are few that rest, are few and fleet.
Good-bye! The game is lost: the game is won.

Thomas William Heney.

Absence

Ah, happy air that, rough or soft,
May kiss that face and stay;
And happy beams that from above
May choose to her their way;
And happy flowers that now and then
Touch lips more sweet than they!

But it were not so blest to be
Or light or air or rose;
Those dainty fingers tear and toss
The bloom that in them glows;
And come or go, both wind and ray
She heeds not, if she knows.

But if I come thy choice should be
Either to love or not --
For if I might I would not kiss
And then be all forgot;
And it were best thy love to lose
If love self-scorn begot.

A Riverina Road

Now while so many turn with love and longing
To wan lands lying in the grey North Sea,
To thee we turn, hearts, mem'ries, all belonging,
Dear land of ours, to thee.

West, ever west, with the strong sunshine marching
Beyond the mountains, far from this soft coast,
Until we almost see the great plains arching,
In endless mirage lost.

A land of camps where seldom is sojourning,
Where men like the dim fathers of our race,
Halt for a time, and next day, unreturning,
Fare ever on apace.

Last night how many a leaping blaze affrighted
The wailing birds of passage in their file;
And dawn sees ashes dead and embers whited
Where men had dwelt awhile.

The sun may burn, the mirage shift and vanish
And fade and glare by turns along the sky;
The haze of heat may all the distance banish
To the uncaring eye.

By speech, or tongue of bird or brute, unbroken
Silence may brood upon the lifeless plain,
Nor any sign, far off or near, betoken
Man in this vast domain.

Though tender grace the landscape lacks, too spacious,
Impassive, silent, lonely, to be fair,
Their kindness swiftly comes more soft and gracious,
Who live or tarry there.

All that he has, in camp or homestead, proffers
To stranger guest at once a stranger host,
Proudest to see accepted what he offers,
Given without a boast.

Pass, if you can, the drover's cattle stringing
Along the miles of the wide travelled road,
Without a challenge through the hot dust ringing,
Kind though abrupt the mode.

A cloud of dust where polish'd wheels are flashing
Passes along, and in it rolls the mail.
Comes from the box as on the coach goes dashing
The lonely driver's hail.

Or in the track a station youngster mounted
Sits in his saddle smoking for a "spell",
Rides a while onward; then, his news recounted,
Parts with a brief farewell.

To-day these plains may seem a face defiant,
Turn'd to a mortal foe, yet scorning fear;
As when, with heaven at war, an Earth-born giant
Saw the Olympian near.

Come yet again! No child's fair face is sweeter
With young delight than this cool blooming land,
Silent no more, for songs than wings are fleeter,
No blaze, but sunshine bland.

Thus in her likeness that strange nature moulding
Makes man as moody, sad and savage too;
Yet in his heart, like her, a passion holding,
Unselfish, kind and true.

Therefore, while many turn with love and longing
To wan lands lying on the grey North Sea,
To-day possessed by other mem'ries thronging
We turn, wild West, to thee!

23rd December, 1891.

Patrick Edward Quinn.

A Girl's Grave

"Aged 17, OF A BROKEN HEART, January 1st, 1841."

What story is here of broken love,
What idyllic sad romance,
What arrow fretted the silken dove
That met with such grim mischance?

I picture you, sleeper of long ago,
When you trifled and danced and smiled,
All golden laughter and beauty's glow
In a girl life sweet and wild.

Hair with the red gold's luring tinge,
Fine as the finest silk,
Violet eyes with a golden fringe
And cheeks of roses and milk.

Something of this you must have been,
Something gentle and sweet,
To have broken your heart at seventeen
And died in such sad defeat.

Hardly one of your kinsfolk live,
It was all so long ago,
The tale of the cruel love to give
That laid you here so low.

Loving, trusting, and foully paid --
The story is easily guessed,
A blotted sun and skies that fade
And this grass-grown grave the rest.

Whatever the cynic may sourly say,
With a dash of truth, I ween,
Of the girls of the period, in your day
They had hearts at seventeen.

Dead of a fashion out of date,
Such folly has passed away
Like the hoop and patch and modish gait
That went out with an older day.

The stone is battered and all awry,
The words can be scarcely read,
The rank reeds clustering thick and high
Over your buried head.

I pluck one straight as a Paynim's lance
To keep your memory green,
For the lordly sake of old Romance
And your own, sad seventeen.

John Sandes.

`With Death's Prophetic Ear'

Lay my rifle here beside me, set my Bible on my breast,
For a moment let the warning bugles cease;
As the century is closing I am going to my rest,
Lord, lettest Thou Thy servant go in peace.
But loud through all the bugles rings a cadence in mine ear,
And on the winds my hopes of peace are strowed.
Those winds that waft the voices that already I can hear
Of the rooi-baatjes singing on the road.

Yes, the red-coats are returning, I can hear the steady tramp,
After twenty years of waiting, lulled to sleep,
Since rank and file at Potchefstroom we hemmed them in their camp,
And cut them up at Bronkerspruit like sheep.
They shelled us at Ingogo, but we galloped into range,
And we shot the British gunners where they showed.
I guessed they would return to us, I knew the chance must change --
Hark! the rooi-baatjes singing on the road!

But now from snow-swept Canada, from India's torrid plains,
From lone Australian outposts, hither led,
Obeying their commando, as they heard the bugle's strains,
The men in brown have joined the men in red.
They come to find the colours at Majuba left and lost,
They come to pay us back the debt they owed;
And I hear new voices lifted, and I see strange colours tossed,
'Mid the rooi-baatjes singing on the road.

The old, old faiths must falter, and the old, old creeds must fail --
I hear it in that distant murmur low --
The old, old order changes, and 'tis vain for us to rail,
The great world does not want us -- we must go.
And veldt, and spruit, and kopje to the stranger will belong,
No more to trek before him we shall load;
Too well, too well, I know it, for I hear it in the song
Of the rooi-baatjes singing on the road.

Inez K. Hyland.

To a Wave

Where were you yesterday? In Gulistan,
With roses and the frenzied nightingales?
Rather would I believe you shining ran
With peaceful floods, where the soft voice prevails
Of building doves in lordly trees set high,
Trees which enclose a home where love abides --
His love and hers, a passioned ecstasy;
Your tone has caught its echo and derides
My joyless lot, as face down pressed I lie
Upon the shifting sand, and hear the reeds
Voicing a thin, dissonant threnody
Unto the cliff and wind-tormented weeds.
As with the faint half-lights of jade toward
The shore you come and show a violet hue,
I wonder if the face of my adored
Was ever held importraitured by you.
Ah, no! if you had seen his face, still prest
Within your hold the picture dear would be,
Like that bright portrait which so moved the breast
Of fairest Gurd with soft unrest that she,
Born in ice halls, she who but raised her eyes
And scornful questioned, "What is love, indeed?
None ever viewed it 'neath these northern skies," --
Seeing the face soon learned love's gentle creed;
But you hold nothing to be counted dear --
Only a gift of weed and broken shells;
Yet I will gather one, so I can hear
The soft remembrance which still in it dwells:
For in the shell, though broken, ever lies
The murmur of the sea whence it was torn --
So in a woman's heart there never dies
The memory of love, though love be lorn.

Bread and Wine

A cup of opal
Through which there glows
The cream of the pearl,
The heart of the rose;
And the blue of the sea
Where Australia lies,
And the amber flush
Of her sunset skies,
And the emerald tints
Of the dragon fly
Shall stain my cup
With their brilliant dye.
And into this cup
I would pour the wine
Of youth and health
And the gifts divine
Of music and song,
And the sweet content
Which must ever belong
To a life well spent.
And what bread would I break
With my wine, think you?
The bread of a love
That is pure and true.

George Essex Evans.

An Australian Symphony

Not as the songs of other lands
Her song shall be
Where dim Her purple shore-line stands
Above the sea!
As erst she stood, she stands alone;
Her inspiration is her own.
From sunlit plains to mangrove strands
Not as the songs of other lands
Her song shall be.

O Southern Singers! Rich and sweet,
Like chimes of bells,
The cadence swings with rhythmic beat
The music swells;
But undertones, weird, mournful, strong,
Sweep like swift currents thro' the song.
In deepest chords, with passion fraught,
In softest notes of sweetest thought,
This sadness dwells.

Is this her song, so weirdly strange,
So mixed with pain,
That whereso'er her poets range
Is heard the strain?
Broods there no spell upon the air
But desolation and despair?
No voice, save Sorrow's, to intrude
Upon her mountain solitude
Or sun-kissed plain?

The silence and the sunshine creep
With soft caress
O'er billowy plain and mountain steep
And wilderness --
A velvet touch, a subtle breath,
As sweet as love, as calm as death,
On earth, on air, so soft, so fine,
Till all the soul a spell divine
O'ershadoweth.

The gray gums by the lonely creek,
The star-crowned height,
The wind-swept plain, the dim blue peak,
The cold white light,
The solitude spread near and far
Around the camp-fire's tiny star,
The horse-bell's melody remote,
The curlew's melancholy note
Across the night.

These have their message; yet from these
Our songs have thrown
O'er all our Austral hills and leas
One sombre tone.
Whence doth the mournful keynote start?
From the pure depths of Nature's heart?
Or from the heart of him who sings
And deems his hand upon the strings
Is Nature's own?

Could tints be deeper, skies less dim,
More soft and fair,
Dappled with milk-white clouds that swim
In faintest air?
The soft moss sleeps upon the stone,
Green scrub-vine traceries enthrone
The dead gray trunks, and boulders red,
Roofed by the pine and carpeted
With maidenhair.

But far and near, o'er each, o'er all,
Above, below,
Hangs the great silence like a pall
Softer than snow.
Not sorrow is the spell it brings,
But thoughts of calmer, purer things,
Like the sweet touch of hands we love,
A woman's tenderness above
A fevered brow.

These purple hills, these yellow leas,
These forests lone,
These mangrove shores, these shimmering seas,
This summer zone --
Shall they inspire no nobler strain
Than songs of bitterness and pain?
Strike her wild harp with firmer hand,
And send her music thro' the land,
With loftier tone!

. . . . .

Her song is silence; unto her
Its mystery clings.
Silence is the interpreter
Of deeper things.
O for sonorous voice and strong
To change that silence into song,
To give that melody release
Which sleeps in the deep heart of peace
With folded wings!

A Nocturne

Like weary sea-birds spent with flight
And faltering,
The slow hours beat across the night
On leaden wing.
The wild bird knows where rest shall be
Soe'er he roam.
Heart of my heart! apart from thee
I have no home.

Afar from thee, yet not alone,
Heart of my heart!
Like some soft haunting whisper blown
From Heaven thou art.
I hear the magic music roll
Its waves divine;
The subtle fragrance of thy soul
Has passed to mine.

Nor dawn nor Heaven my heart can know
Save that which lies
In lights and shades that come and go
In thy soft eyes.
Here in the night I dream the day,
By love upborne,
When thy sweet eyes shall shine and say
"It is the morn!"

A Pastoral

Nature feels the touch of noon;
Not a rustle stirs the grass;
Not a shadow flecks the sky,
Save the brown hawk hovering nigh;
Not a ripple dims the glass
Of the wide lagoon.

Darkly, like an armed host
Seen afar against the blue,
Rise the hills, and yellow-grey
Sleeps the plain in cove and bay,
Like a shining sea that dreams
Round a silent coast.

From the heart of these blue hills,
Like the joy that flows from peace,
Creeps the river far below
Fringed with willow, sinuous, slow.
Surely here there seems surcease
From the care that kills.

Surely here might radiant Love
Fill with happiness his cup,
Where the purple lucerne-bloom
Floods the air with sweet perfume,
Nature's incense floating up
To the Gods above.

'Neath the gnarled-boughed apple trees
Motionless the cattle stand;
Chequered cornfield, homestead white,
Sleeping in the streaming light,
For deep trance is o'er the land,
And the wings of peace.

Here, O Power that moves the heart,
Thou art in the quiet air;
Here, unvexed of code or creed,
Man may breathe his bitter need;
Nor with impious lips declare
What Thou wert and art.

All the strong souls of the race
Thro' the aeons that have run,
They have cried aloud to Thee --
"Thou art that which stirs in me!"
As the flame leaps towards the sun
They have sought Thy face.

But the faiths have flowered and flown,
And the truth is but in part;
Many a creed and many a grade
For Thy purpose Thou hast made.
None can know Thee what Thou art,
Fathomless! Unknown!

The Women of the West

They left the vine-wreathed cottage and the mansion on the hill,
The houses in the busy streets where life is never still,
The pleasures of the city, and the friends they cherished best:
For love they faced the wilderness -- the Women of the West.

The roar, and rush, and fever of the city died away,
And the old-time joys and faces -- they were gone for many a day;
In their place the lurching coach-wheel, or the creaking bullock chains,
O'er the everlasting sameness of the never-ending plains.

In the slab-built, zinc-roofed homestead of some lately taken run,
In the tent beside the bankment of a railway just begun,
In the huts on new selections, in the camps of man's unrest,
On the frontiers of the Nation, live the Women of the West.

The red sun robs their beauty, and, in weariness and pain,
The slow years steal the nameless grace that never comes again;
And there are hours men cannot soothe, and words men cannot say --
The nearest woman's face may be a hundred miles away.

The wide bush holds the secrets of their longing and desires,
When the white stars in reverence light their holy altar fires,
And silence, like the touch of God, sinks deep into the breast --
Perchance He hears and understands the Women of the West.

For them no trumpet sounds the call, no poet plies his arts --
They only hear the beating of their gallant, loving hearts.
But they have sung with silent lives the song all songs above --
The holiness of sacrifice, the dignity of love.

Well have we held our father's creed. No call has passed us by.
We faced and fought the wilderness, we sent our sons to die.
And we have hearts to do and dare, and yet, o'er all the rest,
The hearts that made the Nation were the Women of the West.

Mary Colborne-Veel.

`What Look hath She?'

What look hath she,
What majestie,
That must so high approve her?
What graces move
That I so love,
That I so greatly love her?

No majestie
But Truth hath She;
Thoughts sweet and gracious move her;
That straight approve
My heart to love,
And all my life to love her!

Saturday Night

Saturday night in the crowded town;
Pleasure and pain going up and down,
Murmuring low on the ear there beat
Echoes unceasing of voice and feet.
Withered age, with its load of care,
Come in this tumult of life to share,
Childhood glad in its radiance brief,
Happiest-hearted or bowed with grief,
Meet alike, as the stars look down
Week by week on the crowded town.

~And in a kingdom of mystery,
Rapt from this weariful world to see
Magic sights in the yellow glare,
Breathing delight in the gas-lit air,
Careless of sorrow, of grief or pain,
Two by two, again and again,
Strephon and Chloe together move,
Walking in Arcady, land of love.~

What are the meanings that burden all
These murmuring voices that rise and fall?
Tragedies whispered of, secrets told,
Over the baskets of bought and sold;
Joyous speech of the lately wed;
Broken lamentings that name the dead:
Endless runes of the gossip's rede,
And gathered home with the weekly need,
Kindly greetings as neighbours meet
There in the stir of the busy street.

Then is the glare of the gaslight ray
Gifted with potency strange to-day,
Records of time-written history
Flash into sight as each face goes by.
There, as the hundreds slow moving go,
Each with his burden of joy or woe,
Souls, in the meeting of stranger's eyes,
Startled this kinship to recognise, --
Meet and part, as the stars look down,
Week by week on the crowded town.

~And still, in the midst of the busy hum,
Rapt in their dream of delight they come.
Heedless of sorrow, of grief or care,
Wandering on in enchanted air,
Far from the haunting shadow of pain:
Two by two, again and again,
Strephon and Chloe together move,
Walking in Arcady, land of love.~

`Resurgam'

(Autumn Song)

Chill breezes moaning are
Where leaves hang yellow:
O'er the grey hills afar
Flies the last swallow;
To come again, my love, to come again
Blithe with the summer.
But Ah! the long months ere we welcome then
That bright new comer.

Cold lie the flowers and dead
Where leaves are falling.
Meekly they bowed and sped
At Autumn's calling.
To come again, my love, to come again
Blithe with the swallow.
Ah! might I dreaming lie at rest till then,
Or rise and follow!

The summer blooms are gone,
And bright birds darting;
Cold lies the earth forlorn;
And we are parting.
To meet again, my love, to meet again
In deathless greeting,
But ah! what wintry bitterness of pain
Ere that far meeting!

Distant Authors

"Aqui esta encerrada el alma licenciado Pedro Garcias."

Dear books! and each the living soul,
Our hearts aver, of men unseen,
Whose power to strengthen, charm, control,
Surmounts all earth's green miles between.

For us at least the artists show
Apart from fret of work-day jars:
We know them but as friends may know,
Or they are known beyond the stars.

Their mirth, their grief, their soul's desire,
When twilight murmuring of streams,
Or skies far touched by sunset fire,
Exalt them to pure worlds of dreams;

Their love of good; their rage at wrong;
Their hours when struggling thought makes way;
Their hours when fancy drifts to song
Lightly and glad as bird-trills may;

All these are truths. And if as true
More graceless scrutiny that reads,
"These fruits amid strange husking grew;"
"These lilies blossomed amongst weeds;"

Here no despoiling doubts shall blow,
No fret of feud, of work-day jars.
We know them but as friends may know,
Or they are known beyond the stars.

John Bernard O'Hara.

Happy Creek

The little creek goes winding
Thro' gums of white and blue,
A silver arm
Around the farm
It flings, a lover true;
And softly, where the rushes lean,
It sings (O sweet and low)
A lover's song,
And winds along,
How happy -- lovers know!

The little creek goes singing
By maidenhair and moss,
Along its banks
In rosy ranks
The wild flowers wave and toss;
And ever where the ferns dip down
It sings (O sweet and low)
A lover's song,
And winds along,
How happy -- lovers know!

The little creek takes colour,
From summer skies above;
Now blue, now gold,
Its waters fold
The clouds in closest love;
But loudly when the thunders roll
It sings (nor sweet, nor low)
No lover's song,
But sweeps along,
How angry -- lovers know!

The little creek for ever
Goes winding, winding down,
Away, away,
By night, by day,
Where dark the ranges frown;
But ever as it glides it sings,
It sings (O sweet and low)
A lover's song,
And winds along,
How happy -- lovers know!

A Country Village

Among the folding hills
It lies, a quiet nook,
Where dreaming nature fills
Sweet pages of her book,
While through the meadow flowers
She sings in summer hours,
Or weds the woodland rills
Low-laughing to the brook.

The graveyard whitely gleams
Across the soundless vale,
So sad, so sweet, yet seems
A watcher cold and pale
That waits through many springs
The tribute old Time brings,
And knows, though life be loud,
The reaper may not fail.

Here come not feet of change
From year to fading year;
Ringed by the rolling range
No world-wide notes men hear.
The wheels of time may stand
Here in a lonely land,
Age after age may pass
Untouched of change or cheer;

As still the farmer keeps
The same dull round of things;
He reaps and sows and reaps,
And clings, as ivy clings,
To old-time trust, nor cares
What science does or dares,
What lever moves the world,
What progress spreads its wings.

Yet here, of woman born,
Are lives that know not rest,
With fierce desires that scorn
The quiet life as best;
That see in wider ways
Life's richer splendours blaze,
And feel ambition's fire
Burn in their ardent breast.

Yea, some that fain would know
Life's purpose strange and vast,
How wide is human woe,
What wailing of the past
Still strikes the present dumb,
What phantoms go and come
Of wrongs that cry aloud,
"At last, O God! at last!"

Here, too, are dreams that wing
Rich regions of Romance;
Love waking when the Spring
Begins its first wild dance,
Love redder than the rose,
Love paler than the snows,
Love frail as corn that tilts
With morning winds a lance.

For never land so lone
That love could find not wings
In every wind that's blown
By lips of jewelled springs,
For love is life's sweet pain,
And when sweet life is slain
It finds a radiant rest
Beyond the change of things.

Beyond the shocks that jar,
The chance of changing fate,
Where fraud and violence are,
And heedless lust and hate;
Yet still where faith is clear,
And honour held most dear,
And hope that seeks the dawn
Looks up with heart elate.

Flinders

He left his island home
For leagues of sleepless foam,
For stress of alien seas,
Where wild winds ever blow;
For England's sake he sought
Fresh fields of fame, and fought
A stormy world for these
A hundred years ago.

And where the Austral shore
Heard southward far the roar
Of rising tides that came
From lands of ice and snow,
Beneath a gracious sky
To fadeless memory
He left a deathless name
A hundred years ago.

Yea, left a name sublime
From that wild dawn of Time,
Whose light he haply saw
In supreme sunrise flow,
And from the shadows vast,
That filled the dim dead past,
A brighter glory draw,
A hundred years ago.

Perchance, he saw in dreams
Beside our sunlit streams
In some majestic hour
Old England's banners blow;
Mayhap, the radiant morn
Of this great nation born,
August with perfect power,
A hundred years ago.

We know not, -- yet for thee
Far may the season be,
Whose harp in shameful sleep
Is soundless lying low!
Far be the noteless hour
That holds of fame no flower
For those who dared our deep
A hundred years ago.

M. A. Sinclair.

The Chatelaine

I have built one, so have you;
Paved with marble, domed with blue,
Battlement and ladies' bower,
Donjon keep and watchman's tower.

I have climbed, as you have done,
To the tower at set of sun --
Crying from its parlous height,
"Watchman, tell us of the night."

I have stolen at midnight bell,
Like you, to the secret cell,
Shuddering at its charnel breath --
Left lockfast the spectre, Death.

I have used your lure to call
Choice guests to my golden hall:
Rarely welcome, rarely free
To my hospitality.

In a glow of rosy light
Hours, like minutes, take their flight --
As from you they fled away,
When, like you, I bade them stay.

Ah! the pretty flow of wit,
And the good hearts under it;
While the wheels of life go round
With a most melodious sound.

Not a vestige anywhere
Of our grim familiar, Care --
Roses! from the trees of yore
Blooming by the rivers four.

Not a jar, and not a fret;
Ecstasy and longing met.
But why should I thus define --
Is not your chateau like mine?

Scarcely were it strange to meet
In that magic realm so sweet,
So! I'll take this dreamland train
Bound for my chateau in Spain.

Sydney Jephcott.

Chaucer

O gracious morning eglantine,
Making the far old English ways divine!
Though from thy stock our mateless rose was bred,
Staining the world's skies with its red,
Our garden gives no scent so fresh as thine,
Sweet, thorny-seeming eglantine.

White Paper

Smooth white paper 'neath the pen;
Richest field that iron ploughs,
Germinating thoughts of men,
Though no heaven its rain allows;

Till they ripen, thousand fold,
And our spirits reap the corn,
In a day-long dream of gold;
Food for all the souls unborn.

Like the murmur of the earth,
When we listen stooping low;
Like the sap that sings in mirth,
Hastening up the trees that grow;

Evermore a tiny song
Sings the pen unto it, while
Thought's elixir flows along,
Diviner than the holy Nile.

Greater than the sphering sea,
For it holds the sea and land;
Seed of all ideas to be
Down its current borne like sand.

How our fathers in the dark
Pored on it the plans obscure,
By star-light or stake-fires stark
Tracing there the path secure.

The poor paper drawn askance
With the spell of Truth half-known,
Holds back Hell of ignorance,
Roaring round us, thronged, alone.

O white list of champions,
Spirit born, and schooled for fight,
Mailed in armour of the sun's
Who shall win our utmost right!

Think of paper lightly sold,
Which few pence had made too dear
On its blank to have enscrolled
Beatrice, Lucifer, or Lear!

Think of paper Milton took,
Written, in his hands to feel,
Musing of what things a look
Down its pages would reveal.

O the glorious Heaven wrought
By Cadmean souls of yore,
From pure element of thought!
And thy leaves they are its door!

Light they open, and we stand
Past the sovereignty of Fate,
Glad amongst them, calm and grand,
The Creators and Create!

Splitting

Morning.

Out from the hut at break of day,
And up the hills in the dawning grey;
With the young wind flowing
From the blue east, growing
Red with the white sun's ray!

Lone and clear as a deep-bright dream
Under mid-night's and mid-slumber's stream,
Up rises the mount against the sunrise shower,
Vast as a kingdom, fair as a flower:
O'er it doth the foam of foliage ream

In vivid softness serene,
Pearly-purple and marble green;
Clear in their mingling tinges,
Up away to the crest that fringes
Skies studded with cloud-crags sheen.

Day.

Like birds frayed from their lurking-shaw,
Like ripples fleet 'neath a furious flaw,
The echoes re-echo, flying
Down from the mauls hot-plying;
Clatter the axes, grides the saw.

Ruddy and white the chips out-spring,
Like money sown by a pageant king;
The free wood yields to the driven wedges,
With its white sap-edges,
And heart in the sunshine glistening.

Broadly the ice-clear azure floods down,
Where the great tree-tops are overthrown;
As on through the endless day we labour;
The sun for our nearest neighbour,
Up o'er the mountains lone.

And so intensely it doth illume,
That it shuts by times to gloom;
In the open spaces thrilling;
From the dead leaves distilling
A hot and harsh perfume.

Evening.

Give over! All the valleys in sight
Fill, fill with the rising tide of night;
While the sunset with gold-dust bridges
The black-ravined ridges,
Whose mighty muscles curve in its light.

In our weary climb, while night dyes deep,
Down the broken and stony steep,
How our jaded bodies are shaken
By each step in half-blindness taken --
One's thoughts lie heaped like brutes asleep.

Open the door of the dismal hut,
Silence and darkness lone were shut
In it, as a tidal pool, until returning
Night drowns the land, -- no ember's burning, --
One is too weary the food to cut.

Body and soul with every blow,
Wasted for ever, and who will know,
Where, past this mountained night of toiling,
Red life in its thousand veins is boiling,
Of chips scattered on the mountain's brow?

Home-woe

The wreckage of some name-forgotten barque,
Half-buried by the dolorous shore;
Whereto the living waters never more
Their urgent billows pour;
But the salt spray can reach and cark --

So lies my spirit, lonely and forlorn,
On Being's strange and perilous strand.
And rusted sword and fleshless hand
Point from the smothering sand;
And anchor chainless and out-worn.

But o'er what Deep, unconquered and uncharted,
And steering by what vanished star;
And where my dim-imagined consorts are,
Or hidden harbour far,
From whence my sails, unblessed, departed,

Can memory, nor still intuition teach.
And so I watch with alien eyes
This World's remote and unremembered skies;
While around me weary rise
The babblings of a foreign speech.

A Ballad of the last King of Thule

There was a King of Thule
Whom a Witch-wife stole at birth;
In a country known but newly,
All under the dumb, huge Earth.

That King's in a Forest toiling;
And he never the green sward delves
But he sees all his green waves boiling
Over his sands and shelves;

In these sunsets vast and fiery,
In these dawns divine he sees
Hy-Brasil, Mannan and Eire,
And the Isle of Appletrees;

He watches, heart-still and breathless,
The clouds through the deep day trailing,
As the white-winged vessels gathered,
Into his harbours sailing;

Ranked Ibis and lazy Eagles
In the great blue flame may rise,
But ne'er Sea-mew or Solan beating
Up through their grey low skies;

When the storm-led fires are breaking,
Great waves of the molten night,
Deep in his eyes comes aching
The icy Boreal Light.

. . . . .

O, lost King, and O, people perished,
Your Thule has grown one grave!
Unvisited as uncherished,
Save by the wandering wave!

The billows burst in his doorways,
The spray swoops over his walls! --
O, his banners that throb dishonoured
O'er arms that hide in his halls --

Deserved is your desolation! --
Why could you not stir and save
The last-born heir of your nation? --
Sold into the South, a slave

Till he dies, and is buried duly
In the hot Australian earth --
The lorn, lost King of Thule,
Whom a Witch-wife stole at birth.

A Fragment

But, under all, my heart believes the day
Was not diviner over Athens, nor
The West wind sweeter thro' the Cyclades
Than here and now; and from the altar of To-day
The eloquent, quick tongues of flame uprise
As fervid, if not unfaltering as of old,
And life atones with speed and plenitude
For coarser texture. Our poor present will,
Far in the brooding future, make a past
Full of the morning's music still, and starred
With great tears shining on the eyelids' eaves
Of our immortal faces yearning t'wards the sun.

Andrew Barton Paterson (`Banjo').

The Daylight is Dying

The daylight is dying
Away in the west,
The wild birds are flying
In silence to rest;
In leafage and frondage
Where shadows are deep,
They pass to their bondage --
The kingdom of sleep.
And watched in their sleeping
By stars in the height,
They rest in your keeping,
Oh, wonderful night.

When night doth her glories
Of starshine unfold,
'Tis then that the stories
Of bushland are told.
Unnumbered I hold them
In memories bright,
But who could unfold them,
Or read them aright?

Beyond all denials
The stars in their glories
The breeze in the myalls
Are part of these stories.
The waving of grasses,
The song of the river
That sings as it passes
For ever and ever,
The hobble-chains' rattle,
The calling of birds,
The lowing of cattle
Must blend with the words.
Without these, indeed, you
Would find it ere long,
As though I should read you
The words of a song
That lamely would linger
When lacking the rune,
The voice of the singer,
The lilt of the tune.

But, as one half-hearing
An old-time refrain,
With memory clearing,
Recalls it again,
These tales, roughly wrought of
The bush and its ways,
May call back a thought of
The wandering days.
And, blending with each
In the mem'ries that throng,
There haply shall reach
You some echo of song.

Clancy of the Overflow

I had written him a letter which I had, for want of better
Knowledge, sent to where I met him down the Lachlan, years ago,
He was shearing when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him,
Just "on spec", addressed as follows, "Clancy, of The Overflow".

And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected,
(And I think the same was written with a thumb-nail dipped in tar)
'Twas his shearing mate who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it:
"Clancy's gone to Queensland droving, and we don't know where he are."

. . . . .

In my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy
Gone a-droving "down the Cooper" where the Western drovers go;
As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing,
For the drover's life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.

And the bush hath friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him
In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended,
And at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars.

. . . . .

I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy
Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall,
And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city,
Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all.

And in place of lowing cattle, I can hear the fiendish rattle
Of the tramways and the 'buses making hurry down the street,
And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting,
Comes fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of feet.

And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me
As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste,
With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy,
For townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste.

And I somehow rather fancy that I'd like to change with Clancy,
Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go,
While he faced the round eternal of the cash-book and the journal --
But I doubt he'd suit the office, Clancy, of "The Overflow".

Black Swans

As I lie at rest on a patch of clover
In the Western Park when the day is done,
I watch as the wild black swans fly over
With their phalanx turned to the sinking sun;
And I hear the clang of their leader crying
To a lagging mate in the rearward flying,
And they fade away in the darkness dying,
Where the stars are mustering one by one.

Oh! ye wild black swans, 'twere a world of wonder
For a while to join in your westward flight,
With the stars above and the dim earth under,
Through the cooling air of the glorious night.
As we swept along on our pinions winging,
We should catch the chime of a church-bell ringing,
Or the distant note of a torrent singing,
Or the far-off flash of a station light.

From the northern lakes with the reeds and rushes,
Where the hills are clothed with a purple haze,
Where the bell-birds chime and the songs of thrushes
Make music sweet in the jungle maze,
They will hold their course to the westward ever,
Till they reach the banks of the old grey river,
Where the waters wash, and the reed-beds quiver
In the burning heat of the summer days.

Oh! ye strange wild birds, will ye bear a greeting
To the folk that live in that western land?
Then for every sweep of your pinions beating,
Ye shall bear a wish to the sunburnt band,
To the stalwart men who are stoutly fighting
With the heat and drought and the dust-storm smiting,
Yet whose life somehow has a strange inviting,
When once to the work they have put their hand.

Facing it yet! Oh, my friend stout-hearted,
What does it matter for rain or shine,
For the hopes deferred and the gain departed?
Nothing could conquer that heart of thine.
And thy health and strength are beyond confessing
As the only joys that are worth possessing.
May the days to come be as rich in blessing
As the days we spent in the auld lang syne.

I would fain go back to the old grey river,
To the old bush days when our hearts were light,
But, alas! those days they have fled for ever,
They are like the swans that have swept from sight.
And I know full well that the strangers' faces
Would meet us now in our dearest places;
For our day is dead and has left no traces
But the thoughts that live in my mind to-night.

There are folk long dead, and our hearts would sicken --
We would grieve for them with a bitter pain,
If the past could live and the dead could quicken,
We then might turn to that life again.
But on lonely nights we would hear them calling,
We should hear their steps on the pathways falling,
We should loathe the life with a hate appalling
In our lonely rides by the ridge and plain.

. . . . .

In the silent park is a scent of clover,
And the distant roar of the town is dead,
And I hear once more as the swans fly over
Their far-off clamour from overhead.
They are flying west, by their instinct guided,
And for man likewise is his fate decided,
And griefs apportioned and joys divided
By a mighty power with a purpose dread.

The Travelling Post Office

The roving breezes come and go, the reed beds sweep and sway,
The sleepy river murmurs low, and loiters on its way,
It is the land of lots o' time along the Castlereagh.

. . . . .

The old man's son had left the farm, he found it dull and slow,
He drifted to the great North-west where all the rovers go.
"He's gone so long," the old man said, "he's dropped right out of mind,
But if you'd write a line to him I'd take it very kind;
He's shearing here and fencing there, a kind of waif and stray,
He's droving now with Conroy's sheep along the Castlereagh.
The sheep are travelling for the grass, and travelling very slow;
They may be at Mundooran now, or past the Overflow,
Or tramping down the black soil flats across by Waddiwong,
But all those little country towns would send the letter wrong,
The mailman, if he's extra tired, would pass them in his sleep,
It's safest to address the note to `Care of Conroy's sheep',
For five and twenty thousand head can scarcely go astray,
You write to `Care of Conroy's sheep along the Castlereagh'."

. . . . .

By rock and ridge and riverside the western mail has gone,
Across the great Blue Mountain Range to take that letter on.
A moment on the topmost grade while open fire doors glare,
She pauses like a living thing to breathe the mountain air,
Then launches down the other side across the plains away
To bear that note to "Conroy's sheep along the Castlereagh".

And now by coach and mailman's bag it goes from town to town,
And Conroy's Gap and Conroy's Creek have marked it "further down".
Beneath a sky of deepest blue where never cloud abides,
A speck upon the waste of plain the lonely mailman rides.
Where fierce hot winds have set the pine and myall boughs asweep
He hails the shearers passing by for news of Conroy's sheep.
By big lagoons where wildfowl play and crested pigeons flock,
By camp fires where the drovers ride around their restless stock,
And past the teamster toiling down to fetch the wool away
My letter chases Conroy's sheep along the Castlereagh.

The Old Australian Ways

The London lights are far abeam
Behind a bank of cloud,
Along the shore the gaslights gleam,
The gale is piping loud;
And down the Channel, groping blind,
We drive her through the haze
Towards the land we left behind --
The good old land of "never mind",
And old Australian ways.

The narrow ways of English folk
Are not for such as we;
They bear the long-accustomed yoke
Of staid conservancy:
But all our roads are new and strange,
And through our blood there runs
The vagabonding love of change
That drove us westward of the range
And westward of the suns.

The city folk go to and fro
Behind a prison's bars,
They never feel the breezes blow
And never see the stars;
They never hear in blossomed trees
The music low and sweet
Of wild birds making melodies,
Nor catch the little laughing breeze
That whispers in the wheat.

Our fathers came of roving stock
That could not fixed abide:
And we have followed field and flock
Since e'er we learnt to ride;
By miner's camp and shearing shed,
In land of heat and drought,
We followed where our fortunes led,
With fortune always on ahead
And always further out.

The wind is in the barley-grass,
The wattles are in bloom;
The breezes greet us as they pass
With honey-sweet perfume;
The parrakeets go screaming by
With flash of golden wing,
And from the swamp the wild-ducks cry
Their long-drawn note of revelry,
Rejoicing at the Spring.

So throw the weary pen aside
And let the papers rest,
For we must saddle up and ride
Towards the blue hill's breast;
And we must travel far and fast
Across their rugged maze,
To find the Spring of Youth at last,
And call back from the buried past
The old Australian ways.

When Clancy took the drover's track
In years of long ago,
He drifted to the outer back
Beyond the Overflow;
By rolling plain and rocky shelf,
With stockwhip in his hand,
He reached at last, oh lucky elf!
The Town of Come-and-help-yourself
In Rough-and-ready Land.

And if it be that you would know
The tracks he used to ride,
Then you must saddle up and go
Beyond the Queensland side --
Beyond the reach of rule or law,
To ride the long day through,
In Nature's homestead -- filled with awe:
You then might see what Clancy saw
And know what Clancy knew.

By the Grey Gulf-Water

Far to the Northward there lies a land,
A wonderful land that the winds blow over,
And none may fathom nor understand
The charm it holds for the restless rover;
A great grey chaos -- a land half made,
Where endless space is and no life stirreth;
And the soul of a man will recoil afraid
From the sphinx-like visage that Nature weareth.
But old Dame Nature, though scornful, craves
Her dole of death and her share of slaughter;
Many indeed are the nameless graves
Where her victims sleep by the Grey Gulf-water.

Slowly and slowly those grey streams glide,
Drifting along with a languid motion,
Lapping the reed-beds on either side,
Wending their way to the Northern Ocean.
Grey are the plains where the emus pass
Silent and slow, with their staid demeanour;
Over the dead men's graves the grass
Maybe is waving a trifle greener.
Down in the world where men toil and spin
Dame Nature smiles as man's hand has taught her;
Only the dead men her smiles can win
In the great lone land by the Grey Gulf-water.

For the strength of man is an insect's strength
In the face of that mighty plain and river,
And the life of a man is a moment's length
To the life of the stream that will run for ever.
And so it cometh they take no part
In small-world worries; each hardy rover
Rideth abroad and is light of heart,
With the plains around and the blue sky over.
And up in the heavens the brown lark sings
The songs that the strange wild land has taught her;
Full of thanksgiving her sweet song rings --
And I wish I were back by the Grey Gulf-water.

Jessie Mackay.

The Grey Company

O the grey, grey company
Of the pallid dawn!
O the ghostly faces,
Ashen-like and drawn!
The Lord's lone sentinels
Dotted down the years,
The little grey company
Before the pioneers.

Dreaming of Utopias
Ere the time was ripe,
They awoke to scorning,
The jeering and the strife.
Dreaming of millenniums
In a world of wars,
They awoke to shudder
At a flaming Mars.

Never was a Luther
But a Huss was first --
A fountain unregarded
In the primal thirst.
Never was a Newton
Crowned and honoured well,
But first, alone, Galileo
Wasted in a cell.

In each other's faces
Looked the pioneers;
Drank the wine of courage
All their battle years.
For their weary sowing
Through the world wide,
Green they saw the harvest
Ere the day they died.

But the grey, grey company
Stood every man alone
In the chilly dawnlight,
Scarcely had they known
Ere the day they perished,
That their beacon-star
Was not glint of marsh-light
In the shadows far.

The brave white witnesses
To the truth within
Took the dart of folly,
Took the jeer of sin;
Crying "Follow, follow,
Back to Eden gate!"
They trod the Polar desert,
Met a desert fate.

Be laurel to the victor,
And roses to the fair,
And asphodel Elysian
Let the hero wear;
But lay the maiden lilies
Upon their narrow biers --
The lone grey company
Before the pioneers.

A Folk Song

I came to your town, my love,
And you were away, away!
I said "She is with the Queen's maidens:
They tarry long at their play.
They are stringing her words like pearls
To throw to the dukes and earls."
But O, the pity!
I had but a morn of windy red
To come to the town where you were bred,
And you were away, away!

I came to your town, my love,
And you were away, away!
I said, "She is with the mountain elves
And misty and fair as they.
They are spinning a diamond net
To cover her curls of jet."
But O, the pity!
I had but a noon of searing heat
To come to your town, my love, my sweet,
And you were away, away!

I came to your town, my love,
And you were away, away!
I said, "She is with the pale white saints,
And they tarry long to pray.
They give her a white lily-crown,
And I fear she will never come down."
But O, the pity!
I had but an even grey and wan
To come to your town and plead as man,
And you were away, away!

Dunedin in the Gloaming

Like a black, enamoured King whispered low the thunder
To the lights of Roslyn, terraced far asunder:
Hovered low the sister cloud in wild, warm wonder.

"O my love, Dunedin town, the only, the abiding!
Who can look undazzled up where the Norn is riding, --
Watch the sword of destiny from the scabbard gliding!

"Dark and rich and ringing true -- word and look for ever;
Taking to her woman heart all forlorn endeavour;
Heaven's sea about her feet, not the bounded river!"

"Sister of the mountain mist, and never to be holden
With the weary sophistries that dimmer eyes embolden, --
O the dark Dunedin town, shot with green and golden!"

Then a silver pioneer netted in the rift,
Leaning over Maori Hill, dreaming in the lift,
Dropped her starry memories through the passioned drift: --

"Once -- I do remember them, the glory and the garden,
Ere the elder stars had learnt God's mystery of pardon,
Ere the youngest, I myself, had seen the flaming warden --

"Once even after even I stole ever shy and early
To mirror me within a glade of Eden cool and pearly,
Where shy and cold and holy ran a torrent sought but rarely.

"And fondly could I swear that this my glade had risen newly, --
Burst the burning desert tomb wherein she lieth truly,
To keep an Easter with the birds and me who loved her duly."

Wailing, laughing, loving, hoar, spake the lordly ocean:
"You are sheen and steadfastness: I am sheen and motion,
Gulfing argosies for whim, navies for a notion.

"Sleep you well, Dunedin Town, though loud the lulling lyre is;
Lady of the stars terrene, where quick the human fire is,
Lady of the Maori pines, the turrets, and the eyries!"

The Burial of Sir John Mackenzie

(1901)

They played him home to the House of Stones
All the way, all the way,
To his grave in the sound of the winter sea:
The sky was dour, the sky was gray.
They played him home with the chieftain's dirge,
Till the wail was wed to the rolling surge,
They played him home with a sorrowful will
To his grave at the foot of the Holy Hill
And the pipes went mourning all the way.

Strong hands that had struck for right
All the day, all the day,
Folded now in the dark of earth,
Veiled dawn of the upper way!
Strong hands that struck with his
From days that were to the day that is
Carry him now from the house of woe
To ride the way the Chief must go:
And his peers went mourning all the way.

Son and brother at his right hand
All the way, all the way!
And O for them and O for her
Who stayed within, the dowie day!
Son and brother and near of kin
Go out with the chief who never comes in!
And of all who loved him far and near
'Twas the nearest most who held him dear --
And his kin went mourning all the way!

The clan went on with the pipes before
All the way, all the way;
A wider clan than ever he knew
Followed him home that dowie day.
And who were they of the wider clan?
The landless man and the no man's man,
The man that lacked and the man unlearned,
The man that lived but as he earned --
And the clan went mourning all the way.

The heart of New Zealand went beside
All the way, all the way,
To the resting-place of her Highland Chief;
Much she thought she could not say;
He found her a land of many domains,
Maiden forest and fallow plains --
He left her a land of many homes,
The pearl of the world where the sea wind roams,
And New Zealand went mourning all the way.

Henry Lawson.

Andy's gone with Cattle

Our Andy's gone to battle now
'Gainst Drought, the red marauder;
Our Andy's gone with cattle now
Across the Queensland border.

He's left us in dejection now;
Our hearts with him are roving.
It's dull on this selection now,
Since Andy went a-droving.

Who now shall wear the cheerful face
In times when things are slackest?
And who shall whistle round the place
When Fortune frowns her blackest?

Oh, who shall cheek the squatter now
When he comes round us snarling?
His tongue is growing hotter now
Since Andy cross'd the Darling.

The gates are out of order now,
In storms the "riders" rattle;
For far across the border now
Our Andy's gone with cattle.

Oh, may the showers in torrents fall,
And all the tanks run over;
And may the grass grow green and tall
In pathways of the drover;

And may good angels send the rain
On desert stretches sandy;
And when the summer comes again
God grant 'twill bring us Andy.

Out Back

The old year went, and the new returned, in the withering weeks of drought,
The cheque was spent that the shearer earned, and the sheds were all cut out;
The publican's words were short and few,
and the publican's looks were black --
And the time had come, as the shearer knew, to carry his swag Out Back.

~For time means tucker, and tramp you must,
where the scrubs and plains are wide,
With seldom a track that a man can trust, or a mountain peak to guide;
All day long in the dust and heat -- when summer is on the track --
With stinted stomachs and blistered feet, they carry their swags Out Back.~

He tramped away from the shanty there, when the days were long and hot,
With never a soul to know or care if he died on the track or not.
The poor of the city have friends in woe, no matter how much they lack,
But only God and the swagmen know how a poor man fares Out Back.

He begged his way on the parched Paroo and the Warrego tracks once more,
And lived like a dog, as the swagmen do, till the Western stations shore;
But men were many, and sheds were full, for work in the town was slack --
The traveller never got hands in wool, though he tramped for a year Out Back.

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