An Anthology of Australian Verse
Part 2 out of 5
From Samoa came over:
Came over, Sina, at the setting moon!
The moon shines round and bright;
She, with her dark-eyed maidens at her side,
Watches the rising tide.
While balmy breathes the starry southern night,
While languid heaves the lazy southern tide;
The rising tide, O Sina, and the setting moon!
The night is past, is past and gone,
The moon sinks to the West,
The sea-heart beats opprest,
And Sina's passionate breast
Heaves like the sea, when the pale moon has gone,
Heaves like the passionate sea, Sina, left by the moon alone!
Silver on silver sands, the rippling waters meet --
Will he come soon?
The rippling waters kiss her delicate feet,
The rippling waters, lisping low and sweet,
Ripple with the tide,
The rising tide,
The rising tide, O Sina, and the setting moon!
He comes! -- her lover!
Tigilau, the son of Tui Viti.
Her maidens round her hover,
The rising waves her white feet cover.
O Tigilau, son of Tui Viti,
Through the mellow dusk thy proas glide,
So soon by the rising tide,
The rising tide, my Sina, and the setting moon!
The mooring-poles are left,
The whitening waves are cleft,
By the prows of Tui Viti!
By the sharp keels of Tui Viti!
Broad is the sea, and deep,
The yellow Samoans sleep,
But they will wake and weep --
Weep in their luxurious odorous vales,
While the land breeze swells the sails
Of Tui Viti!
Tui Viti -- far upon the rising tide,
The rising tide --
The rising tide, my Sina, beneath the setting moon!
She leaps to meet him!
Her mouth to greet him
Burns at his own.
Away! To the canoes,
To the yoked war canoes!
The sea in murmurous tone
Whispers the story of their loves,
Re-echoes the story of their loves --
The story of Tui Viti,
Of Sina and Tui Viti,
By the rising tide,
The rising tide, Sina, beneath the setting moon!
She has gone!
She has fled!
Sina, for whom the warriors decked their shining hair,
Wreathing with pearls their bosoms brown and bare,
Flinging beneath her dainty feet
Mats crimson with the feathers of the parrakeet.
Ho, Samoans! rouse your warriors full soon,
For Sina is across the rippling wave,
With Tigilau, the bold and brave.
Far, far upon the rising tide!
Far upon the rising tide!
Far upon the rising tide, Sina, beneath the setting moon.
O sweet Queen-city of the golden South,
Piercing the evening with thy star-lit spires,
Thou wert a witness when I kissed the mouth
Of her whose eyes outblazed the skyey fires.
I saw the parallels of thy long streets,
With lamps like angels shining all a-row,
While overhead the empyrean seats
Of gods were steeped in paradisic glow.
The Pleiades with rarer fires were tipt,
Hesper sat throned upon his jewelled chair,
The belted giant's triple stars were dipt
In all the splendour of Olympian air,
On high to bless, the Southern Cross did shine,
Like that which blazed o'er conquering Constantine.
Well! if Truth be all welcomed with hardy reliance,
All the lovely unfoldings of luminous Science,
All that Logic can prove or disprove be avowed:
Is there room for no faith -- though such Evil intrude --
In the dominance still of a Spirit of Good?
Is there room for no hope -- such a handbreadth we scan --
In the permanence yet of the Spirit of Man? --
May we bless the far seeker, nor blame the fine dreamer?
Leave Reason her radiance -- Doubt her due cloud;
Nor their Rainbows enshroud? --
From our Life of realities -- hard -- shallow-hearted,
Has Romance -- has all glory idyllic departed --
From the workaday World all the wonderment flown?
Well, but what if there gleamed, in an Age cold as this,
The divinest of Poets' ideal of bliss?
Yea, an Eden could lurk in this Empire of ours,
With the loneliest love in the loveliest bowers? --
In an era so rapid with railway and steamer,
And with Pan and the Dryads like Raphael gone --
What if this could be shown?
O my friends, never deaf to the charms of Denial,
Were its comfortless comforting worth a life-trial --
Discontented content with a chilling despair? --
Better ask as we float down a song-flood unchecked,
If our Sky with no Iris be glory-bedecked?
Through the gloom of eclipse as we wistfully steal
If no darkling aureolar rays may reveal
That the Future is haply not utterly cheerless:
While the Present has joy and adventure as rare
As the Past when most fair?
And if weary of mists you will roam undisdaining
To a land where the fanciful fountains are raining
Swift brilliants of boiling and beautiful spray
In the violet splendour of skies that illume
Such a wealth of green ferns and rare crimson tree-bloom;
Where a people primeval is vanishing fast,
With its faiths and its fables and ways of the past:
O with reason and fancy unfettered and fearless,
Come plunge with us deep into regions of Day --
Come away -- and away! --
A Maori Girl's Song
"Alas, and well-a-day! they are talking of me still:
By the tingling of my nostril, I fear they are talking ill;
Poor hapless I -- poor little I -- so many mouths to fill --
And all for this strange feeling -- O, this sad, sweet pain!
"O! senseless heart -- O simple! to yearn so, and to pine
For one so far above me, confest o'er all to shine,
For one a hundred dote upon, who never can be mine!
O, 'tis a foolish feeling -- all this fond, sweet pain!
"When I was quite a child -- not so many moons ago --
A happy little maiden -- O, then it was not so;
Like a sunny-dancing wavelet then I sparkled to and fro;
And I never had this feeling -- O, this sad, sweet pain!
"I think it must be owing to the idle life I lead
In the dreamy house for ever that this new bosom-weed
Has sprouted up and spread its shoots till it troubles me indeed
With a restless, weary feeling -- such a sad, sweet pain!
"So in this pleasant islet, O, no longer will I stay --
And the shadowy summer dwelling I will leave this very day;
On Arapa I'll launch my skiff, and soon be borne away
From all that feeds this feeling -- O, this fond, sweet pain!
"I'll go and see dear Rima -- she'll welcome me, I know,
And a flaxen cloak -- her gayest -- o'er my weary shoulders throw,
With purfle red and points so free -- O, quite a lovely show --
To charm away this feeling -- O, this sad, sweet pain!
"Two feathers I will borrow, and so gracefully I'll wear
Two feathers soft and snowy, for my long, black, lustrous hair.
Of the albatross's down they'll be -- O, how charming they'll look there --
All to chase away this feeling -- O, this fond, sweet pain!
"Then the lads will flock around me with flattering talk all day --
And, with anxious little pinches, sly hints of love convey;
And I shall blush with happy pride to hear them, I daresay,
And quite forget this feeling -- O, this sad, sweet pain!"
James Brunton Stephens.
The Dominion of Australia
(A Forecast, 1877)
She is not yet; but he whose ear
Thrills to that finer atmosphere
Where footfalls of appointed things,
Reverberant of days to be,
Are heard in forecast echoings,
Like wave-beats from a viewless sea --
Hears in the voiceful tremors of the sky
Auroral heralds whispering, "She is nigh."
She is not yet; but he whose sight
Foreknows the advent of the light,
Whose soul to morning radiance turns
Ere night her curtain hath withdrawn,
And in its quivering folds discerns
The mute monitions of the dawn,
With urgent sense strained onward to descry
Her distant tokens, starts to find Her nigh.
Not yet her day. How long "not yet"? . . .
There comes the flush of violet!
And heavenward faces, all aflame
With sanguine imminence of morn,
Wait but the sun-kiss to proclaim
The Day of The Dominion born.
Prelusive baptism! -- ere the natal hour
Named with the name and prophecy of power.
Already here to hearts intense,
A spirit-force, transcending sense,
In heights unscaled, in deeps unstirred,
Beneath the calm, above the storm,
She waits the incorporating word
To bid her tremble into form.
Already, like divining-rods, men's souls
Bend down to where the unseen river rolls; --
For even as, from sight concealed,
By never flush of dawn revealed,
Nor e'er illumed by golden noon,
Nor sunset-streaked with crimson bar,
Nor silver-spanned by wake of moon,
Nor visited of any star,
Beneath these lands a river waits to bless
(So men divine) our utmost wilderness, --
Rolls dark, but yet shall know our skies,
Soon as the wisdom of the wise
Conspires with nature to disclose
The blessing prisoned and unseen,
Till round our lessening wastes there glows
A perfect zone of broadening green, --
Till all our land, Australia Felix called,
Become one Continent-Isle of Emerald;
So flows beneath our good and ill
A viewless stream of Common Will,
A gathering force, a present might,
That from its silent depths of gloom
At Wisdom's voice shall leap to light,
And hide our barren feuds in bloom,
Till, all our sundering lines with love o'ergrown,
Our bounds shall be the girdling seas alone.
The Dark Companion
There is an orb that mocked the lore of sages
Long time with mystery of strange unrest;
The steadfast law that rounds the starry ages
Gave doubtful token of supreme behest.
But they who knew the ways of God unchanging,
Concluded some far influence unseen --
Some kindred sphere through viewless ethers ranging,
Whose strong persuasions spanned the void between.
And knowing it alone through perturbation
And vague disquiet of another star,
They named it, till the day of revelation,
"The Dark Companion" -- darkly guessed afar.
But when, through new perfection of appliance,
Faith merged at length in undisputed sight,
The mystic mover was revealed to science,
No Dark Companion, but -- a speck of light.
No Dark Companion, but a sun of glory;
No fell disturber, but a bright compeer;
The shining complement that crowned the story;
The golden link that made the meaning clear.
Oh, Dark Companion, journeying ever by us,
Oh, grim Perturber of our works and ways --
Oh, potent Dread, unseen, yet ever nigh us,
Disquieting all the tenor of our days --
Oh, Dark Companion, Death, whose wide embraces
O'ertake remotest change of clime and skies --
Oh, Dark Companion, Death, whose grievous traces
Are scattered shreds of riven enterprise --
Thou, too, in this wise, when, our eyes unsealing,
The clearer day shall change our faith to sight,
Shalt show thyself, in that supreme revealing,
No Dark Companion, but a thing of light.
No ruthless wrecker of harmonious order;
No alien heart of discord and caprice;
A beckoning light upon the Blissful Border;
A kindred element of law and peace.
So, too, our strange unrest in this our dwelling,
The trembling that thou joinest with our mirth,
Are but thy magnet-communings compelling
Our spirits farther from the scope of earth.
So, doubtless, when beneath thy potence swerving,
'Tis that thou lead'st us by a path unknown,
Our seeming deviations all subserving
The perfect orbit round the central throne.
. . . . .
The night wind moans. The Austral wilds are round me.
The loved who live -- ah, God! how few they are!
I looked above; and heaven in mercy found me
This parable of comfort in a star.
Linger, oh Sun, for a little, nor close yet this day of a million!
Is there not glory enough in the rose-curtained halls of the West?
Hast thou no joy in the passion-hued folds of thy kingly pavilion?
Why shouldst thou only pass through it? Oh rest thee a little while, rest!
Why should the Night come and take it, the wan Night that cannot enjoy it,
Bringing pale argent for golden, and changing vermilion to grey?
Why should the Night come and shadow it, entering but to destroy it?
Rest 'mid thy ruby-trailed splendours! Oh stay thee a little while, stay!
Rest thee at least a brief hour in it! 'Tis a right royal pavilion.
Lo, there are thrones for high dalliance all gloriously canopied o'er!
Lo, there are hangings of purple, and hangings of blue and vermilion,
And there are fleeces of gold for thy feet on the diapered floor!
Linger, a little while linger. To-morrow my heart may not sing to thee:
This shall be Yesterday, numbered with memories, folded away.
Now should my flesh-fettered soul be set free! I would soar to thee,
cling to thee,
And be thy rere-ward Aurora, pursuing the skirts of To-day!
Hark how the tremulous night-wind is passing in joy-laden sighs;
Soft through my window it comes, like the fanning of pinions angelic,
Whispering to cease from myself, and look out on the infinite skies.
Out on the orb-studded night, and the crescent effulgence of Dian;
Out on the far-gleaming star-dust that marks where the angels have trod;
Out on the gem-pointed Cross, and the glittering pomp of Orion,
Flaming in measureless azure, the coronal jewels of God;
Luminous streams of delight in the silent immensity flowing,
Journeying surgelessly on through impalpable ethers of peace.
How can I think of myself when infinitude o'er me is glowing,
Glowing with tokens of love from the land where my sorrows shall cease?
Oh, summer-night of the South! Oh, sweet languor of zephyrs love-sighing!
Oh, mighty circuit of shadowy solitude, holy and still!
Music scarce audible, echo-less harmony joyously dying,
Dying in faint suspirations o'er meadow, and forest, and hill!
I must go forth and be part of it, part of the night and its gladness.
But a few steps, and I pause on the marge of the shining lagoon.
Here then, at length, I have rest; and I lay down my burden of sadness,
Kneeling alone 'neath the stars and the silvery arc of the moon.
Not understood, we move along asunder;
Our paths grow wider as the seasons creep
Along the years; we marvel and we wonder
Why life is life, and then we fall asleep
Not understood, we gather false impressions
And hug them closer as the years go by;
Till virtues often seem to us transgressions;
And thus men rise and fall, and live and die
Not understood! Poor souls with stunted vision
Oft measure giants with their narrow gauge;
The poisoned shafts of falsehood and derision
Are oft impelled 'gainst those who mould the age,
Not understood! The secret springs of action
Which lie beneath the surface and the show,
Are disregarded; with self-satisfaction
We judge our neighbours, and they often go
Not understood! How trifles often change us!
The thoughtless sentence and the fancied slight
Destroy long years of friendship, and estrange us,
And on our souls there falls a freezing blight;
Not understood! How many breasts are aching
For lack of sympathy! Ah! day by day
How many cheerless, lonely hearts are breaking!
How many noble spirits pass away,
O God! that men would see a little clearer,
Or judge less harshly where they cannot see!
O God! that men would draw a little nearer
To one another, -- they'd be nearer Thee,
Spirit of Song
Where is thy dwelling-place? Echo of sweetness,
Seraph of tenderness, where is thy home?
Angel of happiness, herald of fleetness,
Thou hast the key of the star-blazon'd dome.
Where lays that never end
Up to God's throne ascend,
And our fond heart-wishes lovingly throng,
Soaring with thee above,
Bearer of truth and love,
Teacher of heaven's tongue -- Spirit of Song!
Euphony, born in the realms of the tearless,
Mingling thy notes with the voices of Earth;
Wanting thee, all would be dreary and cheerless,
Weaver of harmony, giver of mirth.
Comfort of child and sage,
With us in youth and age,
Soothing the weak and inspiring the strong,
Illuming the blackest night,
Making the day more bright,
Oh! thou art dear to us, Spirit of Song!
Oft in the springtime, sweet words of affection
Are whispered by thee in thy tenderest tone,
And in the winter dark clouds of dejection
By thee are dispelled till all sorrow has flown.
Thou'rt with the zephyrs low,
And with the brooklet's flow,
And with the feathered choir all the year long;
Happy each child of thine,
Blest with thy gifts divine,
Charming our senses, sweet Spirit of Song!
What of the Night?
To you, who look below,
Where little candles glow --
Who listen in a narrow street,
Confused with noise of passing feet --
To you 'tis wild and dark;
No light, no guide, no ark,
For travellers lost on moor and lea,
And ship-wrecked mariners at sea.
But they who stand apart,
With hushed but wakeful heart --
They hear the lulling of the gale,
And see the dawn-rise faint and pale.
A dawn whereto they grope
In trembling faith and hope,
If haply, brightening, it may cast
A gleam on path and goal at last.
Good-bye! -- 'tis like a churchyard bell -- good-bye!
Poor weeping eyes! Poor head, bowed down with woe!
Kiss me again, dear love, before you go.
Ah, me, how fast the precious moments fly!
We are like mourners when they stand and cry
At open grave in wintry wind and rain.
Yes, it is death. But you shall rise again --
Your sun return to this benighted sky.
The great physician, Time, shall pacify
This parting anguish with another friend.
Your heart is broken now, but it will mend.
Though it is death, yet still you will not die.
Dear heart! dear eyes! dear tongue, that cannot lie!
Your love is true, your grief is deep and sore;
But love will pass -- then you will grieve no more.
New love will come. Your tears will soon be dry.
The Virgin Martyr
Every wild she-bird has nest and mate in the warm April weather,
But a captive woman, made for love -- no mate, no nest has she.
In the spring of young desire, young men and maids are wed together,
And the happy mothers flaunt their bliss for all the world to see:
Nature's sacramental feast for these -- an empty board for me.
I, a young maid once, an old maid now, deposed, despised, forgotten --
I, like them have thrilled with passion and have dreamed of nuptial rest,
Of the trembling life within me of my children unbegotten,
Of a breathing new-born body to my yearning bosom prest,
Of the rapture of a little soft mouth drinking at my breast.
Time, that heals so many sorrows, keeps mine ever freshly aching;
Though my face is growing furrowed and my brown hair turning white,
Still I mourn my irremediable loss, asleep or waking --
Still I hear my son's voice calling "mother" in the dead of night,
And am haunted by my girl's eyes that will never see the light.
O my children that I might have had! my children, lost for ever!
O the goodly years that might have been -- now desolate and bare!
O malignant God or Fate, what have I done that I should never
Take my birthright like the others, take the crown that women wear,
And possess the common heritage to which all flesh is heir?
Me let the world disparage and despise --
As one unfettered with its gilded chains,
As one untempted by its sordid gains,
Its pleasant vice, its profitable lies;
Let Justice, blind and halt and maimed, chastise
The rebel spirit surging in my veins,
Let the Law deal me penalties and pains
And make me hideous in my neighbours' eyes.
But let me fall not in mine own esteem,
By poor deceit or selfish greed debased.
Let me be clean from secret stain and shame,
Know myself true, though false as hell I seem --
Know myself worthy, howsoe'er disgraced --
Know myself right, though every tongue should blame.
Alone! Alone! No beacon, far or near!
No chart, no compass, and no anchor stay!
Like melting fog the mirage melts away
In all-surrounding darkness, void and clear.
Drifting, I spread vain hands, and vainly peer
And vainly call for pilot, -- weep and pray;
Beyond these limits not the faintest ray
Shows distant coast whereto the lost may steer.
O what is life, if we must hold it thus
As wind-blown sparks hold momentary fire?
What are these gifts without the larger boon?
O what is art, or wealth, or fame to us
Who scarce have time to know what we desire?
O what is love, if we must part so soon?
And is the great cause lost beyond recall?
Have all the hopes of ages come to naught?
Is life no more with noble meaning fraught?
Is life but death, and love its funeral pall?
Maybe. And still on bended knees I fall,
Filled with a faith no preacher ever taught.
O God -- MY God -- by no false prophet wrought --
I believe still, in despite of it all!
Let go the myths and creeds of groping men.
This clay knows naught -- the Potter understands.
I own that Power divine beyond my ken,
And still can leave me in His shaping hands.
But, O my God, that madest me to feel,
Forgive the anguish of the turning wheel!
Fair crown of stars of purest ray,
Hung aloft on Mapau tree,
What floral beauties ye display,
Stars of snowy purity;
Around the dark-leaved mapau's head
Unsullied garlands ye have spread.
Concealed were all thy beauties rare
'Neath the dark umbrageous shade,
But still to gain the loftiest spray,
Thy weak stem its efforts made;
Now, every obstacle o'ercome,
Thou smilest from thy leafy home.
That home secure, 'mid sombre leaves
Yielded by thy stalwart spouse,
Helps thee to show thy fairy crown,
Decorates his dusky boughs:
His strength, thy beauty, both unite
And form a picture to delight.
Fair flower, methinks thou dost afford
Emblem of a perfect wife,
Whose work is hidden from the world,
Till, perchance, her husband's life
Is by her influence beautified,
And this by others is descried.
Philip Joseph Holdsworth.
All my life's short years had been stern and sterile --
I stood like one whom the blasts blow back --
As with shipmen whirled through the straits of Peril,
So fierce foes menaced my every track.
But I steeled my soul to a strong endeavour,
I bared my brow as the sharp strokes fell,
And I said to my heart -- "Hope on! Hope ever:
Have Courage -- Courage, and all is well."
Then, bright as the blood in my heart's rich chalice,
O Blossom, Blossom! -- you came from far;
And life rang joy, till the World's loud malice
Shrilled to the edge of our utmost star.
And I said: "On me let the rough storms hurtle,
The great clouds gather and shroud my sun --
But you shall be Queen where the rose and myrtle
Laugh with the year till the year is done."
So my Dream fell dead; and the fluctuant passion --
The stress and strain of the past re-grew,
The world laughed on in its heedless fashion,
But Earth whirled worthless, because of you!
In that Lake of Tears which my grief discovered,
I laid dead Love with a passionate kiss,
And over those soundless depths has hovered
The sweet, sad wraith of my vanished bliss.
Heart clings to Heart -- let the strange years sever
The fates of two who had met -- to part;
Love's strength survives, and the harsh world never
Shall crush the passion of heart for heart;
For I know my life, though it droop and dwindle,
Shall leave me Love till I fade and die,
And when hereafter our Souls re-kindle,
Who shall be fonder -- You or I?
My Queen of Dreams
In the warm flushed heart of the rose-red west,
When the great sun quivered and died to-day,
You pulsed, O star, by yon pine-clad crest --
And throbbed till the bright eve ashened grey --
Then I saw you swim
By the shadowy rim
Where the grey gum dips to the western plain,
And you rayed delight
As you winged your flight
To the mystic spheres where your kinsmen reign.
O star, did you see her? My queen of dreams!
Was it you that glimmered the night we strayed
A month ago by these scented streams?
Half-checked by the litter the musk-buds made?
Did you sleep or wake?
Ah, for Love's sweet sake
(Though the world should fail and the soft stars wane!)
I shall dream delight
Till our souls take flight
To the mystic spheres where your kinsmen reign!
Mary Hannay Foott.
Where the Pelican Builds
The horses were ready, the rails were down,
But the riders lingered still --
One had a parting word to say,
And one had his pipe to fill.
Then they mounted, one with a granted prayer,
And one with a grief unguessed.
"We are going," they said, as they rode away --
"Where the pelican builds her nest!"
They had told us of pastures wide and green,
To be sought past the sunset's glow;
Of rifts in the ranges by opal lit;
And gold 'neath the river's flow.
And thirst and hunger were banished words
When they spoke of that unknown West;
No drought they dreaded, no flood they feared,
Where the pelican builds her nest!
The creek at the ford was but fetlock deep
When we watched them crossing there;
The rains have replenished it thrice since then,
And thrice has the rock lain bare.
But the waters of Hope have flowed and fled,
And never from blue hill's breast
Come back -- by the sun and the sands devoured --
Where the pelican builds her nest.
Conde had come with us all the way --
Eight hundred miles -- but the fortnight's rest
Made him fresh as a youngster, the sturdy bay!
And Lurline was looking her very best.
Weary and footsore, the cattle strayed
'Mid the silvery saltbush well content;
Where the creeks lay cool 'neath the gidya's shade
The stock-horses clustered, travel-spent.
In the bright spring morning we left them all --
Camp, and cattle, and white, and black --
And rode for the Range's westward fall,
Where the dingo's trail was the only track.
Slow through the clay-pans, wet to the knee,
With the cane-grass rustling overhead;
Swift o'er the plains with never a tree;
Up the cliffs by a torrent's bed.
Bridle on arm for a mile or more
We toiled, ere we reached Bindanna's verge
And saw -- as one sees a far-off shore --
The blue hills bounding the forest surge.
An ocean of trees, by the west wind stirred,
Rolled, ever rolled, to the great cliff's base;
And its sound like the noise of waves was heard
'Mid the rocks and the caves of that lonely place.
. . . . .
We recked not of wealth in stream or soil
As we heard on the heights the breezes sing;
We felt no longer our travel-toil;
We feared no more what the years might bring.
She heard the story of the end,
Each message, too, she heard;
And there was one for every friend;
For her alone -- no word.
And shall she bear a heavier heart,
And deem his love was fled;
Because his soul from earth could part
Leaving her name unsaid?
No -- No! -- Though neither sign nor sound
A parting thought expressed --
Not heedless passed the Homeward-Bound
Of her he loved the best.
Of voyage-perils, bravely borne,
He would not tell the tale;
Of shattered planks and canvas torn,
And war with wind and gale.
He waited till the light-house star
Should rise against the sky;
And from the mainland, looming far,
The forest scents blow by.
He hoped to tell -- assurance sweet! --
That pain and grief were o'er --
What blessings haste the soul to meet,
Ere yet within the door.
Then one farewell he thought to speak
When all the rest were past --
As in the parting-hour we seek
The dearest hand the last.
And while for this delaying but
To see Heaven's opening Gate --
Lo, it received him -- and was shut --
Ere he could say "I wait."
A fringe of rushes -- one green line
Upon a faded plain;
A silver streak of water-shine --
Above, tree-watchers twain.
It was our resting-place awhile,
And still, with backward gaze,
We say: "'Tis many a weary mile --
But there were happy days."
And shall no ripple break the sand
Upon our farther way?
Or reedy ranks all knee-deep stand?
Or leafy tree-tops sway?
The gold of dawn is surely met
In sunset's lavish blaze;
And -- in horizons hidden yet --
There shall be happy days.
Henry Lea Twisleton.
To a Cabbage Rose
Thy clustering leaves are steeped in splendour;
No evening red, no morning dun,
Can show a hue as rich and tender
As thine -- bright lover of the sun!
What wondrous hints of hidden glory,
Of strains no human lips can sing;
What symbols rare of life's strange story,
Dost thou from earth's dark bosom bring!
What elements have made thy sweetness,
Thy glowing hue, thy emerald stem?
What hand has fashioned to completeness
From tiny germ, thy diadem?
Thou art the fair earth's fond expression
Of tenderness for heaven above --
The virgin blush that yields confession --
Thou bright "ambassador of love"!
Fair are thy leaves when summer glowing
Lies in the lap of swooning spring;
But where art thou when autumn, blowing,
Bids youth and tenderness take wing?
Sweet messenger! thou waftest beauty
Wherever human lives are sown,
Around the peasant's humble duty
Or weary grandeurs of a throne.
Transfused through hearts in future ages,
Thy glowing power anew may shine
Effulgent in the poets' pages
Or music's harmony divine.
But not to thee from future glory
Can shine one added charm or day;
Sweet is thy life's unwritten story
Of radiant bloom and swift decay.
Give, then, to vagrant winds thy sweetness,
Shine, tearful, in the summer shower;
And, heedless of thy season's fleetness,
Enrich with joy the passing hour.
Mrs. James Glenny Wilson.
Do you remember that careless band,
Riding o'er meadow and wet sea-sand,
One autumn day, in a mist of sunshine,
Joyously seeking for fairyland?
The wind in the tree-tops was scarcely heard,
The streamlet repeated its one silver word,
And far away, o'er the depths of wood-land,
Floated the bell of the parson-bird.
Pale hoar-frost glittered in shady slips,
Where ferns were dipping their finger-tips,
From mossy branches a faint perfume
Breathed o'er honeyed Clematis lips.
At last we climbed to the ridge on high
Ah, crystal vision! Dreamland nigh!
Far, far below us, the wide Pacific
Slumbered in azure from sky to sky.
And cloud and shadow, across the deep
Wavered, or paused in enchanted sleep,
And eastward, the purple-misted islets
Fretted the wave with terrace and steep.
We looked on the tranquil, glassy bay,
On headlands sheeted in dazzling spray,
And the whitening ribs of a wreck forlorn
That for twenty years had wasted away.
All was so calm, and pure and fair,
It seemed the hour of worship there,
Silent, as where the great North-Minster
Rises for ever, a visible prayer.
Then we turned from the murmurous forest-land,
And rode over shingle and silver sand,
For so fair was the earth in the golden autumn,
That we sought no farther for Fairyland.
A Winter Daybreak
From the dark gorge, where burns the morning star,
I hear the glacier river rattling on
And sweeping o'er his ice-ploughed shingle-bar,
While wood owls shout in sombre unison,
And fluttering southern dancers glide and go;
And black swan's airy trumpets wildly, sweetly blow.
The cock crows in the windy winter morn,
Then must I rise and fling the curtain by.
All dark! But for a strip of fiery sky
Behind the ragged mountains, peaked and torn.
One planet glitters in the icy cold,
Poised like a hawk above the frozen peaks,
And now again the wild nor'-wester speaks,
And bends the cypress, shuddering, to his fold,
While every timber, every casement creaks.
But still the skylarks sing aloud and bold;
The wooded hills arise; the white cascade
Shakes with wild laughter all the silent shadowy glade.
Now from the shuttered east a silvery bar
Shines through the mist, and shows the mild daystar.
The storm-wrapped peaks start out and fade again,
And rosy vapours skirt the pastoral plain;
The garden paths with hoary rime are wet;
And sweetly breathes the winter violet;
The jonquil half unfolds her ivory cup,
With clouds of gold-eyed daisies waking up.
Pleasant it is to turn and see the fire
Dance on the hearth, as he would never tire;
The home-baked loaf, the Indian bean's perfume,
Fill with their homely cheer the panelled room.
Come, crazy storm! And thou, wild glittering hail,
Rave o'er the roof and wave your icy veil;
Shout in our ears and take your madcap way!
I laugh at storms! for Roderick comes to-day.
The Lark's Song
The morning is wild and dark,
The night mist runs on the vale,
Bright Lucifer dies to a spark,
And the wind whistles up for a gale.
And stormy the day may be
That breaks through its prison bars,
But it brings no regret to me,
For I sing at the door of the stars!
Along the dim ocean-verge
I see the ships labouring on;
They rise on the lifting surge
One moment, and they are gone.
I see on the twilight plain
The flash of the flying cars;
Men travail in joy or pain --
But I sing at the door of the stars!
I see the green, sleeping world,
The pastures all glazed with rime;
The smoke from the chimney curled;
I hear the faint church bells chime.
I see the grey mountain crest,
The slopes, and the forest spars,
With the dying moon on their breast --
While I sing at the door of the stars!
Edward Booth Loughran.
When these dead leaves were green, love,
November's skies were blue,
And summer came with lips aflame,
The gentle spring to woo;
And to us, wandering hand in hand,
Life was a fairy scene,
That golden morning in the woods
When these dead leaves were green!
How dream-like now that dewy morn,
Sweet with the wattle's flowers,
When love, love, love was all our theme,
And youth and hope were ours!
Two happier hearts in all the land
There were not then, I ween,
Than those young lovers' -- yours and mine --
When these dead leaves were green.
How gaily did you pluck these leaves
From the acacia's bough,
To mark the lyric we had read --
I can repeat it now!
While came the words, like music sweet,
Your smiling lips between --
"So fold my love within your heart,"
When these dead leaves were green!
How many springs have passed since then?
Ah, wherefore should we count,
The years that sped, like waters fled
From Time's unstaying fount?
We've had our share of happiness,
Our share of care have seen;
But love alone has never flown
Since these dead leaves were green.
Your heart is kind and loving still,
Your face to me as fair,
As when, that morn, the sunshine played
Amid your golden hair.
So, dearest, sweethearts still we'll be,
As we have ever been,
And keep our love as fresh and true
As when these leaves were green.
Man lives alone; star-like, each soul
In its own orbit circles ever;
Myriads may by or round it roll --
The ways may meet, but mingle never.
Self-pois'd, each soul its course pursues
In light or dark, companionless:
Drop into drop may blend the dews --
The spirit's law is loneliness.
If seemingly two souls unite,
'Tis but as joins yon silent mere
The stream that through it, flashing bright,
Carries its waters swift and clear.
The fringes of the rushing tide
May on the lake's calm bosom sleep --
Its hidden spirit doth abide
Apart, still bearing toward the deep.
O Love, to me more dear than life!
O Friend, more faithful than a brother!
How many a bitter inward strife
Our souls have never told each other!
We journey side by side for years,
We dream our lives, our hopes are one --
And with some chance-said word appears
The spanless gulf, so long unknown!
For candour's want yet neither blame;
Even to ourselves but half-confessed,
Glows in each heart some silent flame,
Blooms some hope-violet of the breast.
And temptings dark, and struggles deep
There are, each soul alone must bear,
Through midnight hours unblest with sleep,
Through burning noontides of despair.
And kindly is the ordinance sent
By which each spirit dwells apart --
Could Love or Friendship live, if rent
The "Bluebeard chambers of the heart"?
The traveller tells how, in that ancient clime
Whose mystic monuments and ruins hoar
Still struggle with the antiquary's lore,
To guard the secrets of a by-gone time,
He saw, uprising from the desert bare,
Like a white ghost, a city of the dead,
With palaces and temples wondrous fair,
Where moon-horn'd Isis once was worshipped.
But silence, like a pall, did all enfold,
And the inhabitants were turn'd to stone --
Yea, stone the very heart of every one!
Once to a rich man I this tale re-told.
"Stone hearts! A traveller's myth!" -- he turn'd aside,
As Hunger begg'd, pale-featured and wild-eyed.
John Liddell Kelly.
At twenty-five I cast my horoscope,
And saw a future with all good things rife --
A firm assurance of eternal life
In worlds beyond, and in this world the hope
Of deathless fame. But now my sun doth slope
To setting, and the toil of sordid strife,
The care of food and raiment, child and wife,
Have dimmed and narrowed all my spirit's scope.
Eternal life -- a river gulphed in sands!
Undying fame -- a rainbow lost in clouds!
What hope of immortality remains
But this: "Some soul that loves and understands
Shall save thee from the darkness that enshrouds";
And this: "Thy blood shall course in others' veins"?
More than a fleshly immortality
Is mine. Though I myself return again
To dust, my qualities of heart and brain,
Of soul and spirit, shall not cease to be.
I view them growing, day by day, in thee,
My first-begotten son; I trace them plain
In you, my daughters; and I count it gain
Myself renewed and multiplied to see.
But sadness mingles with my selfish joy,
At thought of what you may be called to bear.
Oh, passionate maid! Oh, glad, impulsive boy!
Your father's sad experience you must share --
Self-torture, the unfeeling world's annoy,
Gross pleasure, fierce exultance, grim despair!
A Ballade of Wattle Blossom
There's a land that is happy and fair,
Set gem-like in halcyon seas;
The white winters visit not there,
To sadden its blossoming leas,
More bland than the Hesperides,
Or any warm isle of the West,
Where the wattle-bloom perfumes the breeze,
And the bell-bird builds her nest.
When the oak and the elm are bare,
And wild winds vex the shuddering trees;
There the clematis whitens the air,
And the husbandman laughs as he sees
The grass rippling green to his knees,
And his vineyards in emerald drest --
Where the wattle-bloom bends in the breeze,
And the bell-bird builds her nest.
What land is with this to compare?
Not the green hills of Hybla, with bees
Honey-sweet, are more radiant and rare
In colour and fragrance than these
Boon shores, where the storm-clouds cease,
And the wind and the wave are at rest --
Where the wattle-bloom waves in the breeze,
And the bell-bird builds her nest.
Sweetheart, let them praise as they please
Other lands, but we know which is best --
Where the wattle-bloom perfumes the breeze,
And the bell-bird builds her nest.
Above us only
The Southern stars,
And the moon o'er brimming
Her golden bars.
And a song sweet and clear
As the bell-bird's plaint,
Hums low in my ear
Like a dream-echo faint.
The kind old song --
How did it go?
With its ripple and flow,
That you used to sing, dear,
Hand fast in hand,
I, love, and thou;
Hand locked in hand,
And on my brow
Your perfumed lips
Breathing love and life --
The love of the maiden,
The trust of the wife.
And I'm listening still
To the ripple and flow --
How did it go? --
Of the little French song
Of that long ago.
Can you recall it
Across the years?
You used to sing it
With laughter and tears.
If you sang it now, dear,
That kind old refrain,
It would bring back the fragrance
Of the dead years again.
Le printemps pour l'amour --
How did it go?
Only we know;
Sing it, sweetheart, to-night,
As you did long ago.
James Lister Cuthbertson.
Australia! land of lonely lake
And serpent-haunted fen;
Land of the torrent and the fire
And forest-sundered men:
Thou art not now as thou shalt be
When the stern invaders come,
In the hush before the hurricane,
The dread before the drum.
A louder thunder shall be heard
Than echoes on thy shore,
When o'er the blackened basalt cliffs
The foreign cannon roar --
When the stand is made in the sheoaks' shade
When heroes fall for thee,
And the creeks in gloomy gullies run
Dark crimson to the sea:
When under honeysuckles gray,
And wattles' swaying gold,
The stalwart arm may strike no more,
The valiant heart is cold --
When thou shalt know the agony,
The fever, and the strife
Of those who wrestle against odds
For liberty and life:
Then is the great Dominion born,
The seven sisters bound,
From Sydney's greenly wooded port
To lone King George's Sound --
Then shall the islands of the south,
The lands of bloom and snow,
Forth from their isolation come
To meet the common foe.
Then, only then -- when after war
Is peace with honour born,
When from the bosom of the night
Comes golden-sandalled morn,
When laurelled victory is thine,
And the day of battle done,
Shall the heart of a mighty people stir,
And Australia be as one.
At Cape Schanck
Down to the lighthouse pillar
The rolling woodland comes,
Gay with the gold of she-oaks
And the green of the stunted gums,
With the silver-grey of honeysuckle,
With the wasted bracken red,
With a tuft of softest emerald
And a cloud-flecked sky o'erhead.
We climbed by ridge and boulder,
Umber and yellow scarred,
Out to the utmost precipice,
To the point that was ocean-barred,
Till we looked below on the fastness
Of the breeding eagle's nest,
And Cape Wollomai opened eastward
And the Otway on the west.
Over the mirror of azure
The purple shadows crept,
League upon league of rollers
Landward evermore swept,
And burst upon gleaming basalt,
And foamed in cranny and crack,
And mounted in sheets of silver,
And hurried reluctant back.
And the sea, so calm out yonder,
Wherever we turned our eyes,
Like the blast of an angel's trumpet
Rang out to the earth and skies,
Till the reefs and the rocky ramparts
Throbbed to the giant fray,
And the gullies and jutting headlands
Were bathed in a misty spray.
Oh, sweet in the distant ranges,
To the ear of inland men,
Is the ripple of falling water
In sassafras-haunted glen,
The stir in the ripening cornfield
That gently rustles and swells,
The wind in the wattle sighing,
The tinkle of cattle bells.
But best is the voice of ocean,
That strikes to the heart and brain,
That lulls with its passionate music
Trouble and grief and pain,
That murmurs the requiem sweetest
For those who have loved and lost,
And thunders a jubilant anthem
To brave hearts tempest-tossed.
That takes to its boundless bosom
The burden of all our care,
That whispers of sorrow vanquished,
Of hours that may yet be fair,
That tells of a Harbour of Refuge
Beyond life's stormy straits,
Of an infinite peace that gladdens,
Of an infinite love that waits.
Wattle and Myrtle
Gold of the tangled wilderness of wattle,
Break in the lone green hollows of the hills,
Flame on the iron headlands of the ocean,
Gleam on the margin of the hurrying rills.
Come with thy saffron diadem and scatter
Odours of Araby that haunt the air,
Queen of our woodland, rival of the roses,
Spring in the yellow tresses of thy hair.
Surely the old gods, dwellers on Olympus,
Under thy shining loveliness have strayed,
Crowned with thy clusters, magical Apollo,
Pan with his reedy music may have played.
Surely within thy fastness, Aphrodite,
She of the sea-ways, fallen from above,
Wandered beneath thy canopy of blossom,
Nothing disdainful of a mortal's love.
Aye, and Her sweet breath lingers on the wattle,
Aye, and Her myrtle dominates the glade,
And with a deep and perilous enchantment
Melts in the heart of lover and of maid.
The Australian Sunrise
The Morning Star paled slowly, the Cross hung low to the sea,
And down the shadowy reaches the tide came swirling free,
The lustrous purple blackness of the soft Australian night,
Waned in the gray awakening that heralded the light;
Still in the dying darkness, still in the forest dim
The pearly dew of the dawning clung to each giant limb,
Till the sun came up from ocean, red with the cold sea mist,
And smote on the limestone ridges, and the shining tree-tops kissed;
Then the fiery Scorpion vanished, the magpie's note was heard,
And the wind in the she-oak wavered, and the honeysuckles stirred,
The airy golden vapour rose from the river breast,
The kingfisher came darting out of his crannied nest,
And the bulrushes and reed-beds put off their sallow gray
And burnt with cloudy crimson at dawning of the day.
Australia to England
June 22nd, 1897
What of the years of Englishmen?
What have they brought of growth and grace
Since mud-built London by its fen
Became the Briton's breeding-place?
What of the Village, where our blood
Was brewed by sires, half man, half brute,
In vessels of wild womanhood,
From blood of Saxon, Celt and Jute?
What are its gifts, this Harvest Home
Of English tilth and English cost,
Where fell the hamlet won by Rome
And rose the city that she lost?
O! terrible and grand and strange
Beyond all phantasy that gleams
When Hope, asleep, sees radiant Change
Come to her through the halls of dreams!
A heaving sea of life, that beats
Like England's heart of pride to-day,
And up from roaring miles of streets
Flings on the roofs its human spray;
And fluttering miles of flags aflow,
And cannon's voice, and boom of bell,
And seas of fire to-night, as though
A hundred cities flamed and fell;
While, under many a fair festoon
And flowering crescent, set ablaze
With all the dyes that English June
Can lend to deck a day of days,
And past where mart and palace rise,
And shrine and temple lift their spears,
Below five million misted eyes
Goes a grey Queen of Sixty Years --
Go lords, and servants of the lords
Of earth, with homage on their lips,
And kinsmen carrying English swords,
And offering England battle-ships;
And tribute-payers, on whose hands
Their English fetters scarce appear;
And gathered round from utmost lands
Ambassadors of Love and Fear!
Dim signs of greeting waved afar,
Far trumpets blown and flags unfurled,
And England's name an Avatar
Of light and sound throughout the world --
Hailed Empress among nations, Queen
Enthroned in solemn majesty,
On splendid proofs of what has been,
And presages of what will be!
For this your sons, foreseeing not
Or heeding not, the aftermath,
Because their strenuous hearts were hot
Went first on many a cruel path,
And, trusting first and last to blows,
Fed death with such as would gainsay
Their instant passing, or oppose
With talk of Right strength's right of way!
For this their names are on the stone
Of mountain spires, and carven trees
That stand in flickering wastes unknown
Wait with their dying messages;
When fire blasts dance with desert drifts
The English bones show white below,
And, not so white, when summer lifts
The counterpane of Yukon's snow.
Condemned by blood to reach for grapes
That hang in sight, however high,
Beyond the smoke of Asian capes,
The nameless, dauntless, dead ones lie;
And where Sierran morning shines
On summits rolling out like waves,
By many a brow of royal pines
The noisiest find quiet graves.
By lust of flesh and lust of gold,
And depth of loins and hairy breadth
Of breast, and hands to take and hold,
And boastful scorn of pain and death,
And something more of manliness
Than tamer men, and growing shame
Of shameful things, and something less
Of final faith in sword and flame --
By many a battle fought for wrong,
And many a battle fought for right,
So have you grown august and strong,
Magnificent in all men's sight --
A voice for which the kings have ears,
A face the craftiest statesmen scan;
A mind to mould the after years,
And mint the destinies of man!
Red sins were yours: the avid greed
Of pirate fathers, smocked as Grace,
Sent Judas missioners to read
Christ's Word to many a feebler race --
False priests of Truth who made their tryst
At Mammon's shrine, and reft or slew --
Some hands you taught to pray to Christ
Have prayed His curse to rest on you!
Your way has been to pluck the blade
Too readily, and train the guns.
We here, apart and unafraid
Of envious foes, are but your sons:
We stretched a heedless hand to smutch
Our spotless flag with Murder's blight --
For one less sacrilegious touch
God's vengeance blasted Uzza white!
You vaunted most of forts and fleets,
And courage proved in battle-feasts,
The courage of the beast that eats
His torn and quivering fellow-beasts;
Your pride of deadliest armament --
What is it but the self-same dint
Of joy with which the Caveman bent
To shape a bloodier axe of flint?
But praise to you, and more than praise
And thankfulness, for some things done;
And blessedness, and length of days
As long as earth shall last, or sun!
You first among the peoples spoke
Sharp words and angry questionings
Which burst the bonds and shed the yoke
That made your men the slaves of Kings!
You set and showed the whole world's school
The lesson it will surely read,
That each one ruled has right to rule --
The alphabet of Freedom's creed
Which slowly wins it proselytes
And makes uneasier many a throne;
You taught them all to prate of Rights
In language growing like your own!
And now your holiest and best
And wisest dream of such a tie
As, holding hearts from East to West,
Shall strengthen while the years go by:
And of a time when every man
For every fellow-man will do
His kindliest, working by the plan
God set him. May the dream come true!
And greater dreams! O Englishmen,
Be sure the safest time of all
For even the mightiest State is when
Not even the least desires its fall!
Make England stand supreme for aye,
Because supreme for peace and good,
Warned well by wrecks of yesterday
That strongest feet may slip in blood!
Arthur Patchett Martin.
Not sweeter to the storm-tossed mariner
Is glimpse of home, where wife and children wait
To welcome him with kisses at the gate,
Than to the town-worn man the breezy stir
Of mountain winds on rugged pathless heights:
His long-pent soul drinks in the deep delights
That Nature hath in store. The sun-kissed bay
Gleams thro' the grand old gnarled gum-tree boughs
Like burnished brass; the strong-winged bird of prey
Sweeps by, upon his lonely vengeful way --
While over all, like breath of holy vows,
The sweet airs blow, and the high-vaulted sky
Looks down in pity this fair Summer day
On all poor earth-born creatures doomed to die.
Douglas Brooke Wheelton Sladen.
Under the Wattle
"Why should not wattle do
Asked one -- they were but two --
Where wattles grow.
He was her lover, too,
Who urged her so --
"Why should not wattle do
A rose-cheek rosier grew;
Rose-lips breathed low;
"Since it is here, and YOU,
I hardly know
Why wattle should not do."
Victor James Daley.
And after all -- and after all,
Our passionate prayers, and sighs, and tears,
Is life a reckless carnival?
And are they lost, our golden years?
Ah, no; ah, no; for, long ago,
Ere time could sear, or care could fret,
There was a youth called Romeo,
There was a maid named Juliet.
The players of the past are gone;
The races rise; the races pass;
And softly over all is drawn
The quiet Curtain of the Grass.
But when the world went wild with Spring,
What days we had! Do you forget?
When I of all the world was King,
And you were my Queen Juliet?
The things that are; the things that seem --
Who shall distinguish shape from show?
The great processional, splendid dream
Of life is all I wish to know.
The gods their faces turn away
From nations and their little wars;
But we our golden drama play
Before the footlights of the stars.
There lives -- though Time should cease to flow,
And stars their courses should forget --
There lives a grey-haired Romeo,
Who loves a golden Juliet.
The pale discrowned stacks of maize,
Like spectres in the sun,
Stand shivering nigh Avonaise,
Where all is dead and gone.
The sere leaves make a music vain,
With melancholy chords;
Like cries from some old battle-plain,
Like clash of phantom swords.
But when the maize was lush and green
With musical green waves,
She went, its plumed ranks between,
Unto the hill of graves.
There you may see sweet flowers set
O'er damsels and o'er dames --
Rose, Ellen, Mary, Margaret --
The sweet old quiet names.
The gravestones show in long array,
Though white or green with moss,
How linked in Life and Death are they --
The Shamrock and the Cross.
The gravestones face the Golden East,
And in the morn they take
The blessing of the Great High Priest,
Before the living wake.
Who was she? Never ask her name,
Her beauty and her grace
Have passed, with her poor little shame,
Into the Silent Place.
In Avonaise, in Avonaise,
Where all is dead and done,
The folk who rest there all their days
Care not for moon or sun.
They care not, when the living pass,
Whether they sigh or smile;
They hear above their graves the grass
That sighs -- "A little while!"
A white stone marks her small green bed
With "Anna" and "Adieu".
Madonna Mary, rest her head
On your dear lap of blue!
The Night Ride
The red sun on the lonely lands
Gazed, under clouds of rose,
As one who under knitted hands
Takes one last look and goes.
Then Pain, with her white sister Fear,
Crept nearer to my bed:
"The sands are running; dost thou hear
Thy sobbing heart?" she said.
There came a rider to the gate,
And stern and clear spake he:
"For meat or drink thou must not wait,
But rise and ride with me."
I waited not for meat or drink,
Or kiss, or farewell kind --
But oh! my heart was sore to think
Of friends I left behind.
We rode o'er hills that seemed to sweep
Skyward like swelling waves;
The living stirred not in their sleep,
The dead slept in their graves.
And ever as we rode I heard
A moan of anguish sore --
No voice of man or beast or bird,
But all of these and more.
"Is it the moaning of the Earth?
Dark Rider, answer me!"
"It is the cry of life at birth"
He answered quietly:
"But thou canst turn a face of cheer
To good days still in store;
Thou needst not care for Pain or Fear --
They cannot harm thee more."
Yet I rode on with sullen heart,
And said with breaking breath,
"If thou art he I think thou art,
Then slay me now, O Death!"
The veil was from my eyesight drawn --
"Thou knowest now," said he:
"I am the Angel of the Dawn!
Ride back, and wait for me."
So I rode back at morning light,
And there, beside my bed,
Fear had become a lily white
And Pain a rose of red.
Bannerman of the Dandenong
I rode through the Bush in the burning noon,
Over the hills to my bride, --
The track was rough and the way was long,
And Bannerman of the Dandenong,
He rode along by my side.
A day's march off my Beautiful dwelt,
By the Murray streams in the West; --
Lightly lilting a gay love-song
Rode Bannerman of the Dandenong,
With a blood-red rose on his breast.
"Red, red rose of the Western streams"
Was the song he sang that day --
Truest comrade in hour of need, --
Bay Mathinna his peerless steed --
I had my own good grey.
There fell a spark on the upland grass --
The dry Bush leapt into flame; --
And I felt my heart go cold as death,
And Bannerman smiled and caught his breath, --
But I heard him name Her name.
Down the hill-side the fire-floods rushed,
On the roaring eastern wind; --
Neck and neck was the reckless race, --
Ever the bay mare kept her pace,
But the grey horse dropped behind.
He turned in the saddle -- "Let's change, I say!"
And his bridle rein he drew.
He sprang to the ground, -- "Look sharp!" he said
With a backward toss of his curly head --
"I ride lighter than you!"
Down and up -- it was quickly done --
No words to waste that day! --
Swift as a swallow she sped along,
The good bay mare from Dandenong, --
And Bannerman rode the grey.
The hot air scorched like a furnace blast
From the very mouth of Hell: --
The blue gums caught and blazed on high
Like flaming pillars into the sky; . . .
The grey horse staggered and fell.
"Ride, ride, lad, -- ride for her sake!" he cried; --
Into the gulf of flame
Were swept, in less than a breathing space
The laughing eyes, and the comely face,
And the lips that named HER name.
She bore me bravely, the good bay mare; --
Stunned, and dizzy and blind,
I heard the sound of a mingling roar --
'Twas the Lachlan River that rushed before,
And the flames that rolled behind.
Safe -- safe, at Nammoora gate,
I fell, and lay like a stone.
O love! thine arms were about me then,
Thy warm tears called me to life again, --
But -- O God! that I came alone! --
We dwell in peace, my beautiful one
And I, by the streams in the West, --
But oft through the mist of my dreams along
Rides Bannerman of the Dandenong,
With the blood-red rose on his breast.
An Australian Girl
"She's pretty to walk with,
And witty to talk with,
And pleasant, too, to think on."
Sir John Suckling.
She has a beauty of her own,
A beauty of a paler tone
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