Archive for November, 2012

Friday, 30 November 2012

The Women of the West by George Essex Evans

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 longings 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 fathers’ 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.


Date: 1928 (published)

By: George Essex Evans (1863-1909)

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Summertime by Edwin DuBose Heyward

And the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’
And the cotton is high

Oh, your daddy’s rich
And your mamma’s good lookin’
So hush little baby
Don’t you cry

One of these mornings
You’re going to rise up singing
Then you’ll spread your wings
And you’ll take to the sky

But until that morning
There’s a’nothing can harm you
With your daddy and mammy standing by.


Date: 1934

By: Edwin DuBose Heyward (1885-1940)

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Tom-Cat by Donald Robert Perry Marquis

At midnight in the alley
A tom-cat comes to wail,
And he chants the hate of a million years
As he swings his snaky tail.

Malevolent, bony, brindled
Tiger and devil and bard,
His eyes are coals from the middle of Hell
And his heart is black and hard.

He twists and crouches and capers
And bares his curved sharp claws,
And he sings to the stars of the jungle nights
Ere cities were, or laws.

Beast from world primeval,
He and his leaping clan,
When the blotched red moon leers over the roofs,
Give voice to their scorn of man.

He will lie on a rug to-morrow
And lick his silky fur,
And veil the brute in his yellow eyes
And play he’s tame, and purr.

But at midnight in the alley
He will crouch again and wail,
And beat the time for his demon’s song
With the swing of his demon’s tail.


Date: 1922

By: Donald Robert Perry Marquis (1878-1937)

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Magic of the Disc by Dorothea Dowling

You seemed still water standing
lost in the magic of the disc;
your eyes downcast, your two hands clasped,
list’ning in the music store!
the discord of the city street,
the jangle of the lurching trams,
belonged to some world out of tune
beyond the portals of the door.

And seeing you thus, I did not speak
nor span the intervening space
that would have splintered like thin glass
the look of rapture on your face.

From: Dowling, Dorothea, Twenty-One Poems, 1954, Edgar Bragg: Sydney, p. 5.

Date: 1954

By: Dorothea Dowling (191?- )

Monday, 26 November 2012

Black ANZAC by Cecil Fisher

They have forgotten him, need him no more
He who fought for his land in nearly every war
Tribal fights before his country was taken by Captain Cook
Then went overseas to fight at Gallipoli and Tobruk.

World War One-Two black Anzacs were there
France, Europe’s desert, New Guinea’s jungles, did his share
Korea, Malaya, Vietnam again black soldier enlisted
Fight for democracy was his duty he insisted.

Back home went his own way not looking for praise
Like when he was a warrior in the forgotten days
Down on the Gold Coast a monument in the Bora Ring
Recognition at last his praises they are starting to sing.

This black soldier who never marches on ANZAC Day
Living in his Gunya doesn’t have much to say
Thinks of his friends who fought some returned some died
If only one day they could march together side by side.

His medals he keeps hidden away from prying eyes
No one knows, no one sees the tears in his old black eyes
He’s been outcast just left by himself to die
Recognition at last black ANZAC hold your head high.

Every year at Gold Coast’s Yegumbah Bora Ring site
Black ANZAC in uniform and medals a magnificent sight
The rock with Aboriginal tribal totems paintings inset
The Kombumerri people’s inscription of LEST WE FORGET.


Date: 1991

By: Cecil Fisher (1933- )

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Edelweiss by Frank Wilmot (Furnley Maurice)

There grows a white, white flower
By the wild Alps of romance;
And who would reach its dainty leaves
Takes life and death in chance.

There is a dark, dark cavern
Where a woman goes alone,
Takes hope and peril in her hand
And fights Death on his throne.

To our heart’s breathless calling
She comes from the cavern wild,
Holding in her exhausted arms
A small, white, blossoming child.


Date: c1918

By: Frank Wilmot (Furnley Maurice) (1881-1942)

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Pastor McTavish and Elder McPhail by William Thomas Goodge

Dunreekie, a town of some little fame
Is neither teetotal nor sottish.
Its people, as you would conclude from the name,
Are largely (and stolidly) Scottish.
And nothing more Scottish you’ve met, I’ll go bail,
Than Pastor McTavish and Elder McPhail.

The new Liquor Act required caution and tact,
And made Sunday-trading more risky,
But don’t think Dunreekie, because of this fact,
Went short of its Sabbath-day whisky!
“‘Tis fearsome, ye ken, an’ a sight tae bewail!”
Said Pastor McTavish to Elder McPhail.

Now, Elder McPhail, though an excellent man,
Had liking for “jist a wee drappie”;
Aye, e’en on the Sabbath ere service began
A “dram i’ th’ morn” made him happy!
Which caused a suspicion of frost to prevail
‘Twixt Pastor McTavish and Elder McPhail!

“It’s jist the example ye’re settin’, ye ken,”
The Pastor remarked to the Elder.
“The mistress declares ye’re misleading the men;
Or so the guid wives o’ them telled her.
An Elder o’ kirk ought to never be frail,”
Said Pastor McTavish to Elder McPhail.

“I’ll no’ say ye’re wrang tae tak’ whuskey the day;
‘Tis jist for the sake o’ example!
Ye micht get eneuch on a Saturday, say,
That maybe ye’d find tae be ample.
A quart on a Saturday nicht should avail!
Said Pastor McTavish to Elder McPhail.

“Losh, mon!” cried the Elder, “’tis haverin’ a’!
The Lord haud ye safe in his keepin’!
Wi’ a quart o’ guid whuskey beside o’ him, wha
The Deil dae ye think was be sleepin’?
It couldna be done, mon! Giver over yer tale!
Ye’re daft for a Pastor!” said Elder McPhail.


Date: 1910

By: William Thomas Goodge (1862-1909)

Friday, 23 November 2012

Before Action by William Noel Hodgson (Edward Melbourne)

By all the glories of the day
And the cool evening’s benison
By that last sunset touch that lay
Upon the hills when day was done,
By beauty lavishly outpoured
And blessings carelessly received,
By all the days that I have lived
Make me a soldier, Lord.

By all of all man’s hopes and fears
And all the wonders poets sing,
The laughter of unclouded years,
And every sad and lovely thing;
By the romantic ages stored
With high endeavour that was his,
By all his mad catastrophes
Make me a man, O Lord.

I, that on my familiar hill
Saw with uncomprehending eyes
A hundred of thy sunsets spill
Their fresh and sanguine sacrifice,
Ere the sun swings his noonday sword
Must say good-bye to all of this; –
By all delights that I shall miss,
Help me to die, O Lord.


Date: 1916

By: William Noel Hodgson (Edward Melbourne) (1893-1916)

Thursday, 22 November 2012

A Girl’s Grave by Patrick Edward Quinn

“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.

From: Stevens, Bertram (ed), An Anthology of Australian Verse, 1906, Angus & Robertson: Sydney, pp. 144-145.

Date: 1889

By: Patrick Edward Quinn (1862-1926)

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Somewhere in France by Isabel Howe Fiske

Somewhere in France my heart is kept
In a soldier’s heart, out there.
Last night I know not where it slept,
My heart, in his heart’s care.

I know not if he slept at all,
My man across the sea.
I do not know if he will fall
Or come back safe to me.

He has my heart. That is my share,
My bit, that I have sent out there.


Date: 1918

By: Isabel Howe Fiske (?-?)