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Frank Dalby Davison

The children of the Mist

Through the valleys, softly creeping
‘Mid the tree-tops, tempest-tossed,
see the cloud-forms seeking, peeping
For the loved ones that are lost.
Not for storm or sunshine resting,
Will they slacken or desist,
Or grow weary in their questing
For the children of the mist.

Where are those children hiding?
Surely they will soon return,
In the gorge again abiding
‘Mid the myrtle and the fern.
Ah! the dusky forms departed
Nevermore will keep their tryst,
And the clouds, alone, sad-hearted,
mourn the Children of the Mist.

E’en the wild bush-creatures, scattered,
Ere they die renew their race,

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The Old Pioneers

These old friends of ours! Sixty years back,
Bearded and booted, they followed the track,
Came like their Saxon forefathers of old,
Carving a nation from waste and from wold,
Mighty of purpose and stalwart of limb,
Clove they a path through the forest so dim,
Forward, adventuring, knowing no fears--
Honour and praise to the old pioneers.

Now they are feeble and bowed are their backs,
Long laid aside are the stockwhip and axe;
Dulled though each sense is, the hearing is quick
Oft-times to catch the faint ring of the pick,
Eyes, too, are closed yet they see clear and plain
The camp and the creek and the ranges again;
Australia's first story and the world never hears,
It is locked in the hearts of the old pioneers.

Then to the workers of those distant days
Certain poor players came bringing their plays,

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With Deaths' 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,

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The Earth-Mother

COMETH a voice:—‘My children, hear;
From the crowded street and the close-packed mart
I call you back with my message clear,
Back to my lap and my loving heart.
Long have ye left me, journeying on
By range and river and grassy plain,
To the teeming towns where the rest have gone—
Come back, come back to my arms again.

‘So shall ye lose the foolish needs
That gnaw your souls; and my touch shall serve
To heal the ills that the city breeds,
The pallid cheek and the fretted nerve.
Treading the turf that ye once loved well,
Instead of the stones of the city’s street,
Ye shall hear nor din nor drunken yell,
But the wind that croons in the ripening wheat.

‘Yonder, beneath the smoke-smeared sky,
A city of half a million souls

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