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James Lister Cuthbertson

Corona Inutilis

I TWINED a wreath of heather white
To bind my lady’s hair,
And deemed her locks in even light
Would well the burden bear;
But when I saw the tresses brown,
And found the face so fair,
I tore the wreath, and left the crown
Of beauty only there.

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The Bush

GIVE us from dawn to dark
Blue of Australian skies,
Let there be none to mark
Whither our pathway lies.

Give us when noontide comes
Rest in the woodland free—
Fragrant breath of the gums,
Cold, sweet scent of the sea.

Give us the wattle’s gold
And the dew-laden air,
And the loveliness bold
Loneliest landscapes wear.

These are the haunts we love,
Glad with enchanted hours,
Bright as the heavens above,
Fresh as the wild bush flowers.

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Solitude

This is the maiden Solitude, too fair
For mortal eyes to gaze on--she who dwells
In the lone valley where the water wells
Clear from the marble, where the mountain air
Is resinous with pines, and white peaks bare
Their unpolluted bosoms to the stars,
And holy Reverence the passage bars
To meaner souls who seek to enter there;
Only the worshipper at Nature's shrine
May find that maiden waiting to be won,
With broad calm brow and meek eyes of the dove,
May drink the rarer ether all divine,
And, earthly toils and earthly troubles done,
May win the longed-for sweetness of her love.

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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.

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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.

[...] Read more

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To a Billy

OLD BILLY—battered, brown and black
With many days of camping,
Companion of the bulging sack,
And friend in all our tramping:
How often on the Friday night—
Your cubic measure testing—
With jam and tea we stuffed you tight
Before we started nesting!
How often, in the moonlight pale,
Through gums and gullies toiling,
We’ve been the first the hill to scale,
The first to watch you boiling;
When at the lane the tent was spread
The silver wattle under,
And early shafts of rosy red
Cleft sea-born mists asunder!

And so, old Billy, you recall
A host of sun-burnt faces,
And bring us back again to all

[...] Read more

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Australian Federata

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,

[...] Read more

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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,

[...] Read more

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Ode to Apollo

"Tandem venias precamur
   Nube candentes humeros amictus
   Augur Apollo."

   Lord of the golden lyre
   Fraught with the Dorian fire,
   Oh! fair-haired child of Leto, come again;
   And if no longer smile
   Delphi or Delos' isle,
   Come from the depth of thine Aetnean glen,
   Where in the black ravine
   Thunders the foaming green
   Of waters writhing far from mortals' ken;
   Come o'er the sparkling brine,
   And bring thy train divine --
The sweet-voiced and immortal violet-crowned Nine.

   For here are richer meads,
   And here are goodlier steeds
   Than ever graced the glorious land of Greece;

[...] Read more

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