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James Martin Devaney

Dark Road

I will be your stay
When the feet falter.
I will be your stay
When the tears blind.
Love will sweeten yet
Though the friend alter,
And the world’s unkind.
Not alone you go this way.
Hold my hand on the dark road.
I will be your courage: would the load
On me might lay.
We will share the dust
Who have shared heaven,
Nearer now in trust
That the need calls.
I will be your stay
Till the path fail us,
Till the night veil us,
And the silence falls.

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Dirrawan the Song-Maker

Dirrawan went into the bush to spear waat,
but he forgot about waat the red wallaby.
he thought about dirridirri the small bird and deereeree the wagtail
he thought about wonning the lightning and tumberumba the thunder.

He did not spear anything at all.

Dirrawan went to the Long Brown Water to catch makora.
he thought about balleballea the silence of the night,
he thought about ballanda the long time ago.

He did not catch any fish, he brought back a new song to the gunyahs.

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The Frog Pool

Week after week it shrank and shrank
as the fierce drought fiend drank and drank,
till on the bone-dry bed revealed
the mud peeled;
but now tonight is steamy-warm,
heavy with hint of thunderstorm.

And hark! hark! hoarse and harsh
the throaty croak of the frogs in the marsh:
"Wake! wake! awake! awake!
The drought break!"
but no, that chorus seems to me
more a primeval harmony.

The thunder booms, the floods flow
blended with deeper din below,
and every time the skies crash
the swamps flash!
and the whole place will be tonight
a pandemonium of delight.

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A Dedication

Because I went the lone ways
Among the tall trees,
Because I loved the blue days,
The bird melodies,
Deemed you I did our love wrong
In loving these too?
Ah, every forest love song
Was sung, love, for you.
The green slope, the sky above,
The wild forest lore-
All these were but the mind's love:
The deep heart has more.
And were you rival of the wren?
Resentful of the dawn?
Ah, what would these avail, then,
If you, dear, were gone?
The wild joy that things possess
Would seem out of place,
And all beauty meaningless
For want of one face;

[...] Read more

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Outlines

The tufted gums along the rise
Stand black against the evening skies.
And in the red west sombreing
As daylight dies,
A simple moon-the loveliest thing.
I love outlines. It may be
Some old wise heritage in me,
For well we know that finite mind
Calls for the bounded and defined.
Though random fancy loves to range
The aimless mists of dawn, and strange
Lovely illusions in the sky
That charm and lie,
Something there is in mortal man
Must have a margin and a plan;
And Truth the tyrant has decreed
For human need,
Limit and form since thought began.
This long bold mountain line is true,
But not those changing whims I see

[...] Read more

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The Bunyip

Oh, came you up by the place of dread
(west red, and the moon low down)
where no winds blow and the birds have fled
and the gum stands dead and its arms gleam white,
and the tribe sneak by with a stealthy tread
in the ghostly light,in the ghostly light.
Brave Worraland went one grey nightfall
(A woi! woi!) where the grim rocks frown;
he came no more to the camps at all
(Skies dark, and the moon low down).

As we came up by the gully side
(Deep dusk, and the moon low down)
A Dingo whined and a Curlew cried
and the reeds replied as in hushed affright
where tall brae Worraland screamed and died
in the ghostly light, in the ghostly light.
For the Thing lurks there in the haunted place
(A woi! woi!) where the pool is brown,
where lost ones vanish and leave no trace

[...] Read more

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Winter Westerlies

Leaning against the wind across the paddock ways
comes Dan home with forward stoop like a man bent and old,
clashes the door in haste as one pursued: 'By Christ, it's cold!'
and crooks his fingers to the blaze.

We do not live these days, but each exhausting day
unnerved we numbly wait return of life, and must abide
the wind, the still beleaguering wind; all voices else outside
imperioulsy it has blown away.

Over the bronze-brown paddocks the grass is bowed flat down;
along the birdless creek a cold malevolence has passed;
a forlorn sparrow clings on the fence against the icy blast,
his soft breast feathers loosely blown.

We watch the saplings buffeted without repose,
their foliage all on one side, plunging without rest,
stems leaning all one way from the assailing west,
bending as backs cower from blows.

[...] Read more

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