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Vonda Stanley's collection of early Australian poems

The Women of the West.

 

They left their vine-wreathed cottages and the mansion on the hill,

The houses on 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 a tent beside the bankment of a railway just begun,

In the huts of new selections, in a camp of men’s unrest,

On the frontiers of the nations, lived the women of the West.

 

The red sun robbed 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 secret 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 songs all songs above –

The holiness of sacrifice, the dignity of love.

© G E Evans

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