Vonda Stanley's collection of early Australian bush poems



Not as the songs of other lands

Her song shall be,

Where dim her purple shore-line stands

Above the sea!

As erst she stood, she stands alone;

Her inspiration is her own.

From sunlit plains to mangrove strands

Not as the songs of other lands

Her song shall be.


O, Southern Singers! Rich and sweet,

Like chimes of bells,

The cadence swings with rhythmic beat,

The music swells;

But undertones, weird, mournful, strong,

Sweep like swift currents thro' the song.

In deepest chords, with passion fraught,

In softest notes of sweetest thought,

This sadness dwells.


Is this her song, so weirdly strange,

So mixed with pain,

That whereso'er her poets range

Is heard the strain?

Broods there no spell upon the air

But desolation and despair?

No voice, save sorrow's, to intrude

Upon her mountain solitude

Or sun-kissed plain?


The silence and the sunshine creep

With soft caress

O'er billowy plain and mountain steep

And wilderness -

A velvet touch, a subtle breath,

As sweet as love, as calm as death,

on earth, on air, so soft, so fine,

Till all the soul a spell divine



The grey gums by the lonely creek,

The star-crowned height,

The wind-swept plain, the dim blue peak,

The cold white light,

The solitude spread near and far

Around the camp-fire's tiny star,

The horse-bell's melody remote,

The curlew's melancholic note,

Across the night.


These have their message; yet from these

Our songs have thrown

O'er all our Austal hills and leas

One sombre tone.

Whence doth the mournful keynote start?

From the pure depths of Nature's heart?

Or from the heart of him who sings

And deems his hand upon the strings

Is natures own?


Could tints be deeper, skies less dim,

More soft and fair,

Dappled with milk-white clouds that swim

In faintest air?

The soft moss sleeps upon the stone,

Green scrub-vine traceries enthrone

The dead grey trunks, and boulders red,

Roofed by the pine and carpeted

With maidenhair.


But far and near, o'er each, o'er all,

Above, below,

Hangs the great silence like a pall

Softer than snow.

Not sorrow is the spell it brings,

But thoughts of calmer, purer things,

Like the sweet touch of hands we love,

A woman's tenderness above

A fevered brow.


These purple hills, these yellow leas,

These forests lone,

These mangrove shores, these shimmering seas,

This summer zone.

Shall they inspire no nobler strain

Than songs of bitterness and pain?

Strike her wild harp with firmer hand,

And send her music thro' the land,

With loftier tone!


Her song is silence; Unto her

Its mystery clings.

Silence is the interpreter

Of deeper things.

O for sonorous voice and strong

To change that silence into song!

To give that melody release

Which sleeps in the heart of peace

With folded wings.


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