Silence by Nurture Waratah


Hum of traffic
returning workers
from endless hours of drudgery.
Roar of mowers
remaking lawns
in tame parodies of the wilderness. Continue reading


The Man From Ironbark by A. B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson

barbers brush, George Hodan, CC0 Public Domain

It was the man from Ironbark who struck the Sydney town,
He wandered over street and park, he wandered up and down.
He loitered here, he loitered there, till he was like to drop,
Until at last in sheer despair he sought a barber’s shop.
`’Ere! shave my beard and whiskers off, I’ll be a man of mark,
I’ll go and do the Sydney toff up home in Ironbark.’ Continue reading

Dreams by Nurture Waratah

Image by George Hodan


I dream.
I dream of his face.
I dream of the blood
That trickled in his eyes.
I dream of the crowd,
The way they cried
For his destruction.
I dream of my own
Reluctance to disagree
With the mob.
I dream.
I dream of my hands.
I dream of the bowl
That contains the water
Of my sins.
I never emptied that bowl.
My dreams are filled.
Filled with certainty.
His life was not the only
Life I washed away
That day.
My decision killed him.
I killed him.
My life is forfeit.
Perhaps also my soul.
Perhaps he will forgive.
It was all
Part of his Plan.
What choice, then, did I have?
Perhaps he will forgive.
My sleep is fitful now.
Never peaceful.
I am dying.
Remember me Lord,
As I remember you,
And forgive.

— Nurture Waratah

My Country by Dorothea Mackellar

Acrylic Painting Australian flag over uluru by PeterKraayvanger - Free Creative Commons Public Domain Image from Pixabay

My Country

The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes.
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins,
Strong love of grey-blue distance
Brown streams and soft dim skies
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me! Continue reading

A Bush Christening By Banjo Patterson


A Bush Christening

On the outer Barcoo where the churches are few,
And men of religion are scanty,
On a road never cross’d ‘cept by folk that are lost,
One Michael Magee had a shanty.

Now this Mike was the dad of a ten year old lad,
Plump, healthy, and stoutly conditioned;
He was strong as the best, but poor Mike had no rest
For the youngster had never been christened. Continue reading

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore


‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blixen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too–
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes–how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight–
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

— Clement Clark Moore


The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost


The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

— Robert Frost

The Tragedy

He grabbed me by my slender neck,
I could not call or scream;
He took me to his darkened tent
Where we could not be seen.
He tore from me my flimsy wrap,
He gazed upon my form,
I was so frightfully cold and damp
And he so delightfully warm.
He pressed his feverish lips to mine,
I gave him every drop;
He took from me my very soul,
I could not make him stop.
Through him I’m like I am today,
That’s why I’m lying here,
Just a broken bottle now
That once was full of beer.

— Traditional ditty collected by Kath Anderson in Bill Wannan’s Come in Spinner

The Bushman’s Farewell to Queensland

Queensland, thou art a land of pests;
Fo flies and fleas one never rests.
E’en now mosquitos round me revel —
In fact they are the very devil.
Sandflies and hornets just as bad —
They nearly drive a fellow mad;
With scorpion and centipede
And stinging ants of every breed;
Fever and ague, with the shakes,
Tarantulas and poisonous snakes;
Iguanas, lizards, cockatoos,
Bushrangers and jackeroos;
Bandicoots and swarms of rats,
Bulldog ants and native cats;
Stunted timber, thirsty plains,
Parched-up deserts, scanty rains;
There’s rivers here you can’t sail ships on
There’s native women without shifts on;
There’s humpies, huts, and wooden houses,
And native men who don’t wear trousers;
There’s Barcoo rot and sandy-blight,
There’s dingoes howling all the night;
There’s curlew’s wail, and croaking frogs,
There’s savage blacks and native dogs;
There’s scentless flowers and stinging trees,
There’s poisonous grass and darling peas
Which drive the cattle raving mad,
Make sheep and horses just as bad;
And then it never rains in reason —
There’s drought one year and flood next season,
Which sweep the squatters’ sheep away
And then there is the devil to pay.
To stay in thee, O land of mutton,
I would not give a single button,
But bid thee now a long farewell,
Thou scorching, sunburnt land of hell!

— Anon. taken from Bill Wannan’s Come in Spinner

The Italian Cocky’s Lament

Me blooda full of da Queensland,
Your country verra dry;
Me never maka no fortune
No matter how me try.

Banana getta da buncha top,
Tomato getta da blight;
Cabbage getta da avis
He looka da rotten sight.

Grub he eata da peanut,
I losa da crop of corn;
Cockatoo he eata da crop
At night and early morn.

One week verra cold,
Da next week verra hot:
Den you getta da thunderstorm
And drowna da bloody lot.

Someone doctor my red bull,
Maka him verra sick:
Cow she kicka da bucket, too,
Too much da cattle tick.

Just den I getta da cart horse,
I call ‘im Star d’ Stripes:
Only drive him two time twice,
Den da cussa getta da gripes.

I getta dam disgusted,
I gonna maka da tracks,
When da Labour Party write to me
Abouta da income tax.

Dey writa da nasty letter
To givva da man da fright,
So I writa back to tell ‘im
Da money blooda tight.

Shire Council writa too,
Dey sticka up da rate:
So I writa back to tell ‘im
To putta ‘im on da slate.

Now watta in hell to grin about,
‘Tain’t no time to laugh —
Your country blooda rotten
No doubt in more than half.

I go up to da auctioneer,
And tella him dis yarn:
I hope da cripes you blooda quick
To sella da rotten farm.

I mortgage every blooda thing
To da Agricultural Bank…
Twenty year in Quuensland
An’ I drawa da blooda blank.

— Mr. Matt Ferris in Bill Wannan’s Come in Spinner

Bloody, Bloody, Bloody (The Great Australian Adjective)

This bloody town’s a bloody cuss,
No bloody tram, no bloody bus,
And no one cares for bloody us,
Oh, bloody bloody bloody!

The bloody roads are bloody bad,
The bloody folks are bloody mad,
They even say — You bloody cad,
Oh, bloody bloody bloody!

All bloody clouds, all bloody rains,
No bloody kerbs no bloody drains,
The council has no bloody brains,
Oh, bloody bloody bloody!

And everything so bloody dear,
A bloody bob for bloody beer,
And is it good? no bloody fear,
Oh, bloody bloody bloody!

The bloody flicks are bloody old,
All bloody seats are bloody sold,
You can’t get in for bloody gold,
Oh, bloody bloody bloody!

The bloody dances make me smile,
The bloody bands are bloody vile,
They only cramp your bloody style,
Oh, bloody bloody bloody!

No bloody sports, no bloody games,
No bloody fun with bloody dames —
Won’t even give their bloody names,
Oh, bloody bloody bloody!

Best bloody place is bloody bed
With bloody lice on your bloody head,
And then they think you’re bloody dead,
Oh, bloody bloody bloody!

— a Darwin soldier in Bill Wannan’s Come in Spinner

A toast

Now Lois likes his native wine,
And Otto likes his beer;
The Pommy goes for half and half
Because it gives him cheer,

While Angus likes his whisky neat,
And Paddy likes his tot —
The Aussie has no drink at all:
He likes the bloody lot!

— Stan Wakefield in Bill Wannan’s Come in Spinner

Lest We Forget

Today, on this ANZAC Day, I honour the memories of all those who have fought for our freedom and the freedom of our children and grandchildren. I honour those who have died in battle. I honour those who suffered and survived. I honour those who remain to impart their wisdom to the next generation. May your memories live forever in our hearts!

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Lest we forget


The Inquisitive Mind of a Child
Author unknown

Why are they selling poppies, Mummy?
Selling poppies in town today.
The poppies, child, are flowers of love.
For the men who marched away.

But why have they chosen a poppy, Mummy?
Why not a beautiful rose?
Because my child, men fought and died
In the fields where the poppies grow.

But why are the poppies so red, Mummy?
Why are the poppies so red?
Red is the colour of blood, my child.
The blood that our soldiers shed.

The heart of the poppy is black, Mummy.
Why does it have to be black?
Black, my child, is the symbol of grief.
For the men who never came back.

But why, Mummy are you crying so?
Your tears are giving you pain.
My tears are my fears for you my child.
For the world is forgetting again.

‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ by Wilfred Owen

Remembrance Arch Dunedin - Otago Boys' High Sc...

Remembrance Arch Dunedin – Otago Boys’ High School war memorial “Dulce et decorum est Pro patria. mori” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in, And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, –
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.*

* This translates approximately as: “It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.”, “It is noble and glorious to die for your fatherland.” or “It is beautiful and honourable to die for your fatherland.”

Buffalo Dusk by Carl Sandburg

English: Water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), Thai...

The buffaloes are gone.
And those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
Those who saw the buffaloes by thousands and how they
pawed the prairie sod into dust with their hoofs,
their great heads down pawing on in a great pageant
of dusk,
Those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
And the buffaloes are gone.

For the Fallen

Portrait of Laurence Binyon by William Strang

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

by Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

Please take time out today to give thanks to those who have served our country, and those who are still serving. Please take time to remember and mourn those who never returned.

Lest We Forget

Maypole Chant from Wicker Man

Brownies and maypole, Bekonscot

Brownies and maypole, Bekonscot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I really love this chant from the maypole scene in Wicker Man.

In the woods there grew a tree

And a fine, fine tree was he

And on that tree there was a limb

And on that limb there was a branch

And on that branch there was an egg

And in that egg there was a bird

And from that bird a feather came

And of that feather was a bed.

And on that bed there was a girl

And on that girl there was a man

And from that man there was a seed

And from that seed there was a boy

And from that boy there was a man

And for that man there was a grave

And from that grave there grew a tree.

{Repeat all but the first two lines.}