James Alexander Kenneth Mackay.

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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES




SONGS OF A SUNLIT LAND



SONGS OF
A SUNLIT LAND



BY

COLONEL KENNETH MACKAY, C.B.

Author of "Stirrup Jingles," " A Bush Idyl,
"The Yellow Wave," " Outback," etc.



SYDNEY

ANGUS AND ROBERTSON, LTD.

89 CASTLEREAGH STREET
1908



Websdale, Shoosmith and Co., Printers, Sydney



At>



PREFACE.

I have to thank the editors and proprietors of
The Australasian (Melbourne), The Daily
Telegraph, Sydney Mail, Bulletin, Sunday Times
and Catholic Press (Sydney) and The Windsor
and Richmond Gazette for permission to reprint
those of the following verses which first appeared
in their columns.

I also wish to acknowledge that An Invoca-
tion is to some extent indebted to my friend
Rudyarcl Kipling's Recessional.

K.M.



1546426



TO My WIFE

No white-souled angel could have helped me
more,

I know of no one who will blame me less,
Should I at last be cast upon the shore

Of beggared circumstance and littleness.

I have dear friends of proven faith and heart,
Their love is still to me as star to night;

But thou art as a planet set apart,
A shining orb of ever-growing light.

Sweetheart, there is scant music in these songs,
Their measure marches to no lordly beat;

Yet if one steadfast chord to them belongs,

'Tis you who made it pure and strong and
sweet.



CONTENTS

DEDICATION

No white-souled angel could have

helped me more, vii.

PRELUDU

To every merry maid and steadfast

mate 1

THE AUSTRALIAN BUSH

I love thy spaciousness. Each lonely
distance, . 3

SONS OF THE EMPIRE

Above us the sword of the War-God

swings 9

THE SONG OF THE BUSH BRIGADES

From beyond the coastal ranges, . 12

THE PASSING OF THE SHEPHERD

KINGS
Vanguard forever doomed to die! . 14

THE GREAT WESTERN DESERT

From matted undergrowths the

fronded pines 17



x. CONTENTS

PAGK

THE SONG THAT MEN SHOULD SING
The cohorts who fought when the
world was young, 20

PAPUA

Lo ! from her cloud-compelling crest . 24

AN INVOCATION

Maker of earth and sky and sea, 28

NAXKIBOO

In a spot far remote from the horn's
stirring note. 30

THE STOCKMAN'S SONG

No land have I beneath the sky, . . 32

A MEMORY OF THE BACK BLOCKS

By a box trunk, gnarled and hoary, 34

WHAT NEED TO FEAR IF BLOOD

BE TRUE

"The race has reached and passed its
prime,"

A BALLAD OF BYGOLOREE

Away in the mallee, where back-

blockers rally 41



CONTENTS xi.

I'AGK

THE MIRAGE

I had occasion on an earlier day . 47

IN THE DARKNESS OF THE MINE

You may brag of charge and battle, 55

TO ROWLEY PICKERING

Because I deem that you would have

it so, 65

THE SMOKE VISION

Above my bowl the smoke rings roll, 67

TOMMY CORRIGAN

Nevermore o'er rasping double . . 71

WHEN HEROES MEET

Up a straight that is bordered by
thousands of eyes, 73

HOW THE KING CAME HOME

' ' They 're away ! ' ' rings out from a

thousand throats ; 73

JOHN TAIT

Horsemen, bind a sable token . . 81

ALICK ROBERTSON

'Mid the flashing of silk and the
thunder of feet 83



xii. CONTENTS

PXGK

GLENLOTH'S CUP

"Not started yet! What the deuce

can be wrong? 85

TARCOOLA'S CUP

Why wail, prophet, of what may
be? 83

OF NO AQCOUXT

"A fool who played with life and

limb, 92

OLD KANGAROO

"You want to see the little chap . . 94

A HORSE OF HISTORY

Not from off the field of glory . . 97

PATRON'S CUP

Compare it not with Carbine's Cup 101

STEEPLECHASE-DAY RHYMES

THE SPORT OF KINGS

They call it when the colours glow 107
THE HORSEMAN'S CRITICS

Brave sportsmen those, who filled the

air 108

HOW "LAST KING" FELL AND
"MARMION" WON

The sun has urged his west 'ring way . 109



CONTENTS xiii.

PAOK

FESTAL

Broke his neck, poor old horse ! So he

finished his course 113

A DREAM OF THE PAST

The vision came as it comas alway, . 116

WHEN THE LAST BELL RINGS

Have you ever watched the people . 122

TO MY MOTHER

In token of a tender thought, . . 125

MY QUEEN

I would that I had met with thee, my

Queen! 127

HAND CLASPED IN HAND

Hand clasped in hand, we each to each
belong, 129

WHEN SHADOWS FALL

When shadows gather round our path-
way, sweet, 131

THE DREAM MAIDEN

Dream maiden, watching wrapt and

still 133



xiv. CONTENTS

MY GARDEN OF DREAMS

In dreams I often chance to see . . 135

REINCARNATION

I do not know when first we mtt cr
parted, 136

THE PATHWAY OF THE SOUL

This life is but a chapter in a story, . 138

BY A BEDSIDE

Close to your mother's breast . . 140

TO MARJORY

I cannot tell you where the path may
lead 142

BABY MINE

All things are bright to you, baby

mine; 143

LIEUTENANT WHITE

With the dawn still red in youth's
radiant sky 145

IN MEMORY OF IZZIE SPRING

Not 'mid the sunshine of thy native

land, 148



CONTENTS xv.

I'AUK

THE QUEEN OF LOVE

The Queen of Love is dead and all
these years, 149

THE SLAVE'S DANCING LESSON
But yesterday a Queen, her tresses

bound 152

THE LADY NICOTINE

A friend of mine, not long in town, . 155

LOVE'S MYSTERY

Tell me, poor mem 'ry-haunted ghosts, 158

TO A MUSICIAN

Lover of symphonies and rippling
songs ........ 161

EVE

On thy dishonoured tomb we lay all

sorrow, 162

ETERNAL YOUTH

Supple in soul and body, brave she
leaps 166

GOD GIVETH SLEEP

This life is but an act. little girl, . 169



To every merry maid and steadfast mate
TJiat I have known in that dear land,
Where loyalty and love walk hand in hand,
I dedicate these rhym.es of camp and track.

Far have I wandered from The Bush of late,
Yet ever turns my inmost heart
From crowded street and sordid city mart,
To those who live God's free, true life Out Back.



THE AUSTRALIAN BUSH

I LOVE thy spaciousness. Each lonely distance,
Each scrub-set solitude, each sand-swept plain

Calls to me with a mother's deep insistence,
In symphonies of mingled joy and pain.

Sweet scent of myall, belts of deep green yarran,
The crimson splendour of thy solemn dawns,

The stillness of thy deserts vast and barren,
Where Death and Life play chess with men
for pawns;

The music of the horse bells then the rattle
Of horn on horn, presaging fear and flight;

The swift, uneasy stamp of "ringing" cattle,
Then all things swallowed in the crashing
night

3



4 THE AUSTRALIAN BUSH

Waking the last watch from their fitful slumbers,

Rushing to where each horse expectant stands,

Then for the "lead" God help the man who

blunders

When boughs stretch down, and grip with
countless hands.



Red, hunted eyes: a thousand hoofs' deep

thunder

Danger supreme to gallop at and face;
Surges of living things that burst asunder,
And ebb and flow in maddened waves through
space.



Fierce moments when your horse can race no

faster ;
Grim seconds when Death rides beside your

knee;

A swerve that touched the rim of sure disaster ;
A stoop that missed that eager leaning tree:



And then from out this hell of wild disorder,
To ride and find "the mob" at last in hand

What is a life that's lived by rule and order
Beside the strenuous strife such hours demand !



THE AUSTRALIAN BUSH 6

Wild gallops through the brigalow and mallee,
Where risks to life and limb are paid at call ;

Long watches then the sudden moonlight rally,
With keen-horned "outlaws" fighting as they
fall.



Glad hours of kingly strife with brave wild
horses,

Where'er he led, beside their best to race
What joy has he in turfed and level courses

Who once has met such chances face to face !



Long spring-time days when sheep are slowly

creeping

Across the plains and through the river runs,
In slumb'rous hours when all the world 's a-

sleeping
Beneath the soft caress of sensuous suns.



And then, at night, when camp fires red are

gleaming,

To yarn with trusted mates 'neath star-lit sky,
Or else to slip into that land of dreaming,
Which holds the storied realm of "bye and
bye."



6 THE AUSTRALIAN BUSH

Years of brave working full of high endeavour;

Nights bright with hope, and days when hope

is dead;
Seasons when luck seems to have gone forever,

And gold is not more hard to win than bread.

Hot wastes, that ghastly roll calls hourly render
Of Thirst's dread toll and Famine's life-fed

sword ;
Tossed seas of sand, transformed and rich with

splendour

Of shining lakes and miles of bloom-clad
sward.

Such are the fortunes of those dauntless legions
Who seek to read thee, Sibyl of the West !

The wraiths of ruin haunt thy mystic regions,
And yet, for all thy crimes, they love thee best.



But thou hast in thy confines many a haven
Where peace and plenty reign from year to

year,
Where lines on fair, white browfe are never

graven
By lonely days and nights of nameless fear.



THE AUSTRALIAN BUSH 7

Where dance and song are never out of fashion,
And life is an eternal, gracious Spring,

Where honour is a creed, and love a passion,
And every true man of himself is king.



Lost station of my dreams, how many others
Can see in memory's glass such bright eyes

shine,
When all the world was glad with us, my

brothers,
And love sat with us by the blazing pine?



For oft, in dreams, I saddle up "out yonder"
With one sweet woman waiting by my side,

And far from sordid aims and hates we wander,
Across green hills to where the world is wide.



Strong silent men, steeled in the drought's dread

battle,

Lithe, self-reliant maids are gifts of thine:
Thou hast no droves of dull-brained human cattle
Within thy borders, tree-crowned land of
mine!



8 THE AUSTRALIAN BUSH

Fighting despair, true under all life's changes,
Facing all risks whatever be their name,

Learning 'neath burning suns on blazing ranges,
What life's swift hazards are 'mid seas of
flame.

Such is the groundwork of the brave, old story
Writ by the fathers of our land and race,

Who fought and died without one hope of glory,
And lie forgotten on thy sphinx-like face.

Broad plains are thine, desert, and mountain

fastness,

Nature 's wild heart throbs in thy breast alone ;
Within the magic circle of thy vastness

Rest spreads her couch, Ambition builds his
throne.

Four square to changeful Fate you stand, my
mother !

Crowned by the skies and girdled by the sea,
God gave thee Freedom for a deathless lover

That thou mayest cradle empires yet to be.



SONS OF THE EMPIRE

ABOVE us the sword of the War-God swings

By a single strand to-day ;
For the challenge of battle world-wide rings,

From Europe to far Cathay.

The vale of the Rhine is an armed camp,
The steppes of the East resound

To the clang of hoofs, and the endless tramp
Of a host that's outward bound.

For the sands yet wet with our brothers ' blood
France stretches a mailed hand ;

And our kin must fight for their nationhood
Full soon on the golden Rand.

9



10 SONS OF THE EMPIRE

But crouching alone on the world's wide face

A lioness waits to spring;
And, as one, each cub of her warlike race

Will wake when her roar shall ring.

Already the men by the frozen seas

Watch eager on wave and shore,
For sons of the Sea Queen all are these

Both now and for evermore.



On the rim and verge of the world's highway

We dwell from our kin apart
"They do not feel," I have heard men say,

"The beat of the Empire's heart."

"From their primal dawn they have waked and
slept,

From wars of the world remote;
No sabre of their 's from its sheath has leapt

At the trumpet's stirring note."

"For a hundred years they have sown and cut
The grain on their peaceful plains;

Till in shop, and mansion, and lonely hut,
The blood runs cold in their veins."



SONS OF THE EMPIRE 11

But sons of the Empire still are we,

Not dead, though as yet asleep;
And whene'er she calls, then on land and sea

Our swords from their sheaths will leap.

And not as dependents but equal peers

We will fight, as freemen should,
With the garnered strength of untrammeled

years,

For our common nationhood.
1899



FROM beyond the coastal ranges,

Far from moan of harbour bars,
Where the seasons know few changes,

'Neath hot suns and drought-dimmed stars;
Where a man loves this wise, brothers !

All true women, one true horse
Caring little for all others,

Be they better, be they worse.

From where stockwhips still are ringing,

And the branding fires still glow;
And the lads their ropes are flinging,

As they flung them years ago;
Where it's nerves and eyes like lightning,

When the order's "Slack his head,"
And you feel his muscles tightening

As the loop begins to spread.

From where boards are white with fleeces,
And the cry is "Wool away,"

12



THE SONG OF THE BUSH BRIGADES 13

And the crumbling, feathery pieces
Fall beneath the screens like spray;

Where it's work till backs are breaking,
And the wrists grow numb and dead,

And each quivering muscle's aching,
If you mean to ring the shed.

From the tracks where men go droving

Past the desert's farthest rim,
With a courage won by roving

Through the scrub lands grey and dim;
Where it's "onward now or never,"

And the man who falters dies
In a land, where, lost forever,

Hundreds sleep with unclosed eyes

We come! We come! We come!
To the song of the clanking sabre,

To the rhyme of the jingling bit;
Every man beside his neighbour

In his saddle will steadfast sit.

We come! We come! We come!

Our guides are the stars above;

To ride while a horse in the ranks can stand,
To strike and strike with a strong right hand
For the hearths and homes of our native land,

And the lives of the women we love.



VANGUARD forever doomed to die!

The hour draws near,

When rope and shear
Will, frayed and blunted, rotting lie ;
When camp and yard will pass away,
And bit and steel will useless rust

In empty stalls,

Where silence calls
To silence, 'mid dishonoured dust.



With iron will and steadfast face

You led the way,

In that dim day
Which saw the dawning of our race.

14



THE PASSING OF THE SHEPHERD KINGS 15

Empires have cradled in thy tents ;
And millions hold, because of you,

The lands you won,

From snow and sun,
When sea and shore alike were new.



No foot of our Australian soil,

But you have wet

With blood or sweat,
And sanctified with manly toil.
Your women dared what men now fear,
When, step by step, with you they trod

That pain-strewed road,

Bearing life's load
Alone, with nature and with God.



To-day your hoof-trod lands we need,

So all the past

Must be recast,

That men may garner strength to breed
A sturdier race than fetid spawn
In narrow streets and filthy hives,

Where crime takes shape,

And passions rape
The Godhood out of human lives.



16 THE PASSING OF THE SHEPHERD KINGS

Full soon this fair Arcadian dream

Of primal peace

Alas, must cease !

For, close at hand, strange watch fires gleam,
And keen eyes mark our empty plains.

So men must come, and sheep must go,

If we would hold

This land of gold
Our fathers won us long ago.

But when one fat with wine and corn.

Who has forgot,

Or knoweth not

The tale of how his race was born,
(In love with his own pampered self).
The song of farm and orchard sings

Whate'er his boast,

Be mine to toast
The memory of the Shepherd Kings.



THE GREAT WESTERN DESERT



FROM matted undergrowths the fronded pines
Shoot skyward through the hot December air;

About the sun-scorched mulga, silken lines
Of cobweb hang in many a deft-spun snare.

Scorched by the fierce caress of summer heat
The weary grass low droops its spectral blades,

And dead leaves crack beneath the stealthy feet
Of dingoes gathering for their nightly raids.

This is the land wherein the Sun-God wakes
The demons dread of madness and of thirst;

The home of barren clouds, and phantom lakes,
Of goal-less tracks, and wastes by famine
cursed.

B 17



18 THE GREAT WESTERN DESERT

Here rot explorers' bones, and here, too, lie
Leal-hearted mates who sought the lost in

vain;
Here pain has birth, and here high hopes must

die,
Weary of waiting for the promised rain.



When o'er these trackless realms, the white-robed
stars

Shine dimly as upon a death- wooed place;
And no fair moon shoots down her silver bars,

To kiss the sorrow from Earth's weary face,



Dread cries float upward from the dark-set boles,
And 'glowing eyes stare out athwart the gloom ;

Each barren aisle is peopled with sad souls,
Moaning the gruesome story of their doom.



For when chaste Night has wrapped her mantle

fair

About the dreary nooks where lie their bones ;
The ghosts of this lone land whose lord 's

Despair,
Fill all her spaces with weird monotones.



19



By creeks, whose beds are littered with decay,
O'er plains, whence fairy lakes allured their

eyes,
The spirits of the men who lost their way,

Come through the shadows when the stars
arise.



Then, as they onward flit 'neath star and sky,
Searching for mothers lost and widowed brides,

The souls of those they seek on white wings hie,
To be to them both comforters and guides.



So, with the years, sad cries will sink and cease,
And one by one, the dead men will have rest;

Until, at last, a great abiding peace
Will fill the vastness of the tearless West.



THE SONG THAT MEN SHOULD SING

THE cohorts who fought when the world \vas
young,

Have their blood-red legends told:
For a hundred poets have bravely sung

The deeds of the days of old.

The story is writ of the men who fell
In desert and sun-scorched track;
The legions who served their country well

I

The heroes who marched Out Back."

They have told the tale of a battle flag

That floated all seas above,
When the tattered folds of this crimson rag

Were dearer than life or love.

But they tell us now in their lifeless lays,
These knights of the stool and pen,
20



THE SONG THAT MEN SHOULD SING 21

We must boast no more of the stirring days
When they fought and fell like men.

But the tale is best that has oft been told,

If it love of birthland bring;
And the song they sang in the days of old

Is the song that I will sing.

For a people rot in the lap of ease,

And trade, be it all in all,
Breeds the canker worm of a fell disease,

The germ of a nation's fall.

It matters nothing what dreamers say
When they prate that wars must cease,

For the lustful War-God holds his sway
In these "piping days of peace."

We know there was never a country yet

In the East, or in the West,
That was worth the M-inning but has been wet

With the life blood of its best.

So our lads must learn there's a sterner task
Than playing a well-pitched ball;

That the land we love may some day ask
For a team, when the trumpets call.



22 THE SONG THAT MEN SHOULD SING

A team that is ready to take the field

To bowling with balls of lead,
In a test match grim where if one appealed,

The Umpire might answer "dead."

It is wiell to collar and kick and pass,

In a fierce-fought football match,
And it's grand to bring a flyer to grass,

While the barrackers breathless watch.

But a time will come when the forwards' rush
Will be on the tongues of flame,

And the men in the scrums will faint and flush
In the heat of a bloodier game.

It is brave to ride in a strong-run race
When the rails are lightly struck,

And you drive your horse to a winning place
In front of the weary ruck.

But never forget that you yet may face

A wall that is built of steel,
In a "Death or Glory" steeplechase,

With squadrons that sway and reel.

On the falling ground where the stallions fling
The foam from their sweat-drenched manes;



THE SONG THAT MEN SHOULD SING 23

Then the bushman feels that he is a king,
Sole lord of the pine-clad plains.

But a day may come when the scarlet bloom

Will blossom on sabres bright,
And the sombre isles of the scrub land's gloom

Be lit with the battle's light.

So the bushman 's wrist must be taught to swing

A sword, not a silken lash,
When the cheery notes of the stockwhip's ring

Give place to the rifle's crash.

For from mine and city and bushland track,

When the eagles hover nigh,
We must march to the sea to beat them back

Or to die as freemen die.

We ask for no foot of the Old World's face,

No part of the New want we,
But we mean to hold for our future race

What is circled by our sea.

So the tale is best that has oft been told,

If it love of birthland bring,
And the song they sang in the days of old

Is the song that men should sing.



PAPUA

Lo! from her cloud-compelling crest
Men saw the lost Lemuria die,

Close hidden in her sun-kissed breast
The secrets of dim ages lie.

The world we know still shapeless lay
Within the womb of long dead seas;

Atlantis slowly passed away
But she is older far than these.

Perchance upon her mist-crowned head
Some primal ark found resting place,

What time the living and the dead

Were hurled against her changeless face.

Sister of long-forgotten lands,
Daughter of fire, and air, and sea,

24



PAPUA 25

Dower 'd with eternal youth she stands,
Who was, and is, and is to be.

Compass'd about with wreck-strewn reefs,

The sirens ' song she -ever sings,
Then laughs at all our hopes and griefs,

For she has shared the woes of kings.

Broad-fronded palms and regal vines
Hang as a ramee round her hips,

Hibiscus bloom her hair entwines,
The blood of summer paints her lips.

Her fruitful breasts rise full and round,
Free to be woo'd by shower or sun;

She sits and waits by reef and sound,
A mistress worthy to be won.

Suitors in plenty has she known,

Sea kings who steered by sun and stars ;

Great Captains' flags have bravely flown
Without her sand-built harbour bars.

Some shut their ears and went their ways,
Past lilting song and reef-rimmed shore,

Some anchor cast in coral bays,

And rode the ocean wide no more.



26 PAPUA

She lured them to her couch of palms,
And kissed them with her fevered breath,

Holding them in her round, brown arms
Until they slept the sleep of death.

Seducers of a baser kind,

Blind devotees of luck and chance,
Have drifted to her on the wind

Of fear and doubtful circumstance.

But low she laughs at fools and knaves
Who seek her heart for pelf and pay ;

And hides in swamps and mountain graves
The sordid hopes of such as they.

No lovers born of greed wants she,
This mother of a brood half grown,

Her master that is yet to be

Must guard her children as his own.

So still she waits "the shining one/'
With heart of gold and soul of snow,

Whose wisdom all may read who run,
Whose justice even babes may know.

And when he comes, her stubborn will
Will yield beneath his pure embrace,



PAPUA 27

And songs that lure, and lips that kill,
No more will vex her comely face.

For he will guide with even hands
The halting feet of primal tribes,

And teach the sons of newer lands
To make a lesson of their lives.

Till brown and white beneath his lead
Will fairly bear a common load;

And children of the lesser breed
Begin to climb a nobler road.



AN INVOCATION



MAKER of earth and sky and sea,
Spirit and Lord of time and tide,

Oh, keep us free, as Thou art free,
From sinful sloth and foolish pride!

Grant us, God, the sight divine,

That steadfast steers its course by Thee,

So that our lives as lamps may shine,
To guide Australia's destiny.

Give us the brotherhood that knows
No bar of caste, no pride of creed;

The unstained soil where Freedom sows
Fair fields with her immortal seed.

If, tempted by the dream of power,
We join in quarrels lightly made,

28



AN INVOCATION 29

Hold Thou our hands in that mad hour
From guilt of blood and lustful raid.

Save us, we pray, from sordid greed,
From churlish fear with men to share

The empty lands we do not need,
The burdens that we may not bear.

Nor suffer us because Thy seas

Keep watch o'er wastes as yet unwon,

To put a childish trust in these,
And leave our duty yet undone.

Lord, strengthen Thou our hearts and thews,
Be priest and leader of our race,

Teach us our heritage to use,

In this Thy day of peace and grace.

From gross delights and selfish aims,
From souls that love whate'er is mean,

From every thought that mars or shames,
Keep Thou our waking manhood clean.

Just Ruler of all seas and lands,
Give us the right to have and hold

In Freedom's name, with pure strong hands,
This virgin Isle with heart of gold.



NANKIBOO



IN a spot far remote from the horn's stirring

note,

In a land where the fences are few,
You may dream o'er again of the days of

Col 'raine,
And, in fancy, your triumphs renew !

Twenty years must have flown since you first

held your own

With the best over water and wall,
Now, alas, for those days and their dare devil


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