George Essex Evans

Here you will find the Long Poem An Australian Symphony of poet George Essex Evans

An Australian Symphony

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 gray 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 melancholy note 
   Across the night. 

These have their message; yet from these 
   Our songs have thrown 
O'er all our Austral 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 Nature's 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 gray 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 deep heart of peace 
   With folded wings!