School Poems

Here are some of the poems we learned at school. Most had to be recited from memory, which is the main reason I still remember them - or at least, parts of them. The other reason is that they were good poems!

My Country
By Dorothea McKellar

 Picture of Australian mountain range

Compares her adopted home, Australia with England. Written by a lady with a real love of her adopted country. Doesn't matter which country, this type of loyalty is beautiful.

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!

A stark white ring-barked forest, all tragic to the moon,
the sapphire-misted mountains, the hot gold hush of noon.
Green tangle of the brushes, where lithe lianas coil,
and orchids deck the tree-tops, and ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country! her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us, we see the cattle die-
But then the grey clouds gather, and we can bless again
The drumming of an army, the steady, soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country. Land of the Rainbow Gold.
For flood and fire and famine, she pays us back threefold-
Over the thirsty paddocks, watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness that thickens as we gaze.

An opal-hearted country, a wilful, lavish land-
All you who have not loved her, you will not understand-
Though earth holds many splendours, wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country my homing thoughts will fly.

Clancy Of The Overflow
By Banjo Paterson

Always reminds me of The Man From Snowy River. About a rugged Aussie drover named Clancy, off droving sheep in the outback.

Picture of Australian cattle drover

I had written him a letter which I had, for want of better
knowledge, sent to where I met him down the Lachlan, years ago.
He was shearing when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him,
Just "on spec", addressed as follows, "Clancy, of The Overflow".

And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected,
(And I think the same was written with a thumb-nail dipped in tar).
'Twas his shearing mate who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it:
"Clancy's gone to Queensland droving, and we don't know where he are."

Picture of Australian drover In my wild erratic fancy, visions come to me of Clancy
Gone a-droving "down the Cooper" where the Western drovers go;
As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing,
for the drover's life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.

And the bush hath friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him
In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars.
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended,
And at night the wond'rous glory of the everlasting stars.

I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy
ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall,
and the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city
through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all.

And in place of lowing cattle, I can hear the fiendish rattle
of the tramways and the 'buses making hurry down the street.
And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting,
Coming fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of feet.

And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me
as they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste,
with their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy,
for townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste.

And I somehow rather fancy that I'd like to change with Clancy,
like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go,
while he faced the round eternal of the cash-book and the journal -
but I doubt he'd suit the office, Clancy, of "The Overflow".

Said Hanrahan
By John O'brien

 Picture of Australian floods

We've all met one, right? The person who, whatever the situation, can always rejoice in its downside. The "glass half empty" man. As my Dad would have said, "never happy unless they're miserable".

"We'll all be rooned", said Hanrahan, in accents most forlorn,
outside the church, ere Mass began, one frosty Sunday morn.
The congregation stood about, coat-collars to the ears,
and talked of stock, and crops, and drought, as it had done for years.

"It's lookin' crook", said Daniel Croke; "Bedad, it's cruke, me lad
For never since the banks went broke has seasons been so bad".
"It's dry, all right", said young O'Neil, with which astute remark
he squatted down upon his heel and chewed a piece of bark.

And so around the chorus ran "It's keepin' dry, no doubt".
"We'll all be rooned", said Hanrahan, "before the year is out",
"The crops are done; ye'll have your work to save one bag of grain;
From here way out to Back-o'-Bourke they're singin' out for rain".

"They're singin' out for rain", he said," and all the tanks are dry".
The congregation scratched its head, and gazed around the sky.
"There won't be grass, in any case, enough to feed an ass;
There's not a blade on Casey's place as I came down to Mass".

"If rain don't come this month", said Dan, and cleared his throat to speak-
"We'll all be rooned", said Hanrahan, "if rain don't come this week".
A heavy silence seemed to steal on all at this remark;
And each man squatted on his heel, and chewed a piece of bark.

"We want a inch of rain, we do", O'Neil observed at last;
But Croke maintained we wanted two to put the danger past.
"If we don't get three inches, man, or four to break this drought,
We'll all be rooned", said Hanrahan, "before the year is out".

In God's good time down came the rain; and all the afternoon
on iron roof and window-pane it drummed a homely tune.
And through the night it pattered still, and lightsome, gladsome elves
on dripping spout and window-sill kept talking to themselves.

It pelted, pelted all day long, A-singing at its work,
till every heart took up the song way out to Back-o'-Bourke.
And every creek a banker ran, and dams filled overtop;
"We'll all be rooned", said Hanrahan, "If this rain doesn't stop".

And stop it did, in God's good time; And spring came in to fold
a mantle o'er the hills sublime of green and pink and gold.
And days went by on dancing feet, with harvest-hopes immense,
and laughing eyes beheld the wheat nid-nodding o'er the fence.

Picture of Australian pasture

And, oh, the smiles on every face, as happy lad and lass
through grass knee-deep on Casey's place went riding down to Mass.
While round the church in clothes genteel discoursed the men of mark,
And each man squatted on his heel, and chewed his piece of bark.

"There'll be bush-fires for sure, me man, there will, without a doubt;
We'll all be rooned", said Hanrahan, "Before the year is out".

By Frank Hudson

Written from the point of view of an aging Australian pioneer back in the 1850's. The sad part is the extreme racism in verse three, but apart from this, a great poem.
Picture of ustralian bushmen around camp fire

We are the Old-world people, ours were the hearts to dare;
But our youth is spent, and our backs are bent, and the snow is in our hair.
Back in the early fifties, dim through the mists of years,
By the bush-grown strand of a wild, strange land, we entered - the pioneers.

Our axes rang in the woodlands, where the gaudy bush-birds flew,
And we turned the loam of our newfound home, where the Eucalyptus grew.
Housed in the rough log shanty, camped in the leaking tent,
From sea to view of the mountains blue where the eager diggers went.

We wrought with a will unceasing, we moulded, and fashioned, and planned,
And we fought with the black and we blazed the track that ye might inherit the land.
There are your shops and churches, your cities of stucco and smoke;
And the swift trains fly where the wild cat's cry o'er the sad bush silence broke.

Take now the fruit of our labour, nourish and guard it with care;
For our youth is spent, and our backs are bent and the snow is on our hair.

The Crane
By Phil Taylor (age 10)

Just to show that talents may be left undiscovered, sometimes for a whole lifetime, here's a poem I wrote in year 5. I had trouble with the last couple of lines.

Picture of cranes feeding

The crane, which is a silvery-grey, is found near marshes in the day.
And if you see him in the skies you'll know him by the way he flies:
his head straight out, his feet tucked in* until I'm sure they reached his chin.
But if he had a chin at all, it would be blistered like a ball.

* Sorry, the feet are trailed behind the body. Poetic licence?

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