The Church Bells
The Viennese authorities have melted down
the great bell in St. Stephen's to supply metal
for guns or muntions. Every poor village
has made a similar gift.—Lokal Anzeiger.
The great bell booms across the town,
Reverberant and slow,
And drifting from their houses down
The calm-eyed people go.
Their feet fall on the portal stones
Their fathers' fathers trod;
And still the bell, with reverent tones,
From cottage nooks and purple thrones
Is calling souls to God.
The chapel bells with ardor spake
Above the poplars tall,
And perfumed Sabbath seemed to wake.
Responsive to their call
From dappled vale and green hillside
And nestling village hives
The peasants came in simple pride
To hear how their Lord Jesus died
To sweeten all their lives.
They boom beyond the battered town;
The hills are belching smoke;
And valleys charred and ranges brown
Are quaking 'neath the stroke.
The iron roar to Heaven swells,
And domes and steeples nod;
Through cities vast and ferny dells
And village streets the clamant bells
Are calling souls to God!
Of The True Endeavour
HAPPY he in whom the honest love of fair endeavour lingers,
Who has strength to do his labour, and has pride to do it well,
Carve he gems of purest water with an artist’s cunning fingers,
Hew the granite, forge the beam, or make a simple tale to tell
His to feel a glow ecstatic of the mighty exhultation
That arose when out of chaos all the wheeling planets stood.
Since when God beheld the wonder, saw the stir of His creation
In the busy scheme of heaven, and He said that it was good,
Never man has made with willing hands some thing of true intention—
Cut in bone a strange, rude picture to inspire the naked hordes,
Or contrived a subtle engine with laborious invention—
But has entered straight and freely to the joy that was the Lord’s
Those so blessed have with them solace, balm to still the ache of sorrow,
One companion who will cleave when friends and kindred turn away;
But a jealous mistress is she, and be sure again to-morrow
She will draw you back repentant if ye wander far to-day.
Few there are that know the ardour. Some are weaving songs of beauty,
Some have harped the living music, some have built with noblest skill,
Some are simple men exulting in the moiler’s primal duty,
When they swing their axes high or ring the hammer on the drill.
Not to all that love is given art, the clear, unfailing vision,
Not power to carve the perfect form, the bravest lances hurled,
But the humblest hand sincere desire has quickened to decision
Beats a line of grace eternal in the metal of the world.
Men have prayed for many blessings, for the boon of ease have ever
Plagued the God that drave out Adam to the tilling of the soil—
Speak a prayer of honest effort to the God of Vast Endeavour:
Give for each his toil, O Lord—for each the pride and joy of toil!
Australia, my native land,
A stirring whisper in your ear—
'Tis time for you to understand
Your rating now is A1, dear.
You've done some rousing things of late.
That lift you from the simple state
In which you chose to vegetate.
The persons so superior,
Whose patronage no more endures,
Now have to fire a salvo for
The glory that is fairly yours.
At length you need no sort of crutch,
You stand alone, you're voted “much”—
Get busy and behave as such.
No man from Oskosh, or from Hull,
Or any other chosen place
Can rise with a distended skull,
And cast aspersions in your face.
You're given all the world to know
Your proper standing as a foe,
And hats are off, and rightly so.
You furnished heroes for the fray,
Your sterling merit's widely blown
To all men's satisfaction say,
Now have you proved it to your own?
Now have you strength to stand and shine
In your own light and say, “Divine
The thing is that I do. It's mine!”
The cannon's stroke throws customs down
The black and bottomless abyss,
And quaking are the gilded crown
And palsied feet of prejudice.
The guns have killed, but it is true
They bring to life things good and new.
God grant they have awakened you!
My ears are greedy for the toast
Of confidence before our guest,
The loyal song, the manly boast
Your splendid faith to manifest.
In works of art and livelihood
Shirk not the creed, “What's ours is good,”
Dread not to have it understood.
Australia, lift your royal brow,
And have the courage of our pride,
Audacity becomes you now,
Be splendidly self-satisfied,
No land from lowliness and dearth
Has won to eminence on earth
That was not conscious of its worth.
On summer nights when moonbeams flow
And glisten o’er the high, white tips,
And winds make lamentation low,
As through the ribs of shattered ships,
And steal about the broken brace
Where pendant timbers swing and moan,
And flitting bats give aimless chase,
Who dares to seek the mine alone?
The shrinking bush with sable rims
A skeleton forlorn and bowed,
With pipe-clay white about its limbs
And at its feet a tattered shroud;
And ghostly figures lurk and groan,
Shrill whispers sound from ghostly lips,
And ghostly footsteps start the stone
That clatters sharply down the tips.
The engine-house is dark and still,
The life that raged within has fled;
Like open graves the boilers chill
That once with glowing fires were red;
Above the shaft in measured space
A rotted rope swings to and fro,
Whilst o’er the plat and on the brace
The silent shadows come and go.
And there below, in chambers dread
Where darkness like a fungus clings,
Are lingering still the old mine’s dead—
Bend o’er and hear their whisperings!
Up from the blackness sobs and sighs
Are flung with moans and muttered fears,
A low lament that never dies,
And ceaseless sound of falling tears.
My ears intent have heard their grief—
The fitful tones of Carter’s tongue,
The strong man crushed beneath the reef,
The groans of Panton, Praer, and Young,
And ‘Trucker Bill’ of Number Five,
Along the ruined workings roll;
For deep in every shoot and drive
This mine secretes a shackled soul.
Ah! woful mine, where wives have wept,
And mothers prayed in anxious pain,
And long, distracting vigil kept,
You yawn for victims now in vain!
Still to that god, whose shrine you were,
Is homage done in wild device;
Men hate you as the sepulchre
That stores their bloody sacrifice.
When Brother Peetree Prayed
’TWAS a sleepy little chapel by a wattled hill erected,
Where the storms were always muffled, and an atmosphere of peace
Hung about beneath the gum-trees, and the garden was respected
By the goats from Billybunga and the washer-woman’s geese.
In the week-days it was sacred to my young imagination
From its walls there oozed a sentiment of reverence profound;
And on Sabbath morns the murmuring of the childish congregation
Seemed to spread a benediction in the bush land far around.
But when Brother Peetree prayed all the parrots flew dismayed,
And the hill shook to its centre, and the trees and fences swayed;
And we youngsters heard the rumble of the Day of Judgment there,
When the pious superintendent wrestled manfully in prayer.
They were horny-handed Methodists, and men of scanty knowledge,
Who controlled that ‘little corner of the vine-yard’ by the pound;
Their theology was not the kind that’s warranted at college,
But their faith was most abundant, and their gospel always sound.
Brother Peetree was a miner at the Band of Hope. His leisure
He employed in ‘sticking porkers’ for his neighbours, and his skill
Was a theme of admiration; but his soul’s sublimest pleasure
Was to speak a prayer on Sunday in the chapel ’neath the hill.
Froze the marrow in our bones at the sound of hollow groans,
And the shrieks of moral anguish, and the awful thunder tones;
And we saw the Hell-fire burning, and we smelt it in the air,
When dear Brother Peetree struggled with the Lord of Hosts in prayer.
Brother Peetree always started with a murmured supplication,
Knelt beside a form, serenely, with a meek, submissive face;
But he rose by certain stages to a rolling exhortation,
And a wild, ecstatic bellowing for sanctity and grace;
And he threw his arms to heaven, and the seats went down before him
As he fought his way along the aisle, and prayed with might and main,
With hysterical beseechings. Then a sudden peace fell o’er him,
And he finished, sobbing softly, at his starting-point again.
And the elders, to their ears pale with reverential fears,
And the sisters and the choir indulged in hot, repentant tears;
And the sinners for salvation did with eagerness declare,
When beloved Brother Peetree wrestled mightily in prayer.
When The Bell Blew Up
‘THAT’S the boiler at The Bell, mates! Tumble out, Ned, neck and crop—
Never mind your hat and coat, man, we’ll be wanted on the job.
Barney’s driving, Harvey’s stoking—God help all the hands on top!
Bring along the brandy, some one. Don’t stand like an image, Bob;
Grab those shirts—they’ll all be needed. Rugs and candles, that’s all right.
Bet your lives, boys, we’ll have lots of doctor’s work to do to-night!
‘Didn’t she thunder? Scot! I thought the universe had gone to smash.
Take the track through Peetree’s paddock, make the smartest time you know.
Barney swore her plates were rotten, but poor Bill was always rash.’
‘And his missus, heaven help her!—they were spliced a month ago.’
Down the track we raced together, up the hill—then o’er the claim
Saw the steam-clouds hanging thickly, lustrous with the glow of flame.
Boiler-house in hopeless ruins, engines wrecked and smoke-stack gone;
Bricks and shingles widely scattered, and the shattered boiler bare.
‘Five men missed!’ ‘Buck in, you fellows; get your freest action on;
Keep the fire back from the timbers—God knows who is under there.
Sprag that knocker. How it rattles! Braceman’s nowhere—Coleman’s Joe.
Tell them what has happened, Ryan. They will have to wait below.’
As we fought the fires, the women, pale and tearful gathered round.
‘That you, Peter? Thanks to Heaven!’ ‘There’s my Harry! God is good!’
‘Praise the Lord—they’ve got our lad safe! Joe the braceman has been found!
Down between the tips they found him, pinned there by a log of wood.
‘Battery boys are safe. Mack saw them hiding under Peetree’s ricks.
They just up and cut from under when it started raining bricks.’
Only two now—Bill and Barney. Still we laboured might and main
’Mid the ruins round the boiler where the shattered walls were stacked.
Then his wife discovered Barney, dazed and black, but right as rain;
Said he didn’t know what hit him—‘thought the crack of doom had cracked;’
He had landed on the sand-heap, thirty yards or so away.
‘God is mighty good to sinners,’ murmured Geordie. ‘Let us pray.’
Fifty voices called on Harvey, and we worked like horses all,
Delving down amongst the timber, burnt and knocked about, but gay.
‘Lend a hand, here, every man; he’s pinned beneath the outer wall!
All together. Now you’ve got him. Gently does it. That’s O.K.
Scalded! Yes, and right arm broken. Pass some brandy, one of you.
Cheer, ye devils! Give it lip, lads. He’s alive and kicking, too!’
‘Give him air, now. Make a track there. Let him see his missus first.’
‘Where’s his wife?’ The women wondered. She had not been seen all night.
Someone whispered she was timid, that she dared not face the worst.
Harvey smiled despite his troubles. ‘Boys, she’s fainted—she’s all right.’
So we bore him gaily home, and as he saw the gateway near
Bill tried hard to lead the chorus when we gave a rousing cheer.
‘Stop, for God’s sake!’ In the garden, where her life blood tinged the vine,
Prone poor Harvey’s wife was lying, in the moon- light, cold and gray.
There the flying bolt had struck her as she ran towards the mine.
We could guess the truth too well—and near a broken firebar lay.
Carrol, kneeling down beside her, gently raised the wounded head,
And we bent to catch his whisper, and he answered sadly—‘Dead!’
Waiting For Water
’TWAS old Flynn, the identity, told us
That the creek always ran pretty high,
But that fossicking veteran sold us,
And he lied as his quality lie.
Through a tangle of ranges and ridges,
Down a track that is blazed with our hide,
Over creeks minus crossings and bridges,
High and low, mere impertinent midges
Trying falls with the mighty Divide,
We came, hauling the boxes and stampers,
Or just nipping them in with a winch;
Now and then in unfortunate scampers
Missing smash by the eighth of an inch;
Round the spurs very daintily crawling,
With one team pulling out in a row,
And another lot heavenward hauling,
Lest the whole bag-of-tricks should go sprawling
Into regions unheard of below,
We came through with the shanks and the shafting,
And the frames, and the wonderful wheel;
Then we put in a month of hard grafting
Ere we nailed down the last scrap of deal.
She beat true, and with scarce a vibration,
And we voted her queen of the mills,
And a push from the wide desolation
Drifted in to our jollification
When her drumming was heard in the hills.
Now the discs by the cam-shaft are rusting,
And the stamps in the boxes are still,
And a silence that’s deep and disgusting
Seems to hang like a pall on the mill.
Just a fortnight she ran—then she rested,
And we’ve little to do but complain;
For a bird in the feed-pipe has nested,
And we’ve spent every stiver invested,
And are praying for tucker and rain.
Billy’s Creek—theme of eloquent fables—
Drips like sweat on the breast of the wheel,
And the blankets are dry on the tables,
And the sluice-box is warped like an eel;
Sudden dust-clouds run lunatic races
In the red, rocky bed down below,
And the porcupine scrambles in places
Where Flinn swears by the faith he embraces,
Fourteen inches of water should flow.
For a time we were proof against sorrow,
And we harboured a cheerful belief
In the plenteous rains of to-morrow
As we belted away at the reef.
We piled quartz in the paddocks and hopper,
And the pack-horse came in once a week:
Now our credit is not worth a copper
At the township, and highly improper
Is the language the storekeepers speak.
We no longer talk brightly, or snivel
Of our luck, but we loaf very hard,
Too disgusted to care to be civil,
And too lazy to look at a card.
Only George finds some slight consolation
Crushing prospects—a couple a day—
And then proving by multiplication
How much metal is in the formation,
And the ‘divvies’ she’ll probably pay.
But our leisure is qualified slightly
By the cattle from over the Fly—
Who have taken to pegging out nightly
In our limited water supply.
And the snakes have assisted in keeping
Things alive, for the man, you’ll agree,
Will be spry who may find he’s been sleeping
With a tiger—or chance on one creeping
In the water he wanted for tea.
Though our sweltering sky never changes,
Squatter Clark, up at Crowfoot, complains
That prospectors out over the ranges
Have been chased out of camp by the rains.
Veal, the Methodist preacher at Spence’s,
Who the Cousin Jacks say is ‘some tuss’
As a rain-making parson commences
To enlarge on our sins and offences,
And to blame all his failures on us.
We don’t go to his church down the mountain:
Seven miles is a wearisome trot,
With the glass playing up like a fountain,
And the prayers correspondingly hot.
So on Sunday each suffering sinner
Has a simple, convivial spree,—
A roast porcupine, maybe, for dinner;
For we daily grow thinner and thinner
On the week’s bread and treacle and tea.
We’ve been scared, too, of late by Golightly,
Him who kept up his chin best of all,
And predicted with confidence nightly
Heavy rains that neglected to fall,
And enlarged on the sure indications
(While we listened, and wearily groaned)
Of tremendous climatic sensations,
Fearful tempests, and great inundations,
That, it happened, were always postponed.
He’s gone daft through our many reverses,
Or the sun has got on to his brain,
For he cowers all day, and he curses
To a fretful and wearing refrain;
And at midnight he dolefully screeches
In the gloom of the desolate mill;
Or he goes in his shirt, making speeches
To the man in the moon, whom he reaches
From the summit of Poverty Hill.
So we’re waiting, and watching, and longing
With an impotent, bitter desire,
And new troubles and old ones come thronging,
Drought, and fever, and famine, and fire;
And we know—our misfortunes reviewing—
All the pangs that in Hades betide,
Where the damned sit eternally stewing,
And, through days never ending, are suing
For the water that’s ever denied.