Macquarie Pass [poem by Philip Durham Lorimer]

[Editor: This poem by Philip Durham Lorimer was published in Songs and Verses by Philip Durham Lorimer: An Australian Bush Poet, 1901.]

Macquarie Pass

The grassy slopes rise from the base of mountains,
Where yet their awful majesty is heard
Through strains which come in torrents from the fountains,
That teach the song of freedom to the bird.
There is response to Morning’s voice arising
From all that love the beauty of the day ;
To welcome now another sweet surprising
Held in the brightness of the summer’s ray.
Here it would seem that loveliness is resting
Ere she ascends to be the mountain’s bride.
Her seat is there ; for it there’s no contesting.
Enough ! she knows it claims her as its pride.
But ere she lays aside her bridal veiling,
She hears the majesty of glory’s call ;
And with desire to meet Jehovah’s hailing,
She enters proudly dressed in Beauty’s hall.
Tongarra wakes, and fast adorns her tresses
With brilliant hues of the famed flame-tree flowers ;
And lilies twine around her their caresses,
And honeyed are her gladsome morning hours.

Nigh to the pass she stands, and with her stately bending,
She meets the kiss of Light with maiden grace
That, much to her own loveliness, is lending
A charm which dignifies her comely face.
And to the notes — those of the lory’s praising —
She tunes her ear so sweetly glad for song ;
And with the mighty mountain’s cheer upraising.
Her voice is highest — loudest in that throng.
O’erarched with ferns and palm-trees’ spreading branches
The steep ascent o’er shelves of rock is made ;
O’er stray bold heads, where grand the water launches
Down to the chasms dark, where all is shade.
Here is the home the fairy seeks, when telling
Those stories strange which joyed our early years,
When yet the face of man knew not his dwelling,
And dreams were long undreamt that gathered tears.
The tufted knots of grass and roots empowering
The poet’s fingers, as they lightly stray
Upon his harp, are softened by the flowering
Of Christmas bells in Austral’s azure day !
Rock after rock, and then, in accents thrilling,
Comes there a song to ears that tells of home,
’Tis the Goburra choir — they still are filling
Their happy lives with joy where’er they roam !
Their laugh rings out, and o’er the headland sweeping
A wildness breaks upon Macquarie’s Head,
Where the huge fern-robed sandstone tower is keeping
Its sacred watch o’er charms to beauty wed.

And now on mountain-top the pass is ended,
And other scenes of gladness come in view ;
The vale that stretches Albion-ward is blended
With ev’ry shade of green ’neath smiling blue.
The waters ’neath the whisp’ring oaks are nearing,
And soon will take their part in ocean’s roar ;
The surges know the streamlets are appearing,
And, glad to welcome them, they line the shore
With stately forms of spray, and billows foaming,
So that the mountain’s brow may now be crowned
With regal pomp — where high the clouded doming
Is proudest, when on it the storm has frowned.
A thousand hills and cone-shaped spurs are leaning
’Gainst lofty bare-ribbed mountain-tops and range,
Dark Bong-Bong looks upon the sheltered screening
That copses give to homes in winter’s change ;
And like a monarch, mighty in his reigning,
He holds his sceptre in the thunder-cloud ;
While round him Nature draws a wild disdaining,
And yields him her permission to be proud !
The meadows far, where Dapto fair is dreaming,
Are soft enshrined with purple, misty dyes ;
Anon, through break of clouds the sunbeams gleaming,
Bring to her calm the touch of golden skies.
She, rising, smiles, with pleasure ; and unweary,
Looks on her breast, and finds a garland there.
Her pathways wend to scenes that are not dreary,
And lo ! her arms caress the herds they bear.

Thus Illawarra, in her grateful changing,
Brings to the soul of man her pleasures sweet ;
Seems it that glory is anew arranging
Her comely face, where God and man may meet ;
For well has high decree, in His creation,
Foreseen the bent of human minds to crave
For joy, known only now through inspiration,
When scenes like this come ’tween them and the grave ;
Man turns to them, and in his clayey holding
He drinks delight, while resting on the sod ;
Then are the hands of Beauty seen unfolding
Her royal gates that lead man to his God !

Wollongong, March 11, 1891.



Source:
E. A. Petherick (editor). Songs and Verses by Philip Durham Lorimer: An Australian Bush Poet, William Clowes and Sons, London, 1901, pages 164-167

Editor’s notes:
Albion-ward = towards Albion; in the context of “Macquarie Pass” by Philip Lorimer, this would refer to Albion Park, south-west of Wollongong and east of Shellharbour, New South Wales (in the more common context, “Albion” refers to England or Great Britain)

azure = the blue of a clear unclouded sky

Bong-Bong = (Bong Bong) a town near Bowral and Mittagong, New South Wales

Dapto = a town, now a suburb, south-west of Wollongong, New South Wales

Goburra = an Aboriginal word for “kookaburra”

lory = a type of bird; lories and lorikeets are brightly-coloured parrots found in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Polynesia, south-east Asia, and Timor (generally, the shorter-tailed varieties are called “lories”, whilst the longer-tailed varieties are called “lorikeets”)

Tongarra = a place in New South Wales, south-west of Macquarie Pass

vale = valley

wend = to proceed, to go on one’s way, to direct one’s course

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