Mordialloc [poem by E. J. Brady]

[Editor: This poem by E. J. Brady was published in Bells and Hobbles (1911).]


The haze along the hillsides, the sparkle on the Bay
Marconi forth the message of Spring’s advance to-day.
Now all the fields are blazoned with epaulettes of gold;
Now all the trees their standards of Victory uphold.
In gallant cohorts riding, white gloves upon their hands,
The soldier seas are marshalled along Port Phillip’s sands.
So dream we here together of all sweet things that be,
By drowsy Mordialloc, a-facing to the sea.

To-day no red-robed Angel of Discontent shall mar
Our peace with drums of discord or clash of social war;
To-day this land Aegean of roses, love and wine,
In all its lotus splendor is wholly yours and mine,
While Commerce, coarsely strident, plays out her vulgar part,
Romance shall be our handmaid, with Poesy and Art.
We left the mart behind us, in Flinders-street, that we
Might find at Mordialloc a temple by the sea.

Your hair hath meshed the sunbeams; your voice is low and sweet
(French heels enhance, ’tis certain, the play of pretty feet).
This Southern land that gave you your roses and your pearl
Is maiden yet to conquest; like you—a careless girl.
These meadows all around us, to me they but enfold
Your daintiness — a ruby, set in Australian gold:
The spirit of my own land, vivacious, young and free,
To-day at Mordialloc, expression finds in thee.

So falls your voice in rhythm; so beats my heart in tune;
While by a velvet stairway creeps down the Afternoon,
Till lo! at Evening’s doorway she standeth soft and shy
To wave in sunset blushes duenna Day good-bye. . . .
Now creeps the slow sail shoreward across the darkening Bay;
Now close in silent thousands, the blossoms of the Day;
The haze hath left the foreland, the light hath left the sea;
White stars, by Mordialloc, burn over you and me.


But when the wheels of Action once more around me whirl,
I’ll think of Mordialloc, a sunset and a girl;
And where upon his service — the red-robed Angel — I
Go forth his will proclaiming, all days, until I die,
Though Duties stern command me, though proud ambitions call
The waves by Mordialloc shall sing beyond them all!
And, golden as thy tresses, with inward sight I’ll see
The sun on Mordialloc go down — in memory.

E. J. Brady, Bells and Hobbles, Melbourne: George Robertson & Co., 1911, pp. 122-123

Editor’s notes:
cohort = a group of people (especially a large group) who share a common characteristic (e.g. age, class, affiliation); a large group of soldiers; a military unit of ancient Rome (a Roman legion commonly consisted of nine or ten cohorts); colleague, companion; accomplice, conspirator

duenna = a chaperon (usually an older female) of a young woman; governess, nanny (from Spanish “dueña”, meaning “mistress”, derived from the Latin “donna”, meaning “lady”) [used in this poem in a metaphorical sense, with Day being the chaperon]

epaulette = decorative or ornamental shoulder piece; in military forces epaulettes are commonly used to display rank or unit insignia (in French, “épaulette” means “little shoulder”) [in this poem, “epaulettes” is used as a metaphor to refer to the presence of colourful plant life]

Flinders-street = a street in Melbourne, Victoria (a main street in the central business district of Melbourne)

foreland = a cape, headland, promontory; an area of land lying in front of, or bordering on, a particular feature (such as the sea, a large body of water, another land or territory)

hath = (archaic) has

l’envoi = (French, meaning “the sending” or “the sending forth”) a short piece of poetry (usually consisting of a single stanza) at the end of a poem, used to comment on the poem (especially the moral of a poem) or to address the poem’s audience (or to address a specific person, whether real or imagined), originally used in old French poetry; the concluding comments of a poem; a postscript; a poem of farewell (may be given simply as “envoi”; an alternative spelling is “envoy”)

Marconi = (as an adjective) communicate by radio, transmit a radio signal; communicate as if by radio (derived from Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian inventor who played a major role in the development of radio communications)

mart = market

Mordialloc = a seaside suburb of the Melbourne metropolitan area, located south-east of the City of Melbourne

poesy = poetry or the art of poetic composition

Port Phillip = Port Phillip Bay, a large bay located on the southern coastline of Victoria, with the City of Melbourne at its northern point, Geelong on its western side, and the Mornington Peninsula on its eastern side

standeth = (archaic) stands

thee = (archaic) you

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