Snowy River [poem by E. J. Brady]

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

Snowy River.

The proud hills’ peerless daughter,
A-singing as she goes
The natal songs they taught her,
Old Kosciusko knows
She bears the Great Salt Water
His message from the snows.

Where, piled in high disorder,
Monaro’s mountains rise,
She puts her house in order
And says her first good-byes;
Then, timid, to the Border
She turns expectant eyes.

By lichen-covered granite,
And boulders, waterworn
In ages when the Planet
By primal storms was torn,
When all the winds that fan it
In hurricanes were born;

Through gullies dark where, whitely,
The bones of lost men lie,
And evil voices nightly
Like tortured spirits cry,
This pilgrim River, lightly,
Slips, hushed and silent, by.

But when, anon, the plover
To haunts more open hies,
And to his loyal lover
The painted parrot flies —
An opal flashing over
Deep, turquoise picture-skies —

Along the sedgy reaches,
By myrtles overhung,
Where far the flood-made beaches
Their pebbled freight have flung,
To all the Bush she teaches
The songs Monaro’s sung.

She takes, for her adorning,
All glories that she needs —
The jewels of the Morning
To deck her water meads;
The stars of Night suborning
To diamond her reeds.

Unwed by any Doria
Of rough Australian drought,
She sings her pagan Gloria;
And, sweeping gaily South,
She stoops to kiss Victoria
Upon awaiting mouth.

Wild Gippsland’s forest altars,
Titanic, sombre, grand,
Re-echo to her psalters,
Poured out o’er rock and sand;
And no rude range that falters
The tribute of his hand.

Aye, creek and spring and fountain
Unto her leap and roll;
Each vassal hill or mountain
Pours down its liquid soul,
To swell the grand amount in
Her widely-gathered toll.

And, so with stories laden
Of Bushland, Day and Night,
She comes, a royal maiden
Hellenic, in delight,
To find her long-sought Aidenn
Below the Marlo light.

From Buchan’s white cliffs sweeping
She treads her homeward way;
By lone selections sleeping
In stillness, far away;
By Orbost farm lands, keeping
Star-vigil for the day.

She hears afar the calling
Of her high lord the Sea;
She hears the strong surge falling,
World-old, unceasingly,
And all the Voice enthralling
Of Love and Mystery.

Then, with the quick, glad sobbing
Of some long-willing Bride —
Her Sea-Love rudely robbing
The last white robe of pride —
She throws her warm heart, throbbing,
On his triumphant tide.

E. J. Brady, Bells and Hobbles, Melbourne: George Robertson & Co., 1911, pp. 30-33

Editor’s notes:
anon = soon, shortly (can also mean: at another time, later; an archaic meaning is: at once, immediately)

aye = yes (may also be used to express agreement, assent, or the acceptance of an order)

Gippsland = a region of south-eastern Victoria, which encompasses Bairnsdale, Drouin, Lakes Entrance, Leongatha, Mallacoota, Moe, Morwell, Omeo, Sale, Seaspray, the Strzelecki Ranges, Traralgon, Walhalla, Warragul, Wilsons Promontory, Wonthaggi, and Yarram; the region was named after George Gipps (1790-1847), who was Governor of New South Wales (1838-1846)

hies = to hie: to hurry, to go quickly

mead = an abbreviation of “meadow” (especially used in a literary context) (may also refer to an alcoholic drink made from fermented honey with water)

Monaro = a region in the south of New South Wales

myrtle = plants of the family Myrtaceae; including various native Australian plants such as eucalyptus, paperbark, and bottlebrush trees

o’er = (archaic) over (pronounced the same as “oar”, “or”, and “ore”)

rude = primitive, raw, or rough, or in an unfinished state or natural condition (distinct from the modern usage of “rude” as someone being discourteous or ill-mannered)

sedgy = of or relating to sedge: a grass-like plant with a solid three-sided stem, which grows in tufts, typically found in wet ground or near water, such as marshes; any of the grass-like plants of the family Cyperaceae (especially those of the of the genus Carex)

selection = an area of land obtained by free-selection; land owned by a “selector”

[Editor: Changed “sedgy reaches ,” to “sedgy reaches,” (removed the space before the comma).]

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