Yamba [poem by E. J. Brady]

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


High Northern suns their brazen shields,
Like warriors, hang above the fields
Where Sultan Summer frankly yields
His plenteous boon;
Like nautch girls dance the naked days
Down avenues of cane and maize,
While on his pipes the North-Wind plays
A careless tune.

From ranges walled, through gates ajar
At Copmanhurst and Yugilbar,
Pours down the Clarence from afar
His noble tide;
And, spreading forth in creek and arm,
Enrichens with his waters warm
A fertile land of field and farm
In deltas wide.

But, when this vassal task is done,
With all his winding courses run,
He seeks reward for service won;
And to his queen,
The shining Sea, whose silver shores
Are musical with rhythmic oars,
At last his singing soul outpours
By Yamba green!

The depths of noon are rarely stirred
By restless foot or roving bird;
But in the topaz morn are heard —
Like lutes afar,
Of suitors calling from the green
Recess of gardens Florentine —
The reed birds in their nests unseen
By Yamba bar.

As tuneful heralds of a feast,
When Morning flaunts the conquered East,
With scarlet regiments released
From Night’s duress,
Beyond the lawns, where fall in showers
Of snow the great magnolia flowers,
The magpies from their leafy towers
Their joys express.

By rolling marsh and rainbowed stream
The opal-tinted dewdrops gleam
And cluster in a rajah’s dream;
First spoils of Day
From hyacinth and lily swept,
They pearl the couches where they slept,
As purple princes who bewept
The Night’s delay.

Oh, Land of drowsy days sublime
Where dwelled my Heart, in rest and rhyme,
Through all a golden summertime!
In dreams again
I see thy sunlit splendors blaze;
And, walking in a moonlit maze,
I hear the night wind where it plays
Among the cane.

I see, untrammelled of the town,
Young Chloris in her skirt of brown,
Uplifted coyly, urging down
The spotted kine.
White petticoats, like homing sails,
Come flutt’ring o’er the stockyard rails,
And, by the polished milking pails,
Bring up aline.

Where netted jungles green the blue
Distractions of the hillward view,
The crested pigeons call and coo
With ruffled throats;
And Chloris, is it right or wrong
That all the burden of their song
Is “I — love — you” the whole day long
In pleading notes?

His floral torch in upward blaze
To light the darkened jungle ways,
In Spring the Northern flame-tree lays;
And Chloris, fain
I’d play, as in sweet hours agone,
That quiet woodland stage upon
A warm, impassioned, Corydon
To you again.

Alas, the dramas that have been!
The ravished musk and myrtle green
That crowned a comely country queen
Are dead and sere:
But Mem’ry, folded like a rose
Long pressed between book pages, throws
A fragrance from the Past that shows
Our hearts how dear

Were those enraptured hours agone,
When through the woodlands, on and on,
Sweet Chloris strayed with Corydon
Love’s pathway far;
When by the pen of seeming chance,
Was written in the Book “Romance,”
A line that flashes like a lance
By Yamba bar.

A gallant, fed with swift desire,
Uplifted then his crest of fire
And smote upon a burning lyre
The Northern sun;
A lady in her laces white
To be the bridesmaid of delight
Came forth the ivory-bosomed Night,
Besought and won.

By silver sea and golden sand
We twain have wandered hand in hand,
When all the world was lovers’ land,
My Chloris dear;
Nor shall the years our mem’ries cheat
Of love that triumphs in defeat,
Though long the musk and myrtle sweet
Be dead and sere.

E. J. Brady, Bells and Hobbles, Melbourne: George Robertson & Co., 1911, pp. 142-145

Editor’s notes:
agone = (archaic) ago (in times gone by, in times past)

Clarence = the Clarence River, a river located in the Northern Rivers district of New South Wales (settlements on the river include Tabulam, Grafton, Ulmarra, and Maclean; the river empties into the sea at Turners Beach, near the Yamba Lighthouse)

corydon = a shepherd; a country lad; a peasant; a rustic swain (a rural young male admirer, lover, or suitor); a rural person, someone who comes from the countryside (can also refer to a bird of the species Corydon sumatranus, also known as the dusky broadbill, native to South East Asia)

fain = happily or gladly; ready or willing; obliged or compelled

flutt’ring = (vernacular) fluttering

kine = cattle

lute = a plucked string instrument, similar to a guitar, with a bowl-shaped body (shaped like an egg split vertically in two) and a fretted neck (although sometimes without frets), with a sound hole or opening in the body (although sometimes without an opening)

maize = a cereal plant (Zea mays), also known as “corn”

mem’ries = (vernacular) memories

mem’ry = (vernacular) memory

morn = morning

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

sere = dried up or withered

thy = (archaic) your

twain = (archaic) two (from the Old English word “twegen”, meaning “two”); especially known for the phrase “never the twain shall meet” (from the line “Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet”, as used by the poet Rudyard Kipling, at the start of the poem “The Ballad of East and West”, which was included in Barrack-room Ballads and Other Verses, 1892)

Yamba = a town on the northern coast of New South Wales, located at the mouth of the Clarence River (south of Lismore and north-east of Grafton)

Yamba bar = a sandbar located at the mouth of the Clarence River, on the coast of New South Wales

Yugilbar = Yugilbar station, a property on the Clarence River (New South Wales), located north-east of Collum Collum and south-west of Malabugilmah; the property was developed by Edward Ogilvie (1814-1896), a member of the Legislative Council of NSW

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