[Editor: This poem by Philip Durham Lorimer was published in Songs and Verses by Philip Durham Lorimer: An Australian Bush Poet, 1901.]
A Mountain Home
There is a mountain home among the ranges ;
And ’round it there’s a wilderness which strongly girds
This safe retreat from all life’s dead’ning changes,
And it is ever gladdened by the songs of birds.
To look upon that home when day is dawning,
Its roof of bark and slabs of greyish hue ; —
When the pillared smoke, like a muslin awning,
Covers the homestead with a mist of blue ; —
When morning’s light is softened in its nearing
With the high headlands, fringed with leafy boughs ; —
When, through the drooping branch, the sun appearing.
Hastens to crown the crags on mountain brows,
Or, when the peach trees, clad with early flowers,
Seem in the distance like to rosy veils,
O’ertowering the white clematis in its bowers.
As childhood’s fancy robes the fairy tales ; —
When on the rocky heights the cattle lowing
Loud to their calves responding in their pen ; —
It seems the cup of joy is overflowing,
When Nature thus unfolds “good will to men.”
There is no hollow shell or tree decaying,
Crumbling through age or withered by the storm ;
But morning’s glory rests on it, displaying
A newer beauty on its naked form.
Here streams are crossed with logs; and pathways, winding,
Soon lose themselves among the ferny nooks,
Where oft the youngsters of the “home” are finding
The wagtail’s nest o’erhanging swollen brooks.
From cavities in banks and cliffs are wending
The gathered dripping drops into one stream ;
That infant river, kissed in ev’ry bending,
Unravels now the bliss of its first dream.
There is a gladness in its careless skipping
Over the boulders to the pebbly shore ;
That new clad song, borne on its tinted rippling
Will, in due season, swell the ocean’s roar,
Like babes that prattle sweet with angel-voices,
Learning to walk upon their rosy feet,
Life here unfolding o’er each scene rejoices,
Till in her beauty Nature stands complete.
The wider lane, behind this quaint old dwelling,
Leads to the foot of a wild mountain spur,
That smiles upon that scene where in a dell
Wild oats are growing interspersed with burr.
Outside that paddock is a network growing
Over the bronze-tinged ferns of climbing vines,
Binding the underwood to branches bowing,
As Pride will bow at Love’s seducing shrines.
Still farther back in wild, yet chaste confusion,
As if disdaining strife, is interlaced
The scrub defiant, where there’s no intrusion,
Save by ’pressed game, when by the hunter chased.
There in that wilderness of wild excesses,
A leafless giant shell is standing yet,
Where the goburras deep in its recesses,
To laugh o’er all their joys are daily met.
* * * * *
There is an old man at the gate now standing,
His aged eyes are still quite clear and brown
As spring buds bloom ; his looks are yet commanding
Beneath his snowy locks, Time’s silver crown.
Age has been roughly hewn upon his features ;
Those deeper furrows speak of ripest thought.
’Twould seem Death leaves such to be our teachers
Who from experience lessons true have caught.
His horny hands and limping walk betoken
Deep traces wrought on him by storms gone by ;
Oft have the changes left his heart-strings broken,
But death recoiled when he laid down to die.
He waits, for by his side his son is plaiting
A silken thong to whip the cattle home.
Merry, the younger ones are still debating
Where best to meet their pleasures — where to roam.
That short sweet hour of youth has moments often
To mould an angel on the shores of Time —
’T would seem the new-born smiles of dawning soften
The beauty of the mind in ways sublime ;
That son, with curl upon his forehead drooping,
The while looks up into his father’s face —
Life’s true reflection, save in age and stooping,
Meet there together in one long embrace.
Thus down the ages where the moments slumber,
Framing departed life — in golden dreams
In that bright retrospect — man reads his number,
Sees his own image in those calms and streams.
There at the window stands behind the curtain,
Now smiling with sweet glee, a woman’s face,
Drinking with gladness pleasure that is certain —
Her cup of joy, with timid chastely grace.
A carol too comes from a maiden baking :
Oh yes, the daughter, too, is happy there.
Health gives no time to pause o’er pain or aching ;
With lightsome laughter, ever scatt’ring care.
Within those liquid eyes spring blooms revealing
That there it lingers o’er its birthplace true.
What loveliness ! when love is thus appealing,
Attired in homely robes, through eyes of blue !
* * * * *
The noon, the must’ring hour for children playing,
Still finds the chalice of the morning sweet.
The mother’s brow, whereon a rose is straying,
A temple seems where all the virtues meet !
Life throws its calm light on that home of gladness,
Where all of its rich years are filled so well :
Love from that humble heart has banished sadness,
And left the joys that Love alone can spell !
The parents’ lives will make a deep impression
On those young throbbing hearts they leave behind ;
Sweet liberty will seal their soul’s expression,
And print their father’s image on their mind.
* * * * *
When evening hails the distance far away,
The Eastern range is robed with purple dyes,
And glory there awaits another day
To bring to this wild home its lovely skies ;
And when the Western clouds array in splendour
The setting sun with robes of dazzling hue,
Day yields to night that calm and sweet surrender,
While peace comes gently with the mountain dew.
So softly comes it — like the leaves of roses
When from their bloom they float away to be
The seals of love, where love in love reposes
On those bright calms of bliss in memory.
* * * * *
And now from rock to rock sweet notes come mellowed,
The evening’s carols from the birds arise ;
Far up the range a staggering herd has bellowed,
And nightfall gathers in the closing skies.
The magpie to her nest is now returning,
And from the covers wake the curlew shy,
The Goburra choir, with all their young ones learning,
Close that fair scene beneath a starlit sky.
Now in that bushman’s hut contentment sleepeth,
With calmest dreams within each tranquil breast ;
There is a Watchman nigh, who ever keepeth
Joy for their day, and for their night sweet rest.
Mittagong, April 21, 1891.
E. A. Petherick (editor). Songs and Verses by Philip Durham Lorimer: An Australian Bush Poet, William Clowes and Sons, London, 1901, pages 168-173