[Editor: This famous poem by Dorothea Mackellar was first published in The Spectator (London, UK) on 5 September 1908; it was originally entitled “Core of My Heart”, although it was later re-titled as “My Country”. The poem was published in some newspapers in 1908-1909 as “Core of My Heart — My Country”, and in 1910 as “My Country”. It was included in Dorothea Mackellar’s first book of poetry, The Closed Door and Other Verses (1911), under the title of “My Country”. The poem below was sourced from The Register (Adelaide, SA), 24 October 1908.]
Core of My Heart.
[By Dorothea Mackellar, in The Spectator.]
The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes,
Of ordered woods and gardens,
Is running in your veins —
Strong love of grey-blue distance,
Brown streams and soft, dim skies …
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.
I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel sea,
Her beauty and her terror —
The wide brown land for me!
The stark white ring-barked forests
All tragic ’neath the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon —
Green tangle of the brushes
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the treetops,
And ferns the crimson soil.
Core of my heart, my country —
Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us
We see the cattle die …
And then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain.
Core of my heart, my country,
Land of the rainbow gold —
For flood and fire and famine
She pays us back three-fold …
Over the thirsty paddocks
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as you gaze …
An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land —
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand …
Though Earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.
The Register (Adelaide, SA), 24 October 1908, p. 13
Originally published in:
The Spectator (London, UK), 5 September 1908, p. 329 (17th page of that issue)
Also published in:
The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (Sydney, NSW), 21 October 1908, p. 1056 (entitled “Core of My Heart”)
The Sydney Stock & Station Journal (Sydney, NSW), 20 November 1908, p. 2 (entitled “Core of My Heart”) (“One of the best poems about Australia that has ever been written … it would make a grand National Anthem for Australia”)
The Hillston Spectator and Lachlan River Advertiser (Hillston, NSW), 27 November 1908, p. 2 (entitled “Core of My Heart”)
The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld.), 28 November 1908, p. 8 (entitled “Core of My Heart — My Country!”)
The Herald (Adelaide, SA), 5 December 1908, p. 14 (entitled “Core of My Heart”)
The Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW), 20 December 1908, p. 21 (Second Edition) (entitled “Core of My Heart”)
The Wollondilly Press (Bowral, NSW), 30 December 1908, p. 1 (entitled “Core of My Heart — My Country”) (“This beautiful appreciation of Australia by one of her gifted daughters”)
The Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas.), 9 January 1909, p. 4 (entitled “Core of My Heart — My Country!”)
The Freeman’s Journal (Sydney, NSW), 4 February 1909, p. 31 (entitled “Core of My Heart — My Country!”)
The Fitzroy City Press (Fitzroy, Vic.), 26 February 1909, p. 4 (entitled “Core of My Heart”) (included some errors)
The Pastoralists’ Review (Melbourne, Vic.), 15 March 1909, p. 59 (entitled “Australia — Core of My Heart”)
The Leader (Melbourne, Vic.), 11 June 1910, p. 46 (entitled “My Country”)
The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Qld.), 16 June 1910, p. 8 (entitled “My Country”)
Dorothea Mackellar, The Closed Door and Other Verses, Melbourne: Australasian Authors’ Agency, 1911, pp. 9-11
The New Australian School Series Fifth Reader (revised edition), Sydney: William Brooks & Co., [undated, 1919?], pp. 217-218 (item 50)
The Victorian Readers Sixth Book (first edition), Melbourne: H. J. Green, Government Printer, 1929, pp. 1-3
Western Australian Reader: Book VI. (revised edition), [Perth? (WA)]: The Education Department, Western Australia, 1948, pp. 295-296
W. Foster and H. Bryant (editors), Selected Poems for Australian Schools: Junior Secondary Classes (new and enlarged edition), Sydney: The Land Printing House (printers), [undated, 1960s?], pp. 117-118 (item 86)
Note: This is not an exhaustive list, as Dorothea Mackellar’s “My Country” has been published in hundreds of Australian newspapers and books.
Updated 19 June 2021
A Nemaric says
Sixty years after I first was taught this poem, I find myself reading it again. It is so prescient, and so powerful, and truly defines my country. Australia has produced some absolutely amazing women like Jeannie Gunn and Daisy Bates, and Dorothea Mackellar is right up there. A wondrous, marvellous star.
David Wilkinson says
The first poem I memorised, and yet I still break up on that line “I love a sunburnt country” every time I deliver it, even to myself. Thank you Dorothea Mackellar.
Jim McCrudden says
Same here. When we went on drives I would teach my kids.
It’s such an honest poem – “When sick at heart, around us we see the cattle die.”
And you can have all the sapphire-misted mountains you could want if you drive the road to Narooma.
BTW I was born in Belfast, left Ireland when 8 y.o.