Core of My Heart [“My Country”, poem by Dorothea Mackellar, 24 October 1908]

[Editor: This famous poem by Dorothea Mackellar was originally entitled “Core of My Heart”, although it was later re-titled as “My Country”. Published in The Register (Adelaide, SA), 24 October 1908; it was first published in The Spectator (London, UK), 5 September 1908. “My Country” was included in Dorothea Mackellar’s first book of poetry, The Closed Door and Other Verses (1911).]

Dorothea Mackellar’s poem, “Core of My Heart”, The Spectator, 5 September 1908, p. 329 (17th page of that issue)

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 front cover of Dorothea Mackellar’s book, The Closed Door and Other Verses, 1911

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:
Dorothea Mackellar, The Closed Door and Other Verses, Melbourne: Australasian Authors’ Agency, 1911, pp. 9-11


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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