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Bannerman of the Dandenong

Alice Werner 1859 (Trieste) – 1935 (London)

I rode through the Bush in the burning noon,
  Over the hills to my bride, --
The track was rough and the way was long,
And Bannerman of the Dandenong,
  He rode along by my side.

A day's march off my Beautiful dwelt,
  By the Murray streams in the West; --
Lightly lilting a gay love-song
Rode Bannerman of the Dandenong,
  With a blood-red rose on his breast.

"Red, red rose of the Western streams"
  Was the song he sang that day --
Truest comrade in hour of need, --
Bay Mathinna his peerless steed --
  I had my own good grey.

There fell a spark on the upland grass --
  The dry Bush leapt into flame; --
And I felt my heart go cold as death,
And Bannerman smiled and caught his breath, --
  But I heard him name Her name.

Down the hill-side the fire-floods rushed,
  On the roaring eastern wind; --
Neck and neck was the reckless race, --
Ever the bay mare kept her pace,
  But the grey horse dropped behind.

He turned in the saddle -- "Let's change, I say!"
  And his bridle rein he drew.
He sprang to the ground, -- "Look sharp!" he said
With a backward toss of his curly head --
  "I ride lighter than you!"

Down and up -- it was quickly done --
  No words to waste that day! --
Swift as a swallow she sped along,
The good bay mare from Dandenong, --
  And Bannerman rode the grey.

The hot air scorched like a furnace blast
  From the very mouth of Hell: --
The blue gums caught and blazed on high
Like flaming pillars into the sky; . . .
  The grey horse staggered and fell.

"Ride, ride, lad, -- ride for her sake!" he cried; --
  Into the gulf of flame
Were swept, in less than a breathing space
The laughing eyes, and the comely face,
  And the lips that named HER name.

She bore me bravely, the good bay mare; --
  Stunned, and dizzy and blind,
I heard the sound of a mingling roar --
'Twas the Lachlan River that rushed before,
  And the flames that rolled behind.

Safe -- safe, at Nammoora gate,
  I fell, and lay like a stone.
O love! thine arms were about me then,
Thy warm tears called me to life again, --
  But -- O God! that I came alone! --

We dwell in peace, my beautiful one
  And I, by the streams in the West, --
But oft through the mist of my dreams along
Rides Bannerman of the Dandenong,
  With the blood-red rose on his breast.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Alice Werner

Alice Werner was one of seven children in the family of Reinhardt Joseph Werner of Mainz, teacher of languages, and his wife, Harriett. Werner was a writer, poet and teacher of the Bantu language. more…

All Alice Werner poems | Alice Werner Books

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    "Bannerman of the Dandenong" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 7 May 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/1552/bannerman-of-the-dandenong>.

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