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The Golden Yesterday

Roderic Quinn 1867 (Surry Hills, New South Wales) – 1949 (Darlinghurst, New South Wales)

AFTER a spell of chill, grey weather,
(Green, O green, are the feet of Spring!)
The heaven is here of flower and feather,
Of wild red blossom and flashing wing.
Hither of old queer flotsam drifted,
Borne on the breast of an age-old stream
Men and women, with hope uplifted,
Spurred and stirred by a splendid dream.
Hither they quested, the young and eager,
The social misfit, the aged, the banned;
Friends were lacking and fortune meagre,
And here was promise — the Promised Land.
Each had a goal, a star, a beacon
A good-bye smile, or a soft love-trees —
To urge his feet lest his feet should weaken,
Drag and falter with weariness.
Love and honour, and mirth and pity —
The joy that brightens, the gloom that chills
Dwelt at once in the tented city,
Set of old in these watching hills.
The birds aroused them with matin numbers;
The air was scented with waking flowers;
They woke renewed from their starlit slumbers,
They toiled, dream-warmed, through the sunlit hours.
They had their triumphs, their gains, their losses,
Their noons of laughter, their nights of care.
Back on the hills are some rough crosses —
A name . . .a date . . .and, perchance, a prayer.
It seems like a dream that flashed and flitted,
That reigned a moment and passed away,
And only the earth — its kind face pitted
Tells the tale of that old, dead day.
They dug the clay, and they broke the boulders;
They turned the creek, and they washed the mould;
But vain as makers, and vain as moulders,
They lived and wrought in the age of Gold.
They worked and worried, their labour blotching
The land's green surface with scar and pit;
Yet, all around them the hills were watching
Flower-crowned, tree-crested and glory-lit.
Like time-worn sages the green hills waited
Clouds round their foreheads, their hips in grass;
They knew that the man at their feet was fated,
That he and the work of his hands would pass.
A breeze comes down from the highlands, smoothing
The green young wheat, and a bird makes mirth,
And Spring is here, with her soft hands soothing
The ruined rocks and the wounded earth.
The diggers passed: and the last red embers
Of their night-fires they are ashen grey;
But, while hearts beat and the mind remembers,
They shall not fade as a dream away.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Roderic Quinn

Roderic Joseph Quinn was an Australian poet. more…

All Roderic Quinn poems | Roderic Quinn Books

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