Verse > Anthologies > Walter Murdoch, comp. > The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse
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Walter Murdoch (1874–1970).  The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse.  1918.
 
116. In the Moonlight
 
By David McKee Wright
 
 
THE MOON is bright, and the winds are laid, and the river is roaring by;
Orion swings, with his belted lights low down in the western sky;
North and south from the mountain gorge to the heart of the silver plain
There’s many an eye will see no sleep till the east grows bright again;
There’s many a hand will toil to-night, from the centre down to the sea;        5
And I’m far from the men I used to know—and my love is far from me.
 
Where the broad flood eddies the dredge is moored to the beach of shingle white,
And the straining cable whips the stream in a spray of silver light;
The groaning buckets bear their load, and the engine throbs away,
And the wash pours red on the turning screen that knows not night or day;        10
For there’s many an ounce of gold to save, from the gorge to the shining sea—
And there’s many a league of the bare brown hills between my love and me.
 
Where the lines of gorse are parched and dry, and the sheaves are small and thin,
The engine beats and the combine sings to the drays that are leading in,
For they’re thrashing out of the stook to-night, and the plain is as bright as day,        15
And the fork-tines flash as the sheaves are turned on the frame of the one-horse dray;
For many a hand will toil to-night, from the mountains down to the sea;—
But I’m far from the lips of the girl I love, and the heart that beats for me.
 
The trappers are out on the hills to-night, and the sickly lantern-shine
Is mocking the gleam of the silver moon in the scrub on the long trap-line;        20
The tallies are big on the rock-strewn spur, and the rattling clink of the chain
Comes weirdly mixed from the moon-bright hill with the whistling shriek of pain;
For many a hand will toil to-night where the tussocks are waving free;—
But it’s over the hills and over the plain to the heart that beats for me.
 
The stars are bright, and the night is still, and the river is singing by,        25
And many a face is upward turned to gaze at the moon’s bright eye.
North and south, from the forest deeps to the heart of the silver plain,
There’s many an eye will see no sleep till the east grows bright again;
There’s many a hand will toil to-night by shining land and sea.
O moonlight, bear my message of love to the heart that beats for me.        30
 

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