The Bells of Condamine

                        By Frank C Francis (1944)

     Bells along the Condamine,
     Sabbath chimes falling
Like solemn benediction from the church of Goombi hill.
     Bells along the Condamine
     Echoing and calling:
'Pomp is less than Charity and Fortune than Goodwill.'

      Sun rays on the Condamine
       Autumn colours showing:
April-green of lucerne and the yellowing of hay.
     Firelies on the melon-vine-
     Fairy-candles glowing
On royal coats of kingfishers who guard the waterway.

     Willows by the Condamine
      Pendant in the shade;
Clover in the hollows and lambs with moon-wide eyes.
     Gums about the Condamine
       And all the wealth of jade:
Beauty proud yet delicate as wings of butterflies.

     Peace beside the Condamine,
     Fruits of labour won:
Time ennobling Age with a grace and dignity;
     Secrets of the mellowed wine
     Passing son to son:
Faith and hope and honour and the will to keep them free.

     Evening bells at Condamine,
     Herds are wending home;
Furrowed fields expectant as the seedlings faintly creep.
     Dusk is on the border line,
     Bees within the comb,
And all the heart of Condamine goes down the tide of sleep.

                                                Frank Francis (1944)
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Soldier's Valediction

I shall not cheer at your triumph for I shall be dead,
Exiled from home and part of an alien soil;
Lost to your sunset's gold and purple and red
And the night's grey foil.

Lost to your cool bright mornings kissing the hills –
Dew on the vivid grass and singing trees;
Lost to the birds' glad music daybreak spills
Through forest sanctuaries.

Lost to the creaking saddle, the champing bit,
The panting bark of a cattle-dog come home,
Lost to the dense green scrub where fantails flit
And whip-birds roam.

Lost to the whispering creeks and foaming falls,
Lost to the valleys in their misted shade,
Lost to the quiet dark where a curlew calls
Like a mourning maid.

I shall not cheer at your triumph for I shall be dead,
Leaving my sons to keep your flag on high,
But wheresoever my mortal dust is sped
There shall echo Australia's battle-cry!

                                 Frank Francis (1944) 
 

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Exhibition Cameo

Sideshow Alley, 1933
Sideshow Alley 1933 (SLQ Neg 23740) 

The music and the laughter simmer down
Like an ebbing tide that slinks into the dark,
As the last bright firework splutters to a spark
And dies: and all the highways of this town
Of Babylon adopt a heavy frown
As lights fade one by one and blackness stark
Descends, to set its cold and Stygian mark
On wooden horse and boat and tinselled gown.
The drooping clown is shorn of quip and jest;
The showman's harsh-drawn, hoarse and throaty shout
Is buried in the quiet of Night's tomb
And weary-eyed King Carnival takes rest…
A disappointed child who stood without
The gilded grounds goes slowly, sadly home.

                                                  Frank Francis (1943)

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Finale

When I have died build me no monument
But let the natural grasses shroud my grave,
With salt winds of the sea to meet the tang
Of gums and oaks and ti-trees where the laugh
of kookaburras echoes. Come not here
with mournful mien and flowers of the dead
But deck the spot with greenness and pass on,
Remembering I loved Australia's skies,
Her little creeks and falls, her singing birds,
Her waving wheatfields, and her high blue hills.
I ask no fame, no poet's panegyric –
I would but live in hearts that knew me best.

                                  Frank Francis (1943)

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