North Queensland Lullaby

cane fire 

      By Lucille M Quinlan (1931)

Sleep, my birrahlee;1 hush, my soft grey dove!
Misty grows the cane-field, purple the range above.
From the scrub by the lily-swamp, curlews wail –
My birrahlee should never hear that heart-riven tale!

And see across the pale sky, dark shapes swoop-
The flying foxes, leather-winged, the silent troop!
Close your ears, my tender one – in the mango tall
The greedy ones are fighting now with bark and squall!

But now at last the fire-flies, with lights all lit,
From croton-bush to palm tree delicately flit;
They come to light my birra to his white-screened bed,
To make a dancing halo for his innocent head.

Sleep, my birrahlee; hush, my soft grey dove.
I cannot see the cane-field; the range is black above.

                                        Lucille M. Quinlan (1931)

1 Birahlee: a babe in arms. 
 


A Queensland Summer Night

                                    by 'Vileyse' (1883)

There is much beauty in a woodland scene
In England, when the changing leaflets fall;
Or when the fields are covered with a screen
Of gentle snow that spreads its stainless pall
Over the dying year, and tower and wall
Gleam with a glory not their own:— it is
Kind Nature's province to be fair and bright;
Yet never saw I aught more fair than this—
The beauty of a Queensland summer night!

For then the breeze has gently sunk to rest,
And the great moon climbs swiftly up the sky,
The stars are mirrored on the river's breast,
Which, while the city slumbers, ripples by;
The air is soft and mild, a holy fear
Steals o'er my senses in this southern sphere,
Orion's belt gleams like a fiery boss
Set in the shield of heaven, and, less clear,
But mild and radiant, shines the Southern Cross.

There is an influence in the very air,
That is a stranger to our colder climes,
And makes me think of all things good and fair,
And dream of days gone by, and other times;
As, when in England, far-off village chimes
Steal on the ears of world-tossed weary men,
Who, hearing, pause, and all their early life,
And childhood's days, come back to them again,
And for a space they banish care and strife.

                                      'Vileyse' The Queenslander, 10 March 1883, p369

Compare this poem, to 'Queensland Night', published 60 years later. 
 

Redcliffe, Humpy Bong.

                             By  'Villeyse', (1883)

THERE is a long low strip of yellow sand 
Bound with a bracelet by the bounteous sea,

 


Of shining shells formed by some fairy hand,
And here the waves come tumbling bright and free, 
And on the left a rugged promontory:—
Unshaken by the seething surge's shocks, 
Here luscious oysters lurk among the rocks. 


The bay is bounded by a belt of trees,
That cluster at the cliff's capricious base 
Purple with prickly pears; a blessed breeze
Blows from the brine and cools the sun's fierce rays.
In such a spot, methinks, in other days
The syrens sat and sang as from the wave 
They lured the spell-bound mariner to his grave.

Yes, I can see them now with waving hair, 
Gazing with pensive eyes far out to sea; 
Never were mortal maidens seen so fair; 
Singing in sad, strange, sweet monotony
A song set to no mortal minstrelsy; 
And out at sea Ulysses and his men, 
And god-like Orpheus singing back again.

Alone of all men these escaped their wiles,
So runs the ancient story; since that time
How many have been wrecked by woman's smiles,
In every age, in every land and clime !
But these are subjects foreign to this rhyme, 
So, with a lingering look at that fair place,
I bid adieu to Redcliff for a space.

                                     'Vileyse' (The Queenslander, 28 April 1883, p649)