Tuesday, September 20, 2011

52 poems (week 28)


George Essex Evans, a mostly deaf Welshman, was denied the right to join the armed services because of his affliction. So perhaps that's where his sympathies come from in the second last stanza - the feeling of being left behind, of being unrecognised while glory is painted over those who participated in war.

The Women of the West

They left the vine-wreathed cottage and the mansion on the hill,
The houses in the busy streets where life is never still,
The pleasures of the city, and the friends they cherished best:
For love, they faced the wilderness - the Women of the West.


The roar, the rush, and fever of the city died away,
And the old-time joys and faces - they were gone for many a day;
In their place the lurching coach-wheel, or the creaking bullock chains,
O'er the everlasting sameness of the everlasting plains.

In the slab-built, zinc-roofed homestead of some lately taken run,
In the tent beside the bankment of the railway just begun,
In the huts on new selections, in the camps of man’s unrest,
On the frontiers of the Nation, live the Women of the West.

The red sun robs their beauty, and, in weariness and pain,
The slow years steal the nameless grace that never comes again;
And there are hours men cannot soothe, and words men cannot say-
The nearest woman's face may be a hundred miles away

The wide Bush holds the secrets of their longings and desires,
When the white stars in reverence light their holy altar-fires,
And silence, like the touch of God, sinks deep into the breast-
Perchance He hears and understands, the Women of the West.

For them no trumpet sounds the call, no poet plies his arts-
They only hear the beating of their gallant, loving hearts.
But they have sung with silent lives the song all songs above-
The holiness of sacrifice, the dignity of love. 
Well have we held our father's creed. No call has passed us by.
We faced and fought the wilderness, we sent our sons to die.
And we have hearts to do and dare, and yet, o'er all the rest,
The hearts that made the Nation were the Women of the West.


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