Barwon Ballads

The Australian Sunrise

James L. Cuthbertson

THE MORNING STAR paled slowly, the Cross hung low to the sea,
And down the shadowy reaches the tide came swirling free,
The lustrous purple blackness of the soft Australian night
Waned in the grey awakening that heralded the light;

Still in the dying darkness, still in the forest dim
The pearly dew of the dawning clung to each giant limb,
Till the sun came up from ocean, red with the cold sea mist,
And smote on the limestone ridges, and the shining tree-tops kissed;

Then the fiery Scorpion vanished, the magpie’s note was heard,
And the wind in the sheoak wavered and the honeysuckles stirred;
The airy golden vapour rose from the river breast,
The kingfisher came darting out of his crannied nest,
And the bulrushes and reed-beds put off their sallow grey
And burnt with cloudy crimson at the dawning of the day.

The Cross—The constellation of the Southern Cross, which appears to become lower in the sky towards the morning. Rudyard Kipling has a similar phrase in The Native Born: “And the Cross swings low for the morn.”    [back]

The fiery Scorpion—The brilliant constellation Scorpio. It contains Antares, a star of the first magnitude, which shines with a reddish light.    [back]

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