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Dorothea McKellar. Image care of Wikimedia Commons.

Now here’s a question for you all: how many of you have spent time “down under”? Australians in the crowd, do give us a shout, as this week dVerse is serving up a special brew from your fair corner of the world – a little poem by one Dorothea McKellar.

Both a poet and a novelist, McKellar was a soul truly in love with the land of her birth. It is only fitting, then, that while abroad with her father in England at the age of just 19, her poet’s mind turned to dreams, and those dreams carried back across the seas, to that land she’d left behind. What came of this homesickness was a romantic work – a somewhat idealized piece, it’s true, but a nevertheless entrancing piece stitched with yearning. Originally published under the name “Core of My Heart” in a 1908 edition of London’s Spectator magazine, later versions would give this poem the simpler title of “My Country.”

~Chris Galford

And a fine P.S.: I try to keep this self-advertising stuff to a minimum, but once you’ve had a read-through of “My Country” and shared your thoughts, I’d also extend a warm invitation to any fantasy fans among you to swing on by my own home at “The Waking Den,” where I’ve got a big announcement – one that’s been a long time coming.

Cheers, fellow lovers of the poetic!

My Country

The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes,
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins.
Strong love of grey-blue distance,
Brown streams and soft, dim skies –
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!

The stark white ring-barked forests,
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon,
Green tangle of the brushes
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops,
And ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When, sick at heart, around us
We see the cattle die –
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the rainbow gold,
For flood and fire and famine
She pays us back threefold.
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze.

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land –
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand –
Though earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.

~Dorothea McKellar