Australian poet and fiction writer, Dorothea MacKellar was born in Sydney in 1885. She was educated at home and travelled extensively with her parents, becoming fluent in French, Spanish, German and Italian. Privileged and unusual, MacKellar published four volumes of poetry including The Witch Maid, and Other Verses (1914); Dreamharbour (1923); and Fancy Dress (1926). In addition to poetry, Mackellar also wrote novels, one by herself, Outlaw’s Luck (1913), and at least two in collaboration with childhood friend Ruth Bedford. Her poem My Country is perhaps the best known Australian poem. MacKellar was appointed OBE just before she died in 1968. This next poem was read at her funeral service, it’s:
By Dorothea MacKellar
The lovely things that I have watched unthinking,
Unknowing, day by day,
That their soft dyes have steeped my soul in colour
That will not pass away –
Great saffron sunset clouds, and larkspur mountains,
And fenceless miles of plain,
And hillsides golden-green in that unearthly
Clear shining after rain;
And nights of blue and pearl, and long smooth beaches,
Yellow as sunburnt wheat,
Edged with a line of foam that creams and hisses,
Enticing weary feet.
And emeralds, and sunset-hearted opals,
And Asian marble, veined
With scarlet flame, and cool green jade, and moonstones
Misty and azure-stained;
And almond trees in bloom, and oleanders,
Or a wide purple sea,
Of plain-land gorgeous with a lovely poison,
The evil Darling pea.
If I am tired I call on these to help me
To dream-and dawn-lit skies,
Lemon and pink, or faintest, coolest lilac,
Float on my soothed eyes.
There is no night so black but you shine through it,
There is no morn so drear,
O Colour of the World, but I can find you,
Most tender, pure and clear.
Thanks be to God, Who gave this gift of colour,
Which who shall seek shall find;
Thanks be to God, Who gives me strength to hold it,
Though I were stricken blind.