My Country by Dorothea Mackeller

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Sometime before 1908, while on a visit to England, a homesick young Australian woman put her thoughts down on paper in a poem she called ‘Core of My Heart’.  This famous poem (later retitled ‘My Country’) is believed to have been directly inspired by Dorothea Mackellar’s experience of life on the land, and her love of the Allyn River district, NSW.   Source: State Library of NSW

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 ringbarked 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.

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