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:: Did you Know?
A Basket of Flowers was written on a valentine card for the children of John Riddoch to give to their aunt, Miss Mary Lord.  The poem was not commenced when Gordon set our on his journey from Yallum Park (SA) to Casterton (Vic).  The story goes that when he rested under a tree, as he did occasionally, for it was very hot, he would write our a verse that he had composed and by the time he reached his destination, the poem was complete.

A Basket of Flowers

From Dawn to Dusk

 

DAWN

 

ON skies still and starlit

White lustres take hold,

And grey flushes scarlet,

And red flashes gold.

 

And sun-glories cover

The rose, shed above her,

Like lover and lover

They flame and unfold.

 

.   .   .   .   .   .   .

 

Still bloom in the garden

Green grass-plot, fresh lawn,

Though pasture lands harden

And drought fissures yawn.

While leaves not a few fall,

Let rose-leaves for you fall

Leaves pearl-strung with dew-fall,

And gold shot with dawn.

 

Does the grass-plot remember

The fall of your feet

In Autumn's red ember

When drought leagues with heat,

When the last of the roses

Despairingly closes

In the lull that reposes

Ere storm winds wax fleet ?

 

Love's melodies languish

In 'Chastelard's' strain,

And 'Abelard's' anguish

Is love's pleasant pain !

And 'Sappho' rehearses

Love's blessings and curses

In passionate verses

Again and again.

 

And I !—I have heard of

All these long ago,

Yet never one word of

Their song-lore I know ;

Not under my finger

In songs of the singer

Love's litanies linger,

Love's rhapsodies flow.

 

Fresh flowers in a basket—

An offering to you—

Though you did not ask it,

Unbidden I strew ;

With heat and drought striving

Some blossoms still living

May render thanksgiving

For dawn and for dew.

 

The garlands I gather,

The rhymes I string fast,

Are hurriedly rather

Then heedlessly cast.

Yon tree's shady awning

Is short'ning, and warning,

Far spent is the morning,

And I must ride fast.

 

Songs empty, yet airy,

I've striven to write,

For failure, dear Mary !

Forgive me—Good-night !

Songs and flowers may beset you,

I can only regret you,

While the soil where I met you

Recedes from my sight.

 

For the sake of past hours,

For the love of old times,

Take 'A Basket of Flowers,'

And a bundle of rhymes ;

Though all the bloom perish

E'en your hand can cherish,

While churlish and bearish

The verse-jingle chimes.

 

And Eastward by Nor'ward

Looms sadly my track,

And I must ride forward,

And still I look back,—

Look back—Ah, how vainly !

For while I see plainly,

My hands on the reins lie

Uncertain and slack.

 

The warm wind breathes strong breath,

The dust dims mine eye,

And I draw one long breath,

And stifle one sigh.

Green slopes softly shaded,

Have flitted and faded—

My dreams flit as they did—

Good-night !—and—Good-bye !

 

.   .   .   .   .   .   .

 

DUSK

 

Lost rose ! end my story !

Dead core and dry husk—

Departed thy glory

And tainted thy musk.

Night spreads her dark limbs on

The face of the dim sun,

So flame fades to crimson

And crimson to dusk.

 

Published in 'Bush Ballads and Galloping Rhymes' (1870).