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Dorothea Mackellar

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Dorothea Mackellar
• My Country

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Dorothea Mackellar
Born 1885 in Sydney, NSW into a prosperous and notable family, Dorothea Mackellar received a private education before attending Sydney university. After her studies she travelled widely in Australia and abroad. 'My Country', which she wrote at the age of nineteen, was published in 1908, It appeared in the London Spectator entitled 'Core of My Heart'. The poem was revised for her first book of poetry The Closed Door (1911). Although she has written three other works of poetry and three novels, The Little Blue Devil (1914) and Two's Company (1914) in collaboration with Ruth Bedford and Outlaw's Luck (1913) as sole author.
Copyright constraints in Australia normally allow free use of works published during the lifetime of the author only after fifty years have expired since the author's death. Different rules hold in the USA, and copyright can exist in such materials until 75 years after the death of the author. Re-edited works (i.e. works with textual amendment) gain independent copyright protection dating from the publication of the re-edited version.

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 the 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...

The 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 Mackellar
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Other Takes on My Country

Over the years there have been other takes on this popular Dorothea Mackellar poem My Country, including:
  A sunburnt country - by B.J. Purdie

'I love a sunburnt country' - so that poem began
'Of sweeping plains, etc' - on and on it ran.
The author came from Sydney, that's what I read somewhere
and I wonder if that matters, or if I even care.

She loves a sunburnt country, have you ever heard such rot,
With grass that's black and brittle, cows about to drop
Paddocks bare and empty, waiting for the rain.
A man should quit the bloody joint - if he had just half a brain.

The country towns are dying - the people moving out
All the pubs are going broke as blokes avoid the shout
Pollies say they're helping - in voices smooth and kind
And when they meet in Brisbane they scrap our railway line

The wife, she left four years ago - she said I must be mad.
And thanked me for the wasted years and for the things she never had
Things others take for granted ... like water, clothes and rain
And said I should get out myself before the bailiffs came.

I wonder, does it matter - perhaps I should give thanks
I'll just pack the port, lock the doors and give this to the banks
Finish with the wasted years and move east to the coast
Get the dole, wet a line and then to all I'll boast
'I love a sunburnt country…'
  Published in the World of English Book 4 by Salder and Hayllar
Was also once on the Lifeline website linked from the Rural Services to the Lifeline Poem.
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Dorothea Mackellar - Other links

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