Dorothea Mackellar

The Coorong Sandhills

(South Australia)

Over the Coorong sandhills only the wild duck fly,
Naught is there but the knot-grass rank, and the sea, and the sky;
Redder than cooling lava, slow heave the hills to the blue,
Splendid, dazzling, and stainless, of sky and of ocean too.
South to the frozen mountains faces the last red hill,
Only the sea between them; almost as lone and still
Shows the sand as the ice-peaks, but it has heat and light,
Set against the aurora that shatters the polar night.
If the sands have a language, healing it is and kind,
Clean and strong like the sea-roar or the glad shout of the wind;

If you but face them bravely, lost in a barren land,
Never will they betray you, the sky and the sea and sand.
Blue burns the sky above me, red the sand at my feet,
Near and far on the sandhills shimmers the living heat;
Hill after hill I conquer, changing yet still the same,
Still flows the sand together and covers the way I came.
Stretched in a warm sand-hollow late in the afternoon
Watch I the wild duck flying back to the long lagoon;
Black on an amber sunset passes the last of the flight—
Over the Coorong sandhills quiver the pinions of night.