The Women of the West

The Women of the West
A poem by George Essex Evans

They left the vine-wreathed cottage and the mansion on the hill
The houses in the busy streets where life is never still
The pleasures of the city, and the friends they cherished best
For love they faced the wilderness-the Women of the West

The roar, and rush, and fever of the city died away
And the old-time joys and faces-they were gone for many a day
In their place the lurching coach-wheel, or the creaking bullock chains
O'er the everlasting sameness of the never-ending plains

In the slab-built, zinc-roofed homestead of some lately-taken run
In the tent beside the bankment of a railway just begun
In the huts on new selections, in the camps of man's unrest
On the frontiers of the Nation, live the Women of the West

The red sun robs their beauty, and, in weariness and pain
The slow years steal the nameless grace that never comes again
And there are hours men cannot soothe, and words men cannot say
The nearest woman's face may be a hundred miles away

The wide Bush holds the secrets of their longings and desires
When the white stars in reverence light their holy altar-fires
And silence, like the touch of God, sinks deep into the breast
Perchance He hears and understands the Women of the West

For them no trumpet sounds the call, no poet plies his arts
They only hear the beating of their gallant, loving hearts
But they have sung with silent lives the song all songs above
The holiness of sacrifice, the dignity of love

Well have we held our fathers' creed. No call has passed us by
We faced and fought the wilderness, we sent our sons to die
And we have hearts to do and dare, and yet o'er all the rest
The hearts that made the Nation were the Women of the West


Published in The Argus, 7 September 1901

Poetry Collections
The Repentance of Magdalene Despar and Other Poems, 1891
Loraine and other Verses, 1898
The Sword of Pain, 1905
The Secret Key and Other Verses, 1906
The Collected Verse of G. Essex Evans, 1928

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