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Lola Ridge

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The Half-Breed

Through the Heads in the blue heat-haze,
    See the hulls of the schooners glide –
    Long white trails on the cloven tide –
Steering in to the gleaming bays.

Flecked with flame till they seem as one;
    Domes and steeples and glistening spires
    Cleave the smoke of a million fires,
Kissing warm in the dawning sun.

Crowds that sever and surge and meet,
    Crowds that clamor and sound along –
    Like the lilt of a blind man’s song,
Falls the tread of their drifting feet.

Up the Strand where the white girls go,
    Down the lanes where the half-breeds play –
    White and yellow, yellow and grey –
One there creeps like a shade of woe;

City, see where the Half-Breed stands –
    Vain the guns at your Harbor Mouth!
    Spawn o’ the East and the hot, red South
Holds your heart in her unclean hands.

Foetid, foul, to the sweet-breathed sea,
    Blows the blast from her burning lips,
    Floating out to the anchored ships,
Drifting down on the winding Quay.

Sears the kiss of her loathsome mouth –
    Spreads the blight of her poisoned veins,
    Gorged and full with the blood she drains –
Ah, the blood of the fresh young South!



‘The Half-Breed,’ Bulletin 26 Aug 1904: 3. NSW.
See also Verses 1905: 69-70.

Last updated 28 May, 2013