Top 20 Most Popular Poems of John Le Gay Brereton

These are the top twenty (20) most popular poems of John Le Gay Brereton.

From Winter to Twenty-One.

If you want to know his greatest poems of all time, then this poetry collection is for you.

Keep reading!


When winter chills your aged bones
As by the fire you sit and nod,
You’ll hear a passing wind that moans,
And think of one beneath the sod.

You’ll feebly sleek your hair of grey,
And mutter words that none may know,
And dream you touch the sodden clay
That laps the dream of long ago.

The shrinking ash may fall apart
And show a gleam that lingers yet.
A moment in your cooling heart
May shine a sparkle of regret.

And where the pit is chill and deep,
And bones are mouldering in the clay,
A thrill of buried love will creep
And shudder aimlessly away.

John Le Gay Brereton


Spring, and the wispy clouds that fade away
And draw the ecstatic soul in pain to aspire
In maddening flight through heaven’s thin flood of fire
To melt in rapture at the heart of day,
The powers of the world that promise and betray
Have dragged me from you in their icy ire
And set me spinning at their loom, for hire,
The shroud in which my senses must decay.
For hire I give myself, and cannot tell
If the blind force that flings me in the chest
Have power or will to pay the bargained price,
Yet for a word of love I gladly quell
The quivering hope of not inactive rest
And very humbly make my sacrifice.

John Le Gay Brereton

The Child Impaled

Beside the path, on either hand,
To keep the garden beds,
The rusted iron pickets stand
Thin shafts and pointed heads.

And straight my spirit swooping goes
Across the waves of time
Till I’m a little boy who knows
A fence is made to climb;

And bed and lawn and gloomy space
By thicket overgrown
Are wonderlands where I may trace
The beckoning Unknown.

But O the cruelty that strikes
My elder heart with dread
The writhing form upon the spikes,
The trickled pool of red!

So, every day I pass and see
The fence the urchin scales,
The little boy stands up in me
To curse the iron rails.

John Le Gay Brereton

Love Is Blind

And can you tell me Love is blind
Because your faults he will not find,
Because the image that he sees
Is one of splendid mysteries?
And if he lack the power to look
On what he will, as on a book,
And read therein the heart of it,
Why are his ways with wonder lit?
Why think you he should bind his eyes
And hide the many-tinted skies,
But that he sees too well to trust
The shadows on an orb of dust?
For he hath vision keener far
Than poring Thought’s and Fancy’s are
An inward vision, full and clear
When night has flung her mantle sheer
Across the world we stumble through
In search of Truth’s evasive clue.
He looks, and straight there fall away
The flutt’ring rags of your array,
The far-fet gem, th’ indecent drape,
The pads that mar the perfect shape,
And naked to his reverent view
Is beauty’s self, essential you.

John Le Gay Brereton

An Epitaph

On a monument formed as a curving wave

By ceaseless waves, that break and waste,
All human record is effaced:
Only our love in brief defence
Shall hold the billow in suspense.

John Le Gay Brereton

The Touch Of Time

Time, who with soft pale ashes veils the brand
Of many a hope that flared against the sky
To plant its heaven-storming banners high,
Has touched you with no desecrating hand;
Your beauty wins a ripeness sweet and bland
As opulent summer, and your glancing eye
Glows with a deeper lustre, and your sigh
Of love is still my clamouring heart’s command.

Yet what if all your fairness were defaced,
Wilted by passionate whirlwinds, battle-scarred,
Your skin of delicate satin hard and dry?
Still you would be the laughing girl who graced
A gloomy manhood, by forebodings marred,
In the deep wood where still we love to lie.

John Le Gay Brereton


A golden largesse from a store untold
Announced the ruddy day’s imperial birth,
And woke a loyal world to jubilant mirth
And hopes that boasted, madly over-bold.
Shadow and thunder from a dull cloud rolled,
A shiver chilled the lately glittering firth,
As gloom set heavy hand upon the earth;
Yet look, on westward hills a gleam of gold.
You have laughed and bidden us laugh, O lord of jest;
You have wept and given us grief, O lonely friend;
And now we sit with silent lips and white,
And dream what craggy ways thou wanderest,
Not finding yet of hope or strife an end,
O soul set free from bondage of the night.

John Le Gay Brereton

Buffalo Creek

A timid child with heart oppressed
By images of sin,
I slunk into the bush for rest,
And found my fairy kin.

The fire I carried kept me warm:
The friendly air was chill.
The laggards of the lowing storm
Trailed gloom along the hill.

I watched the crawling monsters melt
And saw their shadows wane
As on my satin skin I felt
The fingers of the rain.

The sunlight was a golden beer,
I drank a magic draught;
The sky was clear and, void of fear,
I stood erect and laughed.

And sudden laughter, idly free,
About me trilled and rang,
And love was shed from every tree,
And little bushes sang.

The bay of conscience’ bloody hound
That tears the world apart
Has never drowned the silent sound
Within my happy heart.

John Le Gay Brereton

The Faun

When I was but a little boy
Who hunted in the wood
To scare or mangle or destroy
A freakish elemental joy
That tasted life and found it good

I hardly heard the awful ban
That mutters round the free,
But followed where the waters ran,
And wondered when the pipe of Pan
Shook silence with its minstrelsy.

Where sun-spray glittered on my limbs
I danced, and laughed, and trilled
My happy incoherent hymns,
Sped only by the whirling whims
With which my eager heart was filled.

The wind was glad and so was I;
My soul lay open wide,
Reflecting all the starry sky;
The swallows called to me to fly;
I dreamed of how the fishes glide.

But while my errant feet were set
On mosses cool and sweet,
The great grey phantoms brooding met
Within the shades, and cast a net
With dreary charms about my feet.

They pent me in a barren place,
A city, so they said,
Of gallant wonder-working grace
But haunted, haunted by a race
Of rigid unperceptive dead.

With sightless eyes they pored on books,
And scrawled on many a sheet
Their regimental strokes and hooks,
And stalked about with pompous looks,
Top-hatted, in the civil street.

I strove to flee, but everywhere
Met solid-seeming walls;
And yet I knew the world was fair,
And, hearkening well, heard, even there,
A bird and distant waterfalls.

And love which I had scarcely known
Leaped upward as I heard;
I blessed the creek, the mossy stone,
The fern along the gully strown,
The little beasts, the piping bird.

Could walls o’ermaster one who knew
The world of outer light?
The very shadow that they threw
Was tindured with a deeper blue
Because the quickening sun was bright.

I laughed aloud, as one who leaps
Against a curling wave,
And, as a widening ripple creeps,
A shudder caught the stony steeps,
And life shook, laughing, in the grave.

“O phantoms, who are you to fix
Eternal towers of pride?”
I mocked at their fantastic tricks,
I thrust my fingers through the bricks
And felt the flowers the other side.

I pricked my pointed ears to hear
The love-song of the bird,
And dear was every note, and dear
The myriad sounds that echoed near
The magically chorus’d word.

I saw the fading phantoms glare;
Their tones to silence hissed.
The walls bulged, brightening everywhere,
And thinned and melted in the air
To ragged streams of rosy mist.

Trill, happy bird, for ever trill,
For I have learned to bless
The great grey shades whose thwarted will
Turned earth to heaven; and I am still
A dweller in the wilderness

John Le Gay Brereton


The heart is hard that cannot feel
The bruising of a light appeal.

The heart is deaf that cannot hear
The splashing of a tiny tear.

The heart is dumb that cannot say
“God speed you, comrades,” night and day.

The heart is blind that cannot see
The beckoning soul of mystery.

The heart is lame that cannot rise
From clamouring earth to silent skies.

And O that heart were better dead
That truckles to the prudent head

John Le Gay Brereton


O Merlin, how the magic from your eyes
Bids the world flame about your idle feet,
And makes a marvel of the humming street,
The watchful bush, the starry-haunted skies!
Dear, do you know that all such magic dies
In foolish hearts that regularly beat?
Blinded with dust, the elders in retreat
Shake their thin locks to prove that they are wise.
God help them in their tameness: you are wild.
Hold fast your faith, for love has mightier spells
Than yet your mouth has chattered, sung or laughed;
Be drunk still with th’ enchanted wine you’ve quaffed.
Awe spreads her wings above the hut where dwells,
Rapt in his glow of gramarye, the child.

John Le Gay Brereton

The Domain

The bulging cloud mounts lazily
In shade where sunlight glances through,
And sweeping lightly from the tree
Melts indolently in the blue.

The scanty grass-blades yonder shake,
A tremulous flurry takes the smoke,
And ancient memories start awake
At pungent scent of fig and oak.

For here of old an urchin strayed
And gloomed in lonely pride the while,
An outlaw in a forest glade
Or pirate on a tropic isle.

Here where a staid policeman strolls
Ned Kelly in his armour stood,
And underneath the roadway rolls
The river of the Haunted Wood.

And yonder, couched in phantom fern,
Not far from Nelson’s rolling ship,
I spied the antler’d head of Herne
And saw the startled rabbit skip.

And Will Wing shook in desperate strife
Defiantly his bloody hand,
And heard the waves of daily life
Drone on the reef-ring, far from land.

Not Robin, clad in verdant baize,
Nor Britain’s silver-plated king,
Was master of the winning ways
That drew me to the flag of Wing.

He sauntered on the southern isle
In garments of eccentric cut,
And, with his grim sardonic smile,
Would masticate his coco-nut.

Within his cave, upon a heap
Of Spanish coin and rubies red,
I’ve seen him lying half-asleep
And dreaming of the blood he’d shed.

The gold-dust, spilled about the ground,
Made common dirt a treasure rare,
And if you fingered it you found
The flashing jewels buried there.

The seabird, sweeping free and far
On wings of wonder, will not see
That green isle and its coral bar,
That corsair and his mystery.

As when a lump of sugar shrinks,
When coffee waves about it glide,
Crumbles and topples, melts and sinks,
And mingles with the sombre tide,

So is the islet vanished; yet
As now I gulp a bitter draught
The sweetness lingers. Up, and set
The canvas of the rakish craft!

John Le Gay Brereton


Eternal cold of silence, where each sound
Dies in its birth, and Death’s pale henchmen meet
With soft Lethean traps unwary feet
Or ride with hell’s white steed and slavering hound;
Which of us, searching selfward, has not found
This desolate realm, and long black seams, that greet
Our souls with recollections of defeat,
And torrid fossils in the frozen ground?
Not he, who comes among us as a king;
Strange were the secret waste and granite walls
To him whose reverent feet have travelled far
Where duty beckons and adventure calls.
He steers his course, by one red tropic star,
Where ripples the green robe of the lilting spring.

John Le Gay Brereton

The Nepean

Far down the reach a creeping mist
Hung dim along the mountain side;
On shadowed water, sleek and whist,
I let the lazy shallop glide.

The ripple scarcely cut the green
That edged the central path of grey.
I drew the oars, and, all unseen,
Gave reverent greeting to the day.

Naked I stood with arms outspread
That opened wide the gates of dream;
Then breathless bent my wondering head
And sprang to meet the silent stream.

I slid and floated like a seal,
And bade my senses revel free,
From cheek to footsole I could feel
Her soft cool hands caressing me.

A noise of tiny wavelets woke,
I quenched my drouth with delicate sips,
And, as I drank, the surface broke
In eager kisses on my lips.

The scented breath of morning turned
To incense as toward the west
At last, rock-altar’d, I discerned
The sunshine on the mountain crest.

That light of blessing from the sky
Made us the fuel of its blaze,
And fragrant bush and stream and I
Were one aspiring cry of praise.

John Le Gay Brereton



The beast exultant spreads the nostril wide,
Snuffing a sickly hate-enkindling scent;
Proud of his rage, on sudden carnage bent,
He leaps, and flings the helpless guard aside.
Again, again the hills are gapped and dyed,
Again the hearts of waiting women spent.
Is there no cooler pathway to content?
Can we not heal the insanity of pride?

Silence the crackle and thunder of battling guns,
And drive your men to strategy of peace;
Crush ere its birth the hell-begotten crime;
Still there’s a war that no true warrior shuns,
That knows no mercy, looks for no surcease,
But ghastlier battles, victories more sublime.


Envy has slid in silence to its hole,
And Peace is basking where the workers meet,
And fire has purged the fever of the street
Where raucous tradesmen grinned and gave and stole.
Yet louder now the tides of battle roll,
With cheer or sob of charge or stern retreat,
And sullen thud and rumble of cannon beat
About the heights and passes of the soul.

Not only that amid the hush we hear
The sounds that once were blurred by market cries,
Or classes wrangling in affairs of state:
But forces now set free from sordid fear
No longer work as Mammon’s murdering spies,
But storm the very citadels of hate.

John Le Gay Brereton


A singing voice is in my dream
The voice of Erskine, on his boulders,
Babbling and shouting till he shoulders
Stoutly against the heavier stream.

No longer now my curtained sight,
On serried books and pictures dwelling,
Of long-neglected work is telling,
But looks beyond the travelling night.

And here no longer is my home,
For you and I are far asunder:
I hear again the cascade thunder
And watch the little pool of foam.

And where the water, pouring sleek,
In sudden whiteness flings his treasure,
I see you sitting, Queen of Pleasure,
Clad only by the glittering creek.

I hold my arms to you once more,
For O my longing flesh is aching,
And you, your rocky throne forsaking,
Come cool and radiant to the shore.

I see my girl of girls recline
On smooth rock sloping to the water;
Then savagely have leapt and caught her,
And limpid eyes look up at mine.

Love, Love, O Love, the embracing sun,
The trees, the creek, the earth our mother,
Who made that hour, give such another,
And make us—see us—know us one.

John Le Gay Brereton


The spell of Shakespeare fills the heart
With earthly music loud and low;
But Marlowe drives the clouds apart,
And through their thundering rifts we go.

By John Le Gay Brereton


He, born of my girlhood, is dead, while my life is yet young in my heart
Ere the breasts where his baby lips fed have forgotten their softness, we part.
We part. He was mine, he was here, though he travelled by land and by sea,
My son who could trample on fear, my babe who was moulded in me.
As I sat in the darkness, it seemed I could still feel his touch on my head;
He came in the night as I dreamed, and he knelt at the side of my bed;
He murmured the words I had taught when his lips were the lips of a child,
Ere the strength of his arm had been bought and the love that upheld him defiled;
Then my faltering spirit grew bold, and my heart had forgotten its drouth,
And I crooned little songs as of old, till I woke at his kiss on my mouth.
Now waking and sleeping are pain. Nevermore will he kiss, nevermore
Shall I hear his low whistle again at the gate, or his step on the floor,
For to-night he was here while I slept, and this is the end of it all.
Now that welter of darkness has swept us apart, can he come if I call?
Can he come, little chap with the eyes that brought light out of heaven to earth?
Can he come, though the soul of me cries for the joy that I bought by his birth?
I can see but the horror that bids the heart of the mother despair,
The vision that burns on my lids, the face that will always be there,
For he holds out his hands to me, red, and his eyes tell the truth as he stands.
He is dead. He is dead. He is dead. He is dead, with the blood on his hands.

John Le Gay Brereton


While the summer day is hot
You and I will loaf awhile,
Lolling in a leafy spot,
Lali of the cunning smile.

You and I have little care
How the “precious moments” pass
While we snuff the drowsy air
Rich in fragrance of the grass.

Stupid people boom or squeal
Lessons drawn from daily strife;
“Time,” they cry, “is on the wheel;
Death puts out the gas of life.

Imitate the prudent ant,
Labour like the busy bee.”
O the everlasting cant!
Loafing’s good for you and me.

Here we watch the ants that haul
Loads by weary jungle ways!
If they like it, let them crawl
Laden through the heavy blaze.

We’ve no time for moral tags;
We can hear a sleepy sound
With his yellow tucker-bags
Brother Bee is bumming round.

Little souls are vexed to see
How their hours of toil decrease:
Floating dreams for you and me,
Lazy joy in starry peace.

John Le Gay Brereton


The world, all busy round us here of late,
Is still unchanged: but you are twenty-one.
The mind, victorious with the rising sun,
Steps boldly and blithely through the imagined gate
On greener grass where brighter flowers await
The quickened senses and the waters run
With livelier music, and a web is spun
Of loveliest pattern on the loom of fate.
Doubt nothing, fare right on with manly trust,
And know, whatever failures be in store,
Though all your light seem shimmering blinding haze,
And flowers and grass fly up in choking dust,
Better than you can fancy waits before
For those who find the secret of the maze.

John Le Gay Brereton

John Le Gay Brereton’s work was engaging and sensitive. No wonder the best of his verse gave him a guaranteed place among Australian poets. All of his poems are truly exceptional!

Well, of course, I wouldn’t miss reading my most favorite work of his―Love Is Blind. I’m impressed by how accurate this poem describes a person can be unliterally blind when in love with someone.

What about you? What’s your most favorite poem of John Le Gay Brereton?

Do you still want to add another of his poem to this list? Let me know in the comment section below! 😉


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