I have an ancient tattered looking book of Australian poetry called The Wide Brown Land, first published in 1934, with my edition being published in 1959. The paper has got to that deliciously yellowed stage, the pages feathering from use at the edges. The binding still holds some 50 years on though.
Edited by George and Joan Mackaness it’s all poetry, no notes on authors, no wordy preamble about the state of Australian literature, just the poems. It’s chock full of poets I’ve never heard of and some that I have – Paterson, Mackellar, Dennis, Lawson and John Shaw Neilson.
Funnily enough it has far more women included in the book than in later Poetry productions showcasing Australian poetry
So I came across Zora Cross’ poem Books.
Books by Zora Cross
Oh bury me in books when I am dead,
Fair quarto leaves of ivory and gold,
And silk octavos bound in brown and red,
That tales of love and chivalry unfold.
Heap me in volumes of fine vellum wrought,
Creamed with the close content of silent speech.
Wrap me in sapphire tapestries of thought
From some old epic out of common reach.
I would my shroud were verse-embroidered too --
Your verse for preference, in starry stitch,
And powdered o'er with rhymes that poets woo,
Breathing dream-lyrics in moon-measures rich.
Night holds me with a horror of the grave
That knows not poetry, nor song, nor you;
Nor leaves of love that down the ages wave
Romance and fire in burnished cloths of blue.
Oh bury me in books, and I'll not mind
The cold, slow worms that coil around my head;
Since my lone soul may turn the page and find
The lines you wrote to me, when I am dead.
So what do you think? I am quite enamored of it. Zora Cross herself is an interesting figure.