June 4, 2024

Poetry to Help Your Public Speaking: Sunburnt Beauty

Poems to Read Aloud , The Buckley Experience , Resources

The Buckley School's founder believed all public speakers should hone their presentation skills by reading poetry out loud. We keep that worthwhile practice alive by including a poem in our magazine each month for you to read aloud. Above, Dorothea Mackellar dressed as one of the Graces for Mrs T.H. Kelly's Italian Red Cross Day tableaux at the Palace Theatre, 20 June 1918, photograph by Glen Broughton Studios.


"An opal-hearted country, A wilful, lavish land – All you who have not loved her, You will not understand –"

– from "My Country"

Born in Sydney on July 1, 1885, Dorothea Mackellar is beloved for a poem about her country, written when she was a homesick young woman.

A third generation Australian, Mackellar’s grandparents came to Sydney from Scotland. With her parents support, she was well-traveled, spoke several languages, and was privately educated at home.

In Sydney, she formed a lifelong friendship with another well-known Australian writer, Ruth Bedford, that began when they were both girls. And she was greatly influenced by time she spent on family properties in the Australian bush.

Her time living in London at age 19 is said to have inspired Mackellar to write her most famous work, "My Country," published when Mackellar was in her early 20s.

Though she went on to publish books of poetry and novels, that poem with its expression of unabashed love of country has shaped her legacy, including a nationwide poetry competition for school students, The Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards

For your read aloud enjoyment, we provide her poem here:

My Country

by Dorothea Mackellar

The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes.
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins,
Strong love of grey-blue distance
Brown streams and soft dim skies
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!

A stark white ring-barked forest
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon.
Green tangle of the brushes,
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops
And ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us,
We see the cattle die –
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain. 

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the Rainbow Gold,
For flood and fire and famine,
She pays us back threefold –
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze.

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land –
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand –
Though earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.

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