by Laurie Hudson
Laurie Hudson was the Postmaster at Cumborah from 1947 to 1965.
The original of this poem was found on the tip at Lightning Ridge!
Just a sleepy little township out beyond the Western Plains,
Lightning Ridge – the home of opal, heat and dust and scanty rains.
The location isn’t scenic – just rough ridges all around,
Nature stored the scenes of beauty in black opal underground.
If you’ve never seen black opal, then you’ve missed a splendid sight,
Like quick-silver, gaily coloured, slipping through the shades of night.
Quite Unique in all its beauty, as a gem it stands alone,
Mortal man will never fashion imitations of this stone.
Though you’ve roamed the whole world over, seen most all there is to see,
You’ll find scenes you’ve never dreamed of in this stone of mystery.
As you look into the opal, turn it gently and behold,
Vivid shades of blue and crimson softly turn to green and gold.
Here you’ll see a perfect rainbow mirrored in a blue lagoon,
Crimson sunsets, verdant pastures blending with the rising moon.
Liquid fire in a valley on a dark and stormy night,
twinkling sparks of changing colours dancing in the golden light.
Storm clouds over tropic splendour, vivid lightning flashes gleam,
Scenes that seem to haunt your memory like a half forgotten dream.
Ever restless, ever changing, scene on scene is gently born,
Opening like a glorious flower, wet with dew at flush of dawn.
Flecked with dust of wattle blooms, branding it Australia’s own,
Beautiful and mystifying, Queen of gems, the Opal Stone!
The Birth Of The Opal
by Ella Wilcox Wheeler
The Sunbeam loved the Moonbeam,
And followed her low and high,
But the Moonbeam fled and hid her head,
She was so shy — so shy.
The Sunbeam wooed with passion;
Ah, he was a lover bold!
And his heart was afire with mad desire
For the Moonbeam pale and cold.
She fled like a dream before him,
Her hair was a shining sheen,
And oh, that Fate would annihilate
The space that lay between!
Just as the day lay panting
In the arms of the twilight dim,
The Sunbeam caught the one he sought
And drew her close to him.
But out of his warm arms, startled
And stirred by Love’s first shock,
She sprang afraid, like a trembling maid,
And hid in the niche of a rock.
And the Sunbeam followed and found her,
And led her to Love’s own feast;
And they were wed on that rocky bed,
And the dying Day was their priest.
And lo! the beautiful Opal —
That rare and wondrous gem —
Where the moon and sun blend into one,
Is the child that was born to them.
My Grandmother’s Opal
by Grevel Lindop
Nowadays I can find no picture of her.
I lost the only photograph I had
moving house; nothing else came to me,
so all I keep now is this opulent bead
Milky violet, craggy sugar-white
and crumpled goldleaf fused into the one
hurtfully alluring crystal depth
of opal, her favourite stone,
Which like a scrying-globe entraps the eye;
though I should need more than a jeweller’s glass
to see what figures might flaw the blue mist
or walk unscathed out of that golden furnace,
Distant and enigmatic, bright and small
as now my memories of her: some stories
and nonsense-rhymes she riddled me out of her childhood,
odd scents she used, her sharp, affectionate gaze,
Skirts I buried my face in, and the love
which like an animal I could discern,
inhabit like warmth but never comprehend
or, so young I was, return.
So here it is, my grandmother’s opal,
centrepiece of a necklace broken and strewn
who now knows where? And of no use to me,
too large for a ring, too splendid to cut down,
Message I can’t read, riches not mine
to spend or give, unexplained trust I hold.
I keep it: but where shall I set it, this one spark
saved from the fiery heart of a lost world?
The Black Opal
by Fred Emerson Brooks
Dedicated to the late Percy Marks
The Orchid Gem, a fairy crown;
Like bits of stars that tumbled down
In dusky settings blue or brown
Long ages yore.
The virtues of all gems we know,
Whate’er their lustre, hue or glow,
Australia’s own black opals show,
And something more.
The morning’s blush; the golden ray
The clouds on fire at close of day;
The purpled hills where wild flowers play
The nature bore.
The rose confessing to the dew;
The fickle ocean’s changing hue;
The Southern Cross in midnight blue;
And these and more.
The palette where Jehova laid
His every colour his every shade,
To paint the universe he made
Both sea and shore.
A shattered rainbow in a shell
Its glories hidden where it fell;
The gem without a parallel-
All this and more.
Mother of fire that never burns;
Whichever way the jewel turns
Some new aurora one discerns
When mother earth laid bare her breast
To show what jewels she possessed,
Black opal far outshone the rest
And something more.
A cupid’s heart on fire ‘twould seem;
Or speckled trout in mountain stream;
The love glow in a maiden’s dream
When hearts adore;
As sunbeams through rose windows fall
In haloes on cathedral wall-
God’s benediction on us all-
One blessing more.
Spirit of night, the soul of day;
Just how it glows no one can say,
Save that it be some heavenly ray
Sent on before
Whose jewelled splendour typifies
The glory of the world that lies
Beyond the Gates of Paradise
by Bill Scott
(Every miner we know can relate to this poem)
Deep in the shaft I chip alone
where sunsets sleep in the dry brown stone.
Scrape of shovel blade, tap of pick,
flickering light from the burning wick.
Long ago, before there were clocks,
a rainbow crept inside these rocks.
Now in the darkness I burrow and creep,
waking that light from its age-old sleep.
Pot of gold at the rainbow’s end
are the sunset colours that shift and blend.
I hammer and tap, scrape and strain,
till I bring them back to light again.
I may never see the day
when the stone shines bright as the Milky Way,
But some other miner, when I’m long gone
may discover the dream that drove me on.
My blue-green eyes, my blood’s red streams,
golden hope and harlequin dreams
may shine like colour in the dry brown stone
as underground he chips alone.
by Agnes L. Storrie
This poem was published in 1909.
I have a magic flower that knoweth not to fade,
Rosily it blossoms through the winter undismayed,
Each fairy petal keeps its satin sheen,
And garners sunshine where no sun has been.
The glory of uncounted summer days
Lies at its core, and all the silver rays
That moons have lavished on uncharted seas
Fill it with glimmering mysteries.
My magic flower, unfed by air or rain,
Hath in it glamours from a purple plain
Drenched in still twilight and the velvet deeps
Of rich sky spaces ere the first star peeps.
Green of dim forests, and dew-nurtured glades,
Stabbed by the noonday sun’s imperial blades,
And steel-blue gleams from bergs that silent ride
In white enchantment the Antarctic tide.
A crystal chalice, filled with tinted wine,
Whose every bubble sparkles with a new design,
A dream of colour in a stone arrested
And with a lovely permanence invested.
A wondrous thought, that in primeval gloom
Burst, like a blossom, into sudden bloom,
A prophet’s instinct, that ’mid chaos knew
How suns would kiss a future drop of dew.
A need of light, which, focussed in the dark,
Lit by suggestion this miraculous spark,
Within whose matrix of strange fibres spun
Is stored the secret essence of the sun.
Was it some tincture ignorantly spilled
Into earth’s crucible? or did a skilled
Alchemist pity on the fused mass take
And, smiling, add it for its beauty’s sake?
Mysterious as the spiritual flowers that flame
Through human souls and passionately claim
Kinship with beauty, incoherent as the gleams
Of intuition in a poet’s dreams,
Yet eloquent of an unfailing source.
And could we trace the deeply hidden course
Of the beautiful to beauty, we might find
The meaning of an opal and a human mind.
by Dorothea MacKellar
Her great poem about our beautiful “Opal-hearted country, A wilful lavish land”
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.
And finally, the short poem written by an opal miner to try and explain to his family why he was an unrepentant “opalholic”….
“Once you’ve gazed into an opal,
And its wondrous beauty known;
You’ll forever be enchanted,
By Mother Nature’s Unique Stone”