Belmore Waterfall [poem by Philip Durham Lorimer]

[Editor: This poem by Philip Durham Lorimer was published in Songs and Verses by Philip Durham Lorimer: An Australian Bush Poet, 1901.]

Belmore Waterfall

The morning’s wind has wakened all the flowering
Of heather bells, and bloom of pink and white ;
In heights the song of gratitude is towering
And joyful hues, have lined the dome of night.
Shyly the pheasant calls from ferny cover,
Surrounded by the hopping-birds, who seem
To be her mates, when absent from her lover,
While he arrays his plume in morning’s beam.
A love-song breaks from out the forest distant,
And through the restless leaves it falls so sweet ;
It comes from lips, whose rosy hues persistent
With loveliness the spreading dawn complete.
Where brooklets sing, and rivulets are leaping,
Thy waters Warragamba take their rise :
Now sing they peace, as through the fern trees peeping,
They calmly rest, reflecting bluest skies.
A lengthened flow, o’er rocks with mimic surges —
Dimples upon thy smooth face thou dost bear —
A short retreat, in nooks and then emerges
Thy laughing stream, reflecting heaven there.

A rippling rush, and then a silent whirling —
Where rock-bound deeps, with charms, entice thy stay —
A stray fern sleeps upon thy bosom, curling
A weary eddy, in its slackened way.
A fern-bound pool, with all that fancy prizes
From Nature’s grand and wildest store of art,
Yields out delight, the last of thy surprises,
Where calmness marks thy sway, and woos man’s heart.
The coo of Bronze-wing, heard while she is drinking,
Coys to her side the Wonga-Wonga too ;
Sweetly does Nature blend and in her linking
The ageing scenes, to-day, are fresh and new.

* * * * *

From sandstone crags, all fearlessly it gushes,
A stream of waters leaps from giddy height —
With no mad haste, yet eagerly it rushes,
And falling seems a crystal line of light ;
Whose strength is broken in its lofty falling,
As, in mid-air, it widens into spray —
And, like a heavy winter’s mist, recalling
The dreary bleakness of a winter’s day.
Into the basin, deep below, descending —
It brings, with it, the silv’ry sheen of foam ;
So that the sunshine, with its beauty blending,
Formeth a rainbow, in this watery home.
Here have the storms recorded all their glories,
Read in the caverns — in recess — and cave ;
And from the high cedars travellers read the stories,
Which follow them so happy to the grave.

Full forty fathoms fell that mountain streaming,
And yet its loveliness has not been lost,
For has it not been reared ’mong rugged dreaming,
And thence in very joyousness, been tossed ?
Then, ’neath the rounded boulders, it is hidden
Only to gather in its force once more ;
And, where the step of man is nigh forbidden,
Comes, loud, from gorges deep, a clashing roar :
Another leap, and through the glen there passes
Triumphant joy, where wildness reigns supreme :
While echoes sweep along the broken masses
Of rocks, that strongly gird the mountain stream.
In this terrific grandeur — low — is flying
The satin-bird arrayed in plumage dark,
While for her love the lyre-bird, fond replying,
Has found her feeding ground ’neath stringy bark.
Another crash, and from the forest outworks,
Aloud is borne the falls’ majestic roar ;
Startling the nestling flame-bird, where it lurks,
Only to shake its wings — oft shook before.
The Pulpit rock, a weird work of conception,
From tow’ring cliffs, projects, and rules the scene ;
While down the heights — in rude — yet true perfection,
A narrow shell of rock — just like a screen —
Stands out alone, and from an ancient naming,
’Tis called “Lot’s Wife” — the reason is not known —
Save that the moderns seem to have no aiming
For breathing beauty’s name, with softer tone.

* * * * *

Calm, yet nobly crowning all the splendour
Of this triumphant and majestic scene,
High Barrangarry and its waters render
The landscape one of loveliness and sheen.
A valley wide, o’er gentle slopes, is lying ;
Stretching afar its arms of peace and love ;
Where waters glide, and mingle in their sighing
The love-songs, they once sang on crags above.
A hazy mist — and ev’ning’s sun is dipping,
Overhung with clouds of purple and of gold ;
The brow of Kangaroo has donned a crimson tipping —
While beauty sighs for sleep within its fold.
Fair is the Valley’s hamlet ’neath the doming
Of ev’ning’s glow — when shades, in glory, fall
On Cambewarra, where the wild game, roaming,
Are startled by the lonely night-bird’s call.
As twilight’s grey, to deeper hues, is hast’ning —
So softly slow the far-off beauty fades —
While daylight takes from it her lovely chast’ning,
Lest loveliness be tinged with nightfall shades —
Melting away — till eyes of man are drooping,
And naught is seen or heard save water’s song —
Then silence — hush — and lo ! his soul is stooping,
Leaving his kiss, with breathings sweet and long
Upon the rills, and brooklets ever greeting
The Belmore Falls, and all its treasured views ;
Where waters leap and sing their praises, meeting
Earth’s glory robed in all its richest hues.

Balmoral, N.S.W., May 24, 1891.

E. A. Petherick (editor). Songs and Verses by Philip Durham Lorimer: An Australian Bush Poet, William Clowes and Sons, London, 1901, pages 176-179

Editor’s notes:
Barrangarry = (Barrengarry) a place in New South Wales, north of Nowra and west of Kiama

Bronze-wing = bronze-wing = Australian pigeons, of several species belonging to the genus Phaps, that are known for the bronze-like metallic spots on their wings

Cambewarra = a place in New South Wales, north of Nowra and west of Meroo Meadow

Lot’s Wife = presumably this refers to a local rock formation (there are several formations in Australia named “Lot’s Wife”, such as in the Jenolan Caves, New South Wales, and at Mount Moffat in the Carnarvon National Park, Queensland; these take their name from the Bible story, in the Book of Genesis, about Lot’s wife, who was turned into a pillar of salt)

rude = primitive, raw or rough, or in an unfinished state or natural condition (not to be confused with the modern usage of “rude” as someone being discourteous or ill-mannered)

Wonga-Wonga = an Australian pigeon, known as the Wonga Pigeon, or Leucosarcia melanoleuca (also can be a reference to the Wonga Wonga Vine, a woody Australian vine of the Bignoniaceae family)

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