Invitation [poem by Louis Esson]

[Editor: This poem by Louis Esson was published in Red Gums and Other Verses (1912).]


To a Poet in Town.

The Gum-trees look at town, and say:
“When, Brother, will you come this way?”

The River croons her Vesper-song:
“Our Lover, will he now be long?”

A Magpie gurgles: “Tramp, you rogue,
The track that turns to Tir-Nan-Oge!”

The Whip-bird cracks his merry whip:
“Come up, and give lame Law the slip!”

The Cape-weed whispers to the Grass:
“When will the laggard Pilgrim pass?”

“Who cares for Statutes?” ’Burras laugh.
An insect prints a paragraph.

Upon a gum-leaf. “Spring is here,
But where the Poet, where the Seer?”

And with the host of Nature, we
Say: “Tho’ like hermit folk we be,

“If pleased with traveller’s plate and cup,
Stretcher, and Spartan bite and sup,
And idle hut, come up, come up!”

Louis Esson, Red Gums and Other Verses, Melbourne: Fraser & Jenkinson, 1912, pages 46-47

Editor’s notes:
’burra = an abbreviation of “kookaburra”

seer = someone who foretells the future; a mystic with supernatural insight into the future; a wise man; a prophet (in the modern sense, an expert who predicts the economic, political, or social future)

Spartan = austere; having very little comfort or luxury (derived from the Spartans of ancient Greece, who were renowned for their austere, disciplined, and militaristic way of living)

stretcher = a camp bed, commonly made with a wooden frame and some canvas material (may also refer to a litter, used for carrying the sick, wounded, or dead)

Tir-nan-og = (Irish) “land of the young”; in Irish Mythology, the Otherworld (spelt variously as “Tir-na-nog”, “Tir-nan-og”, “Tir-nan-oge”, “Tir-na-og”; also, “Tir-na-hoige”, “land of youth”); a place of everlasting youth; a land or state of perfect happiness

vesper = (archaic) evening, eventide (may also refer to vespers: prayers which are said or sung in the evening; evening worship; also, Vesper may be a reference to the planet Venus appearing in the sky as “the evening star”)

whip-bird = any of several species of birds, of the family Cinclosomatidae, primarily native to Australia (named after its call, which ends on a whip-crack note)

Speak Your Mind