Invitation [poem by Louis Esson]

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

Invitation.

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!”



Source:
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)

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