Kooroora [poem by Henry Kendall]

[Editor: This poem by Henry Kendall was published in Poems and Songs (1862).]


The gums in the gully stand gloomy and stark ;
A torrent beneath them is leaping ;
And the wind goes about like a ghost in the dark,
Where a chief of Wahibbi lies sleeping !
He dreams of a battle — of foes of the past,
But he hears not the whooping abroad on the blast,
Nor the fall of the feet that are travelling fast.
Oh ! why dost thou slumber, Kooroora ?

They come o’er the hills in their terrible ire,
And speed by the woodlands and water ;
They look down the hills at the flickering fire,
All eager and thirsty for slaughter.
Lo ! the stormy moon glares like a torch from the vale,
And a voice in the beela grows wild in its wail,
As the cries of the Wanneroos swell with the gale —
Oh ! rouse thee and meet them, Kooroora !

He starts from his sleep and he clutches his spear,
And the echoes roll backward in wonder,
For a shouting strikes into the hollow woods near,
Like the sound of a gathering thunder.
He clambers the ridge with his face to the light,
The foes of Wahibbi come full in his sight —
The waters of Mooki will redden to-night.
Go ! and glory awaits thee Kooroora.

Lo ! yeelamans splinter, and boomerangs clash,
And a spear through the darkness is driven ;
It whizzes along like a wandering flash
From the heart of a hurricane riven.
They turn to the mountains that gloomy-browed band,
The rain droppeth down with a moan to the land,
And the face of a chieftain lies buried in sand.
Oh ! the light that was quenched with Kooroora !

To-morrow the Wanneroo dogs will rejoice,
And feast in this desolate valley ;
But where are his brothers — the friends of his choice ?
And why art thou absent, Ewalli ?
Now Silence draws back to the forest again,
And the wind, like a wayfarer, sleeps on the plain,
But the cheeks of a warrior bleach in the rain.
Oh ! where are thy mourners, Kooroora ?

Henry Kendall, Poems and Songs, J. R. Clarke, Sydney, 1862, pages 17-19

Editor’s notes:
beela = (an alternative spelling of “belah”, also spelt “belar”) an casuarina tree (Casuarina glauca; commonly known as the swamp she-oak, grey oak, or river oak) found in New South Wales and Queensland; or, a tall or spreading tree (Acacia excelsa) found in northern NSW and Queensland

yeelaman = (an alternative spelling of “hielaman”) a long shield made from bark or wood, used by Australian Aborigines

Speak Your Mind