[Editor: This poem by Philip Durham Lorimer was published in Songs and Verses by Philip Durham Lorimer: An Australian Bush Poet, 1901.]
My Mountain Cave
In the cave where I am living
I have quietude of life ;
There is not a creature near me,
Nor the hum of human strife.
I am resting where I would be,
As I longed in years ago,
And my dreamings are borne onward
By the swollen river’s flow.
Oh ! the shriek of winter coming,
And the hurricane I hear,
And the rolling of the storm-clouds
That proclaim the tempest near.
But I’m throned upon a mountain,
In a hidden high retreat,
With my thoughts turned to the heavens,
And my cares beneath my feet.
For a guard against intruders,
Or a screening for my door,
Wattle and a mountain sapling
Do the needful as of yore.
For I knew them when their branches
Wore the beauty of their youth,
How they watch my ageing moments,
Friends of mine they are in truth.
In that corner, snug and cosy,
Are the ferns I gathered when,
In October last, I happened
To be passing through the glen ;
When the waratahs were blooming
On each rocky steep and fell,
When the stringy-bark was flow’ring
O’er the tiny mountain bell.
When the whistling of the lory
Told that winter’s day was o’er,
When the hours were longer, wooing
All the carols as of yore.
In a rough-and-ready fashion
I have always made my bunk
In a cutting, where hangs o’er it
All my beef, a well-cured junk.
For I seldom go to market
From this paradise of mine,
Where the retrospect of Summer
Here has built for me its shrine.
Where my thoughts, with wings now folded,
Are so busy pressing flowers
Which I gathered in the lowlands
In my happy, sunny hours.
You may talk about your hammocks
’Neath a mia-mia shade ;
But the withered leaves are better,
And much softer, if well laid.
You may call me “poor old nomad,”
Or whatever name you please ;
But our lives are not worth living
If our minds are not at ease !
Yes, I know when I have Nature,
With her arms around my breast ;
I have comfort in my dwelling,
And a deeper, sounder rest.
For her smile is ever kindly
On the heart that loves her much,
And my pulses flow the warmer
When I feel her tender touch.
Oh ! my lamp is ever burning
On a bracket in the wall,
And my fire is always glowing
In the centre of my hall.
There’s a smack of freedom in it ;
For the rent is never due.
Who like me can boast such freedom
Under heaven’s vaulted blue ?
Blue Mountains, May 31, 1892.
E. A. Petherick (editor). Songs and Verses by Philip Durham Lorimer: An Australian Bush Poet, William Clowes and Sons, London, 1901, pages 188-191
lory = a type of bird; lories and lorikeets are brightly-coloured parrots found in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Polynesia, south-east Asia, and Timor (generally, the shorter-tailed varieties are called “lories”, whilst the longer-tailed varieties are called “lorikeets”)
mia-mia = an Aboriginal temporary hut-like shelter