Nomad Chant [poem by Louis Esson]

[Editor: This poem by Louis Esson was published in Bells and Bees: Verses (1910).]

Nomad Chant

To E. J. Brady

The Spring wind, brother,
With marching music blows.
Calling to one another,
Children of the Mother,
We go where the wind goes.

New thoughts prick sharper
Than spears at old despair.
Who can be a carper?
The wind is a harper
Playing a lively air.

Thro’ hilly lands and hollow,
From smoky towns afar,
Like our swift sister swallow
Untrodden tracks we follow
To malacoota bar.

We are Gipsy rovers,
That since the world began
Of trees and waters lovers,
Where’er the blue sky covers
Drove poaching caravan.

We are Arabs, pitching
Beneath the desert palm
A tent of peace, and stitching
Into our dreams bewitching
The starry hours of calm.

With barbaric handles
We shatter custom’s domes;
We scrape rude sandals;
Eternal Goths and Vandals
We sack world-weary Romes.

To fresh adventures blowing
We follow the Nomad wind.
Clouds, seas, and stars are flowing,
And with the good wind going
We leave old worlds behind.

Louis Esson, Bells and Bees: Verses, Melbourne: Thomas C. Lothian, 1910, [pages 41-42]

Editor’s notes:
carper = someone who carps (complains); someone who is regarded as a constant complainer, especially regarding small or inconsequential matters; someone who continually finds fault and complains about minor matters

Goth = a member of a Germanic people from Scandinavia who migrated through eastern Europe, invaded parts of the Roman Empire during the 3rd and 5th centuries, later dividing into two main branches, the Ostrogoths and the Visigoths, and who sacked Rome in 410 and 546 (“goth” may refer to someone who is barbaric or rude; may also refer to someone belonging to a sub-culture which arose in the late 20th century, whose adherents are commonly attired in dark colours, primarily black, but also dark red, dark purple, or similar, wearing dark clothing, dark make-up, and often dyeing their hair black, as well as favouring depressing or mournful music)

harper = a musician who plays a harp

malacoota bar = a well-known sandbar at Mallacoota, on the eastern coast of Victoria (usually spelt as “Mallacoota”, with two Ls, although “Malacoota” was an alternative spelling; “malacoota” is an Aboriginal word, meaning “half-way”)

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)

sack = pillage, plunder, loot; to strip a town or city of valuables after its capture

Vandal = a member of a Germanic people from Scandinavia who migrated through eastern Europe, then into Spain, and North Africa (capturing the Roman Empire’s province in Africa), and who sacked Rome in 455 (“vandal” may refer to someone who deliberately damages, defaces, or destroys public or private property)

Vernacular spelling in the original text:
where’er (wherever)

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