The Burnt Gully [poem by Louis Esson]

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

The Burnt Gully.

The sky is blue, the air is bright,
Leaves glint, and waters croon;
It is a gully of delight
A Summer’s afternoon.

And where the track climbs up the hill
With fern and myrtle clad,
The insects hum, the thrushes trill,
And all the world is glad.

The gully of our little dream
Three golden summers gone!
I watch the trees and tree-ferns gleam
Where now I walk alone.

And all is just as beautiful
As on that day we strayed
Silent with wonder, to the pool
Down the long collonade,

A collonade of flower and fern
With boughs to veil the sky,
Fern-roofed, moss-matted — round each turn
Flashed bee and butterfly.

O little dream! The earth how bright,
How blue the sky above!
O little gully of delight
The symbol of our love!

And then, next summer, we were told
How raged the forest-fires,
Ravished our gully, green and gold,
Tore down her flowery spires,

Scorched roots and reeds, burnt ferns and flowers,
And blackened every tree.
Destructive Nature that devours
The loveliest poetry.

We mourned for vanished flowers and trees
Like joys forever flown,
We mourned for forest tragedies,
And beauty overthrown.

Yet, in our heart one sunny beam
To light our hopes, would stray:
The gully of our little dream
Would never pass away . . . .

The gully of our little dream
Three golden summers gone!
Birds chant, and dripping blossoms gleam
Where now I walk alone.

Ferns, flowers, entwine a glimmering shade,
Boughs interlace o’erhead,
And down the mossy collonade
The gums and myrtles spread.

Nature destroys to recreate
More magic loveliness.
But mortals have another fate,
Time deepens their distress.

Tho’ Nature spreads fresh bud and beam
To heal the forest’s pain,
Now love has gone, our little dream
Will never bloom again.

Louis Esson, Red Gums and Other Verses, Melbourne: Fraser & Jenkinson, 1912, pages 27-29

Editor’s notes:
collonade = a row of columns, pillars, trees, or other tall items (also spelt as “colonnade”)

o’erhead = overhead

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