The Butcher-Bird [poem by Philip Durham Lorimer]

[Editor: This poem by Philip Durham Lorimer was published in Songs and Verses by Philip Durham Lorimer: An Australian Bush Poet, 1901.]

The Butcher-Bird

I know of a song that is heard everywhere,
That is soft and is true in its tone,
Now sung in the Spring on the boughs that are there
To the gold that embroiders their throne.

At noon the bird sits never hid from the sun,
As it courts the bright sheen of the day ;
And the carols ascend when the day is begun
To the birth of the wattle trees’ spray.

The butcher-bird sits in his glory alone,
While his mate is at home in her nest ;
Her heart is in love with his rapturous tone,
And she welcomes its voice in her breast.

She hears the hoarse roar of the forest arise,
But she heeds not the sounds as they fall ;
For he is her king, and is all to her eyes,
Who is monarch in song over all.

So leaps my heart up to that sweet, stirring song,
As I hear it aloft through the trees ;
For soon it is caught and is treasured along
By mine ear with the sweep of the breeze.

I hear it in heights in my heart as a pearl
That is pure as a jewel can be ;
It was uttered in song from a bird to unfurl
A new dream for my spirit to see.

’Tis rich in its tone, for there’s none to compete
With the thrill or the wildness of voice,
As its echo dies out at the wattle spray’s feet,
Round his mate as the queen of his choice !

Unanderra, August 14, 1895.

E. A. Petherick (editor). Songs and Verses by Philip Durham Lorimer: An Australian Bush Poet, William Clowes and Sons, London, 1901, pages 228-229

Editor’s notes:
butcher-bird = a large carnivorous Australian bird (their name comes from their shrike-like habit of impaling captured prey on a thorn, tree fork, or crevice)

gold that embroiders their throne = golden wattle

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