The Coachwhip Bird
Early on a soft spring morning
As the dawn climbs up the sky,
With its radiant light adorning
Hill and tree-top, here am I,
Urging on my phantom horses
Where no road has ever run,
And the laughing river courses
Merrily from shade to sun.
Ere the earliest sun-shafts peeping
Paint the gum-trees’ furthest tip,
I arouse the bush from sleeping
With the cracking of my whip.
First a long-drawn swish ascending,
Then, as it swells to the crack,
Like an echo at its ending,
Promptly my hen twitters back.
Crest erect and proud tail spreading,
Perched upon a myrtle-tree.
I am coachman at a wedding
In a cockade and livery.
For now wed with soft embraces
Ardent sun and blushing earth;
While my team tugs at the traces
To the kookaburra’s mirth.
You may hear the coach wheels rumbling
Over stones upon the road
In the mountain waters tumbling
By my trackless bush abode.
Tumbling by green banks and ferny.
Who’s awake? The hour grows late,
Who begins the glad day’s journey?
All aboard! The horses wait.
C. J. Dennis, The Singing Garden, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1935, pages 29-30
ere = before (from the Middle English “er”, itself from the Old English “aer”, meaning early or soon)