The Eastern Shrike-Tit [poem by C. J. Dennis]

[Editor: This poem by C. J. Dennis was published in The Singing Garden (1935).]

The Eastern Shrike-Tit

I am brightly alert and exceedingly pert,
And my livery’s easily seen;
With a bright golden breast and a black-and-white crest,
And a back of indefinite green.
A conspicuous bird; and, I give you my word,
I am neither incautious nor shy.
Native wit may be read in the cock of my head
And the glint in my shrewd little eye.

“Ho, knock at the door, knock at the door,”
I shout from the top of a tree.
The bushland’s soprano, but never “piano:”
“Fortissimo” ever for me.
My repertoire’s long; and I’ve many a song
When spring is abroad in the land;
And, whatever my call, ’tis the clearest of all,
And as gay as the best in the band.

I take life with zest, and, when building my nest,
Then the scientist wakens in me.
I work with a will, with my stout little bill,
And I peel the green bark from a tree.
Then I wait, when that’s done, till the heat of the sun
Curls a neat little hook at the end;
So, when woven and bound, there’s a home, strong and sound,
On which any wise bird may depend.

Ho, cheery and bright, with a heart ever light,
I sing to the joy of the day;
And my toil, high above, is a labour of love,
For I turn every task into play.
With my confident air, I am here, I am there,
With my proud little head full of lore,
A melodious note ever swelling my throat,
I’m an optimist. “Knock at the door!”



Source:
C. J. Dennis, The Singing Garden, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1935, pages 35-36

Editor’s notes:
fortissimo = very loud, especially used as a direction in a musical arrangement for passage or sound to be performed very loudly

gay = happy, joyous, carefree (may also mean well-decorated, bright, attractive) (in modern times it may especially refer to a homosexual, especially a male homosexual; may also refer to something which is no good, pathetic, useless)

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