The Magpie Lark [poem by C. J. Dennis]

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

The Magpie Lark

By lagoons and reedy places,
Where the little river races,
By the lips of dreaming pools
Where the soothing water cools
Many a verdant slope and hollow,
Here my blithesome way I follow.
Anywhere that waters glisten
Pause a little while and listen.
You will hear my plaintive note
O’er the placid mirror float —
Tho’ nought know I of plaint or fret:
“Pierrot! Pierrette! Pierrot! Pierrette!”

Pierrot am I, light-hearted fellow,
Be the day morose or mellow;
And Pierrette, my dainty wife,
Adopts a like gay view of life;
We dance; we dance amid the sedges,
Dance by duplicated edges
Of the peaceful little ponds;
Now I bow, and she responds;
And then we dance together there,
Rise aloft, and dance on air;
Rising, falling, calling yet:
“Pierrot! Pierrette! Pierrot! Pierrette!”

Thistledown was ne’er so light
As our dainty, dancing flight;
Gay pied pipers, trim and neat,
Joy is in our wings, our feet;
Grace is in our every pose . . .
We dance, we dance till, at day’s close,
When the pool’s dark mirrors limn
Twilit glory at the brim —
Trees and opalescent sky —
We dance away; and as we fly
Our call comes faint and fainter yet:
“Pierrot! Pierrette! . . . Pierrot! . . .”

C. J. Dennis, The Singing Garden, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1935, pages 121-122

Editor’s notes:
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)

limn = to draw or paint on a surface; or to outline in clear sharp detail; or describe in words (from Middle English “limnen”, to illuminate, with regard to manuscripts, possibly derived from the Latin “illuminare”)

ne’er = never

o’er = over (pronounced the same as “oar”, “or”, and “ore”)

sedge = a grass-like plant with a solid three-sided stem, which grows in tufts, typically found in wet ground or near water, such as marshes; any of the grass-like plants of the family Cyperaceae (especially those of the of the genus Carex)

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