The Opossum Hunters [poem by Henry Kendall]

[Editor: This poem by Henry Kendall was published in Poems and Songs (1862).]

The Opossum Hunters.

Hear ye not the waters beating, where the rapid rivers meeting
With the winds above them fleeting, hurry to the distant seas ?
And a smothered sound of singing from old Ocean upwards springing,
Sending hollow echoes ringing like a wailing on the breeze ?
For the tempest, round us brewing, cometh with the clouds pursuing,
And the bright Day, like a ruin, crumbles from the mournful trees.

When the thunder ceases pealing, and the stars up heaven are stealing,
And the Moon above us wheeling throws her pleasant glances round,
From our homes we boldly sally ’neath the trysting tree to rally,
For a night-hunt up the valley, with our brothers and the hound !
Through a wild-eyed Forest staring at the light above it glaring,
We will travel, little caring for the dangers where we bound.

Twisted boughs shall tremble o’er us, hollow woods shall moan before us,
And the torrents, like a chorus, down the gorges dark shall sing ;
And the vines shall shake and shiver, and the startled grasses quiver,
Like the reeds beside a river in the gusty days of Spring ;
While we forward haste delighted, through a region seldom lighted —
Souls impatient, hearts excited — like a wind upon the wing !

Oh ! the solemn tones of Ocean, like the language of devotion —
Or a voice of deep emotion — wander round the evening scene !
Oh ! the ragged shadows cluster, where, my brothers, we must muster
Ere the warm moon lends her lustre to the cedars darkly green ;
And the lights like flowers shall blossom, in high Heaven’s kindly bosom,
While we hunt the wild Opossum, underneath its leafy screen ;

Underneath the woven bowers, where the gloomy night-hawk cowers,
Through a lapse of dreamy hours, in a stirless solitude !
And the hound — that close beside us still will stay whate’er betide us —
Through a wildering waste shall guide us — through a maze where few intrude,
Till the game is chased to cover, till the stirring sport is over,
Till we bound, each happy rover, homeward — down the laughing wood !

Oh ! the joy in wandering thither, when fond friends are all together,
And our souls are like the weather, cloudless, clear, and fresh, and free !
Let the sailor sing the story of the ancient Ocean’s glory :
Forests golden, mountains hoary — can he look and love like we ?
Sordid worldling ! haunt thy city, with that heart so hard and gritty,
There are those who turn with pity, when they turn to think of thee !



Source:
Henry Kendall, Poems and Songs, J. R. Clarke, Sydney, 1862, pages 98-101

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