The Reiver [poem by Marie E. J. Pitt]

[Editor: This poem by Marie E. J. Pitt was published in The Horses of the Hills and Other Verses (1911).]

The Reiver.

The floods are out on the flats to-night,
Moaning and maddened and wild and red,
Like a hooded serpent ready to smite,
Old Mitchell rears in his straitened bed;
Quick! Lords of the cattle and crops, your dole!
The reiver river takes toll, takes toll!

Hope for no harvest of eager hands,
The ripened ears and the swollen cribs!
The sludge-bar, tossed on the hungry sands,
That gapes like a skeleton’s sundered ribs,
The break and the blight and the far-flung shoal
Of the reiver river take toll, take toll!

The lean teams lagged at the furrow end,
And the plumed green army stood brave anon,
Now from mourning upland to river bend
The whisper is hushed and the plumes are gone,
Only the waters a death-dirge roll
Where the reiver river takes toll, takes toll!

Plunder, full plunder of horn and hoof,
Of torn green tresses and whitening bone,
And a darker tribute, deep housed aloof
Where the vespering pines on the hillside moan,
Man, beast and bird, and the twisted bole —
So the reiver river takes toll, takes toll!

The floods are out on the flats to-night,
Pray if you dare to and hold your breath;
For a craft rides seaward with never a light,
And the man at her wheel is Pilot Death.
Was it curlew or plover? Or parting soul?
Hush! — the reiver river takes toll, takes toll!




Source:
Marie E. J. Pitt, The Horses of the Hills and Other Verses, Melbourne: Specialty Press, 1911, pages 12-13

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