The Rufous Fantail [poem by C. J. Dennis]

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

The Rufous Fantail

Where the mountain waters glide,
Where no summer noon may burn,
Where the platypuses hide
Snug amid the coral fern;
Where the cool, green twilights play
And the darting dragon-fly
Skims the stream, and flits away
Back into the burning day,
There am I.

Here my pendant home is hung —
A leafy cradle, cobweb girt —
O’er the singing waters slung
From a slender tea-tree spurt;
Here my nestlings rest content
While, o’er gum and myrtle high,
Bending to my bushy tent,
Peeps, thro’ some wind-riven rent,
A scrap of sky.

In the open I am shy;
Vanishing in coy distress
Should you seek too close to spy
On my russet loveliness.
But, where my green tent is spread,
Watching with unwinking eye
From my gently swaying bed,
Sudden, close beside your head,
There am I.

Sing the waters where they flow,
Sing the thrushes high above,
Sing soft breezes crooning low
Thro’ a bower built for love.
Fretted shade and dappled sun,
Muted song and lullaby;
Where the singing waters run,
Peaceful as a cloistered nun,
Here sing I.

C. J. Dennis, The Singing Garden, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1935, pages 73-74

Editor’s notes:
bower = a shaded, leafy resting place or shelter, usually located within a garden or park and often made of latticework upon which plants (especially vines) are grown, or made out of intertwined tree boughs or vines (also known as an “arbor”) (“bower” may also refer to a country cottage or retreat, or to a woman’s bedroom or apartments in a medieval castle or mansion)

girt = encircled, surrounded, encircled or bound with a band or belt (past tense and past participle of “gird”)

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

rent = split, tear apart, cleave, past tense of “rend” (to tear or break in a violent manner)

russet = a reddish brown colour (or light brown, yellowish brown); a coarse reddish brown cloth, especially used for making clothes (may also mean: rustic; homely)

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