[Editor: This poem by Philip Durham Lorimer was published in Songs and Verses by Philip Durham Lorimer: An Australian Bush Poet, 1901.]
The Two Eagles
It was ev’ning on the mountains,
And the sun was covered o’er
With the clouds that bore the thunder,
For I knew its distant roar.
I was lying in my cavern
On a sheet of stringy bark,
When the twilight lowered its mantle,
And the day-hours soon were dark.
I’d been wooing still the Muses
In the forest aisles close by,
When I heard the south wind’s howling,
And the curlews’ wak’ning cry.
So I bent my footsteps homewards,
Lest the clouds my peace should mar,
While the tempest, onward rolling,
Hid the mountains near and far.
In the centre of my dwelling
Just a warning, lurid glow
Drew my thoughts to it from wand’ring,
Stayed my pulses, beating low.
For my fire was hardly burning
In that moment of delight ;
While without the curlews, shrieking,
Were the storm-mates of the night.
In a mountain ash, whose branches
Were the home of wild birds free,
I had daily watched two eagles
Winging o’er the earth in glee.
I had seen them poising often
’Neath the sleeping thunder-cloud,
But this night, before their nestlings,
All their fearlessness was cowed.
I had seen them feed their young ones
On the lesser birds, their prey ;
When the blood was warmly flowing,
They had drunk it every day.
They were proud of being monarchs
In their fullest strength of wing,
And they looked with pride unmeasured
On their young that early Spring.
’Twas a fearful night of thunder
And of lightning and of rain,
While the roar became the louder
On the rugged mountain chain.
In the midnight came a crashing —
’Twas the loudest peal of all ;
Then a silence swept the ranges.
And I heard the eagles call.
But the winds kept up their moaning
With the curlews’ fainter scream,
And the waters played in gullies
As they leapt into a stream.
And the clashing of their voices
Brought to me a restless sleep ;
For my thoughts had gone beyond me,
And were following the deep ;
And the grand, delightful thunder,
When the winds know how to blow ;
When the lightning saw my wildness
Almost match its vivid glow !
When I ventured forth at morning.
Came an anxious, shrieking tone
From the eagles, downwards swooping ;
They were there, those two, alone !
For that dreadful flash of lightning
That the tempest’s fury crown’d
Brought destruction to the nestlings,
They were scattered on the ground.
Lay the branches, twigs, and lining
Of that lofty happy home ;
On the grass the young were lifeless,
Who had never learned to roam.
They had faced the night of danger
On a wind-tossed, yielding bough,
Till the lightning struck their shelter,
And their hearts were pulseless now.
So methought in higher places
Where the rich are lords of earth ;
When they lord it o’er the people
Through an accident of birth.
They forget, in pride of riches,
There’s a Mightier far than they,
Who can take from them their offspring,
Who can crush them in a day !
Who has said, “Thus far ; no farther !
Shall the poor be stricken down ;
They are gems I value highly
In the glory of My crown.
“It is Mine — My vengeance — ready,
It may fall on thee from Me,
In the pride of all thy riches,
For My people shall be free !”
Blue Mountains, November, 1892.
E. A. Petherick (editor). Songs and Verses by Philip Durham Lorimer: An Australian Bush Poet, William Clowes and Sons, London, 1901, pages 194-198
curlews = any of various large wading birds, having long legs, brown-streaked plumage, and long slender down-curved bills
methought = “I thought”