I love all gum-trees well. But, best of all,
I love the tough old warriors that tower
About these lawns, to make a great green wall
And guard, like sentries, this exotic bower
Of shrub and fern and flower.
These are my land’s own sons, lean, straight and tall,
Where crimson parrots and grey gang-gangs call
Thro’ many a sunlit hour.
My friends, these grave old veterans, scarred and stern,
Changeless throughout the changing seasons they.
But at their knees their tall sons lift and yearn —
Slim spars and saplings — prone to sport and sway
Like carefree boys at play;
Waxing in beauty when their young locks turn
To crimson, and, like beacon fires burn
To deck Spring’s holiday.
I think of Anzacs when the dusk comes down
Upon the gums — of Anzacs tough and tall.
Guarding this gateway, Diggers strong and brown.
And when, thro’ Winter’s thunderings, sounds their call,
Like Anzacs, too, they fall. . . .
Their ranks grow thin upon the hill’s high crown:
My sentinels! But, where those ramparts frown,
Their stout sons mend the wall.
C. J. Dennis, The Singing Garden, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1935, pages 16-17
Anzac = a member of the Australian armed forces, particularly soldiers (may also be used to refer to Australians in general); derives from the acronym of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), which fought in World War One
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)
Digger = an Australian soldier (a slang word which originated during World War One); in later usage, may also refer to a friend or mate
gang-gang = gang-gang cockatoo (Callocephalon fimbriatum), a bird native to Australia