Morning in the Bush.
(A juvenile fragment.)
Above the skirts of yellow clouds,
The god-like Sun, arrayed
In blinding splendour, swiftly rose,
And looked athwart the glade ;
The sleepy dingo watched him break
The bonds that curbed his flight ;
And from his golden tresses shake
The fading gems of Night !
And wild goburras laughed aloud
Their merry morning songs,
As Echo answered in the depths
With a thousand thousand tongues ;
The gully-depths where many a vine
Of ancient growth had crept,
To cluster round the hoary pine,
Where scanty mosses wept.
Huge stones, and damp and broken crags,
In wild chaotic heap,
Were lying at the barren base
Of the ferny hillside steep ;
Between those fragments hollows lay,
Upfilled with fruitful ground,
Where many a modest floweret grew,
To scent the wind-breaths round ;
As fertile patches bloom within
A dried and worldly heart,
When some that look can only see
The cold, the barren part !
The Miser full with thoughts of gain
The meanest of his race
May in his breast some verdure hide,
Though none that verdure trace.
Where time-worn cliffs were jutting out,
With rough and ragged edges,
The snowy mountain-lily slept
Behind the earthy ledges ;
Like some sweet Oriental Maid,
Who blindly deems it duty
To wear a veil before her face,
And hide her peerless beauty ;
Or like to Innocence that thrives
In midst of sin and sorrows,
Nor from the cheerless scene around
The least infection borrows,
But stayeth out her mortal life —
Though in that lifetime lonely —
With Virtue’s lustre round her heart,
And Virtue’s lustre only.
A patch of sunshine here and there
Lay on a leaf-strewn water-pool,
Whose tribute trickled down the rocks
In gurgling ripples, clear and cool !
As iguanas, from the clefts,
Would steal along with rustling sound,
To where the restless eddies roamed
Amongst the arrowy rushes round.
While, scanning them with angry eyes
From off a fallen myrtle log
That branchless bridged the brushy creek,
There stood and barked, a Shepherd’s Dog !
And underneath a neighbouring mass
Of wattles intertwining,
His Master lay — his back against
The grassy banks reclining.
Beneath the shade of ironbarks,
Stretched o’er the valley’s sloping bed —
Half hidden in a tea-tree scrub,
A flock of dusky sheep were spread ;
And fitful bleating faintly came
On every joyous breath of wind,
That up the stony hills would fly.
And leave the hollows far behind !
Wild tones of music from the Creek
Were intermingling with the breeze,
The loud, rich lays of countless birds
Perched on the dark mimosa trees ;
Those merry birds, with wings of light
Which rival every golden ray
Out-flashing from the lamps of Night,
Or streaming o’er the brow of Day,
Amongst the gnarly apple-trees,
A gorgeous tribe of parrots came ;
And screaming, leapt from bough to bough,
Like living jets of crimson flame !
And where the hillside growing gums
Their web-like foliage upward threw,
Old Nature rang with echoes from
The loud-voiced mountain cockatoo ;
And a thousand nameless twittering things,
Between the rustling sapling sprays,
Were flashing through the fragrant leaves,
And dancing like to fabled fays ;
Rejoicing in the glorious light
That beauteous Morning had unfurled
To make the heart of Nature glad,
And clothe with smiles a weeping World.
Henry Kendall, Poems and Songs, J. R. Clarke, Sydney, 1862, pages 123-127
athwart = across
fay = a fairy or an elf
goburra = an Aboriginal word for “kookaburra” (also known as a “laughing jackass”)
hoary = someone with grey or white hair; very old
lay = song, tune; ballad
mimosa = a genus (of about 400 species) of flowering herbs and shrubs; it may refer specifically to the Silver Wattle (Acacia dealbata, also known as Mimosa), a species of the genus Acacia, native to southeastern Australia
verdure = the lush greenness of flourishing and healthy vegetation
[Editor: Corrected “W ere intermingling” to “Were intermingling”.]