When Time first opened her dim eyelids
Before the Age of Joy,
Before the Sphinx or the Pyramids,
Before the Siege of Troy,
And before the Alcheringa sighed,
In Australia desolate
The kookaburra, agog, descried
The tangled threads of Fate.
Scornful he glowered at the strange first dawn,
At the strange first stars he scoffed;
And he laughed, when the Veil of Life was drawn
On his bough i’ th’ blue aloft.
At Man and Evil and Destiny
Loud pealed his mocking laughter,
Because high perched on his gaunt gum-tree
He peered before and after.
Tho’ world on wonder world is shuffled
Thro’ fingers of Fate forever,
Unmoved he squats, this wise unruffled
Droll bird of the Never Never.
And moons and moons slip between each rime,
But perched on the same gum-tree,
He is waiting to laugh at the death of Time,
To mock Eternity.
Louis Esson, Bells and Bees: Verses, Melbourne: Thomas C. Lothian, 1910, [page 25]
Alcheringa = (also known as the Dreamtime) in Aboriginal mythology, the time of creation, a “golden age” when the land was shaped and animals were created; a time when the “culture heroes” or “spirit ancestors” of the Aboriginal people roamed the land, with many of these mythic beings turning into animals, rock formations, or became part of the landscape (hence various caves, rocks, waterholes, etc. are sacred sites for the Aborigines); “the Dreaming” may refer to the Dreamtime age of creation or to an ongoing spirituality which never ends
Never Never = remote and isolated sparsely-inhabited desert country in Australia (may be rendered with or without a hyphen)
rime = an archaic spelling of “rhyme” (may also refer to the frost which forms on cold objects from the freezing of water vapour from clouds or fogs)
Vernacular spelling in the original text: