The Little Black Cormorant
By inlet and islet and wide river reaches,
By lake and lagoon I’m at home;
Yet oft the far forests of blue gum and beeches
About the broad ranges I roam.
“There’s a strange, sombre bird with a hook in his beak.”
’Tis the little black cormorant raiding your creek.
And woe to the fisher and woe to the fishes —
A gourmand, I freely confess —
When I come a-searching for succulent dishes,
Arrayed in my funeral dress.
Then the fishermen rave, and in anger they speak:
“There’s a little black cormorant coming up creek!”
But I’m quick and I’m cunning, as many a greyling,
A blackfish, a trout or a bream
Has known to his sorrow when down I go sailing
To hunt him beneath the dark stream.
To my cavernous maw then they all come alike,
And ’tis death should the little black cormorant strike.
But I am an outlaw. I’m hunted and harried.
I’m banned from the havens of men.
And woe is to me if too long I have tarried —
A shot o’er the waters — and then,
There is reason indeed for my funeral dress.
For alas, here’s a little black cormorant less!
C. J. Dennis, The Singing Garden, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1935, pages 85-86