Vonda Stanley's collection of early Australian bush poems


The Magpie's Song


Where the dreaming Tiber wanders by the haunted Appian Way,

Lo! the nightingale is uttering a sorrow-burdened lay!

While the olive trees are shaking, and the cypress boughs are stirred:

Palpitates the moon's white bosom to the sorrow of the bird,

Sobbing, sobbing, sobbing; yet a sweeter song I know:

'Tis the magpie's windblown music where the Gippsland rivers flow.


O, I love to be by Bindi, where the fragrant pastures are,

And the Tambo to his bosom takes the trembling Evening Star -

Just to hear the magpies warble in the blue-gums on the hill,

When the frail green flower of twilight in the sky is lingering still,

Calling, calling, calling to the abdicating day:

O, they fill my heart with music as I loiter on my way.


O, the windy morn of Matlock, when the last snow-wreath had gone,

And the backwoods robed by tardy Spring with star-like beauty shone;

When the lory showed his crimson to the golden blossom spread,

And the Goulburn's grey-green mirror showed the loving colours wed:

Chiming, chiming, chiming in the pauses of the gale,

How the magpie's notes came ringing down the mountain o'er the vale.


O, the moon beside the ocean, where the springtide, landward set,

Cast ashore the loosened silver from the waves of violet,

As the seagod sang a lovesong and the sheoak answer made,

Came the magpie's carol wafted down the piny colonade,

Trolling, trolling, trolling in the nuptial melody,

As it floated from the moaning pine to charm the singing sea.


And the dark hour in the city, when my love had silent flown,

Nesting in some far-off valley, to the seraphs only known,

When the violet had no odour and the rose no purple bloom,

And the grey-winged vulture, Sorrow, came rustling through the gloom,

Crooning, crooning, crooning on the swaying garden bough:

O, the song of hope you uttered then my heart is trilling now.


Voice of happy shephard chanting by a stream in Arcady,

Seems they song this blue-eyed morning over lilac borne to me;

In his arms again Joy takes me, Hope with dimpling cheek appears,

And my life seems one long lovely vale where grow the rosy years:

lilting, lilting, lilting; when I slumber at the last,

Let your music in the joyous wind be ever wandering past.


Frank S. Williamson

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