Bush Pictures: A Dead Forest by Henry O'Donnell

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Oh! ashen comrades of the years too brief,
   Grim, shrivelled skeletons, ungainly things,
Like beggars now ye stand, in silent grief,
   Where, but a decade since, ye reigned as kings.

I fled the haunts of men, with ye to be,
   In days when I had mirth, and ye were strong,
But, though superb in mighty majesty,
   Not for your might I loved ye, but your song.

When she, the sunlight of my wayward days,
   Went forth with me, to bid my heart rejoice,
She, with her lute, from you caught such rare lays
   As never raptured minstrel tongue could voice.

And when we told our loves -- ah, me! the tale --
   And lingered long adown the shady lea,
Ye bent your plumes, and over hill and dale
   Proclaimed our secret in a symphony.

With plighted troth when once again we strolled
   To seek the solace of your kindly bowers,
No organ diapason ever rolled
   A wedding march that faintly echoed ours.

And when, aweary of this war for breath
   Too soon she grew, and wrung my only tear,
Ye sang in whispers, in the teeth of death,
   The only requiem I loved to hear.

And now that night is menacing my day,
   Your matchless nocturne, madrigal and glee,
Your crested heads, that kept the storm at bay,
   In memory alone can live with me;

For all your withered tongues are cold and mute
   As riven chords in hearts of adamant,
And, like my vanished love with broken lute,
   To me a dirge of silence now ye chant,

To tell, perchance, to soothe the after years,
   Dead trees, dead loves and songless birds may be --
As we would know but for our deafened ears --
   The deeper tones of Nature's harmony.

First published in Melbourne Punch, 19 May 1904

Author reference site: Austlit.

See also.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on May 19, 2011 8:15 AM.

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