Drought by Will M. Fleming

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Old Drought, Death's dearest champion,
   Walks gauntly o'er the land;
His teeth all white and gleaming,
   His weapons in his hand,
And near and far his war-notes,
   The stifled groans of pain,
Roll slowly to the welkin
   And echo back again.

The dust, his rolling standard,
   Waves high across the runs,
While throbbing thirst and famine,
   His two quick-firing guns,
With callous claim and deadly aim
Put peace and happiness to shame
Till joy is but an empty name,
   And Hope the horror shuns.

See! gloating o'er its suffering,
   With eager, straining eyes,
He stoops above the struggler
   And mocks it as it dies
With visions wild and joyful,
   Till, sure that joy is shown,
With rattle weird and eerie
   He claims it as his own.

Then, sweeping on in laughter,
   He calls; from far and wide
The ghosts of bygone suffering
   Stream in on every side;
And as they come, with moaning hum
Through lips that struggle to be dumb,
He sneers at most, but jests with some
   In very lust of pride.

The skeletons of sorrow
   Beneath his baneful stare,
With weary limbs and aching,
   Are all assembled there,
And, by his mournful music,
   Awakened from their trance,
With heavy feet and listless
   Begin to reel and dance.

With hollow tones and mocking
   He laughs to scorn their dread;
And now his teeth are gleaming
   A bright and smoking red.
The revelry of misery
Sweeps onward in its agony,
Till life itself has ceased to be ---
   The empty earth is dead.

First published in The Queenslander, 12 June 1897

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on June 12, 2011 9:45 AM.

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