The Omen by Mary Hannay Foott

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   The clouds closed ashen gray --
   Where the last of sunlight lay
Like a dying ember on a hearth grown chill;
   And the great pines, that were green
   With the west aflame between,
Stood all sable on the sand-ridge -- whispering still.

   There arose not moon or star;
   And the horse bells, tinkling far
In the distant creek-bed, fainter fell and ceased.
   With its crimson bleached to snow
   Burned the camp-fire -- low, and low;
And a rainy gale blew sudden from the East.

   And the sombre serried lines
   Of the vast environing pines
Merged their blackness in the swiftly-gathered gloom.
   And 'twas then, ah then, I heard
   First thy plaintful voice, O bird --
Like the wail of banished ghost at word of doom.

   All a painted scene it seemed --
   While the sunset glowed and gleamed --
When the waning west grew cold. No ominous chill
   Checked the heart-beat steady and strong,
   As some savage-chanted song
Came the curlew's call and woke no boding thrill.

   So I hearkened -- oft and oft,
   For the foot of Fate fell soft;
Gladness, line by line, all moonlike melted slow;
   And the planets quenched and spent
   Yet awhile their lustre lent;   
And the angels poised for flight delayed to go.

First published in The Queenslander, 13 September 1890

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Old Qld Poetry

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on September 13, 2011 7:30 AM.

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