The Silky Oak by Emily Coungeau

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Your trunk was flecked with mosses green and grey,  
   Splendid against the turquoise blue of skies,  
While 'mid the branches errant winds would play,
   And feathered throats lilt sweetest rhapsodies.
The settlers planned your death but yesterday,
   Soon by meek oxen to be borne away.

Serene you stand, and powerless to appeal
   As the sharp axes, flashing in the sun,
Cleave with a singing rhythm until you reel;      
   The work of execution has begun.  
A tearing, grinding sound . . as crashing fall
   Your limbs, and leaves lie o'er you like a pall.

Twelve oxen wait to bear you down the range,
   Their plodding hooves will land you miles below;
How slowly beautiful you grew, while strange
   Weird rites were held by totems, none may know,
Save pixie shapes which danced in moonlit zones,
   And you, who heard Daramulu's deep tones.  

To some boudoir, with its distinctive air,
   Your silken grainings may lend added charm,
And softly mirror beauty's profile fair,
   Who dreams of love with dimpled chin in palm ....
But will she think of you as once you stood,
   Magnificent, a doyen of the wood?  

Only, a tree: emblem of some brave man,
   With proud head lifted, though in mortal pain,
Who, doomed, calm, and dispassionately, can
   Meet dissolution with a cold disdain ....
Down ranks of sentinels which whisper low,
   You, with twelve brown-eyed oxen, slowly go.

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 12 September 1925;
and later in
The Queenslander, 26 September 1925.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Note: Daramulu (or "Daramulum") is a part of the mythology of several Aboriginal cultures of South-East Australia.  He lives in the trees of the bush. 

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on September 12, 2011 7:17 AM.

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