That fall as gently as a tear
Upon earth's saddened face?
Has one short season made them old
By turning green to green and gold,
And robbed them of their grace?
Dame Nature, wisely, has decreed
One dress a year shall be the meed
For the English Forest Queen,
In which to play propriety,
And has decreed the shade shall be
A changing sort of green.
Art thou so lost to love of dress
That, with a girlish fretfulness ---
But lacking girlish fear ---
Thou°lt shed thy tarnished mantle, and,
Without a blush or tremor, stand
Stark naked half the year?
Why thus outstretch thy undraped arms,
And bare to wanton winds thy charms
That eyes should never see?
Erstwhile commended for thy dress,
I call thee in thy nakedness,
Rough Eucalypt! I turn to thee,
The typical Australian tree,
Who, though thou dost not wear
The queenly Oak's superior grace ---
And hast, perchance, a freckled face --
Art clothed throughout the year.
Unlike the fashionable Oak,
Thou dost not take thy verdant cloak
And fling it to the breeze,
When Autumn, with her chilly hand,
Has soiled it, and consent to stand
For half a year to freeze.
Thy grey-green form is lithe and long,
Thy heart is iron, thy limbs are strong,
And never made to be
The puppets of life's storm and stress;
And well befits thy common dress,
A serviceable tree.
Because thou dost not live for show
Where north winds scorch, and south gales blow,
And dost not doff thy dress,
I have for thee a friendship ripe,
Though, truth to tell, thou art a type
Of modest ugliness.
First published in Melbourne Punch, 9 March 1905
Author reference site: Austlit.