The Native-Born by Kathleen Dalziel

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St. Kilda Junction -- where the trams
Thrash up and down all day,
While peak-hour traffic checks and dams,
Breaks loose, and slides away --
Converges on a verdant square
With one old eucalyptus, there
Tossing the topmost spray.

If the old eucalypt could but tell
The story of his past,
Like music murmuring through a shell
By many waters cast
On timeless shores, the tale would run
Decades and chapters, one by one,
From the first page to the last.

The wind would weave it into songs,
The leaves would lift and gleam
Interpreting the many tongues
Of that tremendous theme
Begun in his Arcadian youth,
All leaping sap and eager growth,
And ending in a dream.

The calendars and almanacks
Reversed, would we not find
St. Kilda-road just wallaby tracks,
Push-pads that weave and wind,
Eagle-hawks circling in the blue
That now the mail-plane thunders through,
Much else, gone out of mind?

Flashing of rainbow parakeets
Morning and afternoon,
Brolgas and swans where sungold sheets
The opalite lagoon;
Bunch-feathered emus, ones and two,
The flop of feeding kangaroos,
Mopokes beneath the moon.

Clippers would curtsy down the bay,
The primitive slopes would know
The horseman and the bullock-dray,
Harrow and axe and plough.
We would watch the white invaders come --
Adventurers all, day dreamers some --
And see the doomed tribes go ...

So much of history has slipped
Away since he was young
And all the world was eucalypt,
Banksia and brush and hung
With banners faded long ago.
How much the native-born must know
For all he holds his tongue.

First published in The Bulletin, 2 April 1952

Author reference site: Austlit

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on April 2, 2014 8:21 AM.

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