Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
The Last Aboriginal
William Sharp (1855–1905)
I SEE him sit, wild-eyed, alone,
  Amidst gaunt, spectral, moonlit gums;
He waits for death: not once a moan
  From out his rigid fixed lips comes;
His lank hair falls adown a face        5
  Haggard as any wave-worn stone,
And in his eyes I dimly trace
The memory of a vanished race.
The lofty ancient gum-trees stand,
  Each gray and ghostly in the moon,        10
The giants of an old strange land
  That was exultant in its noon
When all our Europe was o’erturned
  With deluge and with shifting sand,
With earthquakes that the hills inurned        15
And central fires that fused and burned.
The moon moves slowly through the vast
  And solemn skies; the night is still,
Save when a warrigal springs past
  With dismal howl, or when the shrill        20
Scream of a parrot rings which feels
  A twining serpent’s fangs fixed fast,
Or when a gray opossum squeals,—
Or long iguana, as it steals
From bole to bole, disturbs the leaves:        25
  But hushed and still he sits—who knows
That all is o’er for him who weaves
  With inner speech, malign, morose,
A curse upon the whites who came
  And gathered up his race like sheaves        30
Of thin wheat, fit but for the flame—
Who shot or spurned them without shame.
He knows he shall not see again
  The creeks whereby the lyre-birds sing;
He shall no more upon the plain,        35
  Sun-scorched, and void of water-spring,
Watch the dark cassowaries sweep
  In startled flight, or, with spear lain
In ready poise, glide, twist, and creep
Where the brown kangaroo doth leap.        40
No more in silent dawns he’ll wait
  By still lagoons, and mark the flight
Of black swans near: no more elate
  Whirl high the boomerang aright
Upon some foe. He knows that now        45
  He too must share his race’s night—
He scarce can know the white man’s plough
Will one day pass above his brow.
Last remnant of the Austral race
  He sits and stares, with failing breath:        50
The shadow deepens on his face,
  For ’midst the spectral gums waits death:
A dingo’s sudden howl swells near—
  He stares once with a startled gaze,
As half in wonder, half in fear,        55
Then sinks back on his unknown bier.


Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.