Verse > Anthologies > Walter Murdoch, comp. > The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse
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Walter Murdoch (1874–1970).  The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse.  1918.
 
94. Thrushes
 
By Frank S. Williamson
 
 
ENGLISH thrush within my garden from thy pinetree minaret,
Summoning the wandering Faithful while the crimson lingers yet!
Love’s Muezzin, loud entreating, and thy melody repeating
To the city folk so wan and old and haunted by regret.
Low I bow, your voice obeying, solemnly my Koran saying,        5
Love is Allah, Love is Allah, none his worship may forget.
 
Oft your song in dawn-lit woodlands o’er the camping cohorts borne
Woke in breasts of war-scarred Romans longings for a maid forsworn,
You set Saxon Alfred smiling, from his manuscripts beguiling,
And the monk beside him dreamed of days before his cowl was worn.        10
As the Norman heard you lilting he forsook the joy of tilting,
And harboured sweet pain in his heart on many an April morn.
 
Chaucer listened to your music in a springtime long ago,
And you warble in his verses where still the daisies blow,
And where Avon’s wave is gleaming, youthful Shakespeare wandered dreaming,        15
And paused to hear your evensong mix with the river’s flow.
King and minstrel could not linger, but your lyric love’s own singer,
Changeless in an Austral garden, lights my bosom with its glow.
 
Yet your grey Australian brother long has held my heart in thrall,
Since the time I heard him singing by a purple mountain wall.        20
Carelessly the day was spilling odours, all the valley filling,
And an amorous iris fluttered by a singing waterfall,
Hid in fern, of springtime crooning, bidding earth awake from swooning,
Long I lay beneath the myrtles listening to his madrigal.
 
Though a few belated snowflakes circled from a changing sky,        25
Every shrub and moss-lit boulder stirred responsive to the cry;
Swayed the blackwoods all a-shiver, dreaming by the snow-fed river,
Thrilled the gums with naked bosoms, ranked in stern battalions by:
Beautiful in caverns burning, swiftly came the Spring returning,
Musical from hill and valley came Demeter’s happy sigh.        30
 
Chant on, English thrush, and hearken many a pilgrim to thy lay;
Yet to your grey mountain brother I must always homage pay,
For he sings a nation rising, radiant with a sweet surmising,
Soaring high on vermeil pinions, over empires worn and grey;
Monarchs cease their grave debating, silent with their peoples waiting,        35
As the Jovian bird slow sweeping takes around the world his way.
 
Rise and shine, belovèd spirit, make the wide earth all thine own,
Scatter dews to heal the weary—turn to joy the nation’s moan;
Proudly through the azure soaring, splendour from thy pinions pouring,
Till the clouds o’er toilworn cities with thy starry beams are strewn.        40
Rome has heard thy forest voices, Sparta with their song rejoices,
Melodies that tell thy coming over all the lands are blown.
 
Sing, O sing, ye rival thrushes, let me capture each refrain;
You, the speckled singer, summon pictures of an English lane,
Daffodils and violets blooming, May her beauteous robe assuming,        45
Happy maids and eager lovers listening to thy joyous strain:
Grey thrush, lead me to the mountain, bathe me in thy song’s pure fountain,
Beautiful unsoiled bird-voices, long within my heart remain.
 

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