Verse > Anthologies > Walter Murdoch, comp. > The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse
Walter Murdoch (1874–1970).  The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse.  1918.
190. Bush Goblins
By H. M. Green
THE LOCUST drones along the drowsy noon,
The brown bee lingers in the yellow foam,
Blossom on blossom searching deep, but soon
  Slides heavy-wingèd home.
The vacant air, half visible, complains        5
All overburdened of its noontide hour;
Sound after sound in heavy silence wanes
  At the strong sun’s burning power.
Let the strong sun burn down the barren plain
And scour the empty heaven, and twist the air        10
To filmiest flickerings, o’er us in vain
  His hollow vault doth glare.
For us gnarled boughs and massive boles o’ershade,
And tall bulrushes guard us with green spears
From the grim noon; our dewy jewelled glade        15
  Never a footstep nears.
Come feast with us; behold our fragrant store
Of candied locusts, that no longer drone
Through summer eves, but transmigrated, pour
  Thin goblin monotone        20
Through eucalyptine stillness as we rouse
Our gnomy anthem to the answering trees,
While gold-eyed toad-guards of our hidden house
  Croak full-fed choruses.
Come visit us; O follow till you find        25
In some green shade our secret banquetings,
Where brolgas dance, and, some great stem behind,
  A hidden lyrebird sings.
Ask of the eaglehawk in the blue air,
Ask of the chattering parrot, he should tell;        30
Fat possum in the tree bole, furry bear,
  Us beast and bird know well.
The silver lizard on the sun-baked stone,
The green-flecked tree-snake in his circle coiled,
Dreaming of evil, man, and man alone        35
  Missed us, howe’er he toiled.
Come feast thou with us; ancient kings of all,
We are the mystery at the heart of noon,
Weird unseen chucklers when long shadows fall
  From the misleading moon.        40
We are the spirits of distorted trees;
We beckon down dim gullies, far astray,
Till lost, deep lost, the wild-eyed traveller sees
  Dark at the heart of day.
And oh, we laughed about his last choked groans        45
Beside the water that he sought so long,
And oh, we danced about his clean-picked bones
  To a gnomy undersong.
For all the day we chuckle and provoke
With mocking shapes and noises each bright hour,        50
But when dark even from his grave hath broke
  Then are we lords of power.


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