(header photographs by Harry Waite 1912-2011)

The Myth of the Sacred Brumby

 

 

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Selected Poems from "Song of the Wild"
The Heath Country
 
Symphonic clash, prelude to the emergent day,
a veritable fireworks display, the Illawarra lilies shoot
ten feet into the air and burst crimson against the
blue white sky.
 
Imitation suns, they float above the undulating earth.
 
Red, green, yellow bells suspended in a tiny
carillion, sway out no tintinnabulation, yet extol the
glory of the Creation.
 
Native rose, far better than any garden-tamed
pale imitation, burns in an unconsuming conflagration,
catches the heart cords with its beauty.
 
Look, here a bonsai garden. Tiny stunted shrubs
and trees draw up the clay earth and spin it out into
tiny pin-headed blossoms.
 
Stretches away in isolation the heath country
with its spaces that make conversation die; giving rise
to contemplation.
 
Such a country in other ages would have given
rise to saints and sages.
 
 
The Bellbird Inn
 
The darkening forest closed around
as I, by coach, at end of day
came to a slab-built Gippsland pub;
lone light in many miles of grey.
 
I warmed myself by the parlour fire,
aglow with the oil-lampís yellow gleam,
and dined on silverside, carrots and spuds,
blackberry pie and thick rich cream.
 
Mary, the house-maid, played a mouth organ,
handy-man Jim blew a whistle of tin,
after tea, in the Gippsland forest,
that winter night at the Bellbird Inn.
 
I climbed aboard the coach next morning,
with crack of whip we sped away
through miles and miles of lonely bush
and soon lost thoughts of yesterday.
 
That happened many years ago,
but now, when winter fires begin,
I think of Gippsland, Mary and James,
and the tunes I heard at the Bellbird Inn.
 
 
Roy Davies
from a letter to Myles Dunphy
dated 9-1-1972
 
Song of the Wild
 
Over ironstone outcrops we cover the ground
Where wattle sets fire to the day;
Through deepening scrub the ridge breaks down
Where ledge after ledge falls away;
Below us the sunlight like silver is lying
On pools in a bouldery stream,
And the wind through the gorge with a music is sighing
The notes of a song in a dream,
The strange notes of a song in a dream:
 
Itís the song of the wind, the song of the wild
That travels the river and range;
The song you first heard when you were a child,
Haunting, beautiful and strange;
The song in your heart that as you grow old
Within you will never change.
 
We strive to the base of the cold wet cliffs
And facing the gorge we look down;
Above us monoliths glower in the mists
Their stark, inscrutable frown;
Torrents of water around us are crashing,
The wind whistles round the grim wall;
The mountain resounds like an orchestra thrashing
A symphony of thunder and squall Ė
A compelling and powerful call.
 
The canoe skims the surface, its motion is sure
As across the broad water it speeds;
With a southerly blowing we make for the shore
To the shelter of rushes and reeds,
And smoothly we glide, as the paddles dig in,
Down the side of the silent lagoon,
With the quavering rhythms and rhymes of the wind
Keeping time to a rustling tune,
A sighing and whispering tune.
 
We break from the brush through a thicket of mallee
As lorikeets screech their alarms,
And view from our vantage a rainforest valley
And crowns of cabbage tree palms;
Then over the mountain the song of a breeze
Of a cool and mysterious kind
Puts flight to the birds as it sings in the trees
A music that plays on the mind,
An enigma that stays on the mind:
 
So sing with the wind the song of the wild
That travels the river and range;
The song you first heard when you were child,
Haunting, beautiful and strange;
The song in your heart that as you grow old
Within you will never change.
 
 
Colin Gibson
February 1996