Swags Up!

The Domain

J. Le Gay Brereton

THE bulging cloud mounts lazily
    In shade where sunlight glances through,
And sweeping lightly from the tree
    Melts indolently in the blue.

The scanty grass-blades yonder shake,
    A tremulous flurry takes the smoke,
And ancient memories start awake
    At pungent scent of fig and oak.

For here of old an urchin strayed
    And gloomed in lonely pride the while,
An outlaw in a forest glade
    Or pirate on a tropic isle.

Here where a staid policeman strolls
    Ned Kelly in his armour stood,
And underneath the roadway rolls
    The river of the Haunted Wood.

And yonder, couched in phantom fern,
    Not far from Nelson’s rolling ship,
I spied the antler’d head of Herne
    And saw the startled rabbit skip.

And Will Wing shook in desperate strife
    Defiantly his bloody hand,
And heard the waves of daily life
    Drone on the reef-ring, far from land.

Not Robin, clad in verdant baize,
    Nor Britain’s silver-plated king,
Was master of the winning ways
    That drew me to the flag of Wing.

He sauntered on the southern isle
    In garments of eccentric cut,
And, with his grim sardonic smile,
    Would masticate his coco-nut.

Within his cave, upon a heap
    Of Spanish coin and rubies red,
I’ve seen him lying half-asleep
    And dreaming of the blood he’d shed.

The gold-dust, spilled about the ground,
    Made common dirt a treasure rare,
And if you fingered it you found
    The flashing jewels buried there.

The seabird, sweeping free and far
    On wings of wonder, will not see
That green isle and its coral bar,
    That corsair and his mystery.

As when a lump of sugar shrinks,
    When coffee waves about it glide,
Crumbles and topples, melts and sinks,
    And mingles with the sombre tide,

So is the islet vanished; yet
    As now I gulp a bitter draught
The sweetness lingers. Up, and set
    The canvas of the rakish craft!

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