The Singing Garden

The Little Black Cormorant

C.J. Dennis

BY inlet and islet and wide river reaches,
By lake and lagoon I’m at home;
Yet oft the far forests of blue gum and beeches
About the broad ranges I roam.
    “There’s a strange, sombre bird with a hook in his beak.”
    ’Tis the little black cormorant raiding your creek.

And woe to the fisher and woe to the fishes—
A gourmand, I freely confess—
When I come a-searching for succulent dishes,
Arrayed in my funeral dress.
    Then the fishermen rave, and in anger they speak:
    “There’s a little black cormorant coming up creek!”

But I’m quick and I’m cunning, as many a greyling,
A blackfish, a trout or a bream
Has known to his sorrow when down I go sailing
To hunt him beneath the dark stream.
    To my cavernous maw then they all come alike,
    And ’tis death should the little black cormorant strike.

But I am an outlaw. I’m hunted and harried.
I’m banned from the havens of men.
And woe is to me if too long I have tarried—
A shot o’er the waters—and then,
    There is reason indeed for my funeral dress.
    For alas, here’s a little black cormorant less!

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