MEN knew and loved my calling in old days—
Days ere a bitter wisdom taught me fear.
Trusting and unafraid, I went my ways
By many a crude hut of the pioneer;
Calling by paths where lonely axemen strode,
By new-cleared farmland yet to know the plough;
Calling by deep sled track and bullock road . . .
But where to-day man builds his last abode
Few hear my calling now.
Too trusting. When they found my flesh was sweet—
Was sweet and white and succulent withal—
What mattered beauty? I was good to eat!
Then trust was my undoing; and my call
A summons to men’s hunger and the chase—
A tame, ignoble chase with me the prey—
Till far into some secret forest place
I fled, with that poor remnant of my race
In hiding here to-day.
And only by lost paths o’ergrown with fern—
By old, abandoned tracks in scrubs remote—
You may, by chance, around a sudden turn,
Win some brief, fleeting glimpse of my grey coat.
Then, with a swift wing clapping, I am hence;
Or, crouching down, ingenuously seek
To merge my colours with the brushwood dense
And trick the spoiler, with the vain defence
Of all earth’s harried meek.