Leaves from Australian Forests

The Warrigal

Henry Kendall

THE WARRIGAL’S lair is pent in bare,
    Black rocks at the gorge’s mouth;
It is set in ways where Summer strays
    With the sprites of flame and drouth;
But when the heights are touched with lights
    Of hoar-frost, sleet, and shine,
His bed is made of the dead grass-blade
    And the leaves of the windy pine.

Through forest boles the storm-wind rolls,
    Vext of the sea-driv’n rain;
And, up in the clift, through many a rift,
    The voices of torrents complain.
The sad marsh-fowl and the lonely owl
    Are heard in the fog-wreaths grey,
When the warrigal wakes, and listens, and takes
    To the woods that shelter the prey.

In the gully-deeps the blind creek sleeps,
    And the silver, showery moon
Glides over the hills, and floats, and fills,
    And dreams in the dark lagoon;
While halting hard by the station yard,
    Aghast at the hut-flame nigh,
The warrigal yells—and flats and fells
    Are loud with his dismal cry.

On the topmost peak of mountains bleak
    The south wind sobs, and strays
Through moaning pine and turpentine,
    And the rippling runnel ways;
And strong streams flow, and great mists go,
    Where the warrigal starts to hear
The watch-dog’s bark break sharp in the dark,
    And flees like a phantom of fear.

The swift rains beat, and the thunders fleet
    On the wings of the fiery gale,
And down in the glen of pool and fen,
    The wild gums whistle and wail,
As over the plains and past the chains
    Of waterholes glimmering deep,
The warrigal flies from the shepherd’s cries,
    And the clamour of dogs and sheep.

He roves through the lands of sultry sands,
    He hunts in the iron range,
Untamed as surge of the far sea verge,
    And fierce and fickle and strange.
The white man’s track and the haunts of the black
    He shuns, and shudders to see;
For his joy he tastes in lonely wastes
    Where his mates are torrent and tree.

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