Monday, 10 September 2007

'Bellbirds' by Henry Kendall


This poem was first published in a work entitled "Leaves from Australian Forests" by Henry Kendall in the year of 1869.

By channels of coolness the echoes are calling,
And down the dim gorges I hear the creek falling:
It lives in the mountain where moss and the sedges
Touch with their beauty the banks and the ledges.
Through breaks of the cedar and sycamore bowers
Struggles the light that is love to the flowers;
And, softer than slumber, and sweeter than singing,
The notes of the bell-birds are running and ringing.

The silver-voiced bell birds, the darlings of daytime!
They sing in September their songs of the May-time;
When shadows wax strong, and the thunder bolts hurtle,
They hide with their fear in the leaves of the myrtle;
When rain and the sunbeams shine mingled together,
They start up like fairies that follow fair weather;
And straightway the hues of their feathers unfolden
Are the green and the purple, the blue and the golden.

October, the maiden of bright yellow tresses,
Loiters for love in these cool wildernesses;
Loiters, knee-deep, in the grasses, to listen,
Where dripping rocks gleam and the leafy pools glisten:
Then is the time when the water-moons splendid
Break with their gold, and are scattered or blended
Over the creeks, till the woodlands have warning
Of songs of the bell-bird and wings of the Morning.

Welcome as waters unkissed by the summers
Are the voices of bell-birds to the thirsty far-comers.
When fiery December sets foot in the forest,
And the need of the wayfarer presses the sorest,
Pent in the ridges for ever and ever
The bell-birds direct him to spring and to river,
With ring and with ripple, like runnels who torrents
Are toned by the pebbles and the leaves in the currents.

Often I sit, looking back to a childhood,
Mixt with the sights and the sounds of the wildwood,
Longing for power and the sweetness to fashion,
Lyrics with beats like the heart-beats of Passion; -
Songs interwoven of lights and of laughters
Borrowed from bell-birds in far forest-rafters;
So I might keep in the city and alleys
The beauty and strength of the deep mountain valleys:
Charming to slumber the pain of my losses
With glimpses of creeks and a vision of mosses.

(The bellbird itself is a very small greyish bird. Its call or melody is simply one singular chiming note which seems to ring through their environmental habitat - the mountains and their foothills of Eastern Australia. They may be heard clearly in the quietness of the mountains and hills, although are rarely seen).

1 comment:

rufina caraid said...

I adore this poem by Kendall and came across your site when looking for something else but the word 'Gumnut' dragged me in. Such a delightdul experience.
I also treasure 'The Last of His Tribe' - what insight Kendall was blessed with.
Regards,

Von - Brisbane
These poems of Kendalls have been added by myself to this educational website.
http://oldpoetry.com/oauthor/show/Henry_Kendall