Henry Mackenzie Green (2 May 1881 - 9 September 1962 / Sydney)
The Locust drones along the drowsy noon,
The brown bee lingers in the yellow foam,
Blossom on blossom searching deep, but soon
Slides heavy-wingèd home.
The vacant air, half visible, complains
All overburdened of its noontide hour;
Sound after sound in heavy silence wanes
At the strong sun’s burning power.
Let the strong sun burn down the barren plain
And scour the empty heaven, and twist the air
To filmiest flickerings, o’er us in vain
His hollow vault doth glare.
For us gnarled boughs and massive boles o’ershade,
And tall bulrushes guard us with green spears
From the grim noon; our dewy jewelled glade
Never a footstep nears.
Come feast with us; behold our fragrant store
Of candied locusts, that no longer drone
Through summer eves, but transmigrated, pour
Thin goblin monotone
Through eucalyptine stillness as we rouse
Our gnomy anthem to the answering trees,
While gold-eyed toad-guards of our hidden house
Croak full-fed choruses.
Come visit us; O follow till you find
In some green shade our secret banquetings,
Where brolgas dance, and, some great stem behind,
A hidden lyrebird sings.
Ask of the eaglehawk in the blue air,
Ask of the chattering parrot, he should tell;
Fat possum in the tree bole, furry bear,
Us beast and bird know well.
The silver lizard on the sun-baked stone,
The green-flecked tree-snake in his circle coiled,
Dreaming of evil, man, and man alone
Missed us, howe’er he toiled.
Come feast thou with us; ancient kings of all,
We are the mystery at the heart of noon,
Weird unseen chucklers when long shadows fall
From the misleading moon.
We are the spirits of distorted trees;
We beckon down dim gullies, far astray,
Till lost, deep lost, the wild-eyed traveller sees
Dark at the heart of day.
And oh, we laughed about his last choked groans
Beside the water that he sought so long,
And oh, we danced about his clean-picked bones
To a gnomy undersong.
For all the day we chuckle and provoke
With mocking shapes and noises each bright hour,
But when dark even from his grave hath broke
Then are we lords of power.
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