Joseph Furphy

(1843 - 1912 / Australia)

The Bullfrog Bell


Now the truce of night brings respite to the sordid care of day,
And in listlessness I pace the river side,
Where the solitude is wounded by no lighted window's ray;
But illicit fancy will not be denied
For the darkening flat reiterates a freer life's farewell,
In the long familiar knocking of a bullfrog bell.

And in reverie I see the loaded waggons slowly creep,
Far across the western plains of New South Wales;
With 'talking' wheels and platforms, with wool-ropes biting deep,
And the dust of two broad countries on the vales.
Till the stars take shape in patterns, and through their dreamy spell
Comes the low, incessant knocking of the bullfrog bell.

And the retrospection lingers, bringing spiritless regret,
Though the northward track is open to me still
I may count the morning muster — I may track the stragglers yet
I may spell or battle onward, as I will
I may wake at night to listen, and know that all is well
By the reassuring answer of the bullfrog bell.

But that virile life repeated would be wearisome and trite,
Since the glamour of adventure cannot last
When the future, with its freshness, its pulsing, roseate light,
Has congealed into a leaden-coloured Past.
So an unreturning era owns its sympathetic knell
In the melancholy knocking of that bull-frog bell.

Submitted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010

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