Kenneth Slessor (27 March 1901 – 30 June 1971 / Orange, New South Wales)
The Country Ride
EARTH which has known so many passages
Of April air, so many marriages
Of strange and lovely atoms breeding light,
Never may find again that lost delight.
In the sharp sky, the frosty deepnesses,
There are still birds to barb the silences,
There are still fields to meet the morning on,
But those who made them beautiful have gone.
Diamonds are flung by other smoking springs,
But where is he that cropped their offerings—
The pick-purse of enchantments, riding by,
Whistling his 'Go and Be Hanged, That's Twice Good bye'?
Who such a frolic pomp of blessing made
To kiss a little pretty dairymaid. . . .
And country wives with bare and earth-burnt knees,
And boys with beer, and smiles from balconies. . . .
The greensleeve girl, apprentice-equerry,
Tending great men with slant-eye mockery:
'Then Mr Sam says, ‘Riding's hot,’ he says,
Tasting their ale and waving twopences. . . . '
Into one gaze they swam, a moment swirled,
One fiery paintbox of the body's world—
Into Sam's eye, that flying bushranger—
Swinging their torches for earth's voyager.
And how the blood sang, and the senses leapt,
And cells that under tents of horn had slept
Rose dancing, at the black and faceless bale
Of gallows-flesh that had not girl nor ale!
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