by Henry Kendall
The Poems of Henry Kendall (1920)
Vol. I – Poems and Songs
The gums in the gully stand gloomy and stark,
A torrent beneath them is leaping,
And the wind goes about like a ghost in the dark
Where a chief of Wahibbi lies sleeping!
He dreams of a battle — of foes of the past,
But he hears not the whooping abroad on the blast,
Nor the fall of the feet that are travelling fast.
Oh, why dost thou slumber, Kooroora?
They come o’er the hills in their terrible ire,
And speed by the woodlands and water;
They look down the hills at the flickering fire,
All eager and thirsty for slaughter.
Lo! the stormy moon glares like a torch from the vale,
And a voice in the belah grows wild in its wail,
As the cries of the Wanneroos swell with the gale —
Oh! rouse thee and meet them, Kooroora!
He starts from his sleep and he clutches his spear,
And the echoes roll backward in wonder,
For a shouting strikes into the hollow woods near,
Like the sound of a gathering thunder.
He clambers the ridge, with his face to the light,
The foes of Wahibbi come full in his sight —
The waters of Mooki will redden to-night.
Go! and glory awaits thee, Kooroora!
Lo! yeelamans splinter and boomerangs clash,
And a spear through the darkness is driven —
It whizzes along like a wandering flash
From the heart of a hurricane riven.
They turn to the mountains, that gloomy-browed band;
The rain droppeth down with a moan to the land,
And the face of a chieftain lies buried in sand —
Oh, the light that was quenched with Kooroora!
To-morrow the Wanneroo dogs will rejoice,
And feast in this desolate valley;
But where are his brothers — the friends of his choice,
And why art thou absent, Ewalli?
Now silence draws back to the forest again,
And the wind, like a wayfarer, sleeps on the plain,
But the cheeks of a warrior bleach in the rain.
Oh! where are thy mourners, Kooroora?