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  ― 3 ―

To the Story-Makers

WHEN fairies weave a wizard spell,
And conjure up before our eyes
The days and scenes we loved so well,
And men and maids long lost arise—
When at their bidding camp-fires gleam
With boiling billy on the hook,
It seems so true and sweet a dream
The gazer nearer draws to look.

Up with the sun, we paddocks pass,
Where lazy bullocks lift their heaas
To see us go, then crop the grass
That grows beside the dry creek-beds.
The stock-whip coils upon our knee,
Our pannikin is strapped behind;
We ride across the wakening lea
The lost and straying beasts to find.

The wary kangaroos close by
Are browsing when our nags draw near;
Alarmed, they to their joeys fly,
Who in a twinkling disappear—

  ― 4 ―
Disdaining haste—with measured bounds
They vanish o'er the distant hill;
We whistle back the eager dogs
So thirsty to pursue and kill.

Once more the crystal creek we breast,
Showering its pearl-drops high in air;
We part the rushes, see a nest
Of ducklings golden hidden there!
While fairy fish in glittering flocks
Dart o'er the pebbles blue and red,
A kukaburra laughs and mocks,
Safe in a gum-tree overhead.

Now slowly forging up the track
The tired musterer returns;
His hanging head and bended back
Above his horse one scarce discerns.
His idle reins no touch await
To guide or check the patient steed,
Who stops beside the homestead gate
To pull a switch of swamp-grown feed.

Then over all a tender light
Slow settles as the sunlight dies:
The tree-tops catch its misty white
Ere yet upon the land it lies;
The flowers know it and are glad,
The breezes meet it with a sigh,
The bushman sees it and grows sad
And thoughtful, though he recks not why.

  ― 5 ―
'Tis night! how still the bush has grown,
With sentinels of ring-barked trees;
The ghostly stars give light alone,
And mournful whispers fill each breeze!
A lonely 'possum steals along
And lightly passes to its nest,
A sleepy mopoke drones a song,
Then the vast land sinks into rest.

A magic power indeed ye hold
Who wield the sweet, enchanted pen;
To more old hearts than could be told
Thou bringest back life's youth again!
Beneath thy thrall hopes blossom fair,
The soul's regret forgotten lies,
With lagging wings afar flies Care,
And Joy beams forth from happy eyes!

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