Casual Scenes



On Queensland river banks I've seen

            The sleepy Alligator lie basking in the sun,

Waiting for the rising of the stream

            Or the midday's piercing beam.

I've heard him crush the bullrush green

            In the swamps where the lilies bloom,

As he made his way for the running stream,

            Or his home in the big lagoon.

I've seen them in the great morass

            Beyond the river Styx,

Hidden away in the tall fen grass,

            Like a snake in the spinifex.

And I've seen the Black Eagle float o'er Malvern's dewy plains,

            And on the northern hilltops wait

And prune his swiftful wings to soar at Heaven's gate;

            Have seen him on his upward flight circling on his way,

Pass by the rugged mountain heights and near the sun's bright ray.

            I've seen the human skeletons lie bleaching on the sands

The autumn dews and winter rains had bleached their bony hands

            Out where the deadly night shade bloom

And the wild dog howls around that lonely tomb.

            Again in the far far west

The bones of a worn out wanderer lay

            Out on a desolate mountain crest

Through many a winter's night and scorching summer's day.

            Half a mile below on the plain,

The bones of his horse I saw,

            His fleshless feet still fettered in chain,

With the silent bell at his jaw.

            They both by cruel thirst were slain,

The one upon the mountain top,

The other on the plain

Where naught but the shriek of the wild curlew

            Comes up with the evening dew.

The spiders now spin their slimy web

            Within the caverns of the fleshless heads,

And lizards dare to creep

            Around those silent sinueless feet.

The locks long since had withered from this shiny head

            And from those empty eyecups the lamps of life hath fled,

And from the hollow cheeks the bloom hath rushed

            And taken refuge in the thirsty dust,

Though once within the cavern of this mouth there hung

            A constant quick and silvery tongue,

Now insects dwell and crawl within,

            Armed with a fierce and deadly sting.

Would now the fair one dare to kiss

            Those lips which once she'd ask no greater bliss?

Where is that soft and graceful neck

            Naught, but a few disjointed bones are left

To mark round which many a silken scarf had decked.

Those bony hands once wrought deep in a mine,

Now they cannot raise a stone to mark the spot.

            Though once they sailed a ship on the ocean brine

They now lie here in time, to rot.

            Yes I see the place where once the fatal heart did beat,

Of all the hopes, the joys, the seat

            Where many a fondly cherished scheme took root

But alas withered ere it bore the fruit.

            Those hideous white and shapeless feet

No more along the world's highway shall tread,

            Or to the music's time shall beat,

But linger here in slow decay.

What a fool to muse on a shell that's broken

What worth since its pearl hath gone;

            Tis but to my young life a token

Of what to each mortal shall come.


            Thos. L. Fox