The Singing-Woman From The Wood's Edge

What should I be but a prophet and a liar,
Whose mother was a leprechaun, whose father was a friar?
Teethed on a crucifix and cradled under water,
What should I be but the fiend's god-daughter?

And who should be my playmates but the adder and the frog,
That was got beneath a furze-bush and born in a bog?
And what should be my singing, that was christened at an altar,
But Aves and Credos and Psalms out of the Psalter?

You will see such webs on the wet grass, maybe,
As a pixie-mother weaves for her baby,


The Silent Shearer

Weary and listless, sad and slow,
Without any conversation,
Was a man that worked on The Overflow,
The butt of the shed and the station.

The shearers christened him Noisy Ned,
With an alias "Silent Waters",
But never a needless word he said
In the hut or the shearers' quarters.

Which caused annoyance to Big Barcoo,
The shed's unquestioned ringer,
Whose name was famous Australia through
As a dancer, fighter and singer.

He was fit for the ring, if he'd had his rights


The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim's Point

I.
I stand on the mark beside the shore
Of the first white pilgrim's bended knee,
Where exile turned to ancestor,
And God was thanked for liberty.
I have run through the night, my skin is as dark,
I bend my knee down on this mark . . .
I look on the sky and the sea.

II.
O pilgrim-souls, I speak to you!
I see you come out proud and slow
From the land of the spirits pale as dew. . .
And round me and round me ye go!
O pilgrims, I have gasped and run
All night long from the whips of one


The Post That Fitted

Though tangled and twisted the course of true love
This ditty explains,
No tangle's so tangled it cannot improve
If the Lover has brains.



Ere the seamer bore him Eastward, Sleary was engaged to marry
An attractive girl at Tunbridge, whom he called "my little Carrie."
Sleary's pay was very modest; Sleary was the other way.
Who can cook a two-plate dinner on eight poor rupees a day?

Long he pondered o'er the question in his scantly furnished quarters --


The Precocious Baby - a Very True Tale

An elderly person - a prophet by trade -
With his quips and tips
On withered old lips,
He married a young and a beautiful maid;
The cunning old blade!
Though rather decayed,
He married a beautiful, beautiful maid.

She was only eighteen, and as fair as could be,
With her tempting smiles
And maidenly wiles,
And he was a trifle past seventy-three:
Now what she could see
Is a puzzle to me,
In a prophet of seventy - seventy-three!

Of all their acquaintances bidden (or bad)


The Player Piano

I ate pancakes one night in a Pancake House
Run by a lady my age. She was gay.
When I told her that I came from Pasadena
She laughed and said, "I lived in Pasadena
When Fatty Arbuckle drove the El Molino bus."

I felt that I had met someone from home.
No, not Pasadena, Fatty Arbuckle.
Who's that? Oh, something that we had in common
Like -- like -- the false armistice. Piano rolls.
She told me her house was the first Pancake House

East of the Mississippi, and I showed her


The Old Swimmin' Hole

1 Oh! the old swimmin'-hole! whare the crick so still and deep
2 Looked like a baby-river that was laying half asleep,
3 And the gurgle of the worter round the drift jest below
4 Sounded like the laugh of something we onc't ust to know
5 Before we could remember anything but the eyes
6 Of the angels lookin' out as we left Paradise;
7 But the merry days of youth is beyond our controle,
8 And it's hard to part ferever with the old swimmin'-hole.


The Onondaga Madonna

She stands full-throated and with careless pose,
This woman of a weird and waning race,
The tragic savage lurking in her face,
Where all her pagan passion burns and glows;
Her blood is mingled with her ancient foes,
And thrills with war and wildness in her veins;
Her rebel lips are dabbled with the stains
Of feuds and forays and her father's woes.

And closer in the shawl about her breast,
The latest promise of her nation's doom,
Paler than she her baby clings and lies,
The primal warrior gleaming from his eyes;


The Onion, Memory

Divorced, but friends again at last,
we walk old ground together
in bright blue uncomplicated weather.
We laugh and pause
to hack to bits these tiny dinosaurs,
prehistoric, crenelated, cast
between the tractor ruts in mud.

On the green, a junior Douglas Fairbanks,
swinging on the chestnut's unlit chandelier,
defies the corporation spears--
a single rank around the bole,
rusty with blood.
Green, tacky phalluses curve up, romance
A gust--the old flag blazes on its pole.

In the village bakery


The Old And The New Masters

About suffering, about adoration, the old masters
Disagree. When someone suffers, no one else eats
Or walks or opens the window--no one breathes
As the sufferers watch the sufferer.
In St. Sebastian Mourned by St. Irene
The flame of one torch is the only light.
All the eyes except the maidservant's (she weeps
And covers them with a cloth) are fixed on the shaft
Set in his chest like a column; St. Irene's
Hands are spread in the gesture of the Madonna,
Revealing, accepting, what she does not understand.


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