The Domain

A poem by John Le Gay Brereton

The bulging cloud mounts lazily
In shade where sunlight glances through,
And sweeping lightly from the tree
Melts indolently in the blue.

The scanty grass-blades yonder shake,
A tremulous flurry takes the smoke,
And ancient memories start awake
At pungent scent of fig and oak.

For here of old an urchin strayed
And gloomed in lonely pride the while,
An outlaw in a forest glade
Or pirate on a tropic isle.

Here where a staid policeman strolls
Ned Kelly in his armour stood,
And underneath the roadway rolls
The river of the Haunted Wood.

And yonder, couched in phantom fern,
Not far from Nelson’s rolling ship,
I spied the antler’d head of Herne
And saw the startled rabbit skip.

And Will Wing shook in desperate strife
Defiantly his bloody hand,
And heard the waves of daily life
Drone on the reef-ring, far from land.

Not Robin, clad in verdant baize,
Nor Britain’s silver-plated king,
Was master of the winning ways
That drew me to the flag of Wing.

He sauntered on the southern isle
In garments of eccentric cut,
And, with his grim sardonic smile,
Would masticate his coco-nut.

Within his cave, upon a heap
Of Spanish coin and rubies red,
I’ve seen him lying half-asleep
And dreaming of the blood he’d shed.

The gold-dust, spilled about the ground,
Made common dirt a treasure rare,
And if you fingered it you found
The flashing jewels buried there.

The seabird, sweeping free and far
On wings of wonder, will not see
That green isle and its coral bar,
That corsair and his mystery.

As when a lump of sugar shrinks,
When coffee waves about it glide,
Crumbles and topples, melts and sinks,
And mingles with the sombre tide,

So is the islet vanished; yet
As now I gulp a bitter draught
The sweetness lingers. Up, and set
The canvas of the rakish craft!

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