Skeleton Flat

A poem by Henry Lawson

Here's never a bough to be tossed in the breeze,
For it’s long since the forest was green;
And round all the trunks of the naked white trees
The marks of the death-ring are seen.
The solemn-faced bear, who had looked on the blacks
From his home with the ’possum and cat,
Blinked anxiously down when the death-dealing axe
Was ring-barking Skeleton Flat.

And, strange to be seen in the evergreen south,
The gums for ten summers have stood,
And dried in the terrible furnace of drouth,
Till harder than flint is the wood.
Now tall grows the grass at the roots of the trees,
But a beautiful forest it cost;
And the heart of the splitter is sad when he sees
And thinks of the timber that’s lost.

Here flies, through a sky that is glazed, the black crow,
And the eagle goes circling around,
Or evilly sits on a branch that is low,
With his gleaming black eye on the ground.
And loudly the jackasses chuckle in mirth,
When a comrade flies upward, until
Like a fragment of thread, in its height from the earth,
Is the writhing brown snake in his bill.

O fit for the place are the curlews that wail
On the banks of a distant lagoon,
Or round by the swamps that are shallow and pale
In the light of the nights of the moon;
When glist’ning and white are the frost-covered trees
That dead for ten summers have stood;
And the stranger, benighted, might fancy he sees
The skeleton wraith of a wood.

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