Bell Birds

Original Text: 
The Poems of Henry Kendall, ed. Bertram Stephens (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1920): 88-89. Sydney Electronic Text and Image Service (SETIS), digital text sponsored by AustLit:
2And down the dim gorges I hear the creek falling;
3It lives in the mountain where moss and the sedges
4Touch with their beauty the banks and the ledges.
6Struggles the light that is love to the flowers.
7And, softer than slumber, and sweeter than singing,
8The notes of the bell-birds are running and ringing.
9The silver-voiced bell-birds, the darlings of day-time,
10They sing in September their songs of the May-time;
11When shadows wax strong and the thunder-bolts hurtle,
13When rain and the sunbeams shine mingled together,
14They start up like fairies that follow fair weather;
15And straightway the hues of their feathers unfolden
16Are the green and the purple, the blue and the golden.
17October, the maiden of bright yellow tresses,
18Loiters for love in these cool wildernesses;
19Loiters knee-deep in the grasses, to listen,
20Where dripping rocks gleam and the leafy pools glisten:
21Then is the time when the water-moons splendid
22Break with their gold, and are scattered or blended
23Over the creeks, till the woodlands have warning
24Of songs of the bell-bird and wings of the Morning.
25Welcome as waters unkissed by the summers
26Are the voices of bell-birds to thirsty far-comers.
28And the need of the wayfarer presses the sorest,
30The bell-birds direct him to spring and to river,
31With ring and with ripple, like runnels whose torrents
32Are toned by the pebbles and leaves in the currents.
33Often I sit, looking back to a childhood,
34Mixt with the sights and the sounds of the wildwood,
35Longing for power and the sweetness to fashion,
36Lyrics with beats like the heart-beats of passion--
37Songs interwoven of lights and of laughters
38Borrowed from bell-birds in far forest-rafters;
39So I might keep in the city and alleys
40The beauty and strength of the deep mountain valleys,
41Charming to slumber the pain of my losses
42With glimpses of creeks and a vision of mosses.


1] bell-birds: a species of honeyeater native to southeastern Australia that feeds on psyllid insects in eucalyptus forests. Back to Line
5] brake: an area overgrown with dense brush or undergrowth; a thicket. Back to Line
12] myrtle: an evergreen shrub or tree, of which some kinds are native to Australia. Back to Line
27] fiery December: the height of the hot season in Australia. Back to Line
29] pent: closely confined. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
Leaves from Australian Forests (1869)
RPO poem Editors: 
Cameron La Follette
RPO Edition: