australia, Australian bush poetry, Australian traditional poetry, daly river, northern terrritory, poem, poetry
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The Daly (pronounced “daily”) river is in tropical northern Australia where
there are only two seasons: The Wet and The Dry..
By those northern river banks,
There in days gone by I wandered,
By clear streaming waters pondered,
Youthful hours were never squandered,
By those sandy verdant flanks.
Saw the rain in torrents falling,
Heard the native dogs there calling,
Saw from sea the rain clouds squalling,
By the Daly river banks.
Born upon a distant range,
All the streams that feed the Daly,
Flowing slow or tumbling gaily,
Come the rains it rises daily,
In a flash the seasons change.
Down the stony gullies creeping,
From the fissured hillside seeping,
Rolling clouds their tears are weeping,
Over all the monsoon’s range.
Sheeting over flats and plains,
By the creeks clear waters flowing,
To the raging river going,
As the land the heavens sowing,
Ever heavy fall the rains.
Then at last the gloom is breaking,
Sun asleep in cloud is waking,
Mud upon the flood plains baking,
So at length the wet it wanes.
In its middle reaches flows,
Beautiful and clear and gleaming,
By treed sandy banks it’s streaming,
With life in its waters teeming,
So it ever onward goes.
Over rocky bar it crashes,
Past the jutting sandbar dashes,
Dancing light in flowing flashes,
Cool but molten – bright it glows.
As the season turns to dry
Slowly flows the Daly river,
Piercing snags in currents quiver,
Sunken trees whose branches shiver,
Where at rest their bodies lie.
There a crocodile is sliding,
Close by muddy bank is hiding,
As the river calmly gliding,
Soft the passing waters sigh.
Soon the river widens more,
There a rolling wave is crashing,
White with foam and spray there splashing,
Sodden banks the torrent lashing,
Upstream runs the tidal bore.
Waters fresh and brackish blending,
Eddies, swirls, and whirlpools rending,
Still the winding river wending,
To the distant ocean shore.
Now the waters grey and wide,
As her heavy heart is flagging,
Wearily her burden dragging,
In her race to broad sea lagging,
Battling the surging tide.
But there spreads the great wide water,
And from there to every quarter,
There’s no force on Earth will thwart her,
‘Till whatever fates decide.
© Dennis N. O’Brien, 2011