Henry Kendall

(18 April 1839 – 1 August 1882 / Ulladulla, New South Wales)

Aboriginal Death Song


Feet of the flying, and fierce
Tops of the sharp-headed spear,
Hard by the thickets that pierce,
Lo! they are nimble and near.
Women are we, and the wives
Strong Arrawatta hath won;
Weary because of our lives,
Sick of the face of the sun.

Koola, our love and our light,
What have they done unto you?
Man of the star-reaching sight,
Dipped in the fire and the dew.

Black-headed snakes in the grass
Struck at the fleet-footed lord—
Still is his voice at the pass,
Soundless his step at the ford.

Far by the forested glen,
Starkly he lies in the rain;
Kings of the council of men
Shout for their leader in vain.

Yea, and the fish-river clear
Never shall blacken below
Spear and the shadow of spear,
Bow and the shadow of bow.

Hunter and climber of trees,
Now doth his tomahawk rust,
(Dread of the cunning wild bees),
Hidden in hillocks of dust.

We, who were followed and bound,
Dashed under foot by the foe,
Sit with our eyes to the ground,
Faint from the brand and the blow.

Dumb with the sorrow that kills,
Sorrow for brother and chief,
Terror of thundering hills,
Having no hope in our grief,

Seeing the fathers are far
Seeking the spoils of the dead
Left on the path of the war,
Matted and mangled and red.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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