When Morgan crossed the Murray to Peechelba and doom
A sombre silent shadow rode with him through the gloom.
The wild things of the forest slunk from the outlaw's track,
The boobook croaked a warning, "Go back, go back, go back!"
It woke no answering echo in Morgan's blackened soul,
As onward through the darkness he rode towards his goal.
An evil man was Morgan, a price was on his head;
The simple bush-folk whispered his very name with dread;
Before the fierce Dan Morgan the bravest man might quake-
A cold and callous killer, he killed for killing's sake. .
Past swamp and creek and gully, and settler's lone abode,
Towards the station homestead the grim Dan Morgan rode.
And still that hooded horseman that Morgan could not see,
Watched by the wild bush-creatures, rode close beside his knee.
Before them in a clearing a drover's campfire burned:
The phantom rode with Morgan, and turned when Morgan turned.
And loud the boobook's warning came on the cold night air,
"Go back, go back, Dan Morgan. Beware, beware, beware!"
He reached the station homestead, into the hall he strode,
And on his evil features, the flickering lamplight glowed.
"Into one room!" he thundered. Bring me a glass of grog!
If any disobey me I'll shoot him like a dog!"
With pistols cocked and ready, dark-eyed and beetle-browed-
Before the famous outlaw the bravest hearts were cowed.
All night with loaded pistols he dozed and muttered there,
All night the evil shadow stood close behind his chair.
The brave Scotch girl McDonald, a lass who knew no fear,
Slipped out unseen by Morgan to warn the homesteads near.
And in the hours of darkness, before the break of dawn,
Around the fierce Dan Morgan the fatal net was drawn.
Day broke upon the Murray, the morning mists were gone,
The magpies sang their matins, the river murmured on.
When Morgan left the homestead and neared the stockyard gate
He heard the boobooks warning, and turned but turned to late -
For Quinlan pressed the trigger as Morgan swung around,
And sent the grim bushranger blaspheming to the ground.
So fell the dread Dan Morgan in Eighteen sixty-five,
In death as much unpitied as hated when alive.
He lived by blood and plunder, an outlaw to the end;
In life he showed no mercy, in death he left no friend.
And all who seek to follow in Morgan's evil track
Should heed the boobook's warning: "Go back, go back, go back!"
Edward Harrington's Other Poems
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