Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE LAST ABORIGINAL, by WILLIAM SHARP

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE LAST ABORIGINAL, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I see him sit, wild-eyed alone
Last Line: Then sinks back on his unknown bier.
Alternate Author Name(s): Macleod, Fiona
Subject(s): Aborigines, Australian; Australia; Death; Fear; Night; Dead, The; Bedtime

I see him sit, wild-eyed, alone,
Amidst gaunt, spectral, moonlit gums --
He waits for death: not once a moan
From out his rigid fixt lips comes;
His lank hair falls adown a face
Haggard as any wave-worn stone;
And in his eyes I dimly trace
The memory of a vanished race.

The lofty ancient gum-trees stand,
Each grey and ghostly in the moon;
The giants of an old strange land
That was exultant in its noon
When all our Europe was o'erturned
With deluge and with shifting sand,
With earthquakes that the hills inurned
And central fires that fused and burned.

The moon moves slowly through the vast
And solemn skies; the night is still,
Save when a warrigal springs past
With dismal howl, or when the shrill
Scream of a parrot rings which feels
A twining serpent's fangs fixt fast,
Or when a grey opossum squeals,
Or long iguana, as it steals

From bole to bole disturbs the leaves:
But hush'd and still he sits -- who knows
That all is o'er for him who weaves
With inner speech, malign, morose,
A curse upon the whites who came
And gather'd up his race like sheaves
Of thin wheat, fit but for the flame --
Who shot or spurned them without shame.

He knows he shall not see again
The creeks whereby the lyre-birds sing --
He shall no more upon the plain,
Sun scorch'd, and void of water-spring,
Watch the dark cassowaries sweep
In startled flight, or, with spear lain
In ready poise, glide, twist, and creep
Where the brown kangaroo doth leap.

No more in silent dawns he'll wait
By still lagoons, and mark the flight
Of black swans near: no more elate
Whirl high the boomerang aright
Upon some foe: he knows that now
He too must share his race's night --
He scarce can know the white man's plough
Will one day pass above his brow.

Last remnant of the Austral race
He sits and stares, with failing breath:
The shadow deepens on his face,
For 'midst the spectral gums waits death.
A dingo's sudden howl swells near --
He stares once with a startled gaze,
As half in wonder, half in fear,
Then sinks back on his unknown bier.

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