The Old Gum by Florence Bullivant

Stand here; he has once been a grand old gum,
But it makes one reflect that the time will come
When we all shall have had our fling;
Yet, our life soon passes, we scarce know how—
You would hardly think, to see him now,
That once he had been a king.
In his youth, in the silence of the wood,
A forest of saplings around him stood;
But he overtopped them all.
And, over their heads, through the forest shade,
He could see how the sunlight danced and played,
So straight he grew, and so tall.
Each day of his life brought something new,
The breeze stirred the bracken, the dry leaves flew,
The wild bird passed on the wing:
He heard the low, sad song of the wood,
His childhood was passed in its solitude;
And he grew—and became a king.
Oft has he stood on the stormy night,
When the long-forked flash has revealed to sight
The plain where the floods were out;
When the wind came down like a hurricane,
And the branches, broken and snapped in twain,
Were scattered and strewn about.
 
Oft, touched by the reddening bush-fire glow,
When clouds of smoke, rolling up from below,
Obscured the sun like a pall;
When the forest seemed like a flaming sea,
And down came many a mighty tree,
Has he stood firm through it all.
Those days of his youth have long gone by;
The magpie's note and the parrot's cry,
As borne on the evening wind,
Recall to his thoughts his childhood flown,
Old memories, fresh, yet faintly blown,
Of the youth he has left behind.
On the brow of the hill he stands to-day,
But the pride of his life has passed away;
His leaves are withered and sere.
And oft at night comes a sound of woe,
As he sways his tired limbs to and fro
And laments to the bleak night air.
He can still look down on the plain below,
And his head is decked by the sunset glow
With a glorious crown of light;
And from every field, as the night draws on,
To his spreading arms the magpies come
To shelter there for the night.
Some night, when the waters rage and swell,
He will hear the thunder roll his knell,
And will bow his head to the ground;
And the birds from their nests will wheel in the air,
And the rabbits burrow deeper in fear,
At the thundering, rending sound.
And the magpies must find another home;
No more, at the sunset, will they come
To warble their evening song.
Ah, well! our sorrow is quickly flown,
For the good old friends we have loved and known:
And the old tree falls by the tall new grown,
And the weak must yield to the strong.