We could hear the sound of water On this winter’s day Walking in the valley Poems along the way I met the Chinese lion We watched the dancing trees He shared his love of the Mountains And all the things he sees. Singing on a rock ledge His songs were everywhere He told me of the bush bird In love with him down there We spoke about our childhood In the silence of the day His visions of the women In pools along our way. He talked of solitary pleasure I remembered the roaring crowd Past Mountain Ash and Wattle He chanted songs aloud Old Billy Wye and Robin Bell Their memory will live on Through the years they’ll continue That’s the power of a song. We gazed at moss and marvelled Their fingers on display His thoughts about song writing Where honesty ruled the day A kookaburra’s laughter Made our time complete I’m sure to remember my bush walk With the Poet Lorikeet.
NOTES ON THE SONG
‘the Chinese lion’
In the poem The Gifted Stone Denis featured this ‘lion that guards the ferny glen’ i.e. Denfenella (Ah, White Man, Have You Any Sacred Sites? p 13)
‘I remembered the roaring crowd’
This line alludes to Denis’ song The Roar of the Crowd which I first heard in 1965 on the long playing record Australian Broadside by Gary Shearston.
‘Old Billy Wye and Robin Bell’
William (’Billy’) James Wye (1866-1952) was a Victorian bushman and poet. Denis set some of Wye’s poetry to music. He had recently written a song about Robin Bell, a farmer, at the time of our walk.
‘We gazed at moss and marvelled
Their fingers on display’
The reference is to Denis’s song Moss’s Gentle Fingers. (Ah, White Man – p19) This song includes the memorable verse:
Like octopus’s tentacles, the roots of trees have grown,
With steel embrace, they vainly try to crush the hearts of stone,
And stone from stone, and tree from tree, or is it stone from tree?
They wrestle, in the half-light, for the lyre-bird and me,
The lyre-bird and me.
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