BellBirds – A Poem by Henry Kendall, in the Australian Bush of 1869


By channels of coolness the echoes are calling,

And down the dim gorges I hear the creek falling:

It lives in the mountain where moss and the sedges

Touch with their beauty the banks and the ledges.

Through breaks of the cedar and sycamore bowers

Struggles the light that is love to the flowers;

And, softer than slumber, and sweeter than singing,

The notes of the bell-birds are running and ringing.

The silver-voiced bell birds, the darlings of daytime!

They sing in September their songs of the May-time;

When shadows wax strong, and the thunder bolts hurtle,

They hide with their fear in the leaves of the myrtle;

When rain and the sunbeams shine mingled together,

They start up like fairies that follow fair weather;

And straightway the hues of their feathers unfolden

Are the green and the purple, the blue and the golden.

October, the maiden of bright yellow tresses,

Loiters for love in these cool wildernesses;

Loiters, knee-deep, in the grasses, to listen,

Where dripping rocks gleam and the leafy pools glisten:

Then is the time when the water-moons splendid

Break with their gold, and are scattered or blended

Over the creeks, till the woodlands have warning

Of songs of the bell-bird and wings of the Morning.

Welcome as waters unkissed by the summers

Are the voices of bell-birds to the thirsty far-comers.

When fiery December sets foot in the forest,

And the need of the wayfarer presses the sorest,

Pent in the ridges for ever and ever

The bell-birds direct him to spring and to river,

With ring and with ripple, like runnels who torrents

Are toned by the pebbles and the leaves in the currents.

Often I sit, looking back to a childhood,

Mixt with the sights and the sounds of the wildwood,

Longing for power and the sweetness to fashion,

Lyrics with beats like the heart-beats of Passion; –

Songs interwoven of lights and of laughters

Borrowed from bell-birds in far forest-rafters;

So I might keep in the city and alleys

The beauty and strength of the deep mountain valleys:

Charming to slumber the pain of my losses

With glimpses of creeks and a vision of mosses.

via BellBirds – A Poem by Henry Kendall, in the Australian Bush of 1869.

2 thoughts on “BellBirds – A Poem by Henry Kendall, in the Australian Bush of 1869”

    1. Izzy’s PhD is on the Mother of Henry, Melinda McNally Kendall, so we are fairly au fait with the family. She was born on the Hawkesbury at PittTown in 1815. Her Father was an irish Army deserter and convict. My ancestor Joahannah Ready was also a convict and at that time was Housekeeper at Government House Windsor so we have some overlapping. We are coming to the possibility that Henry’s poems may been collaborative works with his mother, brother and sisters who were verypoor following the early death of the father, Basil Kendall, in Grafton.

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