English poetry

Poems in English

White Cockatoos

White Cockatoos

Now the autumn maize is growing,
Now the corn-cob fills,
Where the Little River flowing
Winds among the hills.
Over mountain peaks outlying
Clear against the blue
Comes a scout in silence flying,
One white cockatoo.
Back he goes to where the meeting
Waits among the trees.
Says, “The corn is fit for eating;
Hurry, if you please.”
Skirmishers, their line extendiing,
Shout the joyful news;
Down they drop like snow descending,
Clouds of cockatoos.

At their husking competition
Hear them screech and yell.
On a gum tree’s high position
Sits a sentinel.
Soon the boss goes boundary riding;
But the wise old bird,
Mute among the branches hiding,
Never says a word.

Then you hear the strident squalling:
“Here’s the boss’s son,
Through the garden bushes crawling,
Crawling with a gun.
May the shiny cactus bristles
Fill his soul with woe;
May his knees get full of thistles.
Brothers, let us go.”

Old Black Harry sees them going,
Sketches Nature’s plan:
“That one cocky too much knowing,
All same Chinaman.
One eye shut and one eye winkin’
Never shut the two;
Chinaman go dead, me thinkin’,
Jump up cockatoo.”



Poem White Cockatoos - Andrew Barton Paterson