she-oak

December 29, 2013

trees

Casuarina (she oak). It’s eerie when the wind blows through a stand of casuarina. The sound is a mournful whistle, and the branches clack and creak. Some Indigenous groups believe this is a sacred tree with the ability to communicate in an ancient language. The sound stirs my soul and I always feel alive and awake when in the presence of Casuarina.

Who hath lain him underneath
A lone oak by a lonely stream;
He hath heard an utterance breathe
Sadder than all else may seen.
.
Up in its dusk boughs out-tressing,
Like the hair of a giant’s head,
Mournful things beyond our guessing
Day and night are uttered.
.
Even when the waveless air
May only stir the lightest leaf,
A lowly voice keeps moaning there
Wordless oracles of grief.
.
But when nightly blasts are roaming,
Lowly is that voice no more;
From the streaming branches coming
Elfin shrieks are heard to pour.
.
While between the blast on-passing,
And the blast that comes as oft,
Mid those boughs, dark intermassing,
One long low wail pines aloft.
.
Till the listener surely deems
That some weird spirit of the air
Hath made those boughs the lute of themes
Wilder, darker than despair.
.
Darker than a woe whose morrow
Must be travelling to an end—
Wilder than the wildest sorrow
That in death hath still a friend;
.
Some lonely spirit that hath dwelt
For ages in one lonely tree—
Some weary spirit that hath felt
The burthen of eternity.
.
Charles Harpur 1880 (The Voice of the Swamp Oak)
http://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/harpur-charles/the-voice-of-the-swamp-oak-0003017
.
Here is a link to a booklet containing the Dreaming stories of Prospect Creek. On page 33 is one mob’s story of why the Casuarina makes the sound that it does.
.

 

Advertisements

Subscribe

Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

4 Comments on “she-oak”

  1. greenmackenzie Says:

    What a beautiful post…I would love to hear the song of this tree.

    Reply

  2. Beauty Along the Road Says:

    The poem is a bit eerie and dark… I wonder what it would be like to sit underneath the tree and just listen, then write whatever comes…

    Reply

    • tree girl Says:

      Hi Annette.

      The poem is a good representation of what the she-oak sounds like. I get a shiver down my spine every time I think of the sound. I think this is one of Charles Harpur’s best poems.

      I have added a link to the post. A booklet that I found quite by chance. Each clan (or mob) would have their own story about why the she-oak sings the way she does.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: