IF you happen to visit the Western Plains
When the summer is young and green,
You can see the green of the quandong leaves
With the quandong fruit between.
The fruit is the size of a plum, perhaps,
And red as your own blood's hue;
And it falls to the ground at the touch of the wind
Like a drop of crimson dew.
The wide plains lie with half-shut eyes
At peace in a golden swoon,
And the lizards drink their full of rest
Abask in the drowsy noon.
There is only the whir of a wing, perchance,
To startle the sleeping lands;
But the quandong trees, all green and red,
Are a-twinkle with little hands.
Oh, many a tress has turned to grey,
And many a song grown mute
Since Rita and Meg and Trixie and I
Went gathering quandong fruit.
And there we were on the plains alone
In the hush of a drowsy air —
Rita and Meg with roguish eyes
And Trixie with wayward hair.
A far mirage of mingled sun and dream
Was born of the noontide sleep,
And the rifled fruit of the quandongs lay
At our feet in a ruddy heap.
I know that the quandong's burning fruit
Still reddens the drowsy air;
That Trixie is grown and sometime wed,
And Rita is grave and fair.
I know that Meg of the roguish eyes,
Though ten long years be sped,
Still plucks the fruit of the quandong trees
When the quandong fruit is red.
I know — and I know to my loss, alas! —
That I stand where the winds blow cold,
And search, with others, another tree
For its scanty fruit of gold.