At Binalong, while searching debris for
a tie-rod for a vintage car I saw
a rusty, battered, clappered cattle-bell.
My time-grimed trophy ringed the silence round
with ﬂat, laconic, unmelodic sound
as toneless as an echo in a well.
Yet bells like these tolled teamsters on their way
while those in new St. James’ in Sydney swayed
old peals across new convict-crafted stones.
They summoned sweating shearers from the shed
to crib of beef and brownie and they led
the dairy herd that dragged a dust cloud home.
I wonder if, in years to come, we ’ll see
an epic on the parts that billy-tea,
Tasmanian blueys, bowyangs, cattle-bells,
played in the shaping of this land we razed.
Or will some future symphonies that praise
our virtues to our smog-smirched skies retell
a single tinkle of their history?
I doubt it. In these days of progress we
stand mute, din-deafened, blinded by our eyes.
And who amongst the interested few
remember now what bowyangs used to do
or hear the accent smith-forged bells imply?