Anonymous Oceania

Here you will find the Long Poem The Old Bark Hut of poet Anonymous Oceania

The Old Bark Hut

In an old bark hut on a mountainside 
In a spot that was lone and drear 
A woman whose heart was aching sat 
Watching from year to year. 
A small boy, Jim, her only child, 
Helped her to watch and wait, 
But the time never came when they could go free, 
Free from the bond of hate. 
For McConnel was out on the mountainside 
Living without a hope 
And seeing nothing before him now 
But death by a hangman?s rope. 
Hated and chased by his fellow men, 
To take him alive or dead, 
An outlaw banned by the world was he 
With five hundred pounds on his head. 
A message had come that evening which said 
?Now, Jim, you mustn?t wait, 
If you want to save your father, or 
By heaven, you?ll be too late. 
?He?s out at Mackinnon?s Crossing, they say, 
The track is rough, old man, 
But if any here can do it?why 
It?s you and old Darky can.? 
And Jim knew well what the message meant, 
As he brought his horse to the door! 
While away through the gathering darkness came 
The sound of the river?s roar. 
But the brave little heart never faltered as 
He stooped to kiss her good-bye 
And said, ?God bless you, Mother dear, 
I?ll save Dad tonight or I?ll die.? 
The old horse answered the touch of his hand 
And galloped away from the door; 
He seemed to know `twas a journey for life? 
Well, he?d done such journey?s before. 
Out from the firelight, and through the rails, 
Out through the ghastly trees, 
While all the time the warning roar 
Of the river came back on the breeze; 
Steadily down the mountainside 
He rode, for his course was plain, 
Though his heart was heavy, though not with fear, 
But because of that brand of Cain. 
The boy thinks over his mother?s last words: 
?I?ll love him as long as I live! 
He must have time for repentance on earth 
But surely God will forgive.? 
As he glanced back over his shoulder there 
She stood by the light of the door 
Trying to pierce the darkness in vain, 
Thinking she?d see him no more. 
Then as he looked she bowed her head 
And slowly turned away, 
And the boy knew that the noble wife 
Had knelt by the bed to pray. 
Mile after mile, hour after hour, 
And then just ahead, shining and white, 
Was the foam of Mackinnon?s Crossing? 
What a jump for old Darky tonight! 
And then Jim thinks of the long, lone years 
And the hopes that are crushed and dead; 
And a woman whose heart is as true as steel, 
As rue as the day she was wed. 
As she loved him then in the years gone by 
When the future held promise in store, 
So she loved him today when the future held 
Naught but death by his country?s law. 
Jim pressed his knees to the saddle flap 
And tightened his hold on the rein; 
They had jumped the river last summertime, 
How he hoped they would do it again! 
Then a voice rang out through the darkness there, 
?Hold, now hold, stand still! 
We know you, lad, it?s too late to run; 
Hands up or we?ll shoot to kill!? 
Then he knew that the police were around him, 
In the darkness they moved to and fro; 
For an instant he pulled on the bridle-rein, 
But he?d promised his mother he?d go. 
And he thought of the poor, sad woman alone, 
Kneeling in prayer by the bed; 
So he loosened the reins on old Darky?s neck 
And rushed at the river ahead. 
Then a volley rang out through the forest dark? 
A fall in the roaring flood; 
And the darkness hid from all human eyes 
The form that was stained with blood. 
The horse struggled hard, the waters rushed on; 
He sank to rise no more. 
But the boy fought the flood in silence, inch 
By inch to the other shore. 
Slowly and sadly, but bravely on, 
Brushing away the tears; 
He was leaving behind in the river?s flood 
His friend and companion for years. 
And all the time the blood trickled down, 
O God! what a hot burning pain! 
And he knew he was doing is duty clean 
He would never come back again. 
Staggering in through the yielding door 
Into the cold dark room
Where his father lay, and the faint firelight
Showed through the ghostly gloom. 
The bushranger sprang to his feet in alarm 
And levelled the gun at his head 
And his loud voice demanded, ?Who are you? 
Speak quick, or you are dead.? 
And then a weak little voice made answer, 
?It?s me; Mother sends you her love; 
The police are back at the crossing now, 
So clear out and meet Mother above.? 
Then McConnel placed his gun by the wall 
And knelt on the cold hard floor; 
And somehow the tears came rushing down 
As they never had before. 
His arms went around the brave little lad, 
He nursed his head on his breast; 
He seemed to know that the end was nigh 
And Jim would soon be at rest. 
And the boy was speaking feebly at last, 
?They shot me back at the creek,