George Gordon McCrae

Here you will find the Poem Mamba: (The Bright Eyed) An Aboriginal Reminiscence of poet George Gordon McCrae

Mamba: (The Bright Eyed) An Aboriginal Reminiscence

Canto I. 


The day had fled, the moon arose, 
Night straight began with evening's close-- 
A night whose calm and silvery sheen 
Befitted well the wild yapeen.1 
Within the circle of the camp 
Blazed the clear fire, while measured tramp 
Of dancing warriors shook the ground, 
To song and time-sticks' throbbing sound. 
There twice two hundred feet advanced, 
There twice a hundred malkas2 glanced 
Bright in the moon, that silvered o'er 
The arms that all those malkas bore. 
Wild the device, and strange the sign 
That stared in many a snowy line 
From beaming face and heaving breast, 
And limbs that seldom paused to rest; 
Whilst all the rib-like lines laid on, 
Made each man seem a skeleton. 
Nodded the feathers from the red 
And netted band that bound each head, 
And hoarsely rustling leaves of trees 
Shook round dark ankles in the breeze. 
The singers with their time-sticks rang 
The cadence of the song they sang; 
And every face and limb below, 
And tree above them, caught the glow 
That spread from camp-fire's rising blaze, 
Lighting the yapeen's wond'rous maze 
Of feet and ankles in the dance 
With fitful gleam or twinkling glance. 


Conspicuous 'mid the dancing crowd, 
Whose ranks alternate swayed and bowed, 
Shone Mamba, tricked with wild design, 
And symbol traced in waving line. 
No limbs more active wore the green 
At yon great Ghim-boboke3 yapeen; 
And no two arms more graceful there 
In circling motion cleft the air 
Than his--and his the eagle-eye 
Inspiring all the minstrelsy. 
The young and old in groups around 
Drank in the sight, the joy, the sound; 
And Mamba's form throughout the dance 
Attraced every wondering glance.