ROOF and rafter and window and door
Totter and tumble in slow decay;
The house by the creek is a house no more
For the Allison folk have gone away.
Kept back no more by the hands of men —
Though here and there bare tracts there be —
The bush has come to its own again,
Little by little and tree by tree.
Free-footed winds through the doorways pass,
Whispering much in a guarded tone;
Plovers call in the knee-deep grass
That grows right up to the threshold stone.
Silence, watching the years, has kept
Vigil here with a muted tongue,
Since over yon threshold-stone they stept,
Man and woman, and old and young.
Brown-armed women and bearded men,
Love and labour and grief and mirth —
Harvester Time has reaped since then
Crop after crop from the teeming earth!
Nights there were when these rafters rang,
Echoing song till the break of day,
Ceasing not till the dawnlights sprang,
Sudden and red, on the mists of grey.
Quick to answer to mateship's call,
Rovers, drovers and horsemen born;
Drinkers, fighters and lovers all,
Laughing the law at times to scorn.
Hot in anger and loyal in love —
That was ever the Allison way;
Kith of the hawk and kin of the dove,
Wild and handsome, and bold and gay.
Fronting ever with even face
Drought and danger and care and need;
Firm in the saddle and first in the race —
That was ever the Allison breed.
Known and named were the Allison girls,
Far and near through the country round;
Some with the noon-gold in their curls,
Some with the dark of midnight crowned,
Dashing riders and dancers all,
Bonnie of body and clean of mind,
Quick to answer at pity's call —
That was ever the Allison kind.
Tinged and softened with sweet romance,
Back in the past they rise again,
Allison girls at race and dance
Queening it over the hearts of men.
Slim and stalwart, and sweet and bold,
Mother and maid, and man and boy!
Shadows move where they moved of old,
Toiled, and sorrowed, and had their joy.
Part of the past is all their love,
All the light of their fires is dead!
Kith of the hawk and kin of the dove —
Dove and hawk in the dark have fled!
Here, where the winds blow brave and blithe,
Tossing and turning each sapling-top,
Harvester Time has swung his scythe,
Cleared his swath, and reaped his crop.