Dorothea Mackellar


What tells the swallows that a house is in the making,
Far away from any town, among the whispering leaves?
Saying, “Good news, a home! Fly there when spring is waking,
There’ll be room for many nests beneath those shady eaves.”
With the first springtime come the swallows without number,
Chattering in the greying dawn, and like a flying cloud
Sweeping round the roof at dusk before they sink to slumber—
How did they scent the new-built home from out the city’s crowd?

Was it a wild bush-bird that brought the message townwards?
No, she would not leave the lonely gully where she sings.
Maybe the swans’ black vanguard told it, crying downwards,
Or vagrant winds blew past and caught its new smoke on their wings.
Whoso the message brought, they knew, O do not doubt it,
Swift they flew by plain and ridge, like arrows straight and sure
Aimed for the home, to build their little homes about it,
That shall stand while stands the roof and while the walls endure.