The lay of the diprotodon

Year: 1885

by Robert N. Gunn   

I DWELL in a black gully deep;
My bones they are scattered around,
And are daily trod over by sheep -
Into dust they will soon all be ground.
My mates are the wily gigantic
And carnivorous marsupial too.
Who, if living, would nearly bend frantic
And frighten the shepherds a few;
But still for all that I'm not vain.
For although it is sad it's the truth
That the poor old Diprotodon's brain
Was never a patch on his tooth.
 
Ere land bills were thought of we fed on
The reeds that were succulent, large;
Our tails they were not safe to tread on
In case it would lead us to charge;
Our teeth they were splendid, you bet!
The finest of white ivory,
The envy of many, and yet
The thought it comes painful to me,
And I cannot help saying again
That although it is sad it's the truth
That the poor old Diprotodon's brain
Was never a patch on his tooth.
 
The bold Russian baron Maclay
He dug up full many a bone;
His heart might have filled with dismay
At our teeth as compared with his own.
Our size would strike many with terror,
And cause the selectors to fly;
Besides, it would clear up all error
If a live one men only could spy.
But still we can never be vain,
For though it is sad it's the truth
That the poor old Diprotodon's brain
Was never a patch on his tooth.
 
Long years ere the thistles were planted
That now spread all over the plain,
And long before M'Elhone ranted
Or Dalley sent troops o'er the main,
We lived and rejoiced in our glory.
Now nothing is left to be shown,
And tell to mankind of our story,
Except a few fragments of bone;
Enough, though, to make it quite plain
That although it is sad it's the truth
That the poor old Diprotodon's brain
Was never a patch on his tooth.
 
In our times no ways were invented
Of dividing the land by a fence.
I guess that we soon would have sent it
To grass, and considered immense
The wheat that's now grown by selectors
On many an old feeding ground.
They 'd needed the courage of Hectors
To keep us from prowling around.
And yet, though to say it gives pain,
In spite of all that, it's the truth  
That the poor old Diprotodon's brain
Was never a patch on his tooth.
 
Yes, ages ago — how time passes! —
Were all of us slain by a drought;
We perished along with the grasses,
In fact were completely wiped out —
Were all of us slain by dry weather,
With also the huge kangaroo;
We all kicked the bucket together,
And, though it was sad, it was true
That the reason of death was quite plain
Alike to the aged and the youth —
That the poor old Diprotodon's brain
Was never a patch on his tooth.
 
Unlike that great pride of creation
The biped that weareth a hat.  
We knew nothing about irrigation,
Or di'mond drills, dams, and all that:
We thought not to day of to-morrow;
We recked not of what was to come;
But lived on in joy and in sorrow,
Nor dreamt we of dangers to shun.
But still for all that we're not vain.
For although it is sad it's the truth
That the poor old Diprotodon's brain
Was never a patch on his tooth.
 
                                     The Queenslander, 27 June 1885