An Anthology of Australian Verse
Part 4 out of 5
In stifling noons when his back was wrung
by its load, and the air seemed dead,
And the water warmed in the bag that hung to his aching arm like lead,
Or in times of flood, when plains were seas,
and the scrubs were cold and black,
He ploughed in mud to his trembling knees, and paid for his sins Out Back.
He blamed himself in the year "Too Late" -- in the heaviest hours of life --
'Twas little he dreamed that a shearing-mate had care of his home and wife;
There are times when wrongs from your kindred come,
and treacherous tongues attack --
When a man is better away from home, and dead to the world, Out Back.
And dirty and careless and old he wore, as his lamp of hope grew dim;
He tramped for years till the swag he bore seemed part of himself to him.
As a bullock drags in the sandy ruts, he followed the dreary track,
With never a thought but to reach the huts when the sun went down Out Back.
It chanced one day, when the north wind blew
in his face like a furnace-breath,
He left the track for a tank he knew -- 'twas a short-cut to his death;
For the bed of the tank was hard and dry, and crossed with many a crack,
And, oh! it's a terrible thing to die of thirst in the scrub Out Back.
A drover came, but the fringe of law was eastward many a mile;
He never reported the thing he saw, for it was not worth his while.
The tanks are full and the grass is high in the mulga off the track,
Where the bleaching bones of a white man lie by his mouldering swag Out Back.
~For time means tucker, and tramp they must,
where the plains and scrubs are wide,
With seldom a track that a man can trust, or a mountain peak to guide;
All day long in the flies and heat the men of the outside track
With stinted stomachs and blistered feet must carry their swags Out Back.~
The Star of Australasia
We boast no more of our bloodless flag, that rose from a nation's slime;
Better a shred of a deep-dyed rag from the storms of the olden time.
From grander clouds in our "peaceful skies" than ever were there before
I tell you the Star of the South shall rise -- in the lurid clouds of war.
It ever must be while blood is warm and the sons of men increase;
For ever the nations rose in storm, to rot in a deadly peace.
There comes a point that we will not yield, no matter if right or wrong,
And man will fight on the battle-field while passion and pride are strong --
So long as he will not kiss the rod, and his stubborn spirit sours,
And the scorn of Nature and curse of God are heavy on peace like ours.
. . . . .
There are boys out there by the western creeks, who hurry away from school
To climb the sides of the breezy peaks or dive in the shaded pool,
Who'll stick to their guns when the mountains quake
to the tread of a mighty war,
And fight for Right or a Grand Mistake as men never fought before;
When the peaks are scarred and the sea-walls crack
till the furthest hills vibrate,
And the world for a while goes rolling back in a storm of love and hate.
. . . . .
There are boys to-day in the city slum and the home of wealth and pride
Who'll have one home when the storm is come, and fight for it side by side,
Who'll hold the cliffs 'gainst the armoured hells that batter a coastal town,
Or grimly die in a hail of shells when the walls come crashing down.
And many a pink-white baby girl, the queen of her home to-day,
Shall see the wings of the tempest whirl the mist of our dawn away --
Shall live to shudder and stop her ears to the thud of the distant gun,
And know the sorrow that has no tears when a battle is lost and won, --
As a mother or wife in the years to come, will kneel, wild-eyed and white,
And pray to God in her darkened home for the "men in the fort to-night."
. . . . .
All creeds and trades will have soldiers there -- give every class its due --
And there'll be many a clerk to spare for the pride of the jackeroo.
They'll fight for honour and fight for love, and a few will fight for gold,
For the devil below and for God above, as our fathers fought of old;
And some half-blind with exultant tears, and some stiff-lipped, stern-eyed,
For the pride of a thousand after-years and the old eternal pride;
The soul of the world they will feel and see
in the chase and the grim retreat --
They'll know the glory of victory -- and the grandeur of defeat.
The South will wake to a mighty change ere a hundred years are done
With arsenals west of the mountain range and every spur its gun.
And many a rickety "son of a gun", on the tides of the future tossed,
Will tell how battles were really won that History says were lost,
Will trace the field with his pipe, and shirk
the facts that are hard to explain,
As grey old mates of the diggings work the old ground over again --
How "this was our centre, and this a redoubt,
and that was a scrub in the rear,
And this was the point where the guards held out,
and the enemy's lines were here."
. . . . .
And fools, when the fiends of war are out and the city skies aflame,
Will have something better to talk about than an absent woman's shame,
Will have something nobler to do by far than jest at a friend's expense,
Or blacken a name in a public bar or over a backyard fence.
And this you learn from the libelled past,
though its methods were somewhat rude --
A nation's born where the shells fall fast, or its lease of life renewed.
We in part atone for the ghoulish strife,
and the crimes of the peace we boast,
And the better part of a people's life in the storm comes uppermost.
The self-same spirit that drives the man to the depths of drink and crime
Will do the deeds in the heroes' van that live till the end of time.
The living death in the lonely bush, the greed of the selfish town,
And even the creed of the outlawed push is chivalry -- upside down.
'Twill be while ever our blood is hot, while ever the world goes wrong,
The nations rise in a war, to rot in a peace that lasts too long.
And southern nation and southern state, aroused from their dream of ease,
Must sign in the Book of Eternal Fate their stormy histories.
Tall and freckled and sandy,
Face of a country lout;
This was the picture of Andy,
Type of a coming nation,
In the land of cattle and sheep,
Worked on Middleton's station,
"Pound a week and his keep."
On Middleton's wide dominions
Plied the stockwhip and shears;
Hadn't any opinions,
Hadn't any "idears".
Swiftly the years went over,
Liquor and drought prevailed;
Middleton went as a drover,
After his station had failed.
Type of a careless nation,
Men who are soon played out,
Middleton was: -- and his station
Was bought by the Rouseabout.
Flourishing beard and sandy,
Tall and robust and stout;
This is the picture of Andy,
Now on his own dominions
Works with his overseers;
Hasn't any opinions,
Hasn't any "idears".
White handkerchiefs wave from the short black pier
As we glide to the grand old sea --
But the song of my heart is for none to hear
If one of them waves for me.
A roving, roaming life is mine,
Ever by field or flood --
For not far back in my father's line
Was a dash of the Gipsy blood.
Flax and tussock and fern,
Gum and mulga and sand,
Reef and palm -- but my fancies turn
Ever away from land;
Strange wild cities in ancient state,
Range and river and tree,
Snow and ice. But my star of fate
Is ever across the sea.
A god-like ride on a thundering sea,
When all but the stars are blind --
A desperate race from Eternity
With a gale-and-a-half behind.
A jovial spree in the cabin at night,
A song on the rolling deck,
A lark ashore with the ships in sight,
Till -- a wreck goes down with a wreck.
A smoke and a yarn on the deck by day,
When life is a waking dream,
And care and trouble so far away
That out of your life they seem.
A roving spirit in sympathy,
Who has travelled the whole world o'er --
My heart forgets, in a week at sea,
The trouble of years on shore.
A rolling stone! -- 'tis a saw for slaves --
Philosophy false as old --
Wear out or break 'neath the feet of knaves,
Or rot in your bed of mould!
But I'D rather trust to the darkest skies
And the wildest seas that roar,
Or die, where the stars of Nations rise,
In the stormy clouds of war.
Cleave to your country, home, and friends,
Die in a sordid strife --
You can count your friends on your finger ends
In the critical hours of life.
Sacrifice all for the family's sake,
Bow to their selfish rule!
Slave till your big soft heart they break --
The heart of the family fool.
Domestic quarrels, and family spite,
And your Native Land may be
Controlled by custom, but, come what might,
The rest of the world for me.
I'd sail with money, or sail without! --
If your love be forced from home,
And you dare enough, and your heart be stout,
The world is your own to roam.
I've never a love that can sting my pride,
Nor a friend to prove untrue;
For I leave my love ere the turning tide,
And my friends are all too new.
The curse of the Powers on a peace like ours,
With its greed and its treachery --
A stranger's hand, and a stranger land,
And the rest of the world for me!
But why be bitter? The world is cold
To one with a frozen heart;
New friends are often so like the old,
They seem of the past a part --
As a better part of the past appears,
When enemies, parted long,
Are come together in kinder years,
With their better nature strong.
I had a friend, ere my first ship sailed,
A friend that I never deserved --
For the selfish strain in my blood prevailed
As soon as my turn was served.
And the memory haunts my heart with shame --
Or, rather, the pride that's there;
In different guises, but soul the same,
I meet him everywhere.
I had a chum. When the times were tight
We starved in Australian scrubs;
We froze together in parks at night,
And laughed together in pubs.
And I often hear a laugh like his
From a sense of humour keen,
And catch a glimpse in a passing phiz
Of his broad, good-humoured grin.
And I had a love -- 'twas a love to prize --
But I never went back again . . .
I have seen the light of her kind brown eyes
In many a face since then.
. . . . .
The sailors say 'twill be rough to-night,
As they fasten the hatches down,
The south is black, and the bar is white,
And the drifting smoke is brown.
The gold has gone from the western haze,
The sea-birds circle and swarm --
But we shall have plenty of sunny days,
And little enough of storm.
The hill is hiding the short black pier,
As the last white signal's seen;
The points run in, and the houses veer,
And the great bluff stands between.
So darkness swallows each far white speck
On many a wharf and quay.
The night comes down on a restless deck, --
Grim cliffs -- and -- The Open Sea!
The Sliprails and the Spur
The colours of the setting sun
Withdrew across the Western land --
He raised the sliprails, one by one,
And shot them home with trembling hand;
Her brown hands clung -- her face grew pale --
Ah! quivering chin and eyes that brim! --
One quick, fierce kiss across the rail,
And, "Good-bye, Mary!" "Good-bye, Jim!"
~Oh, he rides hard to race the pain
Who rides from love, who rides from home;
But he rides slowly home again,
Whose heart has learnt to love and roam.~
A hand upon the horse's mane,
And one foot in the stirrup set,
And, stooping back to kiss again,
With "Good-bye, Mary! don't you fret!
When I come back" -- he laughed for her --
"We do not know how soon 'twill be;
I'll whistle as I round the spur --
You let the sliprails down for me."
She gasped for sudden loss of hope,
As, with a backward wave to her,
He cantered down the grassy slope
And swiftly round the dark'ning spur.
Black-pencilled panels standing high,
And darkness fading into stars,
And blurring fast against the sky,
A faint white form beside the bars.
And often at the set of sun,
In winter bleak and summer brown,
She'd steal across the little run,
And shyly let the sliprails down.
And listen there when darkness shut
The nearer spur in silence deep;
And when they called her from the hut
Steal home and cry herself to sleep.
. . . . .
~And he rides hard to dull the pain
Who rides from one that loves him best;
And he rides slowly back again,
Whose restless heart must rove for rest.~
Arthur Albert Dawson Bayldon.
The weary wind is slumbering on the wing:
Leaping from out meek twilight's purpling blue
Burns the proud star of eve as though it knew
It was the big king jewel quivering
On the black turban of advancing night.
In the dim west the soldiers of the sun
Strike all their royal colours one by one,
Reluctantly surrender every height.
Ere Greece soared, showering sovranties of light,
Ere Rome shook earth with her tremendous tread,
Ere yon blue-feasting sun-god burst blood-red,
Beneath thee slept thy prodigy, O Night!
Aeons have ta'en like dreams their strange, slow flight,
And vastest, tiniest, creatures paved her bed,
E'en cities sapped by the usurping spread
Of her imperious waves have sunk from sight
Since she first chanted her colossal psalms
That swell and sink beneath the listening stars;
Oft, as with myriad drums beating to arms,
She thunders out the grandeur of her wars;
Then shifts through moaning moods her wizard charms
Of slow flutes and caressing, gay guitars.
These vessels of verse, O Great Goddess, are filled with invisible tears,
With the sobs and sweat of my spirit and her desolate brooding for years;
See, I lay them -- not on thine altar, for they are unpolished and plain,
Not rounded enough by the potter, too much burnt in the furnace of pain;
But here in the dust, in the shadow, with a sudden wild leap of the heart
I kneel to tenderly kiss them, then in silence arise to depart.
I linger awhile at the portal with the light of the crimsoning sun
On my wreathless brow bearing the badges of battles I've fought in not won.
At the sound of the trumpet I've ever been found in thy thin fighting line,
And the weapons I've secretly sharpened have flashed in defence of thy shrine.
I've recked not of failure and losses, nor shrunk from the soilure of strife
For thy magical glamour was on me and art is the moonlight of life.
I move from the threshold, Great Goddess, with steps meditative and slow;
Night steals like a dream to the landscape and slips like a pall
o'er its glow.
I carry no lamp in my bosom and dwindling in gloom is the track,
No token of man's recognition to prompt me to ever turn back.
I strike eastward to meet the great day-dawn with the soul of my soul
by my side,
My goal though unknown is assured me, and the planet of Love is my guide.
An Old Bush Road
Dear old road, wheel-worn and broken,
Winding thro' the forest green,
Barred with shadow and with sunshine,
Misty vistas drawn between.
Grim, scarred bluegums ranged austerely,
Lifting blackened columns each
To the large, fair fields of azure,
Stretching ever out of reach.
See the hardy bracken growing
Round the fallen limbs of trees;
And the sharp reeds from the marshes,
Washed across the flooded leas;
And the olive rushes, leaning
All their pointed spears to cast
Slender shadows on the roadway,
While the faint, slow wind creeps past.
Ancient ruts grown round with grasses,
Soft old hollows filled with rain;
Rough, gnarled roots all twisting queerly,
Dark with many a weather-stain.
Lichens moist upon the fences,
Twiners close against the logs;
Yellow fungus in the thickets,
Vivid mosses in the bogs.
Dear old road, wheel-worn and broken,
What delights in thee I find!
Subtle charm and tender fancy,
Like a fragrance in the mind.
Thy old ways have set me dreaming,
And out-lived illusions rise,
And the soft leaves of the landscape
Open on my thoughtful eyes.
See the clump of wattles, standing
Dead and sapless on the rise;
When their boughs were full of beauty,
Even to uncaring eyes,
I was ever first to rifle
The soft branches of their store.
O the golden wealth of blossom
I shall gather there no more!
Now we reach the dun morasses,
Where the red moss used to grow,
Ruby-bright upon the water,
Floating on the weeds below.
Once the swan and wild-fowl glided
By those sedges, green and tall;
Here the booming bitterns nested;
Here we heard the curlews call.
Climb this hill and we have rambled
To the last turn of the way;
Here is where the bell-birds tinkled
Fairy chimes for me all day.
These were bells that never wearied,
Swung by ringers on the wing;
List! the elfin strains are waking,
Memory sets the bells a-ring!
Dear old road, no wonder, surely,
That I love thee like a friend!
And I grieve to think how surely
All thy loveliness will end.
For thy simple charm is passing,
And the turmoil of the street
Soon will mar thy sylvan silence
With the tramp of careless feet.
And for this I look more fondly
On the sunny landscape, seen
From the road, wheel-worn and broken,
Winding thro' the forest green,
Something still remains of Nature,
Thoughts of other days to bring: --
For the staunch old trees are standing,
And I hear the wild birds sing!
A Woman's Mood
I think to-night I could bear it all,
Even the arrow that cleft the core, --
Could I wait again for your swift footfall,
And your sunny face coming in at the door.
With the old frank look and the gay young smile,
And the ring of the words you used to say;
I could almost deem the pain worth while,
To greet you again in the olden way!
But you stand without in the dark and cold,
And I may not open the long closed door,
Nor call thro' the night, with the love of old, --
"Come into the warmth, as in nights of yore!"
I kneel alone in the red fire-glow,
And hear the wings of the wind sweep by;
You are out afar in the night, I know,
And the sough of the wind is like a cry.
You are out afar -- and I wait within,
A grave-eyed woman whose pulse is slow;
The flames round the red coals softly spin,
And the lonely room's in a rosy glow.
The firelight falls on your vacant chair,
And the soft brown rug where you used to stand;
Dear, never again shall I see you there,
Nor lift my head for your seeking hand.
Yet sometimes still, and in spite of all,
I wistful look at the fastened door,
And wait again for the swift footfall,
And the gay young voice as in hours of yore.
It still seems strange to be here alone,
With the rising sob of the wind without;
The sound takes a deep, insisting tone,
Where the trees are swinging their arms about.
Its moaning reaches the sheltered room,
And thrills my heart with a sense of pain;
I walk to the window, and pierce the gloom,
With a yearning look that is all in vain.
You are out in a night of depths that hold
No promise of dawning for you and me,
And only a ghost from the life of old
Has come from the world of memory!
You are out evermore! God wills it so!
But ah! my spirit is yearning yet!
As I kneel alone by the red fire-glow,
My eyes grow dim with the old regret.
O when shall the aching throb grow still,
The warm love-life turn cold at the core!
Must I be watching, against my will,
For your banished face in the opening door?
It may be, dear, when the sequel's told
Of the story, read to its bitter close;
When the inner meanings of life unfold,
And the under-side of our being shows --
It may be then, in that truer light,
When all our knowledge has larger grown,
I may understand why you stray to-night,
And I am left, with the past, alone.
Agnes L. Storrie.
Twenty Gallons of Sleep
Measure me out from the fathomless tun
That somewhere or other you keep
In your vasty cellars, O wealthy one,
Twenty gallons of sleep.
Twenty gallons of balmy sleep,
Dreamless, and deep, and mild,
Of the excellent brand you used to keep
When I was a little child.
I've tasted of all your vaunted stock,
Your clarets and ports of Spain,
The liquid gold of your famous hock,
And your matchless dry champagne.
Of your rich muscats and your sherries fine,
I've drunk both well and deep,
Then, measure me out, O merchant mine,
Twenty gallons of sleep.
Twenty gallons of slumber soft
Of the innocent, baby kind,
When the angels flutter their wings aloft
And the pillow with down is lined;
I have drawn the corks, and drained the lees
Of every vintage pressed,
If I've felt the sting of my honey bees
I've taken it with the rest.
I have lived my life, and I'll not repine,
As I sowed I was bound to reap;
Then, measure me out, O merchant mine,
Twenty gallons of sleep.
You did not know, -- how could you, dear, --
How much you stood for? Life in you
Retained its touch of Eden dew,
And ever through the droughtiest year
My soul could bring her flagon here
And fill it to the brim with clear
Deep draughts of purity:
And time could never quench the flame
Of youth that lit me through your eyes,
And cozened winter from my skies
Through all the years that went and came.
You did not know I used your name
To conjure by, and still the same
I found its potency.
You did not know that, as a phial
May garner close through dust and gloom
The essence of a rich perfume,
Romance was garnered in your smile
And touched my thoughts with beauty, while
The poor world, wise with bitter guile,
Outlived its chivalry.
You did not know -- our lives were laid
So far apart -- that thus I drew
The sunshine of my days from you,
That by your joy my own was weighed
That thus my debts your sweetness paid,
And of my heart's deep silence made
A lovely melody.
Martha M. Simpson.
To an Old Grammar
Oh, mighty conjuror, you raise
The ghost of my lost youth --
The happy, golden-tinted days
When earth her treasure-trove displays,
And everything is truth.
Your compeers may be sage and dry,
But in your page appears
A very fairyland, where I
Played 'neath a changeful Irish sky --
A sky of smiles and tears.
Dear native land! this little book
Brings back the varied charm
Of emerald hill and flashing brook,
Deep mountain glen and woodland nook,
And homely sheltered farm.
I see the hayrick where I sat
In golden autumn days,
And conned thy page, and wondered what
Could be the use, excepting that
It gained the master's praise.
I conjugate thy verbs again
Beside the winter's fire,
And, as the solemn clock strikes ten,
I lay thee on the shelf, and then
To dreams of thee retire.
Thy Saxon roots reveal to me
A silent, empty school,
And one poor prisoner who could see,
As if to increase her misery,
Her mates released from rule,
Rushing to catch the rounder ball,
Or circling in the ring.
Those merry groups! I see them all,
And even now I can recall
The songs they used to sing.
Thy syntax conjures forth a morn
Of spring, when blossoms rare
Conspired the solemn earth to adorn,
And spread themselves on bank and thorn,
And perfumed all the air.
The dewdrops lent their aid and threw
Their gems with lavish hand
On every flower of brilliant hue,
On every blade of grass that grew
In that enchanted land.
The lark her warbling music lent,
To give an added charm,
And sleek-haired kine, in deep content,
Forth from their milking slowly went
Towards the homestead farm.
And here thy page on logic shows
A troop of merry girls,
A meadow smooth where clover grows,
And lanes where scented hawthorn blows,
And woodbine twines and curls.
And, turning o'er thy leaves, I find
Of many a friend the trace;
Forgotten scenes rush to my mind,
And some whom memory left behind
Now stare me in the face.
. . . . .
Ah, happy days! when hope was high,
And faith was calm and deep!
When all was real and God was nigh,
And heaven was "just beyond the sky",
And angels watched my sleep.
Your dreams are gone, and here instead
Fair science reigns alone,
And, when I come to her for bread,
She smiles and bows her stately head
And offers me -- a stone.
They shine upon my table there,
A constellation mimic sweet,
No stars in Heaven could shine more fair,
Nor Earth has beauty more complete;
And on my table there they shine,
And speak to me of things Divine.
In Heaven at first they grew, and when
God could no fairer make them, He
Did plant them by the ways of men
For all the pure in heart to see,
That each might shine upon its stem
And be a light from Him to them.
They speak of things above my verse,
Of thoughts no earthly language knows,
That loftiest Bard could ne'er rehearse,
Nor holiest prophet e'er disclose,
Which God Himself no other way
Than by a Primrose could convey.
(With some Verses)
If in the summer of thy bright regard
For one brief season these poor Rhymes shall live
I ask no more, nor think my fate too hard
If other eyes but wintry looks should give;
Nor will I grieve though what I here have writ
O'erburdened Time should drop among the ways,
And to the unremembering dust commit
Beyond the praise and blame of other days:
The song doth pass, but I who sing, remain,
I pluck from Death's own heart a life more deep,
And as the Spring, that dies not, in her train
Doth scatter blossoms for the winds to reap,
So I, immortal, as I fare along,
Will strew my path with mortal flowers of song.
Vestigia Nulla Retrorsum
O steep and rugged Life, whose harsh ascent
Slopes blindly upward through the bitter night!
They say that on thy summit, high in light,
Sweet rest awaits the climber, travel-spent;
But I, alas, with dusty garments rent,
With fainting heart and failing limbs and sight,
Can see no glimmer of the shining height,
And vainly list, with body forward bent,
To catch athwart the gloom one wandering note
Of those glad anthems which (they say) are sung
When one emerges from the mists below:
But though, O Life, thy summit be remote
And all thy stony path with darkness hung,
Yet ever upward through the night I go.
The Old Whim Horse
He's an old grey horse, with his head bowed sadly,
And with dim old eyes and a queer roll aft,
With the off-fore sprung and the hind screwed badly,
And he bears all over the brands of graft;
And he lifts his head from the grass to wonder
Why by night and day the whim is still,
Why the silence is, and the stampers' thunder
Sounds forth no more from the shattered mill.
In that whim he worked when the night winds bellowed
On the riven summit of Giant's Hand,
And by day when prodigal Spring had yellowed
All the wide, long sweep of enchanted land;
And he knew his shift, and the whistle's warning,
And he knew the calls of the boys below;
Through the years, unbidden, at night or morning,
He had taken his stand by the old whim bow.
But the whim stands still, and the wheeling swallow
In the silent shaft hangs her home of clay,
And the lizards flirt and the swift snakes follow
O'er the grass-grown brace in the summer day;
And the corn springs high in the cracks and corners
Of the forge, and down where the timber lies;
And the crows are perched like a band of mourners
On the broken hut on the Hermit's Rise.
All the hands have gone, for the rich reef paid out,
And the company waits till the calls come in;
But the old grey horse, like the claim, is played out,
And no market's near for his bones and skin.
So they let him live, and they left him grazing
By the creek, and oft in the evening dim
I have seen him stand on the rises, gazing
At the ruined brace and the rotting whim.
The floods rush high in the gully under,
And the lightnings lash at the shrinking trees,
Or the cattle down from the ranges blunder
As the fires drive by on the summer breeze.
Still the feeble horse at the right hour wanders
To the lonely ring, though the whistle's dumb,
And with hanging head by the bow he ponders
Where the whim boy's gone -- why the shifts don't come.
But there comes a night when he sees lights glowing
In the roofless huts and the ravaged mill,
When he hears again all the stampers going --
Though the huts are dark and the stampers still:
When he sees the steam to the black roof clinging
As its shadows roll on the silver sands,
And he knows the voice of his driver singing,
And the knocker's clang where the braceman stands.
See the old horse take, like a creature dreaming,
On the ring once more his accustomed place;
But the moonbeams full on the ruins streaming
Show the scattered timbers and grass-grown brace.
Yet HE hears the sled in the smithy falling,
And the empty truck as it rattles back,
And the boy who stands by the anvil, calling;
And he turns and backs, and he "takes up slack".
While the old drum creaks, and the shadows shiver
As the wind sweeps by, and the hut doors close,
And the bats dip down in the shaft or quiver
In the ghostly light, round the grey horse goes;
And he feels the strain on his untouched shoulder,
Hears again the voice that was dear to him,
Sees the form he knew -- and his heart grows bolder
As he works his shift by the broken whim.
He hears in the sluices the water rushing
As the buckets drain and the doors fall back;
When the early dawn in the east is blushing,
He is limping still round the old, old track.
Now he pricks his ears, with a neigh replying
To a call unspoken, with eyes aglow,
And he sways and sinks in the circle, dying;
From the ring no more will the grey horse go.
In a gully green, where a dam lies gleaming,
And the bush creeps back on a worked-out claim,
And the sleepy crows in the sun sit dreaming
On the timbers grey and a charred hut frame,
Where the legs slant down, and the hare is squatting
In the high rank grass by the dried-up course,
Nigh a shattered drum and a king-post rotting
Are the bleaching bones of the old grey horse.
Like summer waves on sands of snow,
Soft ringlets clasp her neck and brow,
And wandering breezes kiss away
A threaded light of glimmering spray,
That drifts and floats and softly flies
In a golden mist about her eyes.
Her laugh is fresh as foam that springs
Through tumbling shells and shining things,
And where the gleaming margin dries
Is heard the music of her sighs.
Her gentle bosom ebbs and swells
With the tide of life that deeply wells
From a throbbing heart that loves to break
In the tempest of love for love's sweet sake.
O, the fragrance of earth, and the song of the sea,
And the light of the heavens, are only three
Of the thousand glories that Love can trace,
In her life, and her soul, and her beautiful face.
. . . . .
This tangled weed of poesy,
Torn from the heart of a stormy sea,
I fling upon the love divine
Of her, who fills this heart of mine.
David MacDonald Ross.
Love's Treasure House
I went to Love's old treasure house last night,
Alone, when all the world was still -- asleep,
And saw the miser Memory, grown gray
With years of jealous counting of his gems,
There seated. Keen was his eye, his hand
Firm as when first his hoarding he began
Of precious things of Love, long years ago.
"And this," he said, "is gold from out her hair,
And this the moonlight that she wandered in,
With here a rose, enamelled by her breath,
That bloomed in glory 'tween her breasts, and here
The brimming sun-cup that she quaffed at noon,
And here the star that cheered her in the night;
In this great chest, see curiously wrought,
Are purest of Love's gems." A ruby key,
Enclasped upon a golden ring, he took,
With care, from out some secret hiding-place,
And delicately touched the lock, whereat
I staggered, blinded by the light of things
More luminous than stars, and questioned thus --
"What are these treasures, miser Memory?"
And slowly bending his gray head, he spoke:
"These are the multitudes of kisses sweet
Love gave so gladly, and I treasure here."
The Sea to the Shell
The sea, my mother, is singing to me,
She is singing the old refrain,
Of passion, of love, and of mystery,
And her world-old song of pain;
Of the mirk midnight and the dazzling day,
That trail their robes o'er the wet sea-way.
The sea, my mother, is singing to me
With the white foam caught in her hair,
With the seaweed swinging its long arms free,
To grapple the blown sea air:
The sea, my mother, with billowy swell,
Is telling her tale to the wave-washed shell.
The sea, my mother, is singing to me,
With the starry gleam in her wave,
A dirge of the dead, of the sad, sad sea,
A requiem song of the brave;
Tenderly, sadly, the surges tell
Their tale of death to the wave-washed shell.
The sea, my mother, confides to me,
As she turns to the soft, round moon,
The secrets that lie where the spirits be,
That hide from the garish noon:
The sea, my mother, who loves me well,
Is telling their woe to the wave-washed shell.
O mother o' mine, with the foam-flecked hair,
O mother, I love and know
The heart that is sad and the soul that is bare
To your daughter of ebb and flow;
And I hold your whispers of Heaven and Hell
In the loving heart of a wave-washed shell.
The Silent Tide
I heard Old Ocean raise her voice and cry,
In that still hour between the night and day;
I saw the answering tides, green robed and gray,
Turn to her with a low contented sigh;
Marching with silent feet they passed me by,
For the white moon had taught them to obey,
And scarce a wavelet broke in fretful spray,
As they went forth to kiss the stooping sky.
So, to my heart, when the last sunray sleeps,
And the wan night, impatient for the moon,
Throws her gray mantle over land and sea,
There comes a call from out Life's nether deeps,
And tides, like some old ocean in a swoon,
Flow out, in soundless majesty, to thee.
The Watch on Deck
Becalmed upon the equatorial seas,
A ship of gold lay on a sea of fire;
Each sail and rope and spar, as in desire,
Mutely besought the kisses of a breeze;
Low laughter told the mariners at ease;
Sweet sea-songs hymned the red sun's fun'ral pyre:
Yet One, with eyes that never seemed to tire,
Watched for the storm, nursed on the thunder's knees.
Thou watcher of the spirit's inner keep,
Scanning Death's lone, illimitable deep,
Spread outward to the far immortal shore!
While the vault sleeps, from the upheaving deck,
Thou see'st the adamantine reefs that wreck,
And Life's low shoals, where lusting billows roar.
When, with low moanings on the distant shore,
Like vain regrets, the ocean-tide is rolled:
When, thro' bare boughs, the tale of death is told
By breezes sighing, "Summer days are o'er";
When all the days we loved -- the days of yore --
Lie in their vaults, dead Kings who ruled of old --
Unrobed and sceptreless, uncrowned with gold,
Conquered, and to be crowned, ah! never more.
If o'er the bare fields, cold and whitening
With the first snow-flakes, I should see thy form,
And meet and kiss thee, that were enough of Spring;
Enough of sunshine, could I feel the warm
Glad beating of thy heart 'neath Winter's wing,
Tho' Earth were full of whirlwind and of storm.
A Little Ghost
The moonlight flutters from the sky
To meet her at the door,
A little ghost, whose steps have passed
Across the creaking floor.
And rustling vines that lightly tap
Against the window-pane,
Throw shadows on the white-washed walls
To blot them out again.
The moonlight leads her as she goes
Across a narrow plain,
By all the old, familiar ways
That know her steps again.
And through the scrub it leads her on
And brings her to the creek,
But by the broken dam she stops
And seems as she would speak.
She moves her lips, but not a sound
Ripples the silent air;
She wrings her little hands, ah, me!
The sadness of despair!
While overhead the black-duck's wing
Cuts like a flash upon
The startled air, that scarcely shrinks
Ere he afar is gone.
And curlews wake, and wailing cry
Cur-lew! cur-lew! cur-lew!
Till all the Bush, with nameless dread
Is pulsing through and through.
The moonlight leads her back again
And leaves her at the door,
A little ghost whose steps have passed
Across the creaking floor.
Good-night! . . . my darling sleeps so sound
She cannot hear me where she lies;
White lilies watch the closed eyes,
Red roses guard the folded hands.
Good-night! O woman who once lay
Upon my breast, so still, so sweet
That all my pulses, throbbing, beat
And flamed -- I cannot touch you now.
Good-night, my own! God knows we loved
So well, that all things else seemed slight --
We part forever in the night,
We two poor souls who loved so well.
This love, that dares not warm before its flame
Our yearning hands, or from its tempting tree
Yield fruit we may consume, or let us claim
In Hymen's scroll of happy heraldry
The twining glyphs of perfect you and me --
May kindle social fires whence curls no blame,
Find gardens where no fruits forbidden be,
And mottoes weave, unsullied by a shame.
For, love, unmothered Childhood wanly waits
For such as you to cherish it to Youth:
Raw social soils untilled need Love's own verve
That Peace a-flower may oust their weedy hates:
And where Distress would faint from wolfish sleuth
The perfect lovers' symbol is "We serve!"
Yet what were Love if man remains unfree,
And woman's sunshine sordid merchandise:
If children's Hope is blasted ere they see
Its shoots of youth from out the branchlets rise:
If thought is chained, and gagged is Speech, and Lies
Enthroned as Law befoul posterity,
And haggard Sin's ubiquitous disguise
Insults the face of God where'er men be?
Ay, what were Love, my love, did we not love
Our stricken brothers so, as to resign
For Its own sake, the foison of Its dower:
That, so, we two may help them mount above
These layers of charnel air in which they pine,
To seek with us the Presence and the Power?
Edwin James Brady.
The Wardens of the Seas
Like star points in the ether to guide a homing soul
Towards God's Eternal Haven; above the wash and roll,
Across and o'er the oceans, on all the coasts they stand
Tall seneschals of commerce, High Wardens of the Strand --
The white lights slowly turning
Their kind eyes far and wide,
The red and green lights burning
Along the waterside.
When Night with breath of aloes, magnolia, spice, and balm
Creeps down the darkened jungles and mantles reef and palm,
By velvet waters making soft music as they surge
The shore lights of dark Asia will one by one emerge --
Oh, Ras Marshig by Aden
Shows dull on hazy nights;
And Bombay Channel's laid in
Its "In" and "Outer" lights.
When Night, in rain-wet garments comes sobbing cold and grey
Across the German Ocean and South from Stornoway,
Thro' snarling darkness slowly, some fixed and some a-turn,
The bright shore-lights of Europe like welcome tapers burn, --
From fierce Fruholmen streaming
O'er Northern ice and snow,
To Cape St. Vincent gleaming, --
These lamps of danger glow.
The dark Etruscan tending his watchfires by the shore,
On sacred altars burning, the world shall know no more;
His temple's column standing against the ancient stars
Is gone; Now bright catoptrics flash out electric bars, --
Slow swung his stately Argos
Unto the Tiber's mouth;
But now the Tuscan cargoes
Screw-driven, stagger South.
The lantern of Genoa guides home no Eastern fleets
As when the boy Columbus played in its narrow streets:
No more the Keltic `dolmens' their fitful warnings throw
Across the lone Atlantic, so long, so long ago --
No more the beaked prows dashing
Shall dare a shoreward foam;
No more will great oars threshing
Sweep Dorian galleys home.
No more the Vikings roaring their sagas wild and weird
Proclaim that Rome has fallen; no more a consul feared
Shall quench the Roman pharos lest Northern pirates free
Be pointed to their plunder on coasts of Italy --
Nor shall unwilling lovers,
From Lethean pleasures torn,
Fare nor'ward with those rovers,
To frozen lands forlorn.
The bale-fires and the watch-fires, the wrecker's foul false lure
No more shall vex the shipmen; and on their course secure
Past Pharos in the starlight the tow'ring hulls of Trade
Race in and out from Suez in iron cavalcade, --
So rode one sunset olden
Across the dark'ning sea,
With banners silk and golden,
The Barge of Antony!
They loom along the foreshores; they gleam across the Straits;
They guide the feet of Commerce unto the harbor gates.
In nights of storm and thunder, thro' fog and sleet and rain,
Like stars on angels' foreheads, they give man heart again, --
Oh, hear the high waves smashing
On Patagonia's shore!
Oh, hear the black waves threshing
Their weight on Skerryvore!
He searches night's grim chances upon his bridge alone
And seeks the distant glimmer of hopeful Eddystone:
And thro' a thick fog creeping, with chart and book and lead,
The homeward skipper follows their green and white and red --
By day his lighthouse wardens
In sunlit quiet stand,
But in the night the burdens
Are theirs of Sea and Land.
They fill that night with Knowledge. A thousand ships go by,
A thousand captains bless them, so bright and proud and high:
The world's dark capes they glamour; or low on sand banks dread,
They, crouching, mark a pathway between the Quick and Dead --
Like star points in the ether
They bring the seamen ease,
These Lords of Wind and Weather
These Wardens of the Seas!
Will. H. Ogilvie.
Opal, little opal, with the red fire glancing,
Set my blood a-spinning, set my pulse a-stir,
Strike the harp of memory, set my dull heart dancing
Southward to the Sunny Land and the love of Her!
Opal, shining opal, let them call you luckless jewel,
Let them curse or let them covet, you are still my heart's desire,
You that robbed the sun and moon and green earth for fuel
To gather to your milky breast and fill your veins with fire!
Green of fluttering gum-leaves above dim water-courses,
Red of rolling dust-clouds, blue of summer skies,
Flash of flints afire beneath the hoofs of racing horses,
Sunlight and moonlight and light of lovers' eyes
Pink clasping hands amid a Southern summer gloaming,
Green of August grasses, white of dew-sprung pearls,
Grey of winging wild geese into the Sunset homing,
Twined with all the kisses of a Queen of Queensland girls!
Wind o' the Autumn
I love you, wind o' the Autumn, that came from I know not where,
To lead me out of the toiling world to a ballroom fresh and fair,
Where the poplars tall and golden and the beeches rosy and red
Are setting to woodland partners and dancing the stars to bed!
Oh! say, wild wind o' the Autumn, may I dance this dance with you
Decked out in your gown of moonmist and jewelled with drops of dew?
For I know no waiting lover with arms that so softly twine,
And I know no dancing partner whose step is so made for mine!
Ho! You there, selling daffodils along the windy street,
Poor drooping, dusty daffodils -- but oh! so Summer sweet!
Green stems that stab with loveliness, rich petal-cups to hold
The wine of Spring to lips that cling like bees about their gold!
What price to you for daffodils? I'll give what price you please,
For light and love and memory lie leaf by leaf with these!
And if I bought all Sydney Town I could not hope to buy
The wealth you bring of everything that goes with open sky!
My money for your daffodils: why do you thank me so?
If I have paid a reckless price, take up my gift and go,
And from the golden garden beds where gold the sunbeams shine
Bring in more flowers to light the hours for lover-hearts like mine!
A Queen of Yore
Slowly she hobbles past the town, grown old at heart and gray;
With misty eyes she stumbles down along the well-known way;
She sees her maiden march unrolled by billabong and bend,
And every gum's a comrade old and every oak's a friend;
But gone the smiling faces that welcomed her of yore --
They crowd her tented places and hold her hand no more.
And she, the friend they once could trust to serve their eager wish,
Shall show no more the golden dust that hides in many a dish;
And through the dismal mullock-heaps she threads her mournful way
Where here and there some gray-beard keeps his windlass-watch to-day;
Half-flood no more she looses her reins as once of old
To wash the busy sluices and whisper through the gold.
She sees no wild-eyed steers above stand spear-horned on the brink;
The brumby mobs she used to love come down no more to drink;
Where green the grasses used to twine above them, shoulder-deep,
Through the red dust -- a long, slow line -- crawl in the starving sheep;
She sees no crossing cattle that Western drovers bring,
No swimming steeds that battle to block them when they ring.
She sees no barricaded roofs, no loop-holed station wall,
No foaming steed with flying hoofs to bring the word "Ben Hall!"
She sees no reckless robbers stoop behind their ambush stone,
No coach-and-four, no escort troop; -- but, very lorn and lone,
Watches the sunsets redden along the mountain side
Where round the spurs of Weddin the wraiths of Weddin ride.
Tho' fettered with her earthen bars and chained with bridge and weir
She goes her own way with the stars; she knows the course to steer!
And when her thousand rocky rills foam, angry, to her feet,
Rain-heavy from the Cowra hills she takes her vengeance sweet,
And leaps with roar of thunder, and buries bridge and ford,
That all the world may wonder when the Lachlan bares her sword!
Gray River! let me take your hand for all your memories old --
Your cattle-kings, your outlaw-band, your wealth of virgin gold;
For once you held, and hold it now, the sceptre of a queen,
And still upon your furrowed brow the royal wreaths are green;
Hold wide your arms, the waters! Lay bare your silver breast
To nurse the sons and daughters that spread your empire west!
My road is fenced with the bleached, white bones
And strewn with the blind, white sand,
Beside me a suffering, dumb world moans
On the breast of a lonely land.
On the rim of the world the lightnings play,
The heat-waves quiver and dance,
And the breath of the wind is a sword to slay
And the sunbeams each a lance.
I have withered the grass where my hot hoofs tread,
I have whitened the sapless trees,
I have driven the faint-heart rains ahead
To hide in their soft green seas.
I have bound the plains with an iron band,
I have stricken the slow streams dumb!
To the charge of my vanguards who shall stand?
Who stay when my cohorts come?
The dust-storms follow and wrap me round;
The hot winds ride as a guard;
Before me the fret of the swamps is bound
And the way of the wild-fowl barred.
I drop the whips on the loose-flanked steers;
I burn their necks with the bow;
And the green-hide rips and the iron sears
Where the staggering, lean beasts go.
I lure the swagman out of the road
To the gleam of a phantom lake;
I have laid him down, I have taken his load,
And he sleeps till the dead men wake.
My hurrying hoofs in the night go by,
And the great flocks bleat their fear
And follow the curve of the creeks burnt dry
And the plains scorched brown and sere.
The worn men start from their sleepless rest
With faces haggard and drawn;
They cursed the red Sun into the west
And they curse him out of the dawn.
They have carried their outposts far, far out,
But -- blade of my sword for a sign! --
I am the Master, the dread King Drought,
And the great West Land is mine!
The Shadow on the Blind
Last night I walked among the lamps that gleamed,
And saw a shadow on a window blind,
A moving shadow; and the picture seemed
To call some scene to mind.
I looked again; a dark form to and fro
Swayed softly as to music full of rest,
Bent low, bent lower: -- Still I did not know.
And then, at last, I guessed.
And through the night came all old memories flocking,
White memories like the snowflakes round me whirled.
"All's well!" I said; "The mothers still sit rocking
The cradles of the world!"
The House of the Commonwealth
We sent a word across the seas that said,
"The house is finished and the doors are wide,
Come, enter in.
A stately house it is, with tables spread,
Where men in liberty and love abide
With hearts akin.
"Behold, how high our hands have lifted it!
The soil it stands upon is pure and sweet
As are our skies.
Our title deeds in holy sweat are writ,
Not red accusing blood -- and 'neath our feet
No foeman lies."
And England, Mother England, leans her face
Upon her hand and feels her blood burn young
At what she sees:
The image here of that fair strength and grace
That made her feared and loved and sought and sung
What chorus shall we lift, what song of joy,
What boom of seaward cannon, roll of drums?
The majesty of nationhood demands
A burst of royal sounds, as when a victor comes
From peril of a thousand foes;
An empire's honour saved from death
Brought home again; an added rose
Of victory upon its wreath.
In this wise men have greeted kings,
In name or fame,
But such acclaim
Were vain and emptiest of things
If love were silent, drawn apart,
And mute the People's mighty heart.
The love that ivy-like an ancient land doth cherish,
It grows not in a day, nor in a year doth perish.
But, little leaf by leaf,
It creeps along the walls and wreathes the ramparts hoary.
The sun that gives it strength -- it is a nation's glory;
The dew, a people's grief.
The love that ivy-like around a home-land lingers,
With soft embrace of breast and green, caressive fingers,
We are too young to know.
Not ours the glory-dome, the monuments and arches
At thought of which takes arms the blood, and proudly marches
Exultant o'er the foe.
Green lands undesolated
For no avengement cry;
No feud of race unsated
Leaps out again to triumph,
Leaps out again to triumph, or to die!
Attendant here to-day in heart and mind
Must be all lovers of mankind,
Attendant, too, the souls sublime --
The Prophet-souls of every clime,
Who, living, in a tyrant's time,
Yet thought and wrought and sought to break
The chains about mankind and make
A man where men had made a slave:
Who all intent to lift and save
Beheld the flag of Freedom wave
And scorned the prison or the grave;
For whom the darkness failed to mar
The vision of a world afar,
The shining of the Morning Star.
Attendant here, then, they must be,
And gathering close with eyes elate
Behold the vision of a State
Where men are equal, just, and free:
A State that hath no stain upon her,
No taint to hurt her maiden honour;
A Home where love and kindness centre;
A People's House where all may enter.
And, being entered, meet no dearth
Of welcome round a common hearth;
A People's House not built of stone,
Nor wrought by hand and brain alone,
But formed and founded on the heart;
A People's House, A People's Home,
En-isled in foam and far apart;
A People's House, where all may roam
The many rooms and be at ease;
A People's House, with tower and dome;
And over all a People's Flag --
A Flag upon the breeze.
All the heights of the high shores gleam
Red and gold at the sunset hour:
There comes the spell of a magic dream,
And the Harbour seems a lotus-flower;
A blue flower tinted at dawn with gold,
A broad flower blazing with light at noon,
A flower forever with charms to hold
His heart, who sees it by sun or moon.
Its beauty burns like a ceaseless fire,
And tower looks over the top of tower;
For all mute things it would seem, aspire
To catch a glimpse of the lotus-flower.
Men meet its beauty with furrowed face,
And straight the furrows are smoothed away;
They buy and sell in the market-place,
And languor leadens their blood all day.
At night they look on the flower, and lo!
The City passes with all its cares:
They dream no more in its azure glow,
Of gold and silver and stocks and shares.
The Lotus dreams 'neath the dreaming skies,
Its beauty touching with spell divine
The grey old town, till the old town lies
Like one half-drunk with a magic wine.
Star-loved, it breathes at the midnight hour
A sense of peace from its velvet mouth.
Though flowers be fair -- is there any flower
Like this blue flower of the radiant South?
Sun-loved and lit by the moon it yields
A challenge-glory or glow serene,
And men bethink them of jewelled shields,
A turquoise lighting a ground of green.
Fond lovers pacing beside it see
Not death and darkness, but life and light,
And dream no dream of the witchery
The Lotus sheds on the silent night.
Pale watchers weary of watching stars
That fall, and fall, and forever fall,
Tear-worn and troubled with many scars,
They seek the Lotus and end life's thrall.
The spirit spelled by the Lotus swoons,
Its beauty summons the artist mood;
And thus, perchance, in a thousand moons
Its spell shall work in our waiting blood.
Then souls shall shine with an old-time grace,
And sense be wrapped in a golden trance,
And art be crowned in the market-place
With Love and Beauty and fair Romance.
David McKee Wright.
An Old Colonist's Reverie
Dustily over the highway pipes the loud nor'-wester at morn,
Wind and the rising sun, and waving tussock and corn;
It brings to me days gone by when first in my ears it rang,
The wind is the voice of my home, and I think of the songs it sang
When, fresh from the desk and ledger, I crossed the long leagues of sea --
"The old worn world is gone and the new bright world is free."
The wide, wild pastures of old are fading and passing away,
All over the plain are the homes of the men who have come to stay --
I sigh for the good old days in the station whare again;
But the good new days are better -- I would not be heard to complain;
It is only the wind that cries with tears in its voice to me
Of the dead men low in the mould who came with me over the sea.
Some of them down in the city under the marble are laid,
Some on the bare hillside in the mound by the lone tree shade,
And some in the forest deeps of the west in their silence lie,
With the dark pine curtain above shutting out the blue of the sky.
And many have passed from my sight, whither I never shall know,
Swept away in the rushing river or caught in the mountain snow;
All the old hands are gone who came with me over the sea,
But the land that we made our own is the same bright land to me.
There are dreams in the gold of the kowhai, and when ratas are breaking
I can hear the rich murmur of voices in the deeps of the fern-shadowed gloom.
Old memory may bring me her treasures from the land of the blossoms of May,
But to me the hill daisies are dearer and the gorse on the river bed grey;
While the mists on the high hilltops curling, the dawn-haunted
haze of the sea,
To my fancy are bridal veils lifting from the face of the land of the free.
The speargrass and cabbage trees yonder, the honey-belled flax in its bloom,
The dark of the bush on the sidings, the snow-crested mountains that loom
Golden and grey in the sunlight, far up in the cloud-fringed blue,
Are the threads with old memory weaving and the line of my life
And the wind of the morning calling has ever a song for me
Of hope for the land of the dawning in the golden years to be.
Christopher John Brennan.
Of old, on her terrace at evening
...not here...in some long-gone kingdom
O, folded close to her breast!...
--our gaze dwelt wide on the blackness
(was it trees? or a shadowy passion
the pain of an old-world longing
that it sobb'd, that it swell'd, that it shrank?)
--the gloom of the forest
blurr'd soft on the skirt of the night-skies
that shut in our lonely world.
...not here...in some long-gone world...
close-lock'd in that passionate arm-clasp
no word did we utter, we stirr'd not:
the silence of Death, or of Love...
only, round and over us
that tearless infinite yearning
and the Night with her spread wings rustling
folding us with the stars.
...not here...in some long-gone kingdom
of old, on her terrace at evening
O, folded close to her heart!...
Where the poppy-banners flow
in and out amongst the corn,
ever saw us come and go
hand in hand, as girl and boy
warming fast to youth and maid,
at the hint of passionate joy
still in Summer's rose unshown:
yet we heard nor knew a fear;
strong and clear
summer's eager clarion blown
from the sunrise to the set:
now our feet are far away,
night and day,
do the old-known spots forget?
Sweet, I wonder if those hours
breathe of us now parted thence,
if a sense
of our love-birth thrill their flowers.
Poppies flush all tremulous --
has our love grown into them,
root and stem;
are the red blooms red with us?
Summer's standards are outroll'd,
other lovers wander slow;
I would know
if the morn is that of old.
Here our days bloom fuller yet,
happiness is all our task;
still I ask --
do the vanish'd days forget?
John Le Gay Brereton.
The Sea Maid
In what pearl-paven mossy cave
By what green sea
Art thou reclining, virgin of the wave,
In realms more full of splendid mystery
Than that strong northern flood whence came
The rise and fall of music in thy name --
Thy waiting name, Oithona!
The magic of the sea's own change
In depth and height,
From where the eternal order'd billows range
To unknown regions of sleep-weary night,
Fills, like a wonder-waking spell
Whispered by lips of some lone-murmuring shell,
Thy dreaming soul, Oithona.
In gladness of thy reverie
What gracious form
Will fly the errand of our love to thee,
By ways with winged messengers aswarm
Through dawn of opalescent skies,
To say the time is come and bid thee rise
And be our child, Oithona?
"Where shall we dwell?" say you.
Wandering winds reply:
"In a temple with roof of blue
-- Under the splendid sky."
Never a nobler home
We'll find though an age we try
Than is arched by the azure dome
Of the all-enfolding sky.
Here we are wed, and here
We live under God's own eye.
"Where shall we dwell," my dear?
Under the splendid sky.
What of these tender feet
That have never toddled yet?
What dances shall they beat,
With what red vintage wet?
In what wild way will they march or stray, by what sly paynims met?
The toil of it none may share;
By yourself must the way be won
Through fervid or frozen air
Till the overland journey's done;
And I would not take, for your own dear sake, one thorn from your track,
Go forth to your hill and dale,
Yet take in your hand from me
A staff when your footsteps fail,
A weapon if need there be;
'Twill hum in your ear when the foeman's near, athirst for the victory.
In the desert of dusty death
It will point to the hidden spring;
Should you weary and fail for breath,
It will burgeon and branch and swing
Till you sink to sleep in its shadow deep to the sound of its murmuring.
. . . . .
You must face the general foe --
A phantom pale and grim.
If you flinch at his glare, he'll grow
And gather your strength to him;
But your power will rise if you laugh in his eyes and away in a mist
To your freeborn soul be true --
Fling parchment in the fire;
Men's laws are null for you,
For a word of Love is higher,
And can you do aught, when He rules your thought, but follow your own desire?
You will dread no pinching dearth
In the home where you love to lie,
For your floor will be good brown earth
And your roof the open sky.
There'll be room for all at your festival when the heart-red wine runs high.
. . . . .
Joy to you, joy and strife
And a golden East before,
And the sound of the sea of life
In your ears when you reach the shore,
And a hope that still with as good a will you may fight as you fought of yore.
Arthur H. Adams.
About me leagues of houses lie,
Above me, grim and straight and high,
They climb; the terraces lean up
Like long grey reefs against the sky.
Packed tier on tier the people dwell;
Each narrow, hollow wall is full;
And in that hive of honeycomb,
Remote and high, I have one cell.
And when I turn into my street
I hear in murmurous retreat
A tide of noises flowing out --
The city ebbing from my feet!
And lo! two long straight walls between,
There dwells a little park serene,
Where blackened trees and railings hem
A little handkerchief of green!
Yet I can see across the roof
The sun, the stars and . . . God! For proof --
Between the twisting chimney-pots
A pointing finger, old, aloof!
The traffic that the city rends
Within my quiet haven ends
In a deep murmur, or across
My pool a gentle ripple sends.
A chime upon the silence drab
Paints music; hooting motors stab
The pleasant peace; and, far and faint,
The jangling lyric of the cab!
And when I wander, proud and free,
Through my domain, unceasingly
The endless pageant of the shops
Marches along the street with me.
About me ever blossoming
Like rich parterres the hoardings fling
An opulence of hue, and make
Within my garden endless Spring.
The droning tram-cars spitting light:
And like great bees in drunken flight
Burly and laden deep with bloom,
The 'busses lumbering home at night!
Sometimes an afternoon will fling
New meaning on each sombre thing,
And low upon the level roofs
The sultry sun lies smouldering.
Sometimes the fog -- that faery girl --
Her veil of wonder will unfurl,
And crescent gaunt and looming flat
Are sudden mysteries of pearl!
New miracles the wet streets show;
On stems of flame the gas-lamps glow.
I walk upon the wave and see
Another London drowned below!
And when night comes strange jewels strew
The winding streets I wander through:
Like pearls upon a woman's throat
The street-lamps' swerving avenue!
In every face that passes mine
Unfathomed epics I divine:
Each figure on the pavement is
A vial of untasted wine!
Through lands enchanted wandering,
To all a splendour seems to cling.
Lo! from a window-beacon high
Hope still the Night is questioning!
And so, ere sleep, I lie and mark
Romance's stealthy footsteps. Hark!
The rhythm of the horse's hoof
Bears some new drama through the dark!
So in this tall and narrow street
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