The Poems of Henry Kendall
Part 2 out of 9
And I believe a Seraph's arms
Caught up the sainted Child."
And Love looked round, and said: "Oh, you
That sit by Beulah's streams,
Shake on this thirsty life the dew
Which brings immortal dreams!
"Ah! turn to us, and greet us oft
With looks of pitying balm,
And hints of heaven, in whispers soft,
To make our troubles calm.
"My Ella with the shining hair,
Behold, these many years,
We've held up wearied hands in prayer;
And groped about in tears."
But Hope sings on: "Beyond the storm
We'll find the golden gates
Where, all the day, a radiant Form,
Our Ella, sits and waits."
(The Squatters' Song)
From the runs of the Narran, wide-dotted with sheep,
And loud with the lowing of cattle,
We speed for a land where the strange forests sleep
And the hidden creeks bubble and brattle!
Now call on the horses, and leave the blind courses
And sources of rivers that all of us know;
For, crossing the ridges, and passing the ledges,
And running up gorges, we'll come to the verges
Of gullies where waters eternally flow.
Oh! the herds they will rush down the spurs of the hill
To feed on the grasses so cool and so sweet;
And I think that my life with delight will stand still
When we halt with the pleasant Barcoo at our feet.
Good-bye to the Barwon, and brigalow scrubs,
Adieu to the Culgoa ranges,
But look for the mulga and salt-bitten shrubs,
Though the face of the forest-land changes.
The leagues we may travel down beds of hot gravel,
And clay-crusted reaches where moisture hath been,
While searching for waters, may vex us and thwart us,
Yet who would be quailing, or fainting, or failing?
Not you, who are men of the Narran, I ween!
When we leave the dry channels away to the south,
And reach the far plains we are journeying to,
We will cry, though our lips may be glued with the drouth,
Hip, hip, and hurrah for the pleasant Barcoo!
Bells Beyond the Forest
Wild-eyed woodlands, here I rest me, underneath the gaunt and ghastly trees;
Underneath fantastic-fronted caverns crammed with many a muffled breeze.
Far away from dusky towns and cities twinkling with the feet of men;
Listening to a sound of mellow music fleeting down the gusty glen;
Sitting by a rapid torrent, with the broken sunset in my face;
By a rapid, roaring torrent, tumbling through a dark and lonely place!
And I hear the bells beyond the forest, and the voice of distant streams;
And a flood of swelling singing, wafting round a world of ruined dreams.
Like to one who watches daylight dying from a lofty mountain spire,
When the autumn splendour scatters like a gust of faintly-gleaming fire;
So the silent spirit looketh through a mist of faded smiles and tears,
While across it stealeth all the sad and sweet divinity of years --
All the scenes of shine and shadow; light and darkness sleeping side by side
When my heart was wedded to existence, as a bridegroom to his bride:
While I travelled gaily onward with the vapours crowding in my wake,
Deeming that the Present hid the glory where the promised Morn would break.
Like to one who, by the waters standing, marks the reeling ocean wave
Moaning, hide his head all torn and shivered underneath his lonely cave,
So the soul within me glances at the tides of Purpose where they creep,
Dashed to fragments by the yawning ridges circling Life's tempestuous Deep!
Oh! the tattered leaves are dropping, dropping round me like a fall of rain;
While the dust of many a broken aspiration sweeps my troubled brain;
With the yearnings after Beauty, and the longings to be good and great;
And the thoughts of catching Fortune, flying on the tardy wings of Fate.
Bells, beyond the forest chiming, where is all the inspiration now
That was wont to flush my forehead, and to chase the pallor from my brow?
Did I not, amongst these thickets, weave my thoughts and passions into rhyme,
Trusting that the words were golden, hoping for the praise of after-time?
Where have all those fancies fled to? Can the fond delusion linger still,
When the Evening withers o'er me, and the night is creeping up the hill?
If the years of strength have left me, and my life begins to fail and fade,
Who will learn my simple ballads; who will stay to sing the songs I've made?
Bells, beyond the forest ringing, lo, I hasten to the world again;
For the sun has smote the empty windows, and the day is on the wane!
Hear I not a dreamy echo, soughing through the rafters of the tree;
Like a sound of stormy rivers, or the ravings of a restless sea?
Should I loiter here to listen, while this fitful wind is on the wing?
No, the heart of Time is sobbing, and my spirit is a withered thing!
Let the rapid torrents tumble, let the woodlands whistle in the blast;
Mighty minstrels sing behind me, but the promise of my youth is past.
Alone -- alone!
With a heart like a stone,
She maketh her moan
At the feet of the trees,
With her face on her knees,
And her hair streaming over;
Wildly, and wildly, and wildly;
For she misses the tracks of her lover!
Do you hear her, Ulmarra?
Oh, where are the tracks of her lover?
Go by -- go by!
They have told her a lie,
Who said he was nigh,
In the white-cedar glen --
In the camps of his men:
And she sitteth there weeping --
Weeping, and weeping, and weeping,
For the face of a warrior sleeping!
Do you hear her, Ulmarra?
Oh! where is her warrior sleeping?
A dream! a dream!
That they saw a bright gleam
Through the dusk boughs stream,
Where wild bees dwell,
And a tomahawk fell,
In moons which have faded;
Faded, and faded, and faded,
From woods where a chieftain lies shaded!
Do you hear her, Ulmarra?
Oh! where doth her chieftain lie shaded?
Who whispered a tale,
That they heard on the gale,
Through the dark and the cold,
The voice of the bold;
And a boomerang flying;
Flying, and flying, and flying?
Ah! her heart it is wasted with crying --
Do you hear her, Ulmarra?
Oh! her heart it is wasted with crying!
The Maid of Gerringong
Rolling through the gloomy gorges, comes the roaring southern blast,
With a sound of torrents flying, like a routed army, past,
And, beneath the shaggy forelands, strange fantastic forms of surf
Fly, like wild hounds, at the darkness, crouching over sea and earth;
Swooping round the sunken caverns, with an aggravated roar;
Falling where the waters tumble foaming on a screaming shore!
In a night like this we parted. Eyes were wet though speech was low,
And our thoughts were all in mourning for the dear, dead Long Ago!
In a night like this we parted. Hearts were sad though they were young,
And you left me very lonely, dark-haired Maid of Gerringong.
Said my darling, looking at me, through the radiance of her tears:
"Many changes, O my loved One, we will meet in after years;
Changes like to sudden sunbursts flashing down a rainy steep --
Changes like to swift-winged shadows falling on a moony deep!
And they are so cheerless sometimes, leaving, when they pass us by,
Deepening dolours on the sweet, sad face of our Humanity.
But you'll hope, and fail and faint not, with that heart so warm and true,
Watching for the coming Morning, that will flood the World for you;
Listening through a thirsty silence, till the low winds bear along
Eager footfalls -- pleasant voices," said the Maid of Gerringong.
Said my darling, when the wind came sobbing wildly round the eaves:
"Oh, the Purpose scattered from me, like the withered autumn leaves!
Oh, the wreck of Love's ambition! Oh, the fond and full belief
That I yet should hear them hail you in your land a God-made chief!
In the loud day they may slumber, but my thoughts will not be still
When the weary world is sleeping, and the moon is on the hill;
Then your form will bend above me, then your voice will rise and fall,
Though I turn and hide in darkness, with my face against the wall,
And my Soul must rise and listen while those homeless memories throng
Moaning in the night for shelter," said the Maid of Gerringong.
Ay, she passed away and left me! Rising through the dusk of tears,
Came a vision of that parting every day for many years!
Every day, though she had told me not to court the strange sweet pain,
Something whispered -- something led me to our olden haunts again:
And I used to wander nightly, by the surges and the ships,
Harping on those last fond accents that had trembled from her lips:
Till a vessel crossed the waters, and I heard a stranger say,
"One you loved has died in silence with her dear face turned away."
Oh! the eyes that flash upon me, and the voice that comes along --
Oh! my light, my life, my darling dark-haired Maid of Gerringong.
. . . . .
Some one saith, "Oh, you that mock at Passion with a worldly whine,
Would you change the face of Nature -- would you limit God's design?
Hide for shame from well-raised clamour, moderate fools who would be wise;
Hide for shame -- the World will hoot you! Love is Love, and never dies"
And another asketh, doubting that my brother speaks the truth,
"Can we love in age as fondly as we did in days of youth?
Will dead faces always haunt us, in the time of faltering breath?
Shall we yearn, and we so feeble?" Ay, for Love is Love in Death.
Oh! the Faith with sure foundation! -- let the Ages roll along,
You are mine, and mine for ever, dark-haired Maid of Gerringong.
Last night, dear, I dreamt about you, and I thought that far from men
We were walking, both together, in a fragrant seaside glen;
Down where we could hear the surges wailing round the castled cliffs,
Down where we could see the sunset reddening on the distant skiffs;
There a fall of mountain waters tumbled through the knotted bowers
Bright with rainbow colours reeling on the purple forest flowers.
And we rested on the benches of a cavern old and hoar;
And I whispered, "this is surely her I loved in days of yore!
False he was who brought sad tidings! Why were you away so long,
When you knew who waited for you, dark-haired Maid of Gerringong?
"Did the strangers come around you, in the far-off foreign land?
Did they lead you out of sorrow, with kind face and loving hand?
Had they pleasant ways to court you -- had they silver words to bind?
Had they souls more fond and loyal than the soul you left behind?
Do not think I blame you, dear one! Ah! my heart is gushing o'er
With the sudden joy and wonder, thus to see your face once more.
Happy is the chance which joins us after long, long years of pain:
And, oh, blessed was whatever sent you back to me again!
Now our pleasure will be real -- now our hopes again are young:
Now we'll climb Life's brightest summits, dark-haired Maid of Gerringong.
"In the sound of many footfalls, did you falter with regret
For a step which used to gladden in the time so vivid yet?
When they left you in the night-hours, did you lie awake like me,
With the thoughts of what we had been -- what we never more could be?
Ah! you look but do not answer while I halt and question here,
Wondering why I am so happy, doubting that you are so near.
Sure these eyes with love are blinded, for your form is waxing faint;
And a dreamy splendour crowns it, like the halo round a saint!
When I talk of what we will be, and new aspirations throng,
Why are you so sadly silent, dark-haired Maid of Gerringong?"
But she faded into sunset, and the sunset passed from sight;
And I followed madly after, through the misty, moony night,
Crying, "do not leave me lonely! Life has been so cold and drear,
You are all that God has left me, and I want you to be near!
Do not leave me in the darkness! I have walked a weary way,
Listening for your truant footsteps -- turn and stay, my darling, stay!"
But she came not though I waited, watching through a splendid haze,
Where the lovely Phantom halted ere she vanished from my gaze.
Then I thought that rain was falling, for there rose a stormy song,
And I woke in gloom and tempest, dark-haired Maid of Gerringong!
Like a beautiful face looking ever at me
A pure bright moon cometh over the sea;
And I stand on the crags, and hear the falls
Go tumbling down, through the black river-walls;
And the heart of the gorge is rent with the cry
Of the pent-up winds in their agony!
You are far from me, dear, where I watch and wait,
Like a weary bird for a long-lost mate,
And my life is as dull as the sluggish stream
Feeling its way through a world of dream;
For here is a waste of darkness and fear,
And I call and I call, but no one will hear!
O darling of mine, do you ever yearn
For a something lost, which will never return?
O darling of mine, on the grave of dead Hours,
Do you feel, like me, for a handful of flowers?
Through the glens of the Past, do you wander along,
Like a restless ghost that hath done a wrong?
And, lying alone, do you look from the drouth
Of a thirsty Life with a pleading mouth?
When the rain's on the roof, and the gales are abroad,
Do you wash with your tears the feet of your God?
Oh! I know you do, and he sitteth alone,
Your wounded Love, while you mourn and moan --
Oh! I know you do, and he never will leap
From his silence with smiles, while you weep -- and weep!
Your coolness shake down, ye gathered green leaves,
For my spirit is faint with the love that it grieves!
Is there aught on the summit, O yearner through Night,
Aught on the summit which looks like the light;
When my soul is a-wearied and lone in the land,
Groping around will it touch a kind hand?
There are chasms between us as black as a pall,
But bring us together, O God over all!
And let me cast from me these fetters of Fear,
When I hear the glad singing of Faith so near;
For I know by the cheeks, which are pallid and wet,
And a listening life we shall mingle yet!
Oh! then I will turn to those eloquent eyes,
And clasp thee close, with a sweet surprise;
And a guest will go in by the heart's holy door,
And the chambers of Love shall be left no more.
Hear ye not the waters beating where the rapid rivers, meeting
With the winds above them fleeting, hurry to the distant seas,
And a smothered sound of singing from old Ocean upwards springing,
Sending hollow echoes ringing like a wailing on the breeze?
For the tempest round us brewing, cometh with the clouds pursuing,
And the bright Day, like a ruin, crumbles from the mournful trees.
When the thunder ceases pealing, and the stars up heaven are stealing,
And the Moon above us wheeling throws her pleasant glances round,
From our homes we boldly sally 'neath the trysting tree to rally,
For a night-hunt up the valley, with our brothers and the hound!
Through a wild-eyed Forest, staring at the light above it glaring,
We will travel, little caring for the dangers where we bound.
Twisted boughs shall tremble o'er us, hollow woods shall moan before us,
And the torrents like a chorus down the gorges dark shall sing;
And the vines shall shake and shiver, and the startled grasses quiver,
Like the reeds beside a river in the gusty days of Spring;
While we forward haste delighted, through a region seldom lighted --
Souls impatient, hearts excited -- like a wind upon the wing!
Oh! the solemn tones of Ocean, like the language of devotion,
Or a voice of deep emotion, wander round the evening scene.
Oh! the ragged shadows cluster where, my brothers, we must muster
Ere the warm moon lends her lustre to the cedars darkly green;
And the lights like flowers shall blossom, in high Heaven's kindly bosom,
While we hunt the wild opossum, underneath its leafy screen;
Underneath the woven bowers, where the gloomy night-hawk cowers,
Through a lapse of dreamy hours, in a stirless solitude!
And the hound -- that close beside us still will stay whate'er betide us --
Through a 'wildering waste shall guide us --
through a maze where few intrude,
Till the game is chased to cover, till the stirring sport is over,
Till we bound, each happy rover, homeward down the laughing wood.
Oh, the joy in wandering thither, when fond friends are all together
And our souls are like the weather -- cloudless, clear and fresh and free!
Let the sailor sing the story of the ancient ocean's glory,
Forests golden, mountains hoary -- can he look and love like we?
Sordid worldling, haunt thy city with that heart so hard and gritty!
There are those who turn with pity when they turn to think of thee!
In the Depths of a Forest
In the depths of a Forest secluded and wild,
The night voices whisper in passionate numbers;
And I'm leaning again, as I did when a child,
O'er the grave where my father so quietly slumbers.
The years have rolled by with a thundering sound
But I knew, O ye woodlands, affection would know it,
And the spot which I stand on is sanctified ground
By the love that I bear to him sleeping below it.
Oh! well may the winds with a saddening moan
Go fitfully over the branches so dreary;
And well may I kneel by the time-shattered stone,
And rejoice that a rest has been found for the weary.
To Charles Harpur
I would sit at your feet for long days,
To hear the sweet Muse of the Wild
Speak out through the sad and the passionate lays
Of her first and her favourite Child.
I would sit at your feet, for my soul
Delights in the solitudes free;
And I stand where the creeks and the cataracts roll
Whensoever I listen to thee!
I would sit at your feet, for I love
By the gulches and torrents to roam;
And I long in this city for woodland and grove,
And the peace of a wild forest home.
I would sit at your feet, and we'd dwell
On the scenes of a long-vanished time,
While your thoughts into music would surge and would swell
Like a breeze of our beautiful clime.
I would sit at your feet, for I know,
Though the World in the Present be blind,
That the amaranth blossoms of Promise will blow
When the Ages have left you behind.
I would sit at your feet, for I feel
I am one of a glorious band
That ever will own you and hold you their Chief,
And a Monarch of Song in the land!
The River and the Hill
And they shook their sweetness out in their sleep,
On the brink of that beautiful stream,
But it wandered along with a wearisome song
Like a lover that walks in a dream:
So the roses blew
When the winds went through,
In the moonlight so white and so still;
But the river it beat
All night at the feet
Of a cold and flinty hill --
Of a hard and senseless hill!
I said, "We have often showered our loves
Upon something as dry as the dust;
And the faith that is crost, and the hearts that are lost --
Oh! how can we wittingly trust?
Like the stream which flows,
And wails as it goes,
Through the moonlight so white and so still,
To beat and to beat
All night at the feet
Of a cold and flinty hill --
Of a hard and senseless hill?
"River, I stay where the sweet roses blow,
And drink of their pleasant perfumes!
Oh, why do you moan, in this wide world alone,
When so much affection here blooms?
The winds wax faint,
And the Moon like a Saint
Glides over the woodlands so white and so still!
But you beat and you beat
All night at the feet
Of that cold and flinty hill --
Of that hard and senseless hill!"
The Fate of the Explorers
Set your face toward the darkness -- tell of deserts weird and wide,
Where unshaken woods are huddled, and low, languid waters glide;
Turn and tell of deserts lonely, lying pathless, deep and vast,
Where in utter silence ever Time seems slowly breathing past --
Silence only broken when the sun is flecked with cloudy bars,
Or when tropic squalls come hurtling underneath the sultry stars!
Deserts thorny, hot and thirsty, where the feet of men are strange,
And eternal Nature sleeps in solitudes which know no change.
Weakened with their lengthened labours, past long plains of stone and sand,
Down those trackless wilds they wandered, travellers from a far-off land,
Seeking now to join their brothers, struggling on with faltering feet,
For a glorious work was finished, and a noble task complete.
And they dreamt of welcome faces -- dreamt that soon unto their ears
Friendly greetings would be thronging, with a nation's well-earned cheers;
Since their courage never failed them, but with high, unflinching soul
Each was pressing forward, hoping, trusting all should reach the goal.
. . . . .
Though he rallied in the morning, long before the close of day
He had sunk, the worn-out hero, fainting, dying by the way!
But with Death he wrestled hardly; three times rising from the sod,
Yet a little further onward o'er the weary waste he trod.
Facing Fate with heart undaunted, still the chief would totter on
Till the evening closed about him -- till the strength to move was gone;
Then he penned his latest writings, and, before his life was spent,
Gave the records to his comrade -- gave the watch he said was lent --
Gave them with his last commandments, charging him that night to stay
And to let him lie unburied when the soul had passed away.
Through that night he uttered little, rambling were the words he spoke:
And he turned and died in silence, when the tardy morning broke.
Many memories come together whilst in sight of death we dwell,
Much of sweet and sad reflection through the weary mind must well.
As those long hours glided past him, till the east with light was fraught,
Who may know the mournful secret -- who can tell us what he thought?
Very lone and very wretched was the brave man left behind,
Wandering over leagues of waste-land, seeking, hoping help to find;
Sleeping in deserted wurleys, fearful many nightfalls through
Lest unfriendly hands should rob him of his hoard of wild nardoo.
. . . . .
Ere he reached their old encampment -- ere the well-known spot was gained,
Something nerved him -- something whispered that his other chief remained.
So he searched for food to give him, trusting they might both survive
Till the aid so long expected from the cities should arrive;
So he searched for food and took it to the gunyah where he found
Silence broken by his footfalls -- death and darkness on the ground.
Weak and wearied with his journey, there the lone survivor stooped,
And the disappointment bowed him and his heart with sadness drooped,
And he rose and raked a hollow with his wasted, feeble hands,
Where he took and hid the hero, in the rushes and the sands;
But he, like a brother, laid him out of reach of wind and rain,
And for many days he sojourned near him on that wild-faced plain;
Whilst he stayed beside the ruin, whilst he lingered with the dead,
Oh! he must have sat in shadow, gloomy as the tears he shed.
. . . . .
Where our noble Burke was lying -- where his sad companion stood,
Came the natives of the forest -- came the wild men of the wood;
Down they looked, and saw the stranger -- he who there in quiet slept --
Down they knelt, and o'er the chieftain bitterly they moaned and wept:
Bitterly they mourned to see him all uncovered to the blast --
All uncovered to the tempest as it wailed and whistled past;
And they shrouded him with bushes, so in death that he might lie,
Like a warrior of their nation, sheltered from the stormy sky.
. . . . .
Ye must rise and sing their praises, O ye bards with souls of fire,
For the people's voice shall echo through the wailings of your lyre;
And we'll welcome back their comrade, though our eyes with tears be blind
At the thoughts of promise perished, and the shadow left behind;
Now the leaves are bleaching round them -- now the gales above them glide,
But the end was all accomplished, and their fame is far and wide.
Though this fadeless glory cannot hide a grateful nation's grief,
And their laurels have been blended with the gloomy cypress leaf.
Let them rest where they have laboured! but, my country, mourn and moan;
We must build with human sorrow grander monuments than stone.
Let them rest, for oh! remember, that in long hereafter time
Sons of Science oft shall wander o'er that solitary clime!
Cities bright shall rise about it, Age and Beauty there shall stray,
And the fathers of the people, pointing to the graves, shall say:
"Here they fell, the glorious martyrs! when these plains were woodlands deep;
Here a friend, a brother, laid them; here the wild men came to weep."
(Inscribed to Madame Lucy Escott.)
As you glided and glided before us that time,
A mystical, magical maiden,
We fancied we looked on a face from the clime
Where the poets have builded their Aidenn!
And oh, the sweet shadows! And oh, the warm gleams
Which lay on the land of our beautiful dreams,
While we walked by the margins of musical streams
And heard your wild warbling around us!
We forgot what we were when we stood with the trees
Near the banks of those silvery waters;
As ever in fragments they came on the breeze,
The songs of old Rhine and his daughters!
And then you would pass with those radiant eyes
Which flashed like a light in the tropical skies --
And ah! the bright thoughts that would sparkle and rise
While we heard your wild warbling around us.
Will you ever fly back to this city of ours
With your harp and your voice and your beauty?
God knows we rejoice when we meet with such flowers
On the hard road of Life and of Duty!
Oh! come as you did, with that face and that tone,
For we wistfully look to the hours which have flown,
And long for a glimpse of the gladness that shone
When we heard your wild warbling around us.
Under the Figtree
Like drifts of balm from cedared glens, those darling memories come,
With soft low songs, and dear old tales, familiar to our home.
Then breathe again that faint refrain, so tender, sad, and true,
My soul turns round with listening eyes unto the harp and you!
The fragments of a broken Past are floating down the tide,
And she comes gleaming through the dark, my love, my life, my bride!
Oh! sit and sing -- I know her well, that phantom deadly fair
With large surprise, and sudden sighs, and streaming midnight hair!
I know her well, for face to face we stood amongst the sheaves,
Our voices mingling with a mist of music in the leaves!
I know her well, for hand in hand we walked beside the sea,
And heard the huddling waters boom beneath this old Figtree.
God help the man that goes abroad amongst the windy pines,
And wanders, like a gloomy bat, where never morning shines!
That steals about amidst the rout of broken stones and graves,
When round the cliffs the merry skiffs go scudding through the waves;
When, down the bay, the children play, and scamper on the sand,
And Life and Mirth illume the Earth, and Beauty fills the Land!
God help the man! He only hears and fears the sleepless cries
Of smitten Love -- of homeless Love and moaning Memories.
Oh! when a rhyme of olden time is sung by one so dear,
I feel again the sweetest pain I've known for many a year;
And from a deep, dull sea of sleep faint fancies come to me,
And I forget how lone we sit beneath this old Figtree.
Drowned at Sea
Gloomy cliffs, so worn and wasted with the washing of the waves,
Are ye not like giant tombstones round those lonely ocean graves?
Are ye not the sad memorials, telling of a mighty grief --
Dark with records ground and lettered into caverned rock and reef?
Oh! ye show them, and I know them, and my thoughts in mourning go
Down amongst your sunless chasms, deep into the surf below!
Oh! ye bear them, and declare them, and o'er every cleft and scar,
I have wept for dear dead brothers perished in the lost Dunbar!
Ye smitten -- ye battered,
And splintered and shattered
Cliffs of the Sea!
Restless waves, so dim with dreams of sudden storms and gusty surge,
Roaring like a gathered whirlwind reeling round a mountain verge,
Were ye not like loosened maniacs, in the night when Beauty pale
Called upon her God, beseeching through the uproar of the gale?
Were ye not like maddened demons while young children faint with fear
Cried and cried and cried for succour, and no helping hand was near?
Oh, the sorrow of the morrow! -- lamentations near and far! --
Oh, the sobs for dear dead sisters perished in the lost Dunbar! --
Ye ruthless, unsated,
And hateful, and hated
Waves of the Sea!
Ay, we stooped and moaned in darkness --
eyes might strain and hearts might plead,
For their darlings crying wildly, they would never rise nor heed!
Ay, we yearned into their faces looking for the life in vain,
Wailing like to children blinded with a mist of sudden pain!
Dear hands clenched, and dear eyes rigid in a stern and stony stare,
Dear lips white from past affliction, dead to all our mad despair,
Ah, the groaning and the moaning -- ah, the thoughts which rise in tears
When we turn to all those loved ones, looking backward five long years!
The fathers and mothers,
The sisters and brothers
Drowned at Sea!
Morning in the Bush
(A Juvenile Fragment.)
Above the skirts of yellow clouds,
The god-like Sun, arrayed
In blinding splendour, swiftly rose,
And looked athwart the glade;
The sleepy dingo watched him break
The bonds that curbed his flight;
And from his golden tresses shake
The fading gems of Night!
And wild goburras laughed aloud
Their merry morning songs,
As Echo answered in the depths
With a thousand thousand tongues;
The gully-depths where many a vine
Of ancient growth had crept,
To cluster round the hoary pine,
Where scanty mosses wept.
Huge stones, and damp and broken crags,
In wild chaotic heap,
Were lying at the barren base
Of the ferny hillside steep;
Between those fragments hollows lay,
Upfilled with fruitful ground,
Where many a modest floweret grew,
To scent the wind-breaths round;
As fertile patches bloom within
A dried and worldly heart,
When some that look can only see
The cold, the barren part!
The Miser, full with thoughts of gain,
The meanest of his race,
May in his breast some verdure hide,
Though none that verdure trace.
Where time-worn cliffs were jutting out,
With rough and ragged edges,
The snowy mountain-lily slept
Behind the earthy ledges;
Like some sweet Oriental Maid,
Who blindly deems it duty
To wear a veil before her face,
And hide her peerless beauty;
Or like to Innocence that thrives
In midst of sin and sorrows,
Nor from the cheerless scene around
The least infection borrows,
But stayeth out her mortal life --
Though in that lifetime lonely --
With Virtue's lustre round her heart,
And Virtue's lustre only.
A patch of sunshine here and there
Lay on a leaf-strewn water-pool,
Whose tribute trickled down the rocks
In gurgling ripples, clear and cool!
As iguanas, from the clefts,
Would steal along with rustling sound,
To where the restless eddies roamed
Amongst the arrowy rushes round.
While, scanning them with angry eyes
From off a fallen myrtle log
That branchless bridged the brushy creek,
There stood and barked, a Shepherd's Dog!
And underneath a neighbouring mass
Of wattles intertwining,
His Master lay -- his back against
The grassy banks reclining.
Beneath the shade of ironbarks,
Stretched o'er the valley's sloping bed --
Half hidden in a tea-tree scrub,
A flock of dusky sheep were spread;
And fitful bleating faintly came
On every joyous breath of wind,
That up the stony hills would fly,
And leave the hollows far behind!
Wild tones of music from the Creek
Were intermingling with the breeze,
The loud, rich lays of countless birds
Perched on the dark mimosa trees;
Those merry birds, with wings of light
Which rival every golden ray
Out-flashing from the lamps of Night,
Or streaming o'er the brow of Day.
Amongst the gnarly apple-trees,
A gorgeous tribe of parrots came;
And screaming, leapt from bough to bough,
Like living jets of crimson flame!
And where the hillside-growing gums
Their web-like foliage upward threw,
Old Nature rang with echoes from
The loud-voiced mountain cockatoo;
And a thousand nameless twittering things,
Between the rustling sapling sprays,
Were flashing through the fragrant leaves,
And dancing like to fabled fays;
Rejoicing in the glorious light
That beauteous Morning had unfurled
To make the heart of Nature glad,
And clothe with smiles a weeping World.
The Girl I Left Behind Me
(New Words to an Old Air.)
With sweet Regret -- (the dearest thing that Yesterday has left us) --
We often turn our homeless eyes to scenes whence Fate has reft us.
Here sitting by a fading flame, wild waifs of song remind me
Of Annie with her gentle ways, the Girl I left behind me.
I stood beside the surging sea, with lips of silent passion --
I faced you by the surging sea, O brows of mild repression!
I never said -- "my darling, stay!" -- the moments seemed to bind me
To something stifling all my words for the Girl I left behind me.
The pathos worn by common things -- by every wayside flower,
Or Autumn leaf on lonely winds, revives the parting hour.
Ye swooning thoughts without a voice -- ye tears which rose to blind me,
Why did she fade into the Dark, the Girl I left behind me.
At night they always come to me, the tender and true-hearted;
And in my dreams we join again the hands which now are parted;
And, looking through the gates of Sleep, the pleasant Moon doth find me
For ever wandering with my Love, the Girl I left behind me.
You know my life is incomplete, O far-off faint Ideal!
When shall I reach you from a depth of darkness which is real?
So I may mingle, soul in soul, with her that Heaven assigned me;
So she may lean upon my love, the Girl I left behind me.
Amongst the Roses
I walked through a Forest, beneath the hot noon,
On Etheline calling and calling!
One said: "She will hear you and come to you soon,
When the coolness, my brother, is falling."
But I whispered: "O Darling, I falter with pain!"
And the thirsty leaves rustled, and hissed for the rain,
Where a wayfarer halted and slept on the plain;
And dreamt of a garden of Roses!
Of a cool sweet place,
And a nestling face
In a dance and a dazzle of Roses.
In the drouth of a Desert, outwearied, I wept,
O Etheline, darkened with dolours!
But, folded in sunset, how long have you slept
By the Roses all reeling with colours?
A tree from its tresses a blossom did shake,
It fell on her face, and I feared she would wake,
So I brushed it away for ~her~ sweet sake;
In that garden of beautiful Roses!
In the dreamy perfumes
From ripe-red blooms
In a dance and a dazzle of Roses.
It is better, O day, that you go to your rest,
For you go like a guest who was loth to remain!
Swing open, ye gates of the east and the west,
And let out the wild shadows -- the night and the rain.
Ye winds, ye are dead, with your voices attuned,
That thrilled the green life in the sweet-scented sheaves,
When I touched a warm hand which has faded, and swooned
To a trance of the darkness, and blight on the leaves.
I had studied the lore in her maiden-like ways,
And the large-hearted love of my Annie was won,
'Ere Summer had passed into passionate days,
Or Autumn made ready her fruits for the Sun.
So my life was complete, and the hours that went by,
And the moon and the willow-wooed waters around,
Might have known that we rested, my Annie and I,
In happiness calm as the slumber of sound.
On Sundays we wandered, as glad as a breeze,
By the rocks and the waves on a glittering beach;
Or we loitered in gardens melodious with bees,
And sucked the sweet pulp of the plum and the peach.
"The Forest will show me the secrets of Fame,"
I said to myself in the gum-shadowed glen,
"I will call every blossom and tree by its name,
And the people shall deem me a man of the men.
"I will gather Roses of Sharon, my Soul, --
The Roses of Sharon so cool and so sweet;
And our brothers shall see me entwining the whole
For a garland to drop at my dear Annie's feet."
It is better, O day, that you go to your rest,
For you go like a guest who was loth to remain!
Swing open, ye gates of the east and the west,
And let out the wild shadows -- the night and the rain.
A Brother wandered forth with me,
Beside a barren beach:
He harped on things beyond the sea,
And out of reach.
He hinted once of unknown skies,
And then I would not hark,
But turned away from steadfast eyes,
Into the dark.
And said -- "an ancient faith is dead
And wonder fills my mind:
I marvel how the blind have led
So long the blind.
"Behold this truth we only know
That night is on the land!
And we a weary way must go
To find God's hand."
I wept -- "Our fathers told us, Lord,
That Thou wert kind and just,
But lo! our wailings fly abroad
For broken trust.
"How many evil ones are here
Who mocking go about,
Because we are too faint with fear
To wrestle Doubt!
"Thy riddles are beyond the ken
Of creatures of the sod:
Remember that we are but men,
And Thou art God!
"O, doting world, methinks your stay
Is weaker than a reed!
Our Father turns His face away;
'Tis dark indeed."
The evening woods lay huddled there,
All wrapped in silence strange:
A sudden wind -- and lo! the air
Was filled with change.
"Your words are wild," my brother said,
"For God's voice fills the breeze;
Go -- hide yourself, as Adam did,
Amongst the trees.
"I pluck the shoes from off my feet,
But dare to look around;
Behold," he said, "my Lord I greet,
On holy ground!"
And God spake through the wind to me --
"Shake off that gloom of Fear,
You fainting soul who could not see
That I was near.
"Why vex me crying day and night? --
You call on me to hark!
But when I bless your world with light,
Who makes it dark?
"Is there a ravelled riddle left
That you would have undone?
What other doubts are there to sift?"
I answered -- "None."
"My son, look up, if you would see
The Promise on your way,
And turn a trustful face to me."
I whispered -- "Yea."
My head is filled with olden rhymes beside this moaning sea,
But many and many a day has gone since I was dear to thee!
I know my passion fades away, and therefore oft regret
That some who love indeed can part and in the years forget.
Ah! through the twilights when we stood the wattle trees between,
We did not dream of such a time as this, fair Geraldine.
I do not say that all has gone of passion and of pain;
I yearn for many happy thoughts I shall not think again!
And often when the wind is up, and wailing round the eaves,
You sigh for withered Purpose shred and scattered like the leaves,
The Purpose blooming when we met each other on the green;
The sunset heavy in your curls, my golden Geraldine.
I think we lived a loftier life through hours of Long Ago,
For in the largened evening earth our spirits seemed to grow.
Well, that has passed, and here I stand, upon a lonely place,
While Night is stealing round the land, like Time across my face;
But I can calmly recollect our shadowy parting scene,
And swooning thoughts that had no voice -- no utterance, Geraldine.
Hath he not followed a star through the darkness,
Ye people who sit at the table of Jephthah?
Oh! turn with the face to a light in the mountains,
Behold it is further from Achan than ever!
"I know how it is with my brothers in Mizpeh,"
Said Achan, the swift-footed runner of Zorah,
"They look at the wood they have hewn for the altar;
And think of a shadow in sackcloth and ashes.
"I know how it is with the daughter of Jephthah,
(O Ada, my love, and the fairest of women!)
She wails in the time when her heart is so zealous
For God who hath stricken the children of Ammon.
"I said I would bring her the odours of Edom,
And armfuls of spices to set at the banquet!
Behold I have fronted the chieftain her father;
And strong men have wept for the leader of thousands!
"My love is a rose of the roses of Sharon,
All lonely and bright as the Moon in the myrtles!
Her lips, like to honeycombs, fill with the sweetness
That Achan the thirsty is hindered from drinking.
"Her women have wept for the love that is wasted
Like wine, which is spilt when the people are wanting,
And hot winds have dried all the cisterns of Elim!
For love that is wasted her women were wailing!
"The timbrels fall silent! And dost thou not hear it,
A voice, like the sound of a lute when we loiter,
And sit by the pools in the valleys of Arnon,
And suck the cool grapes that are growing in clusters?
"She glides, like a myrrh-scented wind, through the willows,
O Ada! behold it is Achan that speaketh:
I know thou art near me, but never can see thee,
Because of the horrible drouth in mine eyelids."
[End of Poems and Songs.]
Leaves from Australian Forests
To her who, cast with me in trying days,
Stood in the place of health and power and praise;
Who, when I thought all light was out, became
A lamp of hope that put my fears to shame;
Who faced for love's sole sake the life austere
That waits upon the man of letters here;
Who, unawares, her deep affection showed
By many a touching little wifely mode;
Whose spirit, self-denying, dear, divine,
Its sorrows hid, so it might lessen mine --
To her, my bright, best friend, I dedicate
This book of songs -- 't will help to compensate
For much neglect. The act, if not the rhyme,
Will touch her heart, and lead her to the time
Of trials past. That which is most intense
Within these leaves is of her influence;
And if aught here is sweetened with a tone
Sincere, like love, it came of love alone.
I purposed once to take my pen and write,
Not songs, like some, tormented and awry
With passion, but a cunning harmony
Of words and music caught from glen and height,
And lucid colours born of woodland light
And shining places where the sea-streams lie.
But this was when the heat of youth glowed white,
And since I've put the faded purpose by.
I have no faultless fruits to offer you
Who read this book; but certain syllables
Herein are borrowed from unfooted dells
And secret hollows dear to noontide dew;
And these at least, though far between and few,
May catch the sense like subtle forest spells.
So take these kindly, even though there be
Some notes that unto other lyres belong,
Stray echoes from the elder sons of song;
And think how from its neighbouring native sea
The pensive shell doth borrow melody.
I would not do the lordly masters wrong
By filching fair words from the shining throng
Whose music haunts me as the wind a tree.
Lo, when a stranger in soft Syrian glooms
Shot through with sunset, treads the cedar dells,
And hears the breezy ring of elfin bells
Far down be where the white-haired cataract booms,
He, faint with sweetness caught from forest smells,
Bears thence, unwitting, plunder of perfumes.
The Hut by the Black Swamp
Now comes the fierce north-easter, bound
About with clouds and racks of rain,
And dry, dead leaves go whirling round
In rings of dust, and sigh like pain
Across the plain.
Now twilight, with a shadowy hand
Of wild dominionship, doth keep
Strong hold of hollow straits of land,
And watery sounds are loud and deep
By gap and steep.
Keen, fitful gusts, that fly before
The wings of storm when day hath shut
Its eyes on mountains, flaw by flaw,
Fleet down by whistling box-tree butt,
Against the hut.
And, ringed and girt with lurid pomp,
Far eastern cliffs start up, and take
Thick steaming vapours from a swamp
That lieth like a great blind lake,
Of face opaque.
The moss that, like a tender grief,
About an English ruin clings --
What time the wan autumnal leaf
Faints, after many wanderings
On windy wings --
That gracious growth, whose quiet green
Is as a love in days austere,
Was never seen -- hath never been --
On slab or roof, deserted here
For many a year.
Nor comes the bird whose speech is song --
Whose songs are silvery syllables
That unto glimmering woods belong,
And deep, meandering mountain dells
By yellow wells.
But rather here the wild-dog halts,
And lifts the paw, and looks, and howls;
And here, in ruined forest vaults,
Abide dim, dark, death-featured owls,
Like monks in cowls.
Across this hut the nettle runs,
And livid adders make their lair
In corners dank from lack of suns,
And out of foetid furrows stare
The growths that scare.
Here Summer's grasp of fire is laid
On bark and slabs that rot, and breed
Squat ugly things of deadly shade,
The scorpion, and the spiteful seed
Unhallowed thunders, harsh and dry,
And flaming noontides, mute with heat,
Beneath the breathless, brazen sky,
Upon these rifted rafters beat
With torrid feet.
And night by night the fitful gale
Doth carry past the bittern's boom,
The dingo's yell, the plover's wail,
While lumbering shadows start, and loom,
And hiss through gloom.
No sign of grace -- no hope of green,
Cool-blossomed seasons marks the spot;
But chained to iron doom, I ween,
'Tis left, like skeleton, to rot
Where ruth is not.
For on this hut hath murder writ,
With bloody fingers, hellish things;
And God will never visit it
With flower or leaf of sweet-faced Springs,
Or gentle wings.
September in Australia
Grey Winter hath gone, like a wearisome guest,
And, behold, for repayment,
September comes in with the wind of the West
And the Spring in her raiment!
The ways of the frost have been filled of the flowers,
While the forest discovers
Wild wings, with the halo of hyaline hours,
And the music of lovers.
September, the maid with the swift, silver feet!
She glides, and she graces
The valleys of coolness, the slopes of the heat,
With her blossomy traces;
Sweet month, with a mouth that is made of a rose,
She lightens and lingers
In spots where the harp of the evening glows,
Attuned by her fingers.
The stream from its home in the hollow hill slips
In a darling old fashion;
And the day goeth down with a song on its lips,
Whose key-note is passion.
Far out in the fierce, bitter front of the sea
I stand, and remember
Dead things that were brothers and sisters of thee,
The West, when it blows at the fall of the noon
And beats on the beaches,
Is filled with a tender and tremulous tune
That touches and teaches;
The stories of Youth, of the burden of Time,
And the death of Devotion,
Come back with the wind, and are themes of the rhyme
In the waves of the ocean.
We, having a secret to others unknown,
In the cool mountain-mosses,
May whisper together, September, alone
Of our loves and our losses!
One word for her beauty, and one for the grace
She gave to the hours;
And then we may kiss her, and suffer her face
To sleep with the flowers.
High places that knew of the gold and the white
On the forehead of Morning
Now darken and quake, and the steps of the Night
Are heavy with warning.
Her voice in the distance is lofty and loud
Through the echoing gorges;
She hath hidden her eyes in a mantle of cloud,
And her feet in the surges.
On the tops of the hills, on the turreted cones --
Chief temples of thunder --
The gale, like a ghost, in the middle watch moans,
Gliding over and under.
The sea, flying white through the rack and the rain,
Leapeth wild at the forelands;
And the plover, whose cry is like passion with pain,
Complains in the moorlands.
Oh, season of changes -- of shadow and shine --
September the splendid!
My song hath no music to mingle with thine,
And its burden is ended;
But thou, being born of the winds and the sun,
By mountain, by river,
Mayst lighten and listen, and loiter and run,
With thy voices for ever!
"Shut your ears, stranger, or turn from Ghost Glen now,
For the paths are grown over, untrodden by men now;
Shut your ears, stranger," saith the grey mother, crooning
Her sorcery runic, when sets the half-moon in.
To-night the north-easter goes travelling slowly,
But it never stoops down to that hollow unholy;
To-night it rolls loud on the ridges red-litten,
But it cannot abide in that forest, sin-smitten.
For over the pitfall the moon-dew is thawing,
And, with never a body, two shadows stand sawing --
The wraiths of two sawyers (~step under and under~),
Who did a foul murder and were blackened with thunder!
Whenever the storm-wind comes driven and driving,
Through the blood-spattered timber you may see the saw striving --
You may see the saw heaving, and falling, and heaving,
Whenever the sea-creek is chafing and grieving!
And across a burnt body, as black as an adder,
Sits the sprite of a sheep-dog (was ever sight sadder?)
For, as the dry thunder splits louder and faster,
This sprite of a sheep-dog howls for his master.
"Oh, count your beads deftly," saith the grey mother, crooning
Her sorcery runic, when sets the half-moon in.
And well may she mutter, for the dark, hollow laughter
You will hear in the sawpits and the bloody logs after.
Ay, count your beads deftly, and keep your ways wary,
For the sake of the Saviour and sweet Mother Mary.
Pray for your peace in these perilous places,
And pray for the laying of horrible faces.
One starts, with a forehead wrinkled and livid,
Aghast at the lightnings sudden and vivid;
One telleth, with curses, the gold that they drew there
(Ah! cross your breast humbly) from him whom they slew there:
The stranger, who came from the loved, the romantic
Island that sleeps on the moaning Atlantic,
Leaving behind him a patient home, yearning
For the steps in the distance -- never returning;
Who was left in the forest, shrunken and starkly,
Burnt by his slayers (so men have said, darkly),
With the half-crazy sheep-dog, who cowered beside there,
And yelled at the silence, and marvelled, and died there.
Yea, cross your breast humbly and hold your breath tightly,
Or fly for your life from those shadows unsightly,
From the set staring features (cold, and so young, too),
And the death on the lips that a mother hath clung to.
I tell you -- that bushman is braver than most men
Who even in daylight doth go through the Ghost Glen,
Although in that hollow, unholy and lonely,
He sees the dank sawpits and bloody logs only.
Daphne! Ladon's daughter, Daphne! Set thyself in silver light,
Take thy thoughts of fairest texture, weave them into words of white --
Weave the rhyme of rose-lipped Daphne, nymph of wooded stream and shade,
Flying love of bright Apollo, -- fleeting type of faultless maid!
She, when followed from the forelands by the lord of lyre and lute,
Sped towards far-singing waters, past deep gardens flushed with fruit;
Took the path against Peneus, panted by its yellow banks;
Turned, and looked, and flew the faster through grey-tufted thicket ranks;
Flashed amongst high flowered sedges: leaped across the brook, and ran
Down to where the fourfold shadows of a nether glade began;
There she dropped, like falling Hesper, heavy hair of radiant head
Hiding all the young abundance of her beauty's white and red.
Came the yellow-tressed Far-darter -- came the god whose feet are fire,
On his lips the name of Daphne, in his eyes a great desire;
Fond, full lips of lord and lover, sad because of suit denied;
Clear, grey eyes made keen by passion, panting, pained, unsatisfied.
Here he turned, and there he halted, now he paused, and now he flew,
Swifter than his sister's arrows, through soft dells of dreamy dew.
Vext with gleams of Ladon's daughter, dashed along the son of Jove,
Fast upon flower-trammelled Daphne fleeting on from grove to grove;
Flights of seawind hard behind him, breaths of bleak and whistling straits;
Drifts of driving cloud above him, like a troop of fierce-eyed Fates!
So he reached the water-shallows; then he stayed his steps, and heard
Daphne drop upon the grasses, fluttering like a wounded bird.
Was there help for Ladon's daughter? Saturn's son is high and just:
Did he come between her beauty and the fierce Far-darter's lust?
As she lay, the helpless maiden, caught and bound in fast eclipse,
Did the lips of god drain pleasure from her sweet and swooning lips?
Now that these and all Love's treasures blushed, before the spoiler, bare,
Was the wrong that shall be nameless done, and seen, and suffered there?
No! for Zeus is King and Father. Weary nymph and fiery god,
Bend the knee alike before him -- he is kind, and he is lord!
Therefore sing how clear-browed Pallas -- Pallas, friend of prayerful maid,
Lifted dazzling Daphne lightly, bore her down the breathless glade,
Did the thing that Zeus commanded: so it came to pass that he
Who had chased a white-armed virgin, caught at her, and clasped a tree.
* The Dingo, or Wild Dog of Australia.
The warrigal's lair is pent in bare,
Black rocks at the gorge's mouth;
It is set in ways where Summer strays
With the sprites of flame and drouth;
But when the heights are touched with lights
Of hoar-frost, sleet, and shine,
His bed is made of the dead grass-blade
And the leaves of the windy pine.
Through forest boles the storm-wind rolls,
Vext of the sea-driv'n rain;
And, up in the clift, through many a rift,
The voices of torrents complain.
The sad marsh-fowl and the lonely owl
Are heard in the fog-wreaths grey,
When the warrigal wakes, and listens, and takes
To the woods that shelter the prey.
In the gully-deeps the blind creek sleeps,
And the silver, showery moon
Glides over the hills, and floats, and fills,
And dreams in the dark lagoon;
While halting hard by the station yard,
Aghast at the hut-flame nigh,
The warrigal yells -- and flats and fells
Are loud with his dismal cry.
On the topmost peak of mountains bleak
The south wind sobs, and strays
Through moaning pine and turpentine,
And the rippling runnel ways;
And strong streams flow, and great mists go,
Where the warrigal starts to hear
The watch-dog's bark break sharp in the dark,
And flees like a phantom of fear.
The swift rains beat, and the thunders fleet
On the wings of the fiery gale,
And down in the glen of pool and fen,
The wild gums whistle and wail,
As over the plains and past the chains
Of waterholes glimmering deep,
The warrigal flies from the shepherd's cries,
And the clamour of dogs and sheep.
He roves through the lands of sultry sands,
He hunts in the iron range,
Untamed as surge of the far sea verge,
And fierce and fickle and strange.
The white man's track and the haunts of the black
He shuns, and shudders to see;
For his joy he tastes in lonely wastes
Where his mates are torrent and tree.
On the storm-cloven Cape
The bitter waves roll,
With the bergs of the Pole,
And the darks and the damps of the Northern Sea:
For the storm-cloven Cape
Is an alien Shape
With a fearful face; and it moans, and it stands
Outside all lands
When the fruits of the year
Have been gathered in Spain,
And the Indian rain
Is rich on the evergreen lands of the Sun,
There comes to this Cape
To this alien Shape,
As the waters beat in and the echoes troop forth,
The Wind of the North,
And the wilted thyme,
And the patches past
Of the nettles cast
In the drift of the rift, and the broken rime,
Are tumbled and blown
To every zone
With the famished glede, and the plovers thinned
By this fourfold Wind --
This Wind sublime!
On the wrinkled hills,
By starts and fits,
The wild Moon sits;
And the rindles fill and flash and fall
In the way of her light,
Through the straitened night,
When the sea-heralds clamour, and elves of the war,
In the torrents afar,
From ridge to ridge
The polar fires
On the naked spires,
With a foreign splendour, flit and flow;
And clough and cave
Have a blood-coloured glamour on roof and on wall,
Like a nether hall
In the hells below!
The dead, dry lips
Of the ledges, split
By the thunder fit
And the stress of the sprites of the forked flame,
Anon break out,
With a shriek and a shout,
Like a hard, bitter laughter, cracked and thin,
From a ghost with a sin
Too dark for a name!
And all thro' the year,
The fierce seas run
From sun to sun,
Across the face of a vacant world!
And the Wind flies forth
From the wild, white North,
That shivers and harries the heart of things,
And shapes with its wings
A chaos uphurled!
Like one who sees
A rebel light
In the thick of the night,
As he stumbles and staggers on summits afar --
Who looks to it still,
Up hill and hill,
With a steadfast hope (though the ways be deep,
And rough, and steep),
Like a steadfast star --
So I, that stand
On the outermost peaks
Of peril, with cheeks
Blue with the salts of a frosty sea,
Have learnt to wait,
With an eye elate
And a heart intent, for the fuller blaze
Of the Beauty that rays
Like a glimpse for me --
Of the Beauty that grows
Whenever I hear
The winds of Fear
From the tops and the bases of barrenness call;
And the duplicate lore
Which I learn evermore,
Is of Harmony filling and rounding the Storm,
And the marvellous Form
That governs all!
* A stream in the Braidwood district, New South Wales.
River, myrtle rimmed, and set
Deep amongst unfooted dells --
Daughter of grey hills of wet,
Born by mossed and yellow wells;
Now that soft September lays
Tender hands on thee and thine,
Let me think of blue-eyed days,
Star-like flowers and leaves of shine!
Cities soil the life with rust;
Water banks are cool and sweet;
River, tired of noise and dust,
Here I come to rest my feet.
Now the month from shade to sun
Fleets and sings supremest songs,
Now the wilful wood-winds run
Through the tangled cedar throngs.
Here are cushioned tufts and turns
Where the sumptuous noontide lies:
Here are seen by flags and ferns
Summer's large, luxurious eyes.
On this spot wan Winter casts
Eyes of ruth, and spares its green
From his bitter sea-nursed blasts,
Spears of rain and hailstones keen.
Rather here abideth Spring,
Lady of a lovely land,
Dear to leaf and fluttering wing,
Deep in blooms -- by breezes fanned.
Faithful friend beyond the main,
Friend that time nor change makes cold;
Now, like ghosts, return again
Pallid, perished days of old.
Ah, the days! -- the old, old theme,
Never stale, but never new,
Floating like a pleasant dream,
Back to me and back to you.
Since we rested on these slopes
Seasons fierce have beaten down
Ardent loves and blossoming hopes --
Loves that lift and hopes that crown.
But, believe me, still mine eyes
Often fill with light that springs
From divinity, which lies
Ever at the heart of things.
Solace do I sometimes find
Where you used to hear with me
Songs of stream and forest wind,
Tones of wave and harp-like tree.
Araluen -- home of dreams,
Fairer for its flowerful glade
Than the face of Persian streams
Or the slopes of Syrian shade;
Why should I still love it so,
Friend and brother far away?
Ask the winds that come and go,
What hath brought me here to-day.
Evermore of you I think,
When the leaves begin to fall,
Where our river breaks its brink,
And a rest is over all.
Evermore in quiet lands,
Friend of mine beyond the sea,
Memory comes with cunning hands,
Stays, and paints your face for me.
* Charles Harpur was buried at Euroma, N.S.W., but this poem refers
to the grave of a stranger whose name is unknown.
They built his mound of the rough, red ground,
By the dip of a desert dell,
Where all things sweet are killed by the heat,
And scattered o'er flat and fell;
In a burning zone they left him alone,
Past the uttermost western plain,
And the nightfall dim heard his funeral hymn
In the voices of wind and rain.
The songs austere of the forests drear,
And the echoes of clift and cave,
When the dark is keen where the storm hath been,
Fleet over the far-away grave.
And through the days when the torrid rays
Strike down on a coppery gloom,
Some spirit grieves in the perished leaves,
Whose theme is that desolate tomb.
No human foot or paw of brute
Halts now where the stranger sleeps;
But cloud and star his fellows are,
And the rain that sobs and weeps.
The dingo yells by the far iron fells,
The plover is loud in the range,
But they never come near to the slumberer here,
Whose rest is a rest without change.
Ah! in his life, had he mother or wife,
To wait for his step on the floor?
Did beauty wax dim while watching for him
Who passed through the threshold no more?
Doth it trouble his head? He is one with the dead;
He lies by the alien streams;
And sweeter than sleep is death that is deep
And unvexed by the lordship of dreams.
A strong sea-wind flies up and sings
Across the blown-wet border,
Whose stormy echo runs and rings
Like bells in wild disorder.
Fierce breath hath vexed the foreland's face,
It glistens, glooms, and glistens;
But deep within this quiet place
Sweet Illa lies and listens.
Sweet Illa of the shining sands,
She sleeps in shady hollows,
Where August flits with flowerful hands,
And silver Summer follows.
Far up the naked hills is heard
A noise of many waters,
But green-haired Illa lies unstirred
Amongst her star-like daughters.
The tempest, pent in moaning ways,
Awakes the shepherd yonder,
But Illa dreams unknown to days
Whose wings are wind and thunder.
Here fairy hands and floral feet
Are brought by bright October;
Here, stained with grapes and smit with heat,
Comes Autumn, sweet and sober.
Here lovers rest, what time the red
And yellow colours mingle,
And daylight droops with dying head
Beyond the western dingle.
And here, from month to month, the time
Is kissed by peace and pleasure,
While Nature sings her woodland rhyme
And hoards her woodland treasure.
Ah, Illa Creek! ere evening spreads
Her wings o'er towns unshaded,
How oft we seek thy mossy beds
To lave our foreheads faded!
For, let me whisper, then we find
The strength that lives, nor falters,
In wood and water, waste and wind,
And hidden mountain altars.
Moss on a Wall
Dim dreams it hath of singing ways,
Of far-off woodland water-heads,
And shining ends of April days
Amongst the yellow runnel-beds.
Stoop closer to the ruined wall,
Whereon the wilful wilding sleeps,
As if its home were waterfall
By dripping clefts and shadowy steeps.
A little waif, whose beauty takes
A touching tone because it dwells
So far away from mountain lakes,
And lily leaves, and lightening fells.
Deep hidden in delicious floss
It nestles, sister, from the heat --
A gracious growth of tender moss
Whose nights are soft, whose days are sweet.
Swift gleams across its petals run
With winds that hum a pleasant tune,
Serene surprises of the sun,
And whispers from the lips of noon.
The evening-coloured apple-trees
Are faint with July's frosty breath.
But lo! this stranger getteth ease,
And shines amidst the strays of Death.
And at the turning of the year,
When August wanders in the cold,
The raiment of the nursling here
Is rich with green and glad with gold.
Oh, friend of mine, to one whose eyes
Are vexed because of alien things,
For ever in the wall moss lies
The peace of hills and hidden springs.
From faithless lips and fickle lights
The tired pilgrim sets his face,
And thinketh here of sounds and sights
In many a lovely forest-place.
And when by sudden fits and starts
The sunset on the moss doth burn,
He often dreams, and, lo! the marts
And streets are changed to dells of fern.
For, let me say, the wilding placed
By hands unseen amongst these stones,
Restores a Past by Time effaced,
Lost loves and long-forgotten tones!
As sometimes songs and scenes of old
Come faintly unto you and me,
When winds are wailing in the cold,
And rains are sobbing on the sea.
Turn from the ways of this Woman! Campaspe we call her by name --
She is fairer than flowers of the fire --
she is brighter than brightness of flame.
As a song that strikes swift to the heart
with the beat of the blood of the South,
And a light and a leap and a smart, is the play of her perilous mouth.
Her eyes are as splendours that break in the rain at the set of the sun,
But turn from the steps of Campaspe -- a Woman to look at and shun!
Dost thou know of the cunning of Beauty? Take heed to thyself and beware
Of the trap in the droop in the raiment -- the snare in the folds of the hair!
She is fulgent in flashes of pearl, the breeze with her breathing is sweet,
But fly from the face of the girl -- there is death in the fall of her feet!
Is she maiden or marvel of marble? Oh, rather a tigress at wait
To pounce on thy soul for her pastime -- a leopard for love or for hate.
Woman of shadow and furnace! She biteth her lips to restrain
Speech that springs out when she sleepeth,
by the stirs and the starts of her pain.
As music half-shapen of sorrow, with its wants and its infinite wail,
Is the voice of Campaspe, the beauty at bay with her passion dead-pale.
Go out from the courts of her loving, nor tempt the fierce dance of desire
Where thy life would be shrivelled like stubble
in the stress and the fervour of fire!
I know of one, gentle as moonlight -- she is sad as the shine of the moon,
But touching the ways of her eyes are: she comes to my soul like a tune --
Like a tune that is filled with faint voices
of the loved and the lost and the lone,
Doth this stranger abide with my silence: like a tune with a tremulous tone.
The leopard, we call her, Campaspe! I pluck at a rose and I stir
To think of this sweet-hearted maiden -- what name is too tender for her?
On a Cattle Track
Where the strength of dry thunder splits hill-rocks asunder,
And the shouts of the desert-wind break,
By the gullies of deepness and ridges of steepness,
Lo, the cattle track twists like a snake!
Like a sea of dead embers, burnt white by Decembers,
A plain to the left of it lies;
And six fleeting horses dash down the creek courses
With the terror of thirst in their eyes.
The false strength of fever, that deadly deceiver,
Gives foot to each famishing beast;
And over lands rotten, by rain-winds forgotten,
The mirage gleams out in the east.
Ah! the waters are hidden from riders and ridden
In a stream where the cattle track dips;
And Death on their faces is scoring fierce traces,
And the drouth is a fire on their lips.
It is far to the station, and gaunt Desolation
Is a spectre that glooms in the way;
Like a red smoke the air is, like a hell-light its glare is,
And as flame are the feet of the day.
The wastes are like metal that forges unsettle
When the heat of the furnace is white;
And the cool breeze that bloweth when an English sun goeth,
Is unknown to the wild desert night.
A cry of distress there! a horseman the less there!
The mock-waters shine like a moon!
It is "Speed, and speed faster from this hole of disaster!
And hurrah for yon God-sent lagoon!"
Doth a devil deceive them? Ah, now let us leave them --
We are burdened in life with the sad;
Our portion is trouble, our joy is a bubble,
And the gladdest is never too glad.
From the pale tracts of peril, past mountain heads sterile,
To a sweet river shadowed with reeds,
Where Summer steps lightly, and Winter beams brightly,
The hoof-rutted cattle track leads.
There soft is the moonlight, and tender the noon-light;
There fiery things falter and fall;
And there may be seen, now, the gold and the green, now,
And the wings of a peace over all.
Hush, bittern and plover! Go, wind, to thy cover
Away by the snow-smitten Pole!
The rotten leaf falleth, the forest rain calleth;
And what is the end of the whole?
Some men are successful after seasons distressful
[Now, masters, the drift of my tale];
But the brink of salvation is a lair of damnation
For others who struggle, yet fail.
Where the sinister sun of the Syrians beat
On the brittle, bright stubble,
And the camels fell back from the swords of the heat,
Came Saul, with a fire in the soles of his feet,
And a forehead of trouble.
And terrified faces to left and to right,
Before and behind him,
Fled away with the speed of a maddening fright
To the cloughs of the bat and the chasms of night,
Each hoping the zealot would fail in his flight
To find him and bind him.
For, behold you! the strong man of Tarsus came down
With breathings of slaughter,
From the priests of the city, the chiefs of the town
(The lords with the sword, and the sires with the gown),
To harry the Christians, and trample, and drown,
And waste them like water.
He was ever a fighter, this son of the Jews --
A fighter in earnest;
And the Lord took delight in the strength of his thews,
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