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"My son, look up, if you would see The Promise on your way, And turn a trustful face to me."
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 pa.s.sion 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 pa.s.sion 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 pa.s.sed, 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 G.o.d 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 cl.u.s.ters?
"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 pa.s.sion, 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 sh.e.l.l 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.