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The Poems Of Henry Kendall Part 16

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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 pa.s.sion 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 h.e.l.l-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 G.o.d-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 d.a.m.nation For others who struggle, yet fail.

To Damascus

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, For He knew he was one of the few He could choose To fight out His battles and carry His news Of a marvellous truth through the dark and the dews, And the desert lands furnaced!

He knew he was one of the few He could take For His mission supernal, Whose feet would not falter, whose limbs would not ache, Through the waterless lands of the thorn and the snake, And the ways of the wild--bearing up for the sake Of a Beauty eternal.

And therefore the road to Damascus was burned With a swift, sudden brightness; While Saul, with his face in the bitter dust, learned Of the sin which he did ere he tumbled, and turned Aghast at G.o.d's whiteness!

Of the sin which he did ere he covered his head From the strange revelation.

But, thereafter, you know of the life that he led-- How he preached to the peoples, and suffered, and sped With the wonderful words which his Master had said, From nation to nation.

Now would we be like him, who suffer and see, If the Chooser should choose us!

For I tell you, brave brothers, whoever you be, It is right, till all learn to look further, and see, That our Master should use us!

It is right, till all learn to discover and cla.s.s, That our Master should task us: For now we may judge of the Truth through a gla.s.s; And the road over which they must evermore pa.s.s, Who would think for the many, and fight for the ma.s.s, Is the road to Damascus.

Bell-Birds

By channels of coolness the echoes are calling, And down the dim gorges I hear the creek falling; It lives in the mountain, where moss and the sedges Touch with their beauty the banks and the ledges; Through brakes of the cedar and sycamore bowers Struggles the light that is love to the flowers.

And, softer than slumber, and sweeter than singing, The notes of the bell-birds are running and ringing.

The silver-voiced bell-birds, the darlings of day-time, They sing in September their songs of the May-time.

When shadows wax strong and the thunder-bolts hurtle, They hide with their fear in the leaves of the myrtle; When rain and the sunbeams shine mingled together They start up like fairies that follow fair weather, And straightway the hues of their feathers unfolden Are the green and the purple, the blue and the golden.

October, the maiden of bright yellow tresses, Loiters for love in these cool wildernesses; Loiters knee-deep in the gra.s.ses to listen, Where dripping rocks gleam and the leafy pools glisten.

Then is the time when the water-moons splendid Break with their gold, and are scattered or blended Over the creeks, till the woodlands have warning Of songs of the bell-bird and wings of the morning.

Welcome as waters unkissed by the summers Are the voices of bell-birds to thirsty far-comers.

When fiery December sets foot in the forest, And the need of the wayfarer presses the sorest, Pent in the ridges for ever and ever.

The bell-birds direct him to spring and to river, With ring and with ripple, like runnels whose torrents Are toned by the pebbles and leaves in the currents.

Often I sit, looking back to a childhood Mixt with the sights and the sounds of the wildwood, Longing for power and the sweetness to fashion Lyrics with beats like the heart-beats of pa.s.sion-- Songs interwoven of lights and of laughters Borrowed from bell-birds in far forest rafters; So I might keep in the city and alleys The beauty and strength of the deep mountain valleys, Charming to slumber the pain of my losses With glimpses of creeks and a vision of mosses.

A Death in the Bush

The hut was built of bark and shrunken slabs, That wore the marks of many rains, and showed Dry flaws wherein had crept and nestled rot.

Moreover, round the bases of the bark Were left the tracks of flying forest fires, As you may see them on the lower bole Of every elder of the native woods.

For, ere the early settlers came and stocked These wilds with sheep and kine, the gra.s.ses grew So that they took the pa.s.sing pilgrim in And whelmed him, like a running sea, from sight.

And therefore, through the fiercer summer months, While all the swamps were rotten; while the flats Were baked and broken; when the clayey rifts Yawned wide, half-choked with drifted herbage past, Spontaneous flames would burst from thence and race Across the prairies all day long.

At night The winds were up, and then, with four-fold speed A harsh gigantic growth of smoke and fire Would roar along the bottoms, in the wake Of fainting flocks of parrots, wallaroos, And 'wildered wild things, scattering right and left, For safety vague, throughout the general gloom.

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The Poems Of Henry Kendall Part 16 summary

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