The Poems Of Henry Kendall Part 18

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Will he go in his sleep from these desolate lands, Like a chief, to the rest of his race, With the honey-voiced woman who beckons and stands, And gleams like a dream in his face-- Like a marvellous dream in his face?


-- * A promontory on the coast of New South Wales.

Lo! in storms, the triple-headed Hill, whose dreaded Bases battle with the seas, Looms across fierce widths of fleeting Waters beating Evermore on roaring leas!

Arakoon, the black, the lonely!

Housed with only Cloud and rain-wind, mist and damp; Round whose foam-drenched feet and nether Depths, together Sullen sprites of thunder tramp!

There the East hums loud and surly, Late and early, Through the chasms and the caves, And across the naked verges Leap the surges!

White and wailing waifs of waves.

Day by day the sea-fogs gathered-- Tempest-fathered-- Pitch their tents on yonder peak, Yellow drifts and fragments lying Where the flying Torrents chafe the cloven creek!

And at nightfall, when the driven Bolts of heaven Smite the rock and break the bluff, Thither troop the elves whose home is Where the foam is, And the echo and the clough.

Ever girt about with noises, Stormy voices, And the salt breath of the Strait, Stands the steadfast Mountain Giant, Grim, reliant, Dark as Death, and firm as Fate.

So when trouble treads, like thunder, Weak men under-- Treads and breaks the thews of these-- Set thyself to bear it bravely, Greatly, gravely, Like the hill in yonder seas;

Since the wrestling and endurance Give a.s.surance To the faint at bay with pain, That no soul to strong endeavour Yoked for ever, Works against the tide in vain.

The Voyage of Telegonus

Ill fares it with the man whose lips are set To bitter themes and words that spite the G.o.ds; For, seeing how the son of Saturn sways With eyes and ears for all, this one shall halt As on hard, hurtful hills; his days shall know The plaintive front of sorrow; level looks With cries ill-favoured shall be dealt to him; And _this_ shall be that he may think of peace As one might think of alienated lips Of sweetness touched for once in kind, warm dreams.

Yea, fathers of the high and holy face, This soul thus sinning shall have cause to sob "Ah, ah," for sleep, and s.p.a.ce enough to learn The wan, wild Hyrie's aggregated song That starts the dwellers in distorted heights, With all the meaning of perpetual sighs Heard in the mountain deserts of the world, And where the green-haired waters glide between The thin, lank weeds and mallows of the marsh.

But thou to whom these things are like to shapes That come of darkness--thou whose life slips past Regarding rather these with mute fast mouth-- Hear none the less how fleet Telegonus, The bra.s.s-clad hunter, first took oar and smote Swift eastward-going seas, with face direct For narrowing channels and the twofold coasts Past Colchis and the fierce Symplegades, And utmost islands, washed by streams unknown.

For in a time when Phasis whitened wide And drove with violent waters blown of wind Against the bare, salt limits of the land, It came to pa.s.s that, joined with Cytheraea, The black-browed Ares, chafing for the wrong Ulysses did him on the plains of Troy, Set heart against the king; and when the storms Sang high in thunder and the Thracian rain, The G.o.d bethought him of a pale-mouthed priest Of Thebae, kin to ancient Chariclo, And of an omen which the prophet gave That touched on death and grief to Ithaca; Then, knowing how a heavy-handed fate Had laid itself on Circe's bra.s.s-clad son, He p.r.i.c.ked the hunter with a l.u.s.t that turned All thoughts to travel and the seas remote; But chiefly now he stirred Telegonus To longings for his father's exiled face, And dreams of rest and honey-hearted love And quiet death with much of funeral flame Far in the mountains of a favoured land Beyond the wars and wailings of the waves.

So, past the ridges where the coast abrupt Dips greyly westward, Circe's strong-armed son Swept down the foam of sharp-divided straits And faced the stress of opening seas. Sheer out The vessel drave; but three long moons the gale Moaned round; and swift, strong streams of fire revealed The labouring rowers and the lightening surf, Pale watchers deafened of sonorous storm, And dipping decks and rents of ruined sails.

Yea, when the hollow ocean-driven ship Wheeled sideways, like a chariot cloven through In hard hot battle, and the night came up Against strange headlands lying east and north, Behold a black, wild wind with death to all Ran sh.o.r.eward, charged with flame and thunder-smoke, Which blew the waters into wastes of white, And broke the bark, as lightning breaks the pine; Whereat the sea in fearful circles showed Unpitied faces turned from Zeus and light-- Wan swimmers wasted with their agony, And hopeless eyes and moaning mouths of men.

But one held by the fragments of the wreck, And Ares knew him for Telegonus, Whom heavy-handed Fate had chained to deeds Of dreadful note with sin beyond a name.

So, seeing this, the black-browed lord of war, Arrayed about by Jove's authentic light, Shot down amongst the shattered clouds and called With mighty strain, betwixt the gaps of storm "Ocea.n.u.s! Ocea.n.u.s!" Whereat The surf sprang white, as when a keel divides The gleaming centre of a gathered wave; And, ringed with flakes of splendid fire of foam, The son of Terra rose half-way and blew The triple trumpet of the water-G.o.ds, At which great winds fell back and all the sea Grew dumb, as on the land a war-feast breaks When deep sleep falls upon the souls of men.

Then Ares of the night-like brow made known The bra.s.s-clad hunter of the facile feet, Hard clinging to the slippery logs of pine, And told the omen to the h.o.a.ry G.o.d That touched on death and grief to Ithaca; Wherefore Ocea.n.u.s, with help of hand, Bore by the chin the warrior of the North, A moaning ma.s.s, across the shallowing surge, And cast him on the rocks of alien sh.o.r.es Against a wintry morning shot with storm.

Hear also, thou, how mighty G.o.ds sustain The men set out to work the ends of Fate Which fill the world with tales of many tears And vex the sad face of humanity: Six days and nights the bra.s.s-clad chief abode Pent up in caverns by the straitening seas And fed on ferns and limpets; but the dawn, Before the strong sun of the seventh, brought A fume of fire and smells of savoury meat And much rejoicing, as from neighbouring feasts; At which the hunter, seized with sudden l.u.s.t, Sprang up the crags, and, like a dream of fear, Leapt, shouting, at a huddled host of hinds Amongst the fragments of their steaming food; And as the hoa.r.s.e wood-wind in autumn sweeps To every zone the hissing latter leaves, So fleet Telegonus, by dint of spear And strain of thunderous voice, did scatter these East, south, and north. 'Twas then the chief had rest, Hard by the outer coast of Ithaca, Unknown to him who ate the spoil and slept.

Nor stayed he hand thereafter; but when noon Burned dead on misty hills of stunted fir, This man shook slumber from his limbs and sped Against h.o.a.r beaches and the kindled cliffs Of falling waters. These he waded through, Beholding, past the forests of the West, A break of light and homes of many men, And shining corn, and flowers, and fruits of flowers.

Yea, seeing these, the facile-footed chief Grasped by the knot the huge Aeaean lance And fell upon the farmers; wherefore they Left hoe and plough, and crouched in heights remote, Companioned with the grey-winged fogs; but he Made waste their fields and throve upon their toil-- As throve the boar, the fierce four-footed curse Which Artemis did raise in Calydon To make stern mouths wax white with foreign fear, All in the wild beginning of the world.

So one went down and told Laertes' son Of what the bra.s.s-clad stranger from the straits Had worked in Ithaca; whereat the King Rose, like a G.o.d, and called his mighty heir, Telemachus, the wisest of the wise; And these two, having counsel, strode without, And armed them with the arms of warlike days-- The helm, the javelin, and the sun-like shield, And glancing greaves and quivering stars of steel.

Yea, stern Ulysses, rusted not with rest, But dread as Ares, gleaming on his car Gave out the reins; and straightway all the lands Were struck by noise of steed and shouts of men, And furious dust, and splendid wheels of flame.

Meanwhile the hunter (starting from a sleep In which the pieces of a broken dream Had shown him Circe with most tearful face), Caught at his spear, and stood like one at bay When Summer brings about Arcadian horns And headlong horses mixt with maddened hounds; Then huge Ulysses, like a fire of fight, Sprang sideways on the flying car, and drave Full at the bra.s.s-clad warrior of the North His ma.s.sive spear; but fleet Telegonus Stooped from the death, but heard the speedy lance Sing like a thin wind through the steaming air; Yet he, dismayed not by the dreadful foe-- Unknown to him--dealt out his strength, and aimed A strenuous stroke at great Laertes' son, Which missed the shield, but bit through flesh and bone, And drank the blood, and dragged the soul from thence.

So fell the King! And one cried "Ithaca!

Ah, Ithaca!" and turned his face and wept.

Then came another--wise Telemachus-- Who knelt beside the man of many days And pored upon the face; but lo, the life Was like bright water spilt in sands of thirst, A wasted splendour swiftly drawn away.

Yet held he by the dead: he heeded not The moaning warrior who had learnt his sin-- Who waited now, like one in lairs of pain, Apart with darkness, hungry for his fate; For had not wise Telemachus the lore Which makes the pale-mouthed seer content to sleep Amidst the desolations of the world?

So therefore he, who knew Telegonus, The child of Circe by Laertes' son, Was set to be a scourge of Zeus, smote not, But rather sat with moody eyes, and mused, And watched the dead. For who may brave the G.o.ds?

Yet, O my fathers, when the people came, And brought the holy oils and perfect fire, And built the pile, and sang the tales of Troy-- Of desperate travels in the olden time, By shadowy mountains and the roaring sea, Near windy sands and past the Thracian snows-- The man who crossed them all to see his sire, And had a loyal heart to give the king, Instead of blows--this man did little more Than moan outside the fume of funeral rites, All in a rushing twilight full of rain, And clap his palms for sharper pains than swords.

Yea, when the night broke out against the flame, And lonely noises loitered in the fens, This man nor stirred nor slept, but lay at wait, With fastened mouth. For who may brave the G.o.ds?

Sitting by the Fire

Ah! the solace in the sitting, Sitting by the fire, When the wind without is calling And the fourfold clouds are falling, With the rain-racks intermitting, Over slope and spire.

Ah! the solace in the sitting, Sitting by the fire.

Then, and then, a man may ponder, Sitting by the fire, Over fair far days, and faces Shining in sweet-coloured places Ere the thunder broke asunder Life and dear Desire.

Thus, and thus, a man may ponder, Sitting by the fire.

Waifs of song pursue, perplex me, Sitting by the fire: Just a note, and lo, the change then!

Like a child, I turn and range then, Till a shadow starts to vex me-- Pa.s.sion's wasted pyre.

So do songs pursue, perplex me, Sitting by the fire.

Night by night--the old, old story-- Sitting by the fire, Night by night, the dead leaves grieve me: Ah! the touch when youth shall leave me, Like my fathers, shrunken, h.o.a.ry, With the years that tire.

Night by night--that old, old story, Sitting by the fire.

Sing for slumber, sister Clara, Sitting by the fire.

I could hide my head and sleep now, Far from those who laugh and weep now, Like a trammelled, faint wayfarer, 'Neath yon mountain-spire.

Sing for slumber, sister Clara, Sitting by the fire.


Sing her a song of the sun: Fill it with tones of the stream,-- Echoes of waters that run Glad with the gladdening gleam.

Let it be sweeter than rain, Lit by a tropical moon: Light in the words of the strain, Love in the ways of the tune.

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The Poems Of Henry Kendall Part 18 summary

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