The Poems Of Henry Kendall Part 19

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Softer than seasons of sleep: Dearer than life at its best!

Give her a ballad to keep, Wove of the pa.s.sionate West: Give it and say of the hours-- "Haunted and hallowed of thee, Flower-like woman of flowers, What shall the end of them be?"

You that have loved her so much, Loved her asleep and awake, Trembled because of her touch, What have you said for her sake?

Far in the falls of the day, Down in the meadows of myrrh, What has she left you to say Filled with the beauty of her?

Take her the best of your thoughts, Let them be gentle and grave, Say, "I have come to thy courts, Maiden, with all that I have."

So she may turn with her sweet Face to your love and to you, Learning the way to repeat Words that are brighter than dew.

Charles Harpur

Where Harpur lies, the rainy streams, And wet hill-heads, and hollows weeping, Are swift with wind, and white with gleams, And hoa.r.s.e with sounds of storms unsleeping.

Fit grave it is for one whose song Was tuned by tones he caught from torrents, And filled with mountain breaths, and strong, Wild notes of falling forest currents.

So let him sleep, the rugged hymns And broken lights of woods above him!

And let me sing how sorrow dims The eyes of those that used to love him.

As April in the wilted wold Turns faded eyes on splendours waning, What time the latter leaves are old, And ruin strikes the strays remaining;

So we that knew this singer dead, Whose hands attuned the harp Australian, May set the face and bow the head, And mourn his fate and fortunes alien.

The burden of a perished faith Went sighing through his speech of sweetness, With human hints of time and death, And subtle notes of incompleteness.

But when the fiery power of youth Had pa.s.sed away and left him nameless, Serene as light, and strong as truth, He lived his life, untired and tameless.

And, far and free, this man of men, With wintry hair and wasted feature, Had fellowship with gorge and glen, And learned the loves and runes of Nature.

Strange words of wind, and rhymes of rain, And whispers from the inland fountains Are mingled, in his various strain, With leafy breaths of piny mountains.

But as the undercurrents sigh Beneath the surface of a river, The music of humanity Dwells in his forest-psalms for ever.

No soul was he to sit on heights And live with rocks apart and scornful: Delights of men were his delights, And common troubles made him mournful.

The flying forms of unknown powers With lofty wonder caught and filled him; But there were days of gracious hours When sights and sounds familiar thrilled him.

The pathos worn by wayside things, The pa.s.sion found in simple faces, Struck deeper than the life of springs Or strength of storms and sea-swept places.

But now he sleeps, the tired bard, The deepest sleep; and, lo! I proffer These tender leaves of my regard, With hands that falter as they offer.


Sing the song of wave-worn Coogee, Coogee in the distance white, With its jags and points disrupted, gaps and fractures fringed with light; Haunt of gledes, and restless plovers of the melancholy wail Ever lending deeper pathos to the melancholy gale.

There, my brothers, down the fissures, chasms deep and wan and wild, Grows the sea-bloom, one that blushes like a shrinking, fair, blind child; And amongst the oozing forelands many a glad, green rock-vine runs, Getting ease on earthy ledges, sheltered from December suns.

Often, when a gusty morning, rising cold and grey and strange, Lifts its face from watery s.p.a.ces, vistas full with cloudy change, Bearing up a gloomy burden which anon begins to wane, Fading in the sudden shadow of a dark, determined rain, Do I seek an eastern window, so to watch the breakers beat Round the steadfast crags of Coogee, dim with drifts of driving sleet: Hearing hollow mournful noises sweeping down a solemn sh.o.r.e, While the grim sea-caves are tideless, and the storm strives at their core.

Often when the floating vapours fill the silent autumn leas, Dreaming mem'ries fall like moonlight over silver sleeping seas.

Youth and I and Love together! Other times and other themes Come to me unsung, unwept for, through the faded evening gleams: Come to me and touch me mutely--I that looked and longed so well, Shall I look and yet forget them?--who may know or who foretell?

Though the southern wind roams, shadowed with its immemorial grief, Where the frosty wings of Winter leave their whiteness on the leaf.

Friend of mine beyond the waters, here and here these perished days Haunt me with their sweet dead faces and their old divided ways.

You that helped and you that loved me, take this song, and when you read, Let the lost things come about you, set your thoughts and hear and heed.

Time has laid his burden on us--we who wear our manhood now, We would be the boys we have been, free of heart and bright of brow-- Be the boys for just an hour, with the splendour and the speech Of thy lights and thunders, Coogee, flying up thy gleaming beach.

Heart's desire and heart's division! who would come and say to me, With the eyes of far-off friendship, "You are as you used to be"?

Something glad and good has left me here with sickening discontent, Tired of looking, neither knowing what it was or where it went.

So it is this sight of Coogee, shining in the morning dew, Sets me stumbling through dim summers once on fire with youth and you-- Summers pale as southern evenings when the year has lost its power And the wasted face of April weeps above the withered flower.

Not that seasons bring no solace, not that time lacks light and rest; But the old things were the dearest and the old loves seem the best.

We that start at songs familiar, we that tremble at a tone Floating down the ways of music, like a sigh of sweetness flown, We can never feel the freshness, never find again the mood Left among fair-featured places, brightened of our brotherhood.

This and this we have to think of when the night is over all, And the woods begin to perish and the rains begin to fall.


Stand out, swift-footed leaders of the horns, And draw strong breath, and fill the hollowy cliff With shocks of clamour,--let the chasm take The noise of many trumpets, lest the hunt Should die across the dim Aonian hills, Nor break through thunder and the surf-white cave That hems about the old-eyed Ogyges And bars the sea-wind, rain-wind, and the sea!

Much fierce delight hath old-eyed Ogyges (A hairless shadow in a lion's skin) In tumult, and the gleam of flying spears, And wild beasts vexed to death; "for," sayeth he, "Here lying broken, do I count the days For every trouble; being like the tree-- The many-wintered father of the trunks On yonder ridges: wherefore it is well To feel the dead blood kindling in my veins At sound of boar or battle; yea to find A sudden stir, like life, about my feet, And tingling pulses through this frame of mine What time the cold clear dayspring, like a bird Afar off, settles on the frost-bound peaks, And all the deep blue gorges, darkening down, Are filled with men and dogs and furious dust!"

So in the time whereof thou weetest well-- The melancholy morning of the World-- He mopes or mumbles, sleeps or shouts for glee, And shakes his sides--a cavern-hutted King!

But when the ouzel in the gaps at eve Doth pipe her dreary ditty to the surge All tumbling in the soft green level light, He sits as quiet as a thick-mossed rock, And dreameth in his cold old savage way Of gliding barges on the wine-dark waves, And glowing shapes, and sweeter things than sleep, But chiefly, while the restless twofold bat Goes flapping round the rainy eaves above, Where one broad opening letteth in the moon, He starteth, thinking of that grey-haired man, His sire: then oftentimes the white-armed child Of thunder-bearing Jove, young Thebe, comes And droops above him with her short sweet sighs For Love distraught--for dear Love's faded sake That weeps and sings and weeps itself to death Because of casual eyes, and lips of frost, And careless mutterings, and most weary years.

Bethink you, doth the wan Egyptian count This pa.s.sion, wasting like an unfed flame, Of any worth now; seeing that his thighs Are shrunken to a span and that the blood, Which used to spin tumultuous down his sides Of life in leaping moments of desire, Is drying like a thin and sluggish stream In withered channels--think you, doth he pause For golden Thebe and her red young mouth?

Ah, golden Thebe--Thebe, weeping there, Like some sweet wood-nymph wailing for a rock, If Octis with the Apollonian face-- That fair-haired prophet of the sun and stars-- Could take a mist and dip it in the West To clothe thy limbs of shine about with shine And all the wonder of the amethyst, He'd do it--kneeling like a slave for thee!

If he could find a dream to comfort thee, He'd bring it: thinking little of his lore, But marvelling greatly at those eyes of thine.

Yea, if the Shepherd waiting for thy steps, Pent down amongst the dank black-weeded rims, Could shed his life like rain about thy feet, He'd count it sweetness past all sweets of love To die by thee--his life's end in thy sight.

Oh, but he loves the hunt, doth Ogyges!

And therefore should we blow the horn for him: He, sitting mumbling in his surf-white cave With helpless feet and alienated eyes, Should hear the noises nathless dawn by dawn Which send him wandering swiftly through the days When like a springing cataract he leapt From crag to crag, the strongest in the chase To spear the lion, leopard, or the boar!

Oh, but he loves the hunt; and, while the shouts Of mighty winds are in this mountained World, Behold the white bleak woodman, Winter, halts And bends to him across a beard of snow For wonder; seeing Summer in his looks Because of dogs and calls from throats of hair All in the savage hills of Hyria!

And, through the yellow evenings of the year, What time September shows her mooned front And poppies burnt to blackness droop for drouth, The dear Demeter, splashed from heel to thigh With spinning vine-blood, often stoops to him To crush the grape against his wrinkled lips Which sets him dreaming of the thickening wolves In darkness, and the sound of moaning seas.

So with the bl.u.s.tering tempest doth he find A stormy fellowship: for when the North Comes reeling downwards with a breath like spears, Where Dryope the lonely sits all night And holds her sorrow crushed betwixt her palms, He thinketh mostly of that time of times When Zeus the Thunderer--broadly-blazing King-- Like some wild comet beautiful but fierce, Leapt out of cloud and fire and smote the tops Of black Ogygia with his red right hand, At which great fragments tumbled to the Deeps-- The mighty fragments of a mountain-land-- And all the World became an awful Sea!

But, being tired, the hairless Ogyges Best loveth night and dim forgetfulness!

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The Poems Of Henry Kendall Part 19 summary

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