The Poems Of Henry Kendall Part 23

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Have faith in G.o.d. For whosoever lists To calm conviction in these days of strife, Will learn that in this steadfast stand exists The scholarship severe of human life.

This face to face with doubt! I know how strong His thews must be who fights and falls and bears, By sleepless nights and vigils lone and long, And many a woeful wraith of wrestling prayers.

Yet trust in Him! Not in an old man throned With thunders on an everlasting cloud, But in that awful Ent.i.ty enzoned By no wild wraths nor bitter homage loud.

When from the summit of some sudden steep Of speculation you have strength to turn To things too boundless for the broken sweep Of finer comprehension, wait and learn

That G.o.d hath been "His own interpreter"

From first to last. So you will understand The tribe who best succeed, when men most err, To suck through fogs the fatness of the land.

One thing is surer than the autumn tints We saw last week in yonder river bend-- That all our poor expression helps and hints, However vaguely, to the solemn end

That G.o.d is truth; and if our dim ideal Fall short of fact--so short that we must weep-- Why shape specific sorrows, though the real Be not the song which erewhile made us sleep?

Remember, truth draws upward. This to us Of steady happiness should be a cause Beyond the differential calculus Or Kant's dull dogmas and mechanic laws.

A man is manliest when he wisely knows How vain it is to halt and pule and pine; Whilst under every mystery haply flows The finest issue of a love divine.

Mountain Moss

It lies amongst the sleeping stones, Far down the hidden mountain glade; And past its brink the torrent moans For ever in a dreamy shade.

A little patch of dark-green moss, Whose softness grew of quiet ways (With all its deep, delicious floss) In slumb'rous suns of summer days.

You know the place? With pleasant tints The broken sunset lights the bowers; And then the woods are full with hints Of distant, dear, voluptuous flowers!

'Tis often now the pilgrim turns A faded face towards that seat, And cools his brow amongst the ferns; The runnel dabbling at his feet.

There fierce December seldom goes, With scorching step and dust and drouth; But, soft and low, October blows Sweet odours from her dewy mouth.

And Autumn, like a gipsy bold, Doth gather near it grapes and grain, Ere Winter comes, the woodman old, To lop the leaves in wind and rain.

O, greenest moss of mountain glen, The face of Rose is known to thee; But we shall never share with men A knowledge dear to love and me!

For are they not between us saved, The words my darling used to say, What time the western waters laved The forehead of the fainting day?

Cool comfort had we on your breast While yet the fervid noon burned mute O'er barley field and barren crest, And leagues of gardens flushed with fruit.

Oh, sweet and low, we whispered so, And sucked the pulp of plum and peach; But it was many years ago, When each, you know, was loved of each.

The Glen of Arrawatta

A sky of wind! And while these fitful gusts Are beating round the windows in the cold, With sullen sobs of rain, behold I shape A settler's story of the wild old times: One told by camp-fires when the station drays Were housed and hidden, forty years ago; While swarthy drivers smoked their pipes, and drew, And crowded round the friendly gleaming flame That lured the dingo, howling, from his caves, And brought sharp sudden feet about the brakes.

A tale of Love and Death. And shall I say A tale of love _in_ death--for all the patient eyes That gathered darkness, watching for a son And brother, never dreaming of the fate-- The fearful fate he met alone, unknown, Within the ruthless Australasian wastes?

For in a far-off, sultry summer, rimmed With thundercloud and red with forest fires, All day, by ways uncouth and ledges rude, The wild men held upon a stranger's trail, Which ran against the rivers and athwart The gorges of the deep blue western hills.

And when a cloudy sunset, like the flame In windy evenings on the Plains of Thirst Beyond the dead banks of the far Barcoo, Lay heavy down the topmost peaks, they came, With pent-in breath and stealthy steps, and crouched, Like snakes, amongst the gra.s.ses, till the night Had covered face from face, and thrown the gloom Of many shadows on the front of things.

There, in the shelter of a nameless glen, Fenced round by cedars and the tangled growths Of blackwood, stained with brown and shot with grey, The jaded white man built his fire, and turned His horse adrift amongst the water-pools That trickled underneath the yellow leaves And made a pleasant murmur, like the brooks Of England through the sweet autumnal noons.

Then, after he had slaked his thirst and used The forest fare, for which a healthful day Of mountain life had brought a zest, he took His axe, and shaped with boughs and wattle-forks A wurley, fashioned like a bushman's roof: The door brought out athwart the strenuous flame The back thatched in against a rising wind.

And while the st.u.r.dy hatchet filled the clifts With sounds unknown, the immemorial haunts Of echoes sent their lonely dwellers forth, Who lived a life of wonder: flying round And round the glen--what time the kangaroo Leapt from his lair and huddled with the bats-- Far scattering down the wildly startled fells.

Then came the doleful owl; and evermore The bleak mora.s.s gave out the bittern's call, The plover's cry, and many a fitful wail Of chilly omen, falling on the ear Like those cold flaws of wind that come and go An hour before the break of day.

Anon The stranger held from toil, and, settling down, He drew rough solace from his well-filled pipe, And smoked into the night, revolving there The primal questions of a squatter's life; For in the flats, a short day's journey past His present camp, his station yards were kept, With many a lodge and paddock jutting forth Across the heart of unnamed prairie-lands, Now loud with bleating and the cattle bells, And misty with the hut-fire's daily smoke.

Wide spreading flats, and western spurs of hills That dipped to plains of dim perpetual blue; Bold summits set against the thunder heaps; And slopes behacked and crushed by battling kine, Where now the furious tumult of their feet Gives back the dust, and up from glen and brake Evokes fierce clamour, and becomes indeed A token of the squatter's daring life, Which, growing inland--growing year by year-- Doth set us thinking in these latter days, And makes one ponder of the lonely lands Beyond the lonely tracks of Burke and Wills, Where, when the wandering Stuart fixed his camps In central wastes, afar from any home Or haunt of man, and in the changeless midst Of sullen deserts and the footless miles Of sultry silence, all the ways about Grew strangely vocal, and a marvellous noise Became the wonder of the waxing glooms.

Now, after darkness, like a mighty spell Amongst the hills and dim, dispeopled dells, Had brought a stillness to the soul of things, It came to pa.s.s that, from the secret depths Of dripping gorges, many a runnel-voice Came, mellowed with the silence, and remained About the caves, a sweet though alien sound; Now rising ever, like a fervent flute In moony evenings, when the theme is love; Now falling, as ye hear the Sunday bells While hastening fieldward from the gleaming town.

Then fell a softer mood, and memory paused With faithful love, amidst the sainted shrines Of youth and pa.s.sion in the valleys past Of dear delights which never grow again.

And if the stranger (who had left behind Far anxious homesteads in a wave-swept isle, To face a fierce sea-circle day by day, And hear at night the dark Atlantic's moan) _Now_ took a hope and planned a swift return, With wealth and health and with a youth unspent, To those sweet ones that stayed with want at home, Say _who_ shall blame him--though the years are long, And life is hard, and waiting makes the heart grow old?

Thus pa.s.sed the time, until the moon serene Stood over high dominion like a dream Of peace: within the white, transfigured woods; And o'er the vast dew-dripping wilderness Of slopes illumined with her silent fires.

Then, far beyond the home of pale red leaves And silver sluices, and the shining stems Of runnel blooms, the dreamy wanderer saw, The wilder for the vision of the moon, Stark desolations and a waste of plain, All smit by flame and broken with the storms; Black ghosts of trees, and sapless trunks that stood Harsh hollow channels of the fiery noise, Which ran from bole to bole a year before, And grew with ruin, and was like, indeed, The roar of mighty winds with wintering streams That foam about the limits of the land And mix their swiftness with the flying seas.

Now, when the man had turned his face about To take his rest, behold the gem-like eyes Of ambushed wild things stared from bole and brake With dumb amaze and faint-recurring glance, And fear anon that drove them down the brush; While from his den the dingo, like a scout In sheltered ways, crept out and cowered near To sniff the tokens of the stranger's feast And marvel at the shadows of the flame.

Thereafter grew the wind; and chafing depths In distant waters sent a troubled cry Across the slumb'rous forest; and the chill Of coming rain was on the sleeper's brow, When, flat as reptiles hutted in the scrub, A deadly crescent crawled to where he lay-- A band of fierce, fantastic savages That, starting naked round the faded fire, With sudden spears and swift terrific yells, Came bounding wildly at the white man's head, And faced him, staring like a dream of h.e.l.l!

Here let me pa.s.s! I would not stay to tell Of hopeless struggles under crushing blows; Of how the surging fiends, with thickening strokes, Howled round the stranger till they drained his strength; How Love and Life stood face to face with Hate And Death; and then how Death was left alone With Night and Silence in the sobbing rains.

So, after many moons, the searchers found The body mouldering in the mouldering dell Amidst the fungi and the bleaching leaves, And buried it, and raised a stony mound Which took the mosses. Then the place became The haunt of fearful legends and the lair Of bats and adders.

There he lies and sleeps From year to year--in soft Australian nights, And through the furnaced noons, and in the times Of wind and wet! Yet never mourner comes To drop upon that grave the Christian's tear Or pluck the foul, dank weeds of death away.

But while the English autumn filled her lap With faded gold, and while the reapers cooled Their flame-red faces in the clover gra.s.s, They looked for him at home: and when the frost Had made a silence in the mourning lanes And cooped the farmers by December fires, They looked for him at home: and through the days Which brought about the million-coloured Spring, With moon-like splendours, in the garden plots, They looked for him at home: while Summer danced, A shining singer, through the ta.s.selled corn, They looked for him at home. From sun to sun They waited. Season after season went, And Memory wept upon the lonely moors, And hope grew voiceless, and the watchers pa.s.sed, Like shadows, one by one away.

And he Whose fate was hidden under forest leaves And in the darkness of untrodden dells Became a marvel. Often by the hearths In winter nights, and when the wind was wild Outside the cas.e.m.e.nts, children heard the tale Of how he left their native vales behind (Where he had been a child himself) to shape New fortunes for his father's fallen house; Of how he struggled--how his name became, By fine devotion and unselfish zeal, A name of beauty in a selfish land; And then of how the aching hours went by, With patient listeners praying for the step Which never crossed the floor again. So pa.s.sed The tale to children; but the bitter end Remained a wonder, like the unknown grave, Alone with G.o.d and Silence in the hills.

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The Poems Of Henry Kendall Part 23 summary

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