The Poems Of Henry Kendall Part 30

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For the kings of the earth, for the faces august Of princes, the millions may shout; To Bill, as he lumbers along in the dust, A bullock's the grandest thing out.

His four-footed friends are the friends of his choice-- No lover is Bill of your dames; But the cattle that turn at the sound of his voice Have the sweetest of features and names.

A father's chief joy is a favourite son, When he reaches some eminent goal, But the pride of Bill's heart is the hairy-legged one That pulls with a will at the pole.

His dray is no living, responsible thing, But he gives it the gender of life; And, seeing his fancy is free in the wing, It suits him as well as a wife.

He thrives like an Arab. Between the two wheels Is his bedroom, where, lying up-curled, He thinks for himself, like a sultan, and feels That his home is the best in the world.

For, even though cattle, like subjects, will break At times from the yoke and the band, Bill knows how to act when his rule is at stake, And is therefore a lord of the land.

Of course he must dream; but be sure that his dreams, If happy, must compa.s.s, alas!

Fat bullocks at feed by improbable streams, Knee-deep in improbable gra.s.s.

No poet is Bill, for the visions of night To him are as visions of day; And the pipe that in sleep he endeavours to light Is the pipe that he smokes on the dray.

To the mighty, magnificent temples of G.o.d, In the hearts of the dominant hills, Bill's eyes are as blind as the fire-blackened clod That burns far away from the rills.

Through beautiful, bountiful forests that screen A marvel of blossoms from heat-- Whose lights are the mellow and golden and green-- Bill walks with irreverent feet.

The manifold splendours of mountain and wood By Bill like nonent.i.ties slip; He loves the black myrtle because it is good As a handle to lash to his whip.

And thus through the world, with a swing in his tread, Our hero self-satisfied goes; With his cabbage-tree hat on the back of his head, And the string of it under his nose.

Poor bullocky Bill! In the circles select Of the scholars he hasn't a place; But he walks like a _man_, with his forehead erect, And he looks at G.o.d's day in the face.

For, rough as he seems, he would shudder to wrong A dog with the loss of a hair; And the angels of shine and superlative song See his heart and the deity there.

Few know him, indeed; but the beauty that glows In the forest is loveliness still; And Providence helping the life of the rose Is a Friend and a Father to Bill.


Years fifty, and seven to boot, have smitten the children of men Since sound of a voice or a foot came out of the head of that glen.

The brand of black devil is there--an evil wind moaneth around-- There is doom, there is death in the air: a curse groweth up from the ground!

No noise of the axe or the saw in that hollow unholy is heard, No fall of the hoof or the paw, no whirr of the wing of the bird; But a grey mother down by the sea, as wan as the foam on the strait, Has counted the beads on her knee these forty-nine winters and eight.

Whenever an elder is asked--a white-headed man of the woods-- Of the terrible mystery masked where the dark everlastingly broods, Be sure he will turn to the bay, with his back to the glen in the range, And glide like a phantom away, with a countenance pallid with change.

From the line of dead timber that lies supine at the foot of the glade, The fierce-featured eaglehawk flies--afraid as a dove is afraid; But back in that wilderness dread are a fall and the forks of a ford-- _Ah! pray and uncover your head, and lean like a child on the Lord._

A sinister fog at the wane--at the change of the moon cometh forth Like an ominous ghost in the train of a bitter, black storm of the north!

At the head of the gully unknown it hangs like a spirit of bale.

And the noise of a shriek and a groan strikes up in the gusts of the gale.

In the throat of a feculent pit is the beard of a b.l.o.o.d.y-red sedge; And a foam like the foam of a fit sweats out of the lips of the ledge.

But down in the water of death, in the livid, dead pool at the base-- _Bow low, with inaudible breath, beseech with the hands to the face!_

A furlong of fetid, black fen, with gelid, green patches of pond, Lies dumb by the horns of the glen--at the gates of the horror beyond; And those who have looked on it tell of the terrible growths that are there-- The flowerage fostered by h.e.l.l, the blossoms that startle and scare.

If ever a wandering bird should light on Gehennas like this Be sure that a cry will be heard, and the sound of the flat adder's hiss.

But hard by the jaws of the bend is a ghastly Thing matted with moss-- _Ah, Lord! be a father, a friend, for the sake of the Christ of the Cross._

Black Tom, with the sinews of five--that never a hangman could hang-- In the days of the shackle and gyve, broke loose from the guards of the gang.

Thereafter, for seasons a score, this devil prowled under the ban; A mate of red talon and paw, a wolf in the shape of a man.

But, ringed by ineffable fire, in a thunder and wind of the north, The sword of Omnipotent ire--the bolt of high Heaven went forth!

But, wan as the sorrowful foam, a grey mother waits by the sea For the boys that have never come home these fifty-four winters and three.

From the folds of the forested hills there are ravelled and roundabout tracks, Because of the terror that fills the strong-handed men of the axe!

Of the workers away in the range there is none that will wait for the night, When the storm-stricken moon is in change and the sinister fog is in sight.

And later and deep in the dark, when the bitter wind whistles about, There is never a howl or a bark from the dog in the kennel without, But the white fathers fasten the door, and often and often they start, At a sound like a foot on the floor and a touch like a hand on the heart.

When Underneath the Brown Dead Gra.s.s

When underneath the brown dead gra.s.s My weary bones are laid, I hope I shall not see the gla.s.s At ninety in the shade.

I trust indeed that, when I lie Beneath the churchyard pine, I shall not hear that startling cry "'Thermom' is ninety-nine!"

If one should whisper through my sleep "Come up and be alive,"

I'd answer--_No, unless you'll keep The gla.s.s at sixty-five._ I _might_ be willing if allowed To wear old Adam's rig, And mix amongst the city crowd Like Polynesian "nig".

Far better in the sod to lie, With pasturing pig above, Than broil beneath a copper sky-- In sight of all I love!

Far better to be turned to gra.s.s To feed the poley cow, Than be the half boiled bream, alas, That I am really now!

For cow and pig I would not hear, And hoof I would not see; But if these items did appear They wouldn't trouble me.

For ah! the pelt of mortal man Weighs less than half a ton, And any sight is better than A sultry southern sun.

The Voice in the Wild Oak

(Written in the shadow of 1872.)

Twelve years ago, when I could face High heaven's dome with different eyes-- In days full-flowered with hours of grace, And nights not sad with sighs-- I wrote a song in which I strove To shadow forth thy strain of woe, Dark widowed sister of the grove!-- Twelve wasted years ago.

But youth was then too young to find Those high authentic syllables, Whose voice is like the wintering wind By sunless mountain fells; Nor had I sinned and suffered then To that superlative degree That I would rather seek, than men, Wild fellowship with thee!

But he who hears this autumn day Thy more than deep autumnal rhyme, Is one whose hair was shot with grey By Grief instead of Time.

He has no need, like many a bard, To sing imaginary pain, Because he bears, and finds it hard, The punishment of Cain.

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The Poems Of Henry Kendall Part 30 summary

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