The Poems Of Henry Kendall Part 32

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And I'm certain the critic will pause, And excuse, for the sake of my bird, My sins against critical laws-- The slips in the thought and the word.

And haply some dear little face Of his own to his mind will occur-- Some Persia who brightens his place-- And I'll be forgiven for her.

A life that is turning to grey Has hardly been happy, you see; But the rose that has dropped on my way Is morning and music to me.

Yea, she that I hold by the hand Is changing white winter to green, And making a light of the land-- All fathers will know what I mean:

All women and men who have known The sickness of sorrow and sin, Will feel--having babes of their own-- My verse and the pathos therein.

For that must be touching which shows How a life has been led from the wild To a garden of glitter and rose, By the flower-like hand of a child.

She is strange to this wonderful sphere; One summer and winter have set Since G.o.d left her radiance here-- Her sweet second year is not yet.

The world is so lovely and new To eyes full of eloquent light, And, sisters, I'm hoping that you Will pray for my Persia to-night.

For I, who have suffered so much, And know what the bitterness is, Am sad to think sorrow must touch Some day even darlings like this!

But sorrow is part of this life, And, therefore, a father doth long For the blessing of mother and wife On the bird he has put in a song.


Strange is the song, and the soul that is singing Falters because of the vision it sees; Voice that is not of the living is ringing Down in the depths where the darkness is clinging, Even when Noon is the lord of the leas, Fast, like a curse, to the ghosts of the trees!

Here in a mist that is parted in sunder, Half with the darkness and half with the day; Face of a woman, but face of a wonder, Vivid and wild as a flame of the thunder, Flashes and fades, and the wail of the grey Water is loud on the straits of the bay!

Father, whose years have been many and weary-- Elder, whose life is as lovely as light Shining in ways that are sterile and dreary-- Tell me the name of this beautiful peri, Flashing on me like the wonderful white Star, at the meeting of morning and night.

Look to thy Saviour, and down on thy knee, man, Lean on the Lord, as the Zebedee leaned; Daughter of h.e.l.l is the neighbour of thee, man-- Lilith, of Adam the luminous leman!

Turn to the Christ to be succoured and screened, Saved from the eyes of a marvellous fiend!

Serpent she is in the shape of a woman, Brighter than woman, ineffably fair!

Shelter thyself from the splendour, and sue, man; Light that was never a loveliness human Lives in the face of this sinister snare, Longing to strangle thy soul with her hair!

Lilith, who came to the father and bound him Fast with her eyes in the first of the springs; Lilith she is, but remember she drowned him, Shedding her flood of gold tresses around him-- Lulled him to sleep with the lyric she sings: Melody strange with unspeakable things!

Low is her voice, but beware of it ever, Swift bitter death is the fruit of delay; Never was song of its beauty--ah! never-- Heard on the mountain, or meadow, or river, Not of the night is it, not of the day-- Fly from it, stranger, away and away.

Back on the hills are the blossom and feather, Glory of noon is on valley and spire; Here is the grace of magnificent weather, Where is the woman from gulfs of the nether?

Where is the fiend with the face of desire?

Gone, with a cry, in miraculous fire!

Sound that was not of this world, or the s.p.a.cious Splendid blue heaven, has pa.s.sed from the lea; Dead is the voice of the devil audacious: Only a dream is her music fallacious, Here, in the song and the shadow of tree, Down by the green and the gold of the sea.


Singer of songs of the hills-- Dreamer, by waters unstirred, Back in a valley of rills, Home of the leaf and the bird!-- Read in this fall of the year Just the compa.s.sionate phrase, Faded with traces of tear, Written in far-away days:

"_Gone is the light of my lap (Lord, at Thy bidding I bow), Here is my little one's cap, He has no need of it now, Give it to somebody's boy-- Somebody's darling_"--she wrote.

Touching was Bob in his joy-- Bob without boots or a coat.

Only a cap; but it gave Capless and comfortless one Happiness, bright as the brave, Beautiful light of the sun.

Soft may the sanctified sod Rest on the father who led Bob from the gutter, unshod-- Covered his cold little head!

Bob from the foot to the crown Measured a yard, and no more-- Baby alone in the town, Homeless, and hungry, and sore-- Child that was never a child, Hiding away from the rain, Draggled and dirty and wild, Down in a pipe of the drain.

Poor little beggar was Bob-- Couldn't afford to be sick, Getting a penny a job, Sometimes a curse and a kick.

Father was killed by the drink; Mother was driven to shame; Bob couldn't manage to think-- He had forgotten their name.

G.o.d was in heaven above, Flowers illumined the ground, Women of infinite love Lived in the palaces round-- Saints with the character sweet Found in the fathers of old, Laboured in alley and street-- Baby slept out in the cold.

n.o.body noticed the child-- n.o.body knew of the mite Creeping about like a wild Thing in the shadow of night.

Beaten by drunkards and cowed-- Frightened to speak or to sob-- How could he ask you aloud, "_Have you a penny for Bob?_"

Few were the pennies he got-- Seldom could hide them away, Watched by the ravenous sot Ever at wait for his prey.

Poor little man! He would weep Oft for a morsel of bread; Coppers he wanted to keep Went to the tavern instead.

This was his history, friend-- Ragged, unhoused, and alone; How could the child comprehend Love that he never had known?

Hunted about in the world, Crouching in crevices dim, Crust with a curse at him hurled Stood for a kindness with him.

Little excited his joy-- Bun after doing a job; Mother of bright-headed boy, Think of the motherless Bob!

High in the heavens august Providence saw him, and said-- "_Out of the pits of the dust Lift him, and cover his head._"

Ah, the ineffable grace, Father of children, in Thee!

Boy in a radiant place, Fanned by the breeze of the sea-- Child on a lullaby lap Said, in the pause of his pain, "_Mother, don't bury my cap-- Give it to Bob in the lane._"

Beautiful bidding of Death!

What could she do but obey, Even when suffering Faith Hadn't the power to pray?

So, in the fall of the year, Saint with the fatherly head Hunted for somebody's dear-- "_Somebody's darling,_" he said.

Bob, who was n.o.body's child, Sitting on n.o.body's lap, Draggled and dirty and wild-- Bob got the little one's cap.

Strange were compa.s.sionate words!

Waif of the alley and lane Dreamed of the music of birds Floating about in the rain.

White-headed father in G.o.d, Over thy beautiful grave Green is the gra.s.s of the sod, Soft is the sound of the wave.

Down by the slopes of the sea Often and often will sob Boy who was fostered by thee-- This is the story of Bob.

Peter the Piccaninny

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The Poems Of Henry Kendall Part 32 summary

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