The Poems Of Henry Kendall Part 33

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He has a name which can't be brought Within the sphere of metre; But, as he's Peter by report, I'll trot him out as Peter.

I call him mine; but don't suppose That I'm his dad, O reader!

My wife has got a Norman nose-- She reads the tales of Ouida.

I never loved a n.i.g.g.e.r belle-- My tastes are too aesthetic!

The perfume from a gin is--well, A rather strong emetic.

But, seeing that my theme is Pete, This verse will be the neater If I keep on the proper beat, And stick throughout to Peter.

We picked him up the Lord knows where!

At noon we came across him Asleep beside a hunk of bear-- His paunch was bulged with 'possum.

(Last stanza will not bear, I own, A pressure a.n.a.lytic; But bard whose weight is fourteen stone, Is apt to thump the critic.)

We asked the kid to give his name: He didn't seem too willing-- The darkey played the darkey's game-- We tipped him with a shilling!

We tipped him with a shining bob-- No Tommy Dodd, believe us.

We didn't "tumble" to his job-- Ah, why did Pete deceive us!

I, being, as I've said, a bard, Resolved at once to foster This mite whose length was just a yard-- This portable impostor!

"This babe"--I spoke in Wordsworth's tone-- (See Wordsworth's "Lucy", neighbour) "I'll make a darling of my own; And he'll repay my labour.

"He'll grow as gentle as a fawn-- As quiet as the blossoms That beautify a land of lawn-- He'll eat no more opossums.

"The child I to myself will take In a paternal manner; And ah! he will not swallow snake In future, or 'goanna'.

"Will you reside with me, my dear?"

I asked in accents mellow-- The n.i.g.g.e.r grinned from ear to ear, And said, "All right, old fellow!"

And so my Pete was taken home-- My pretty piccaninny!

And, not to speak of soap or comb, His cleansing cost a guinea.

"But hang expenses!" I exclaimed, "I'll give him education: A 'nig' is better when he's tamed, Perhaps, than a Caucasian.

"Ethnologists are in the wrong About our sable brothers; And I intend to stop the song Of Pickering and others."

Alas, I didn't do it though!

Old Pickering's conclusions Were to the point, as issues show, And mine were mere delusions.

My inky pet was clothed and fed For months exceeding forty; But to the end, it must be said, His ways were very naughty.

When told about the Land of Morn Above this world of Mammon, He'd shout, with an emphatic scorn, "Ah, gammon, gammon, gammon!"

He never lingered, like the bard, To sniff at rose expanding.

"Me like," he said, "em cattle-yard-- Fine smell--de smell of branding!"

The soul of man, I tried to show, Went up beyond our vision.

"You ebber see dat fellow go?"

He asked in sheer derision.

In short, it soon occurred to me This kid of six or seven, Who wouldn't learn his A B C, Was hardly ripe for heaven.

He never lost his appet.i.te-- He bigger grew, and bigger; And proved, with every inch of height, A n.i.g.g.e.r is a n.i.g.g.e.r.

And, looking from this moment back, I have a strong persuasion That, after all, a finished black Is not the "clean"--Caucasian.

Dear Peter from my threshold went, One morning in the body: He "dropped" me, to oblige a gent-- A gent with spear and waddy!

He shelved me for a boomerang-- We never had a quarrel; And, if a moral here doth hang, Why let it hang--the moral!

My mournful tale its course has run-- My Pete, when last I spied him, Was eating 'possum underdone: He had his gin beside him.

Narrara Creek

(Written in the shadow of 1872.)

From the rainy hill-heads, where, in starts and in spasms, Leaps wild the white torrent from chasms to chasms-- From the home of bold echoes, whose voices of wonder Fly out of blind caverns struck black by high thunder-- Through gorges august, in whose nether recesses Is heard the far psalm of unseen wildernesses-- Like a dominant spirit, a strong-handed sharer Of spoil with the tempest, comes down the Narrara.

Yea, where the great sword of the hurricane cleaveth The forested fells that the dark never leaveth-- By fierce-featured crags, in whose evil abysses The clammy snake coils, and the flat adder hisses-- Past lordly rock temples, where Silence is riven By the anthems supreme of the four winds of heaven-- It speeds, with the cry of the streams of the fountains It chained to its sides, and dragged down from the mountains!

But when it goes forth from the slopes with a sally-- Being strengthened with tribute from many a valley-- It broadens and brightens, and thereupon marches Above the stream sapphires and under green arches, With the rhythm of majesty--careless of c.u.mber-- Its might in repose and its fierceness in slumber-- Till it beams on the plains, where the wind is a bearer Of words from the sea to the stately Narrara!

Narrara! grand son of the haughty hill torrent, Too late in my day have I looked at thy current-- Too late in my life to discern and inherit The soul of thy beauty, the joy of thy spirit!

With the years of the youth and the hairs of the h.o.a.ry, I sit like a shadow outside of thy glory; Nor look with the morning-like feelings, O river, That illumined the boy in the days gone for ever!

Ah! sad are the sounds of old ballads which borrow One-half of their grief from the listener's sorrow; And sad are the eyes of the pilgrim who traces The ruins of Time in revisited places; But sadder than all is the sense of his losses That cometh to one when a sudden age crosses And cripples his manhood. So, stricken by fate, I Felt older at thirty than some do at eighty.

Because I believe in the beautiful story, The poem of Greece in the days of her glory-- That the high-seated Lord of the woods and the waters Has peopled His world with His deified daughters-- That flowerful forests and waterways streaming Are gracious with G.o.ddesses glowing and gleaming-- I pray that thy singing divinity, fairer Than wonderful women, may listen, Narrara!

O spirit of sea-going currents!--thou, being The child of immortals, all-knowing, all-seeing-- Thou hast at thy heart the dark truth that I borrow For the song that I sing thee, no fanciful sorrow; In the sight of thine eyes is the history written Of Love smitten down as the strong leaf is smitten; And before thee there goeth a phantom beseeching For faculties forfeited--hopes beyond reaching.

Thou knowest, O sister of deities blazing With splendour ineffable, beauty amazing, What life the G.o.ds gave me--what largess I tasted-- The youth thrown away, and the faculties wasted.

I might, as thou seest, have stood in high places, Instead of in pits where the brand of disgrace is, A byword for scoffers--a b.u.t.t and a caution, With the grave of poor Burns and Maginn for my portion.

But the heart of the Father Supreme is offended, And my life in the light of His favour is ended; And, whipped by inflexible devils, I shiver, With a hollow "_Too late_" in my hearing for ever; But thou--being sinless, exalted, supernal, The daughter of diademed G.o.ds, the eternal-- Shalt shine in thy waters when time and existence Have dwindled, like stars, in unspeakable distance.

But the face of thy river--the torrented power That smites at the rock while it fosters the flower-- Shall gleam in my dreams with the summer-look splendid, And the beauty of woodlands and waterfalls blended; And often I'll think of far-forested noises, And the emphasis deep of grand sea-going voices, And turn to Narrara the eyes of a lover, When the sorrowful days of my singing are over.

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The Poems Of Henry Kendall Part 33 summary

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