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In Memory of John Fairfax
Because this man fulfilled his days, Like one who walks with steadfast gaze Averted from forbidden ways With lures of fair, false flowerage deep, Behold the Lord whose throne is dim With fires of flaming seraphim-- The Christ that suffered sent for him: "He giveth His beloved sleep."
Think not that souls whose deeds august Put sin to shame and make men just Become at last the helpless dust That wintering winds through waste-lands sweep!
The higher life within us cries, Like some fine spirit from the skies, "The Father's blessing on us lies-- 'He giveth His beloved sleep.'"
Not human sleep--the fitful rest With evil shapes of dreams distressed,-- But perfect quiet, unexpressed By any worldly word we keep.
The dim Hereafter framed in creeds May not be this; but He who reads Our lives, sets flowers on wayside weeds-- "He giveth His beloved sleep."
Be sure this hero who has pa.s.sed The human s.p.a.ce--the outer vast-- Who worked in harness to the last, Doth now a hallowed harvest reap.
Love sees his grave, nor turns away-- The eyes of faith are like the day, And grief has not a word to say-- "He giveth His beloved sleep."
That fair, rare spirit, Honour, throws A light, which puts to shame the rose, Across his grave, because she knows The son whose ashes it doth keep; And, like far music, _this_ is heard-- "Behold the man who never stirred, By word of his, an angry word!-- 'He giveth His beloved sleep.'"
He earned his place. Within his hands, The power which counsels and commands, And shapes the social life of lands, Became a blessing pure and deep.
Through thirty years of turbulence Our thoughts were sweetened with a sense Of his benignant influence-- "He giveth His beloved sleep."
No splendid talents, which excite Like music, songs, or floods of light, Were his; but, rather, all those bright, Calm qualities of soul which reap A mute, but certain, fine respect, Not only from a source elect, But from the hearts of every sect-- "He giveth His beloved sleep."
He giveth His beloved rest!
The faithful soul that onward pressed, Unswerving, from Life's east to west, By paths austere and pa.s.ses steep, Is past all toil; and, over Death, With reverent hands and prayerful breath, I plant this flower, alive with faith-- "He giveth His beloved sleep."
-- * Araluen: The poet's daughter, who died in infancy.
Take this rose, and very gently place it on the tender, deep Mosses where our little darling, Araluen, lies asleep.
Put the blossom close to baby--kneel with me, my love, and pray; We must leave the bird we've buried--say good-bye to her to-day.
In the shadow of our trouble we must go to other lands, And the flowers we have fostered will be left to other hands: Other eyes will watch them growing--other feet will softly tread Where two hearts are nearly breaking, where so many tears are shed.
Bitter is the world we live in: life and love are mixed with pain; We will never see these daisies--never water them again.
Ah! the saddest thought in leaving baby in this bush alone Is that we have not been able on her grave to place a stone: We have been too poor to do it; but, my darling, never mind-- G.o.d is in the gracious heavens, and His sun and rain are kind: They will dress the spot with beauty, they will make the gra.s.ses grow: Many winds will lull our birdie, many songs will come and go.
Here the blue-eyed Spring will linger, here the shining month will stay, Like a friend, by Araluen, when we two are far away; But beyond the wild, wide waters, we will tread another sh.o.r.e-- We will never watch this blossom, never see it any more.
Girl, whose hand at G.o.d's high altar in the dear, dead year I pressed, Lean your stricken head upon me--this is still your lover's breast!
She who sleeps was first and sweetest--none we have to take her place; Empty is the little cradle--absent is the little face.
Other children may be given; but this rose beyond recall, But this garland of your girlhood, will be dearest of them all.
None will ever, Araluen, nestle where you used to be, In my heart of hearts, you darling, when the world was new to me; We were young when you were with us, life and love were happy things To your father and your mother ere the angels gave you wings.
You that sit and sob beside me--you, upon whose golden head Many rains of many sorrows have from day to day been shed; Who because your love was n.o.ble, faced with me the lot austere Ever pressing with its hardship on the man of letters here-- Let me feel that you are near me, lay your hand within mine own; You are all I have to live for, now that we are left alone.
Three there were, but one has vanished. Sins of mine have made you weep; But forgive your baby's father now that baby is asleep.
Let us go, for night is falling; leave the darling with her flowers; Other hands will come and tend them--other friends in other hours.
The Sydney International Exhibition
(The poem which won the prize offered by the proprietors of the "Sydney Morning Herald".)
Now, while Orion, flaming south, doth set A shining foot on hills of wind and wet-- Far haughty hills beyond the fountains cold And dells of glimmering greenness manifold-- While August sings the advent of the Spring, And in the calm is heard September's wing, The lordly voice of song I ask of thee, High, deathless radiance--crowned Calliope!
What though we never hear the great G.o.d's lays Which made all music the h.e.l.lenic days-- What though the face of thy fair heaven beams Still only on the crystal Grecian streams-- What though a sky of new, strange beauty shines Where no white Dryad sings within the pines: Here is a land whose large, imperial grace Must tempt thee, G.o.ddess, in thine holy place!
Here are the dells of peace and plenilune, The hills of morning and the slopes of noon; Here are the waters dear to days of blue, And dark-green hollows of the noontide dew; Here lies the harp, by fragrant wood-winds fanned, That waits the coming of thy quickening hand!
And shall Australia, framed and set in sea, August with glory, wait in vain for thee?
Shall more than Tempe's beauty be unsung Because its shine is strange--its colours young?
No! by the full, live light which puts to shame The far, fair splendours of Thessalian flame-- By yonder forest psalm which sinks and swells Like that of Phocis, grave with oracles-- By deep prophetic winds that come and go Where whispering springs of pondering mountains flow-- By lute-like leaves and many-languaged caves, Where sounds the strong hosanna of the waves, This great new majesty shall not remain Unhonoured by the high immortal strain!
Soon, soon, the music of the southern lyre Shall start and blossom with a speech like fire!
Soon, soon, shall flower and flow in flame divine Thy songs, Apollo, and Euterpe, thine!
Strong, shining sons of Delphicus shall rise With all their father's glory in their eyes; And then shall beam on yonder slopes and springs The light that swims upon the light of things.
And therefore, lingering in a land of lawn, I, standing here, a singer of the dawn, With gaze upturned to where wan summits lie Against the morning flowing up the sky-- Whose eyes in dreams of many colours see A glittering vision of the years to be-- Do ask of thee, Calliope, one hour Of life pre-eminent with perfect power, That I may leave a song whose lonely rays May shine hereafter from these songless days.
For now there breaks across the faint grey range The rose-red dawning of a radiant change.
A soft, sweet voice is in the valleys deep, Where darkness droops and sings itself to sleep.
The grave, mute woods, that yet the silence hold Of dim, dead ages, gleam with hints of gold.
Yon eastern cape that meets the straitened wave-- A twofold tower above the whistling cave-- Whose strength in thunder shields the gentle lea, And makes a white wrath of a league of sea, Now wears the face of peace; and in the bay The weak, spent voice of Winter dies away.
In every dell there is a whispering wing, On every lawn a glimmer of the Spring; By every hill are growths of tender green-- On every slope a fair, new life is seen; And lo! beneath the morning's blossoming fires, The shining city of a hundred spires, In mists of gold, by countless havens furled, And glad with all the flags of all the world!
These are the sh.o.r.es, where, in a dream of fear, Cathay saw darkness dwelling half the year!*1*
These are the coasts that old fallacious tales Chained down with ice and ringed with sleepless gales!
This is the land that, in the hour of awe, From Indian peaks the rapt Venetian saw!*2*
Here is the long grey line of strange sea wall That checked the prow of the audacious Gaul, What time he steered towards the southern snow, From zone to zone, four hundred years ago!*3*
By yonder gulf, whose marching waters meet The wine-dark currents from the isles of heat, Strong sons of Europe, in a far dim year, Faced ghastly foes, and felt the alien spear!
There, in a later dawn, by shipless waves, The tender gra.s.ses found forgotten graves.*4*
Far in the west, beyond those hills sublime, Dirk Hartog anch.o.r.ed in the olden time; There, by a wild-faced bay, and in a cleft, His shining name the fair-haired Northman left;*5*
And, on those broad imperial waters, far Beneath the lordly occidental star, Sailed Tasman down a great and glowing s.p.a.ce Whose softer lights were like his lady's face.
In dreams of her he roved from zone to zone, And gave her lovely name to coasts unknown*6*
And saw, in streaming sunset everywhere, The curious beauty of her golden hair, By flaming tracts of tropic afternoon, Where in low heavens hangs a fourfold moon.
Here, on the tides of a resplendent year, By capes of jasper, came the buccaneer.*7*
Then, then, the wild men, flying from the beach, First heard the clear, bold sounds of English speech; And then first fell across a Southern plain The broad, strong shadows of a Saxon train.
Near yonder wall of stately cliff, that braves The arrogance of congregated waves, The daring son of grey old Yorkshire stood And dreamed in a majestic solitude, What time a gentle April shed its showers, Aflame with sunset, on the Bay of Flowers.*8*
The n.o.ble seaman who withheld the hand, And spared the Hector of his native land-- The single savage, yelling on the beach The dark, strange curses of barbaric speech.
Exalted sailor! whose benignant phrase Shines full of beauty in these latter days; Who met the naked tribes of fiery skies With great, divine compa.s.sion in his eyes; Who died, like Him of h.o.a.ry Nazareth, That death august--the radiant martyr's death; Who in the last hour showed the Christian face Whose crumbling beauty shamed the alien race.
In peace he sleeps where deep eternal calms Lie round the land of heavy-fruited palms.
Lo! in that dell, behind a singing bar, Where deep, pure pools of glittering waters are, Beyond a mossy, yellow, gleaming glade, The last of Forby Sutherland was laid-- The blue-eyed Saxon from the hills of snow Who fell asleep a hundred years ago.
In flowerful shades, where gold and green are rife, Still rests the sh.e.l.l of his forgotten life.
Far, far away, beneath some northern sky The fathers of his humble household lie; But by his lonely grave are sapphire streams, And gracious woodlands, where the fire-fly gleams; And ever comes across a silver lea The hymn sublime of the eternal sea.
-- *1* According to Mr. R. H. Major, and others, the Great Southern Land is referred to in old Chinese records as a polar continent, subject to the long polar nights.
*2* Marco Polo mentions a large land called by the Malays Lochac.