The Poems Of Henry Kendall Part 43

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-- * Suggested by one of John Bright's speeches on Electoral Reform.

A morning crowns the Western hill, A day begins to reign, A sun awakes o'er distant seas-- Shall never sleep again.

The world is growing old, And men are waxing wise; A mist has cleared--a something falls Like scales from off their eyes.

Too long the "Dark of Ignorance"

Has brooded on their way; Too long Oppression 's stood before, Excluding light of day.

But now they've found the track And now they've seen the dawn, A "beacon lamp" is pointing on, Where stronger glows the morn.

Since Adam lived, the mighty ones Have ever ruled the weak; Since Noah's flood, the fettered slave Has seldom dared to speak.

'Tis time a voice was heard, 'Tis time a voice was spoken So in the chain of tyranny A link or two be broken.

A tiny rill will swell a stream, A spark will cause a flame, And one man's burning eloquence Has help'd to do the same.

And he will persevere, And soon that blaze must spread, Till to the corners of the earth Reflecting beams are shed.

The "few" will try to beat it down, But can they stop the flood-- Bind up the pinions of the light, Or check the will of G.o.d?

And is it not His will That deeply injured Right Should overthrow the iron rule And reign instead of Might?

The Old Year

It pa.s.sed like the breath of the night-wind away, It fled like a mist at the dawn of the day; It lasted its moment, then backward was hurled, Another increase to the age of the world.

It pa.s.sed with its shadows, its smiles and its tears, It pa.s.sed as a stream to the ocean of years; Years that were coming--were here--and are o'er, The ages departed to visit no more.

It pa.s.sed, but the bark on its billowy track Leaves an impression on waters aback: The glow of the gloaming remains on the sky, Unwilling to leave us--unwilling to die.

It fled; but away and away in its wake There lingers a something that time cannot break.

The past and the future are joined by a chain, And memories live that must ever remain.


(The Kanaka's Death-Song over his Chieftain.)

Shades of my father, the hour is approaching.

Prepare ye the 'cava' for 'Yona' on high; Make ready the welcome, ye souls of Arrochin.

The Death G.o.d of Tanna speaks--Yona must die.

No more will he traverse the flame sheeted mountain, To lead forth his brothers to hunting and war; No more will he drink from the time honoured fountain, Nor rise in the councils of Uking-a-shaa.

His voice in the battle, loud thunder resembling, Has died like a zephyr o'errunning the plain; His whoop like the tempest thro' forest trees trembling, Shall never strike foemen with terror again.

The 'muska' hung up on the cocoa is sleeping, And Attanam's spirits have gathered a-nigh To see their destroyer; and, wailing and weeping, Roll past on the night-breathing winds of the sky.

The lines are suspended, the 'muttow' is broken, The canoe's far away from the water-wash'd sh.o.r.e, Mourn, mourn, ye 'whyeenas', the word has been spoken, The chieftain can bring ye the 'weepan' no more.

Ye cloud-seated visions, ye shades of my fathers, Awake from your slumbers, the trumpet blast blow; The moments are flying, the mountain mist gathers, And Yona is leaving his camp fire below.

The struggles are over, the cords are asunder, Ye Phantoms hold forward your heavenly light, Speak on the wings of the sky-shaking thunder, And fill him with joy on the path of his flight.

Come downwards a s.p.a.ce thro' the fogs till ye meet him, Throw open the doors of Arrochin awide, And stand on the thresholds, ye Shadows to greet him-- The glory of Tanna, the Uking'shaa's pride.

Thanks, spirits departed!--heard I not your voices Faint rolling along on the breath of the gale?

Thanks, spirits departed! Le-en-na rejoices: Ye've answered the mourner--ye've silenced the wail.

The midnight is clearing; the Death-song is ended.

The Chieftain has gone, but ye've called him away; For he smiled as he listened, obedient ascended, The voice in his ear, and the torch on his way.

Tanna is one of the largest islands in the group known as the New Hebrides.

The natives of it, in common with all their South Sea brethren, are generally t.i.tled by the whites "Kanakas". They are of the negro family, resembling in feature, very closely, the Feejee tribes. It is said that they believe in the existence of a Superior Being, whose earthly dwelling they fancy is in the burning volcanoes for which the island is remarkable.

They believe in a future happy state, and call their heaven "Arrochin".

They are divided into small tribes or clans; the largest of these are the Ukingh-a-shaa and Attanam families. A spirit of rivalry between these two last-mentioned often causes long and b.l.o.o.d.y wars all over the island.

Tanna, besides the never-sleeping volcano, has its other objects of interest in the many boiling springs that surround the base of the burning mountain.

Some of these are held as holy, and none but chiefs are permitted to taste their waters. Such restriction, however, does not extend over all.

When any of their great warriors die, the aborigines believe that the spirits of Arrochin prepare a great feast there for their coming guest, and for fear he should lose himself on the road thither they (the spirits) call to him and blow trumpets, sending some one at the same time with torches to meet him and guide him on his way to those blessed regions.

Explanation of Native Words:

"Arrochin"--Heaven. "Cava"--a drink extracted from a root.

(The natives believe it is made and drunk in Arrochin where it grows as in Tanna). "Muska" (corruption of the English term, musket)-- of late their chief weapon in war. "Muttow"--a fishing-hook.

"Whyeena"--woman (this is not the original native appellation; that I could never ascertain). "Weepan"--Fish (their princ.i.p.al food).

"Leenna" and "Yona"--native names.--H.K.

The Earth Laments for Day

There's music wafting on the air, The evening winds are sighing Among the trees--and yonder stream Is mournfully replying, Lamenting loud the sunny light That in the west is dying.

The moon is rising o'er the hill, Her slanting rays are creeping Where Nature lies profoundly still In happy quiet sleeping, And resting on her face, they'll find The earth is wet with weeping.

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The Poems Of Henry Kendall Part 43 summary

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