The Poems Of Henry Kendall Part 5

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Oh! the gorges and gullies are black with crows, And they feast on the flesh of the brave; But the forest is loud with the howls of our foes For those whom they never can save!

Let us crouch with our faces down to our knees, And hide in the dark of our hair; For we will not return where the camp-fires burn, And see what is smouldering there-- What is smouldering, mouldering there!

Where the sad winds sigh-- The dead leaves fly, And our warriors lie; In the dingoes' den--in the white-cedar glen On the banks of the gloomy Urara!

Urara! Urara!

On the banks of the gloomy Urara!

Evening Hymn

The crag-pent breezes sob and moan where hidden waters glide; And twilight wanders round the earth with slow and shadowy stride.

The gleaming clouds, above the brows of western steeps uphurled, Look like the spires of some fair town that bounds a brighter world.

Lo, from the depths of yonder wood, where many a blind creek strays, The pure Australian moon comes forth, enwreathed with silver haze.

The rainy mists are trooping down the folding hills behind, And distant torrent-voices rise like bells upon the wind.

The echeu's* songs are dying, with the flute-bird's mellow tone, And night recalls the gloomy owl to rove the wilds alone; Night, holy night, in robes of blue, with golden stars encrowned, Ascending mountains like to walls that hem an Eden round.

-- * The rufous-breasted thickhead.

Oh, lovely moon! oh, holy night! how good your G.o.d must be, When, through the glories of your light, He stoops to look at me!

Oh, glittering clouds and silvery shapes, that vanish one by one!

Is not the kindness of our Lord too great to think upon?

If human song could flow as free as His created breeze, When, sloping from some h.o.a.ry height, it sweeps the vacant seas, Then should my voice to heaven ascend, my tuneful lyre be strung, And music sweeter than the winds should roam these glens among.

Go by, ye golden-footed hours, to your mysterious bourne, And hide the sins ye bear from hence, so that they ne'er return.

Teach me, ye beauteous stars, to kiss kind Mercy's chastening rod, And, looking up from Nature's face, to worship Nature's G.o.d.


The sunsets fall and the sunsets fade, But still I walk this shadowy land; And grapple the dark and only the dark In my search for a loving hand.

For it's here a still, deep woodland lies, With spurs of pine and sheaves of fern; But I wander wild, and wail like a child For a face that will never return!

And it's here a mighty water flows, With drifts of wind and wimpled waves; But the darling head of a dear one dead Is hidden beneath its caves.

The Wail in the Native Oak

Where the lone creek, chafing nightly in the cold and sad moonshine, Beats beneath the twisted fern-roots and the drenched and dripping vine; Where the gum trees, ringed and ragged, from the mazy margins rise, Staring out against the heavens with their languid gaping eyes; There I listened--there I heard it! Oh, that melancholy sound, Wandering like a ghostly whisper, through the dreaming darkness round!

Wandering, like a fearful warning, where the withered twilight broke Through a ma.s.s of mournful tresses, drooping down the Native Oak.

And I caught a glimpse of sunset fading from a far-off wild, As I sat me down to fancy, like a thoughtful, wistful child-- Sat me down to fancy what might mean those hollow, hopeless tones, Sooming round the swooning silence, dying out in smothered moans!

What might mean that m.u.f.fled sobbing? Did a lonely phantom wail, Pent amongst those tangled branches barring out the moonlight pale?

Wept it for that gleam of glory wasting from the forest aisles; For that fainting gleam of glory sad with flickering, sickly smiles?

In these woodlands I was restless! I had seen a light depart, And an ache for something vanished filled and chilled my longing heart, And I linked my thoughts together--"All seemed still and dull to-day, But a painful symbol groweth from the shine that pales away!

This may not be idle dreaming; if the spirit roams," I said, "This is surely one, a wanderer from the ages which have fled!

Who can look beyond the darkness; who can see so he may tell Where the sunsets all have gone to; where the souls that leave us dwell?

"This might be a loving exile, full with faded thoughts returned, Seeking for familiar faces, friends for whom he long had yearned.

Here his fathers must have sojourned--here his people may have died, Or, perchance, to distant forests all were scattered far and wide.

So he moans and so he lingers! weeping o'er the wasted wild; Weeping o'er the desolation, like a lost, benighted child!

So he moans, and so he lingers! Hence these fitful, fretful sighs, Deep within the oak tree solemn! Hence these weary, weary cries!

"Or who knows but that some secret lies beneath yon dismal mound?

Ha! a dreary, dreadful secret must be buried underground!

Not a ragged blade of verdure--not one root of moss is there; Who hath torn the gra.s.ses from it--wherefore is that barrow bare?

Darkness shuts the forest round me. Here I stand and, O my G.o.d!

This may be some injured spirit raving round and round the sod.

Hush! the tempest, how it travels! Blood hath here been surely shed-- Hush! the thunder, how it mutters! Oh, the unrequited Dead!"

Came a footfall past the water--came a wild man through the gloom, Down he stooped and faced the current, silent as the silent tomb; Down he stooped and lapped the ripples: not a single word he spoke, But I whispered, "He can tell me of the Secret in the Oak?

Very thoughtful seems that forehead; many legends he may know; Many tales and old traditions linked to what is here below!

I must ask him--rest I cannot--though my life upon it hung-- Though these wails are waxing louder, I must give my thoughts a tongue.

"Shake that silence from you, wild man! I have looked into your face, Hoping I should learn the story there about this fearful place.

Slake your thirst, but stay and tell me: did your heart with terror beat, When you stepped across the bare and blasted hillock at your feet?

Hearken to these croons so wretched deep within the dusk boughs pent!

Hold you not some strange tradition coupled with this strange lament?

When your tribe about their camp-fires hear that hollow, broken cry, _Do they hint of deeds mysterious, hidden in the days gone by?_"

But he rose like one bewildered, shook his head and glided past; Huddling whispers hurried after, hissing in the howling blast!

Now a sheet of lurid splendour swept athwart the mountain spire, And a midnight squall came trumping down on zigzag paths of fire!

Through the tumult dashed a torrent flanking out in foaming streams, Whilst the woodlands groaned and muttered like a monster vexed with dreams.

Then I swooned away in horror. Oh! that shriek which rent the air, Like the voice of some fell demon harrowed by a mad despair.

Harps We Love

The harp we love hath a royal burst!

Its strings are mighty forest trees; And branches, swaying to and fro, Are fingers sounding symphonies.

The harp we love hath a solemn sound!

And rocks amongst the shallow seas Are strings from which the rolling waves Draw forth their stirring harmonies.

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The Poems Of Henry Kendall Part 5 summary

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