The Poems Of Henry Kendall Part 51

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Like a stranger who droops on a brink and deplores, With famishing hands and frost in the feet, For the laughter alive on the opposite sh.o.r.es With the fervour of fire and the wind of the wheat.

In Hyde Park

-- * [This and the next poem were written for "Prince Alfred's Wreath", published in Sydney in 1868. While in Sydney, the Prince was shot at by a fanatic and slightly injured.]

They come from the highways of labour, From labour and leisure they come; But not to the sound of the tabor, And not to the beating of drum.

By thousands the people a.s.semble With faces of shadow and flame, And spirits that sicken and tremble Because of their sorrow and shame!

Their voice is the voice of a nation; But lo, it is m.u.f.fled and mute, For the sword of a strong tribulation Hath stricken their peace to the root.

The beautiful tokens of pity Have utterly fled from their eyes, For the demon who darkened the city Is curst in the breaking of sighs.

Their thoughts are as one; and together They band in their terrible ire, Like legions of wind in fierce weather Whose footsteps are thunder and fire.

But for ever, like springs of sweet water That sings in the gra.s.s-hidden leas As soft as the voice of a daughter, There cometh a whisper from these.

There cometh from shame and dejection, From wrath and the blackness thereof, A word at whose heart is affection With a sighing whose meaning is love.

In the land of distress and of danger, With their foreheads in sackcloth and dust, They weep for the wounds of the Stranger And mourn o'er the ashes of trust!

They weep for the Prince, and the Mother Whose years have been smitten of grief-- For the son and the lord and the brother, And the widow, the queen and the chief!

But he, having moved like a splendour Amongst them in happier days, With the grace that is manly and tender And the kindness that pa.s.ses all praise,

Will think, in the sickness and shadow, Of greetings in forest and grove, And welcome in city and meadow, Nor couple this sin with their love.

For the sake of the touching devotion That sobs through the depths of their woe, This son of the kings of the ocean, As he came to them, trusting will go.

Australia Vindex

Who cometh from fields of the south With raiment of weeping and woe, And a cry of the heart in her mouth, And a step that is m.u.f.fled and slow?

Her paths are the paths of the sun; Her house is a beautiful light; But she boweth her head, and is one With the daughters of dolour and night.

She is fairer than flowers of love; She is fiercer than wind-driven flame; And G.o.d from His thunders above Hath smitten the soul of her shame.

She saith to the b.l.o.o.d.y one curst With the fever of evil, she saith "My sorrow shall strangle thee first With an agony wilder than death!

"My sorrow shall hack at thy life!

Thou shalt wrestle with wraiths of thy sin, And sleep on a pillow of strife With demons without and within!"

She whispers, "He came to the land A lord and a lover of me-- A son of the waves with a hand As fearless and frank as the sea.

"On the sh.o.r.es of the stranger he stood With the sweetness of youth on his face; Till there started a fiend from the wood, Who stabbed at the peace of the place!

"Because of the dastardly thing Thou hast done in the sight of the day, All horrors that sicken and sting Shall make thee for ever their prey.

"Because of the beautiful trust Destroyed by a devil like thee, Thy bed shall be low in the dust And my heel as a shackle shall be!

"Because" (and she mutters it deep Who curseth the coward in chains) "Thou hast stricken and murdered our sleep, Thy sleep shall be perished with pains;

"Thy sleep shall be broken and sharp And filled with fierce spasms and dreams, And shadow shall haunt thee and harp On h.e.l.lish and horrible themes!

"I will set my right hand on thy neck And my foot on thy body, nor bate, Till thy name shall become as a wreck And a byword for hisses and hate!"

Ned the Larrikin

A song that is bitter with grief--a ballad as pale as the light That comes with the fall of the leaf, I sing to the shadows to-night.

The laugh on the lyrical lips is sadder than laughter of ghosts Chained back in the pits of eclipse by wailing unnameable coasts.

I gathered this wreath at the close of day that was dripping with dew; The blossom you take for a rose was plucked from the branch of a yew.

The flower you fancy is sweet has black in the place of the red; For this is a song of the street--the ballad of larrikin Ned.

He stands at the door of the sink that gapes like a fissure of death: The face of him fiery with drink, the flame of its fume in his breath.

He thrives in the sickening scenes that the devil has under his ban; A rascal not out of his teens with the voice of a vicious old man.

A blossom of blackness, indeed--of Satan a sinister fruit!

Far better the centipede's seed--the sp.a.w.n of the adder or newt.

Than terror of talon or fang this imp of the alleys is worse: His speech is a poisonous slang--his phrases are coloured with curse.

The prison, the shackles, and chain are nothing to him and his type: He sings in the shadow of pain, and laughs at the impotent stripe.

There under the walls of the gaols the half of his life has been pa.s.sed.

He was born in the bosom of bale--he will go to the gallows at last.

No angel in Paradise kneels for him at the feet of the Lord; A Nemesis follows his heels in the flame of a sinister sword.

The sins of his fathers have brought this bitterness into his days-- His life is accounted as naught; his soul is a brand for the blaze.

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The Poems Of Henry Kendall Part 51 summary

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