The Poems Of Henry Kendall Part 52

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Did ever his countenance change? Did ever a moment supreme Illumine his face with a strange ineffably beautiful dream?

Before he was caught in the breach--in the pits of iniquity grim, Did ever the Deity reach the hand of a Father to him?

Behold, it is folly to say the evil was born in the blood; The rose that is cankered to-day was once an immaculate bud!

There might have been blossom and fruit--a harvest exceedingly fair, Instead of the venomous root, and flowers that startle and scare.

The burden--the burden is their's who, watching this garden about, a.s.sisted the thistle and tares, and stamped the divinity out!

A growth like the larrikin Ned--a brutal unqualified clod, Is what ye are helping who'd tread on the necks of the prophets of G.o.d.

No more than a d.a.m.nable weed ye water and foster, ye fools, Whose aim is to banish indeed the beautiful Christ from the schools.

The merciful, wonderful light of the seraph Religion behold These evil ones shut from the sight of the children who weep in the cold!

But verily trouble shall fall on such, and their portion shall be A harvest of hyssop and gall, and sorrow as wild as the sea.

For the rose of a radiant star is over the hills of the East, And the fathers are heartened for war-- the prophet, the Saint, and the priest.

For a spirit of Deity makes the holy heirophants strong; And a morning of majesty breaks, and blossoms in colour and song.

Yea, now, by the altars august the elders are shining supreme; And brittle and barren as dust is the spiritless secular dream.

It's life as a vapour shall end as a fog in the fall of the year; For the Lord is a Father and Friend, and the day of His coming is near.

_In Memoriam_--Nicol Drysdale Stenhouse

Shall he, on whom the fair lord, Delphicus, Turned gracious eyes and countenance of shine, Be left to lie without a wreath from us, To sleep without a flower upon his shrine?

Shall he, the son of that resplendent Muse, Who gleams, high priestess of sweet scholarship, Still slumber on, and every bard refuse To touch a harp or move a tuneful lip?

No! let us speak, though feeble be our speech, And let us sing, though faltering be our strain, And haply echoes of the song may reach And please the soul we cannot see again.

We sing the beautiful, the radiant life That shone amongst us like the quiet moon, A fine exception in this sphere of strife, Whose time went by us like a hallowed tune.

Yon tomb, whereon the moonlit gra.s.ses sigh, Hides from our view the sh.e.l.l of one whose days Were set throughout to that grand harmony Which fills all minor spirits with amaze.

This was the man whose dear, lost face appears To rise betimes like some sweet evening dream, And holy memories of faultless years, And touching hours of quietness supreme.

He, having learned in full the golden rule, Which guides great lives, stood fairly by the same, Unruffled as the Oriental pool, Before the bright, disturbing angel came.

In Learning's halls he walked--a leading lord, He trod the sacred temple's inner floors; But kindness beamed in every look and word He gave the humblest Levite at the doors.

When scholars poor and bowed beneath the ban, Which clings as fire, were like to faint and fall, This was the gentle, good Samaritan, Who stopped and held a helping hand to all.

No term that savoured of unfriendliness, No censure through those pure lips ever pa.s.sed; He saw the erring spirit's keen distress, And hoped for it, long-suffering to the last.

Moreover, in these days when Faith grows faint, And Heaven seems blurred by speculation wild, He, blameless as a mediaeval saint, Had all the trust which sanctifies a child.

But now he sleeps, and as the years go by, We'll often pause above his sacred dust, And think how grand a thing it is to die The n.o.ble death which deifies the just.


Said one who led the spears of swarthy Gad, To Jesse's mighty son: "My Lord, O King, I, halting hard by Gibeon's bleak-blown hill Three nightfalls past, saw dark-eyed Rizpah, clad In dripping sackcloth, pace with naked feet The flinty rock where lie unburied yet The sons of her and Saul; and he whose post Of watch is in those places desolate, Got up, and spake unto thy servant here Concerning her--yea, even unto me:-- 'Behold,' he said, 'the woman seeks not rest, Nor fire, nor food, nor roof, nor any haunt Where sojourns man; but rather on yon rock Abideth, like a wild thing, with the slain, And watcheth them, lest evil wing or paw Should light upon the comely faces dead, To spoil them of their beauty. Three long moons Hath Rizpah, daughter of Aiah, dwelt With drouth and cold and rain and wind by turns, And many birds there are that know her face, And many beasts that flee not at her step, And many cunning eyes do look at her From serpent-holes and burrows of the rat.

Moreover,' spake the scout, 'her skin is brown And sere by reason of exceeding heat; And all her darkness of abundant hair Is shot with gray, because of many nights When grief hath crouched in fellowship with frost Upon that desert rock. Yea, thus and thus Fares Rizpah,' said the spy, O King, to me."

But David, son of Jesse, spake no word, But turned himself, and wept against the wall.

We have our Rizpahs in these modern days Who've lost their households through no sin of theirs, On b.l.o.o.d.y fields and in the pits of war; And though their dead were sheltered in the sod By friendly hands, these have not suffered less Than she of Judah did, nor is their love Surpa.s.sed by hers. The Bard who, in great days Afar off yet, shall set to epic song The grand pathetic story of the strife That shook America for five long years, And struck its homes with desolation--he Shall in his lofty verse relate to men How, through the heat and havoc of that time, Columbia's Rachael in her Rama wept Her children, and would not be comforted; And sing of Woman waiting day by day With that high patience that no man attains, For tidings, from the bitter field, of spouse, Or son, or brother, or some other love Set face to face with Death. Moreover, he Shall say how, through her sleepless hours at night, When rain or leaves were dropping, every noise Seemed like an omen; every coming step Fell on her ears like a presentiment And every hand that rested on the door She fancied was a herald bearing grief; While every letter brought a faintness on That made her gasp before she opened it, To read the story written for her eyes, And cry, or brighten, over its contents.

Kiama Revisited

We stood by the window and hearkened To the voice of the runnels sea-driven, While, northward, the mountain-heads darkened, Girt round with the clamours of heaven.

One peak with the storm at his portal Loomed out to the left of his brothers: Sustained, and sublime, and immortal, A king, and the lord of the others!

Beneath him a cry from the surges Rang shrill, like a clarion calling; And about him, the wind of the gorges Went falling, and rising, and falling.

But _I_, as the roofs of the thunder Were cloven with manifold fires, Turned back from the wail and the wonder, And dreamed of old days and desires.

A song that was made, I remembered-- A song that was made in the gloaming Of suns which are sunken and numbered With times that my heart hath no home in.

But I said to my Dream, "I am calmer Than waters asleep on the river.

I can look at the hills of Kiama And bury that dead Past for ever."

"Past sight, out of mind, alienated,"

Said the Dream to me, wearily sighing, "Ah, where is the Winter you mated To Love, its decline and its dying?

Here, five years ago, there were places That knew of her cunning to grieve you, But alas! for her eyes and her graces; And wherefore and how did she leave you!

Have you hidden the ways of this Woman, Her whispers, her glances, her power To hold you, as demon holds human, Chained back to the day and the hour?

Say, where have you buried her sweetness, Her coldness for youth and its yearning?

Is the sleep of your Sorrow a witness She is pa.s.sed all the roads of returning?

Was she left with her beauty, O lover, And the shreds of your pa.s.sion about her, Beyond reach and where none can discover?

_Ah! what is the wide world without her?_"

I answered, "Behold, I was broken, Because of this bright, bitter maiden, Who helped me with never a token To beat down the dark I had strayed in.

She knew that my soul was entangled By what was too fiery to bear then; Nor cared how she withered and strangled My life with her eyes and her hair then.

But I have not leapt to the level Where light and the shadows dissever?

She is fair, but a beautiful devil That I have forgotten for ever!"

"She is sweeter than music or singing,"

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The Poems Of Henry Kendall Part 52 summary

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