Part 5 out of 9
If he could read these verses,
He'd pepper me for hours, I know,
With his peculiar curses.
But this is sure, he'll never change
His manners loud and flashy,
Nor learn with neatness to arrange
His clothing, cheap and trashy.
Like other louts, he'll jog along,
And swig at shanty liquors,
And chew and spit. Here ends the song
Of Mr. Billy Vickers.
I am writing this song at the close
Of a beautiful day of the spring
In a dell where the daffodil grows
By a grove of the glimmering wing;
From glades where a musical word
Comes ever from luminous fall,
I send you the song of a bird
That I wish to be dear to you all.
I have given my darling the name
Of a land at the gates of the day,
Where morning is always the same,
And spring never passes away.
With a prayer for a lifetime of light,
I christened her Persia, you see;
And I hope that some fathers to-night
Will kneel in the spirit with me.
She is only commencing to look
At the beauty in which she is set;
And forest and flower and brook,
To her are all mysteries yet.
I know that to many my words
Will seem insignificant things;
But ~you~ who are mothers of birds
Will feel for the father who sings.
For all of you doubtless have been
Where sorrows are many and wild;
And you ~know~ what a beautiful scene
Of this world can be made by a child:
I am sure, if they listen to this,
Sweet women will quiver, and long
To tenderly stoop to and kiss
The Persia I've put in a song.
And I'm certain the critic will pause,
And excuse, for the sake of my bird,
My sins against critical laws --
The slips in the thought and the word.
And haply some dear little face
Of his own to his mind will occur --
Some Persia who brightens his place --
And I'll be forgiven for her.
A life that is turning to grey
Has hardly been happy, you see;
But the rose that has dropped on my way
Is morning and music to me.
Yea, she that I hold by the hand
Is changing white winter to green,
And making a light of the land --
All fathers will know what I mean:
All women and men who have known
The sickness of sorrow and sin,
Will feel -- having babes of their own --
My verse and the pathos therein.
For that must be touching which shows
How a life has been led from the wild
To a garden of glitter and rose,
By the flower-like hand of a child.
She is strange to this wonderful sphere;
One summer and winter have set
Since God left her radiance here --
Her sweet second year is not yet.
The world is so lovely and new
To eyes full of eloquent light,
And, sisters, I'm hoping that you
Will pray for my Persia to-night.
For I, who have suffered so much,
And know what the bitterness is,
Am sad to think sorrow must touch
Some day even darlings like this!
But sorrow is part of this life,
And, therefore, a father doth long
For the blessing of mother and wife
On the bird he has put in a song.
Strange is the song, and the soul that is singing
Falters because of the vision it sees;
Voice that is not of the living is ringing
Down in the depths where the darkness is clinging,
Even when Noon is the lord of the leas,
Fast, like a curse, to the ghosts of the trees!
Here in a mist that is parted in sunder,
Half with the darkness and half with the day;
Face of a woman, but face of a wonder,
Vivid and wild as a flame of the thunder,
Flashes and fades, and the wail of the grey
Water is loud on the straits of the bay!
Father, whose years have been many and weary --
Elder, whose life is as lovely as light
Shining in ways that are sterile and dreary --
Tell me the name of this beautiful peri,
Flashing on me like the wonderful white
Star, at the meeting of morning and night.
Look to thy Saviour, and down on thy knee, man,
Lean on the Lord, as the Zebedee leaned;
Daughter of hell is the neighbour of thee, man --
Lilith, of Adam the luminous leman!
Turn to the Christ to be succoured and screened,
Saved from the eyes of a marvellous fiend!
Serpent she is in the shape of a woman,
Brighter than woman, ineffably fair!
Shelter thyself from the splendour, and sue, man;
Light that was never a loveliness human
Lives in the face of this sinister snare,
Longing to strangle thy soul with her hair!
Lilith, who came to the father and bound him
Fast with her eyes in the first of the springs;
Lilith she is, but remember she drowned him,
Shedding her flood of gold tresses around him --
Lulled him to sleep with the lyric she sings:
Melody strange with unspeakable things!
Low is her voice, but beware of it ever,
Swift bitter death is the fruit of delay;
Never was song of its beauty -- ah! never --
Heard on the mountain, or meadow, or river,
Not of the night is it, not of the day --
Fly from it, stranger, away and away.
Back on the hills are the blossom and feather,
Glory of noon is on valley and spire;
Here is the grace of magnificent weather,
Where is the woman from gulfs of the nether?
Where is the fiend with the face of desire?
Gone, with a cry, in miraculous fire!
Sound that was not of this world, or the spacious
Splendid blue heaven, has passed from the lea;
Dead is the voice of the devil audacious:
Only a dream is her music fallacious,
Here, in the song and the shadow of tree,
Down by the green and the gold of the sea.
Singer of songs of the hills --
Dreamer, by waters unstirred,
Back in a valley of rills,
Home of the leaf and the bird! --
Read in this fall of the year
Just the compassionate phrase,
Faded with traces of tear,
Written in far-away days:
"~Gone is the light of my lap
(Lord, at Thy bidding I bow),
Here is my little one's cap,
He has no need of it now,
Give it to somebody's boy --
Somebody's darling~" -- she wrote.
Touching was Bob in his joy --
Bob without boots or a coat.
Only a cap; but it gave
Capless and comfortless one
Happiness, bright as the brave,
Beautiful light of the sun.
Soft may the sanctified sod
Rest on the father who led
Bob from the gutter, unshod --
Covered his cold little head!
Bob from the foot to the crown
Measured a yard, and no more --
Baby alone in the town,
Homeless, and hungry, and sore --
Child that was never a child,
Hiding away from the rain,
Draggled and dirty and wild,
Down in a pipe of the drain.
Poor little beggar was Bob --
Couldn't afford to be sick,
Getting a penny a job,
Sometimes a curse and a kick.
Father was killed by the drink;
Mother was driven to shame;
Bob couldn't manage to think --
He had forgotten their name.
God was in heaven above,
Flowers illumined the ground,
Women of infinite love
Lived in the palaces round --
Saints with the character sweet
Found in the fathers of old,
Laboured in alley and street --
Baby slept out in the cold.
Nobody noticed the child --
Nobody knew of the mite
Creeping about like a wild
Thing in the shadow of night.
Beaten by drunkards and cowed --
Frightened to speak or to sob --
How could he ask you aloud,
"~Have you a penny for Bob?~"
Few were the pennies he got --
Seldom could hide them away,
Watched by the ravenous sot
Ever at wait for his prey.
Poor little man! He would weep
Oft for a morsel of bread;
Coppers he wanted to keep
Went to the tavern instead.
This was his history, friend --
Ragged, unhoused, and alone;
How could the child comprehend
Love that he never had known?
Hunted about in the world,
Crouching in crevices dim,
Crust with a curse at him hurled
Stood for a kindness with him.
Little excited his joy --
Bun after doing a job;
Mother of bright-headed boy,
Think of the motherless Bob!
High in the heavens august
Providence saw him, and said --
"~Out of the pits of the dust
Lift him, and cover his head.~"
Ah, the ineffable grace,
Father of children, in Thee!
Boy in a radiant place,
Fanned by the breeze of the sea --
Child on a lullaby lap
Said, in the pause of his pain,
"~Mother, don't bury my cap --
Give it to Bob in the lane.~"
Beautiful bidding of Death!
What could she do but obey,
Even when suffering Faith
Hadn't the power to pray?
So, in the fall of the year,
Saint with the fatherly head
Hunted for somebody's dear --
"~Somebody's darling,~" he said.
Bob, who was nobody's child,
Sitting on nobody's lap,
Draggled and dirty and wild --
Bob got the little one's cap.
Strange were compassionate words!
Waif of the alley and lane
Dreamed of the music of birds
Floating about in the rain.
White-headed father in God,
Over thy beautiful grave
Green is the grass of the sod,
Soft is the sound of the wave.
Down by the slopes of the sea
Often and often will sob
Boy who was fostered by thee --
This is the story of Bob.
Peter the Piccaninny
He has a name which can't be brought
Within the sphere of metre;
But, as he's Peter by report,
I'll trot him out as Peter.
I call him mine; but don't suppose
That I'm his dad, O reader!
My wife has got a Norman nose --
She reads the tales of Ouida.
I never loved a nigger belle --
My tastes are too aesthetic!
The perfume from a gin is -- well,
A rather strong emetic.
But, seeing that my theme is Pete,
This verse will be the neater
If I keep on the proper beat,
And stick throughout to Peter.
We picked him up the Lord knows where!
At noon we came across him
Asleep beside a hunk of bear --
His paunch was bulged with 'possum.
(Last stanza will not bear, I own,
A pressure analytic;
But bard whose weight is fourteen stone,
Is apt to thump the critic.)
We asked the kid to give his name:
He didn't seem too willing --
The darkey played the darkey's game --
We tipped him with a shilling!
We tipped him with a shining bob --
No Tommy Dodd, believe us.
We didn't "tumble" to his job --
Ah, why did Pete deceive us!
I, being, as I've said, a bard,
Resolved at once to foster
This mite whose length was just a yard --
This portable impostor!
"This babe" -- I spoke in Wordsworth's tone --
(See Wordsworth's "Lucy", neighbour)
"I'll make a darling of my own;
And he'll repay my labour.
"He'll grow as gentle as a fawn --
As quiet as the blossoms
That beautify a land of lawn --
He'll eat no more opossums.
"The child I to myself will take
In a paternal manner;
And ah! he will not swallow snake
In future, or `goanna'.
"Will you reside with me, my dear?"
I asked in accents mellow --
The nigger grinned from ear to ear,
And said, "All right, old fellow!"
And so my Pete was taken home --
My pretty piccaninny!
And, not to speak of soap or comb,
His cleansing cost a guinea.
"But hang expenses!" I exclaimed,
"I'll give him education:
A `nig' is better when he's tamed,
Perhaps, than a Caucasian.
"Ethnologists are in the wrong
About our sable brothers;
And I intend to stop the song
Of Pickering and others."
Alas, I didn't do it though!
Old Pickering's conclusions
Were to the point, as issues show,
And mine were mere delusions.
My inky pet was clothed and fed
For months exceeding forty;
But to the end, it must be said,
His ways were very naughty.
When told about the Land of Morn
Above this world of Mammon,
He'd shout, with an emphatic scorn,
"Ah, gammon, gammon, gammon!"
He never lingered, like the bard,
To sniff at rose expanding.
"Me like," he said, "em cattle-yard --
Fine smell -- de smell of branding!"
The soul of man, I tried to show,
Went up beyond our vision.
"You ebber see dat fellow go?"
He asked in sheer derision.
In short, it soon occurred to me
This kid of six or seven,
Who wouldn't learn his A B C,
Was hardly ripe for heaven.
He never lost his appetite --
He bigger grew, and bigger;
And proved, with every inch of height,
A nigger is a nigger.
And, looking from this moment back,
I have a strong persuasion
That, after all, a finished black
Is not the "clean" -- Caucasian.
Dear Peter from my threshold went,
One morning in the body:
He "dropped" me, to oblige a gent --
A gent with spear and waddy!
He shelved me for a boomerang --
We never had a quarrel;
And, if a moral here doth hang,
Why let it hang -- the moral!
My mournful tale its course has run --
My Pete, when last I spied him,
Was eating 'possum underdone:
He had his gin beside him.
(Written in the shadow of 1872.)
From the rainy hill-heads, where, in starts and in spasms,
Leaps wild the white torrent from chasms to chasms --
From the home of bold echoes, whose voices of wonder
Fly out of blind caverns struck black by high thunder --
Through gorges august, in whose nether recesses
Is heard the far psalm of unseen wildernesses --
Like a dominant spirit, a strong-handed sharer
Of spoil with the tempest, comes down the Narrara.
Yea, where the great sword of the hurricane cleaveth
The forested fells that the dark never leaveth --
By fierce-featured crags, in whose evil abysses
The clammy snake coils, and the flat adder hisses --
Past lordly rock temples, where Silence is riven
By the anthems supreme of the four winds of heaven --
It speeds, with the cry of the streams of the fountains
It chained to its sides, and dragged down from the mountains!
But when it goes forth from the slopes with a sally --
Being strengthened with tribute from many a valley --
It broadens and brightens, and thereupon marches
Above the stream sapphires and under green arches,
With the rhythm of majesty -- careless of cumber --
Its might in repose and its fierceness in slumber --
Till it beams on the plains, where the wind is a bearer
Of words from the sea to the stately Narrara!
Narrara! grand son of the haughty hill torrent,
Too late in my day have I looked at thy current --
Too late in my life to discern and inherit
The soul of thy beauty, the joy of thy spirit!
With the years of the youth and the hairs of the hoary,
I sit like a shadow outside of thy glory;
Nor look with the morning-like feelings, O river,
That illumined the boy in the days gone for ever!
Ah! sad are the sounds of old ballads which borrow
One-half of their grief from the listener's sorrow;
And sad are the eyes of the pilgrim who traces
The ruins of Time in revisited places;
But sadder than all is the sense of his losses
That cometh to one when a sudden age crosses
And cripples his manhood. So, stricken by fate, I
Felt older at thirty than some do at eighty.
Because I believe in the beautiful story,
The poem of Greece in the days of her glory --
That the high-seated Lord of the woods and the waters
Has peopled His world with His deified daughters --
That flowerful forests and waterways streaming
Are gracious with goddesses glowing and gleaming --
I pray that thy singing divinity, fairer
Than wonderful women, may listen, Narrara!
O spirit of sea-going currents! -- thou, being
The child of immortals, all-knowing, all-seeing --
Thou hast at thy heart the dark truth that I borrow
For the song that I sing thee, no fanciful sorrow;
In the sight of thine eyes is the history written
Of Love smitten down as the strong leaf is smitten;
And before thee there goeth a phantom beseeching
For faculties forfeited -- hopes beyond reaching.
. . . . .
Thou knowest, O sister of deities blazing
With splendour ineffable, beauty amazing,
What life the gods gave me -- what largess I tasted --
The youth thrown away, and the faculties wasted.
I might, as thou seest, have stood in high places,
Instead of in pits where the brand of disgrace is,
A byword for scoffers -- a butt and a caution,
With the grave of poor Burns and Maginn for my portion.
But the heart of the Father Supreme is offended,
And my life in the light of His favour is ended;
And, whipped by inflexible devils, I shiver,
With a hollow "~Too late~" in my hearing for ever;
But thou -- being sinless, exalted, supernal,
The daughter of diademed gods, the eternal --
Shalt shine in thy waters when time and existence
Have dwindled, like stars, in unspeakable distance.
But the face of thy river -- the torrented power
That smites at the rock while it fosters the flower --
Shall gleam in my dreams with the summer-look splendid,
And the beauty of woodlands and waterfalls blended;
And often I'll think of far-forested noises,
And the emphasis deep of grand sea-going voices,
And turn to Narrara the eyes of a lover,
When the sorrowful days of my singing are over.
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 passed
The human space -- 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 passes 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 --
God is in the gracious heavens, and His sun and rain are kind:
They will dress the spot with beauty, they will make the grasses 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 shore --
We will never watch this blossom, never see it any more.
Girl, whose hand at God'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 noble, 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 god's lays
Which made all music the Hellenic 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, goddess, 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 shores, 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 grasses found forgotten graves.*4*
Far in the west, beyond those hills sublime,
Dirk Hartog anchored 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 space
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 noble 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 compassion in his eyes;
Who died, like Him of hoary 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 shell 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.
The northern coast was supposed to be in latitude 10 Degrees S.
*3* Mr. R. H. Major discovered a map of Terra Australis
dated A.D. 1555 and bearing the name of Le Testu, a French pilot.
Le Testu must have visited these coasts some years before
the date of the chart.
*4* The sailors of the ~Duyfken~, a Dutch vessel which entered
the Gulf of Carpentaria in A.D. 1606, were attacked by the natives.
In the fray some of the whites were killed. No doubt these
unlucky adventurers were the first Europeans buried in Australia.
*5* Dirk Hartog left a tin plate, bearing his name, in Shark Bay,
*6* The story of Tasman's love for Maria, the daughter of Governor Van Diemen,
was generally accepted at the time Kendall wrote; but it has since
been disproved. Maria was the wife of Antony Van Diemen,
Governor of Batavia, who had no children. -- Ed.
*8* Botany Bay.
On that bold hill, against a broad blue stream,
Stood Arthur Phillip in a day of dream:
What time the mists of morning westward rolled,
And heaven flowered on a bay of gold!
Here, in the hour that shines and sounds afar,
Flamed first old England's banner like a star;
Here, in a time august with prayer and praise,
Was born the nation of these splendid days;
And here this land's majestic yesterday
Of immemorial silence died away.
Where are the woods that, ninety summers back,
Stood hoar with ages by the water-track?
Where are the valleys of the flashing wing,
The dim green margins and the glimmering spring?
Where now the warrior of the forest race,
His glaring war-paint and his fearless face?
The banks of April and the groves of bird,
The glades of silence and the pools unstirred,
The gleaming savage and the whistling spear,
Passed with the passing of a wild old year!
A single torrent singing by the wave,
A shadowy relic in a mountain cave,
A ghost of fire in immemorial hills,
The whittled tree by folded wayside rills,
The call of bird that hides in hollows far,
Where feet of thunder, wings of winter are --
Of all that Past, these wrecks of wind and rain,
These touching memories -- these alone remain!
What sun is this that beams and broadens west?
What wonder this, in deathless glory dressed?
What strange, sweet harp of highest god took flame
And gave this Troy its life, its light, its name?
What awful lyre of marvellous power and range
Upraised this Ilion -- wrought this dazzling change?
No shining singer of Hellenic dreams
Set yonder splendour by the morning streams!
No god who glimmers in a doubtful sphere
Shed glory there -- created beauty here!
This is the city that our fathers framed --
These are the crescents by the elders named!
The human hands of strong, heroic men
Broke down the mountain, filled the gaping glen,
Ran streets through swamp, built banks against the foam,
And bent the arch and raised the lordly dome!
Here are the towers that the founders made!
Here are the temples where these Romans prayed!
Here stand the courts in which their leaders met!
Here are their homes, and here their altars yet!
Here sleep the grand old men whose lives sublime
Of thought and action shine and sound through time!
Who worked in darkness -- onward fought their ways
To bring about these large majestic days --
Who left their sons the hearts and high desires
Which built this city of the hundred spires!
A stately Morning rises on the wing,
The hills take colour, and the valleys sing.
A strong September flames beyond the lea --
A silver vision on a silver sea.
A new Age, "cast in a diviner mould",
Comes crowned with lustre, zoned and shod with gold!
What dream is this on lawny spaces set?
What miracle of dome and minaret?
What great mute majesty is this that takes
The first of morning ere the song-bird wakes?
Lo, this was built to honour gathering lands
By Celtic, Saxon, Australasian hands!
These are the halls where all the flags unfurled
Break into speech that welcomes all the world.
And lo, our friends are here from every zone --
From isles we dream of and from tracts unknown!
Here are the fathers from the stately space
Where Ireland is and England's sacred face!
Here are the Norsemen from their strong sea-wall,
The grave, grand Teuton and the brilliant Gaul!
From green, sweet groves the dark-eyed Lusians sail,
And proud Iberia leaves the grape-flushed vale.
Here are the lords whose starry banner shines
From fierce Magellan to the Arctic pines.
Here come the strangers from the gates of day --
From hills of sunrise and from white Cathay.
The spicy islands send their swarthy sons,
The lofty North its mailed and mighty ones.
Venetian keels are floating on our sea;
Our eyes are glad with radiant Italy!
Yea, North and South, and glowing West and East,
Are gathering here to grace our splendid feast!
The chiefs from peaks august with Asian snow,
The elders born where regal roses grow,
Come hither, with the flower of that fair land
That blooms beyond the fiery tracts of sand
Where Syrian suns their angry lustres fling
Across blind channels of the bygone spring.
And on this great, auspicious day, the flowers
Of labour glorify majestic hours.
The singing angel from the starry sphere
Of dazzling Science shows his wonders here;
And Art, the dream-clad spirit, starts, and brings
From Fairyland her strange, sweet, glittering things.
Here are the works man did, what time his face
Was touched by God in some exalted place;
Here glows the splendour -- here the marvel wrought
When Heaven flashed upon the maker's thought!
Yea, here are all the miracles sublime --
The lights of Genius and the stars of Time!
And, being lifted by this noble noon,
Australia broadens like a tropic moon.
Her white, pure lustre beams across the zones;
The nations greet her from their awful thrones.
From hence the morning beauty of her name
Will shine afar, like an exceeding flame.
Her place will be with mighty lords, whose sway
Controls the thunder and the marching day.
Her crown will shine beside the crowns of kings
Who shape the seasons, rule the course of things,
The fame of her across the years to be
Will spread like light on a surpassing sea;
And graced with glory, girt with power august,
Her life will last till all things turn to dust.
To Thee the face of song is lifted now,
O Lord! to whom the awful mountains bow;
Whose hands, unseen, the tenfold storms control;
Whose thunders shake the spheres from pole to pole;
Who from Thy highest heaven lookest down,
The sea Thy footstool, and the sun Thy crown;
Around whose throne the deathless planets sing
Hosannas to their high, eternal King.
To Thee the soul of prayer this morning turns,
With faith that glitters, and with hope that burns!
And, in the moments of majestic calm
That fill the heart in pauses of the psalm,
She asks Thy blessing for this fair young land
That flowers within the hollow of Thine hand!
She seeks of Thee that boon, that gift sublime,
The Christian radiance, for this hope of Time!
And Thou wilt listen! and Thy face will bend
To smile upon us -- Master, Father, Friend!
The Christ to whom pure pleading heart hath crept
Was human once, and in the darkness wept;
The gracious love that helped us long ago
Will on us like a summer sunrise flow,
And be a light to guide the nation's feet
On holy paths -- on sacred ways and sweet.
Phantom streams were in the distance -- mocking lights of lake and pool --
Ghosts of trees of soft green lustre -- groves of shadows deep and cool!
Yea, some devil ran before them changing skies of brass to blue,
Setting bloom where curse is planted, where a grass-blade never grew.
Six there were, and high above them glared a wild and wizened sun,
Ninety leagues from where the waters of the singing valleys run.
There before them, there behind them, was the great, stark, stubborn plain,
Where the dry winds hiss for ever, and the blind earth moans for rain!
Ringed about by tracks of furnace, ninety leagues from stream and tree,
Six there were, with wasted faces, working northwards to the sea!
. . . . .
Ah, the bitter, hopeless desert! Here these broken human wrecks
Trod the wilds where sand of fire is with the spiteful spinifex,
Toiled through spheres that no bird knows of, where with fiery emphasis
Hell hath stamped its awful mint-mark deep on every thing that is!
Toiled and thirsted, strove and suffered! ~This~ was where December's breath
As a wind of smiting flame is on weird, haggard wastes of death!
~This~ was where a withered moan is, and the gleam of weak, wan star,
And a thunder full of menace sends its mighty voices far!
~This~ was where black execrations, from some dark tribunal hurled,
Set the brand of curse on all things in the morning of the world!
. . . . .
One man yielded -- then another -- then a lad of nineteen years
Reeled and fell, with English rivers singing softly in his ears,
English grasses started round him -- then the grace of Sussex lea
Came and touched him with the beauty of a green land by the sea!
Old-world faces thronged about him -- old-world voices spoke to him;
But his speech was like a whisper, and his eyes were very dim.
In a dream of golden evening, beaming on a quiet strand,
Lay the stranger till a bright One came and took him by the hand.
England vanished; died the voices; but he heard a holier tone,
And an angel that we know not led him to the lands unknown!
. . . . .
Six there were, but three were taken! Three were left to struggle still;
But against the red horizon flamed a horn of brindled hill!
But beyond the northern skyline, past a wall of steep austere,
Lay the land of light and coolness in an April-coloured year!
"Courage, brothers!" cried the leader. "On the slope of yonder peak
There are tracts of herb and shadow, and the channels of the creek!"
So they made one last great effort --
haled their beasts through brake and briar,
Set their feet on spurs of furnace, grappled spikes and crags of fire,
Fought the stubborn mountain forces, smote down naked, natural powers,
Till they gazed from thrones of Morning on a sphere of streams and flowers.
Out behind them was the desert, glaring like a sea of brass!
Here before them were the valleys, fair with moonlight-coloured grass!
At their backs were haggard waste-lands, bickering in a wicked blaze!
In their faces beamed the waters, marching down melodious ways!
Touching was the cool, soft lustre over laps of lawn and lea;
And majestic was the great road Morning made across the sea.
On the sacred day of Christmas, after seven months of grief,
Rested three of six who started, on a bank of moss and leaf --
Rested by a running river, in a hushed, a holy week;
And they named the stream that saved them --
named it fitly -- "Christmas Creek".
* Orara: A tributary of the river Clarence.
The strong sob of the chafing stream
That seaward fights its way
Down crags of glitter, dells of gleam,
Is in the hills to-day.
But far and faint, a grey-winged form
Hangs where the wild lights wane --
The phantom of a bygone storm,
A ghost of wind and rain.
The soft white feet of afternoon
Are on the shining meads,
The breeze is as a pleasant tune
Amongst the happy reeds.
The fierce, disastrous, flying fire,
That made the great caves ring,
And scarred the slope, and broke the spire,
Is a forgotten thing.
The air is full of mellow sounds,
The wet hill-heads are bright,
And down the fall of fragrant grounds,
The deep ways flame with light.
A rose-red space of stream I see,
Past banks of tender fern;
A radiant brook, unknown to me
Beyond its upper turn.
The singing, silver life I hear,
Whose home is in the green,
Far-folded woods of fountains clear,
Where I have never been.
Ah, brook above the upper bend,
I often long to stand
Where you in soft, cool shades descend
From the untrodden land!
Ah, folded woods, that hide the grace
Of moss and torrents strong,
I often wish to know the face
Of that which sings your song!
But I may linger, long, and look
Till night is over all:
My eyes will never see the brook,
Or sweet, strange waterfall.
The world is round me with its heat,
And toil, and cares that tire;
I cannot with my feeble feet
Climb after my desire.
But, on the lap of lands unseen,
Within a secret zone,
There shine diviner gold and green
Than man has ever known.
And where the silver waters sing
Down hushed and holy dells,
The flower of a celestial Spring --
A tenfold splendour, dwells.
Yea, in my dream of fall and brook
By far sweet forests furled,
I see that light for which I look
In vain through all the world --
The glory of a larger sky
On slopes of hills sublime,
That speak with God and morning, high
Above the ways of Time!
Ah! haply in this sphere of change
Where shadows spoil the beam,
It would not do to climb that range
And test my radiant Dream.
The slightest glimpse of yonder place,
Untrodden and alone,
Might wholly kill that nameless grace,
The charm of the unknown.
And therefore, though I look and long,
Perhaps the lot is bright
Which keeps the river of the song
A beauty out of sight.
The Curse of Mother Flood
Wizened the wood is, and wan is the way through it;
White as a corpse is the face of the fen;
Only blue adders abide in and stray through it --
Adders and venom and horrors to men.
Here is the "ghost of a garden" whose minister
Fosters strange blossoms that startle and scare.
Red as man's blood is the sun that, with sinister
Flame, is a menace of hell in the air.
Wrinkled and haggard the hills are -- the jags of them
Gape like to living and ominous things:
Storm and dry thunder cry out in the crags of them --
Fire, and the wind with a woe in its wings.
Never a moon without clammy-cold shroud on it
Hitherward comes, or a flower-like star!
Only the hiss of the tempest is loud on it --
Hiss, and the moan of a bitter sea bar.
Here on this waste, and to left and to right of it,
Never is lisp or the ripple of rain:
Fierce is the daytime and wild is the night of it,
Flame without limit and frost without wane!
Trees half alive, with the sense of a curse on them,
Shudder and shrink from the black heavy gale;
Ghastly, with boughs like the plumes of a hearse on them:
Barren of blossom and blasted with bale.
Under the cliff that stares down to the south of it --
Back by the horns of a hazardous hill,
Dumb is the gorge with a grave in the mouth of it
Still, as a corpse in a coffin is still.
Never there hovers a hope of the Spring by it --
Never a glimmer of yellow and green:
Only the bat with a whisper of wing by it
Flits like a life out of flesh and unseen.
Here are the growths that are livid and glutinous,
Speckled, and bloated with poisonous blood:
This is the haunt of the viper-breed mutinous:
Cursed with the curse of weird Catherine Flood.
He that hath looked on it -- hurried aghast from it,
Hair of him frozen with horror straightway,
Chased by a sudden strange pestilent blast from it --
Where is the speech of him -- what can he say?
Hath he not seen the fierce ghost of a hag in it?
Heard maledictions that startle the stars?
Dumb is his mouth as a mouth with a gag in it --
Mute is his life as a life within bars.
Just the one glimpse of that grey, shrieking woman there
Ringed by a circle of furnace and fiend!
He that went happy and healthy and human there --
Where shall the white leper fly to be cleaned?
Here, in a pit with indefinite doom on it,
Here, in the fumes of a feculent moat,
Under an alp with inscrutable gloom on it,
Squats the wild witch with a ghoul at her throat!
Black execration that cannot be spoken of --
Speech of red hell that would suffocate Song,
Starts from this terror with never a token of
Day and its loveliness all the year long.
Sin without name to it -- man never heard of it --
Crime that would startle a fiend from his lair,
Blasted this Glen, and the leaf and the bird of it --
~Where is there hope for it, Father, O where?~
Far in the days of our fathers, the life in it
Blossomed and beamed in the sight of the sun:
Yellow and green and the purple were rife in it,
Singers of morning and waters that run.
Storm of the equinox shed no distress on it,
Thunder spoke softly, and summer-time left
Sunset's forsaken bright beautiful dress on it --
Blessing that shone half the night in the cleft.
Hymns of the highlands -- hosannas from hills by it,
Psalms of great forests made holy the spot:
Cool were the mosses and clear were the rills by it --
Far in the days when the Horror was not.
Twenty miles south is the strong, shining Hawkesbury --
Spacious and splendid, and lordly with blooms.
There, between mountains magnificent, walks bury
Miles of their beauty in green myrtle glooms.
There, in the dell, is the fountain with falls by it --
Falls, and a torrent of summering stream:
There is the cave with the hyaline halls by it --
Haunt of the echo and home of the dream.
Over the hill, by the marvellous base of it,
Wanders the wind with a song in its breath
Out to the sea with the gold on the face of it --
Twenty miles south of the Valley of Death.
On a Spanish Cathedral
* Every happy expression in these stanzas may fairly be claimed
by the Hon. W. B. Dalley (~Author's note~).
Deep under the spires of a hill, by the feet of the thunder-cloud trod,
I pause in a luminous, still, magnificent temple of God!
At the steps of the altar august -- a vision of angels in stone --
I kneel, with my head to the dust, on the floors by the seraphim known.
No father in Jesus is near, with the high, the compassionate face;
But the glory of Godhead is here -- its presence transfigures the place!
Behold in this beautiful fane, with the lights of blue heaven impearled,
I think of the Elders of Spain, in the deserts -- the wilds of the world!
I think of the wanderers poor who knelt on the flints and the sands,
When the mighty and merciless Moor was lord of the Lady of Lands.
Where the African scimitar flamed, with a swift, bitter death in its kiss,
The fathers, unknown and unnamed, found God in cathedrals like this!
The glow of His Spirit -- the beam of His blessing -- made lords of the men
Whose food was the herb of the stream, whose roof was the dome of the den.
And, far in the hills by the sea, these awful hierophants prayed
For Rome and its temples to be -- in a temple by Deity made.
Who knows of their faith -- of its power?
Perhaps, with the light in their eyes,
They saw, in some wonderful hour, the marvel of centuries rise!
Perhaps in some moment supreme, when the mountains were holy and still,
They dreamed the magnificent dream that came to the monks of Seville!
Surrounded by pillars and spires whose summits shone out in the glare
Of the high, the omnipotent fires, who knows what was seen by them there?
Be sure, if they saw, in the noon of their faith, some ineffable fane,
They looked on the church like a moon dropped down by the Lord into Spain.
And the Elders who shone in the time when Christ over Christendom beamed
May have dreamed at their altars sublime
the dream that their fathers had dreamed,
By the glory of Italy moved -- the majesty shining in Rome --
They turned to the land that they loved,
and prayed for a church in their home;
And a soul of unspeakable fire descended on them, and they fought
And laboured a life for the spire and tower and dome of their thought!
These grew under blessing and praise, as morning in summertime grows --
As Troy in the dawn of the days to the music of Delphicus rose.
In a land of bewildering light, where the feet of the season are Spring's,
They worked in the day and the night, surrounded by beautiful things.
The wonderful blossoms in stone -- the flower and leaf of the Moor,
On column and cupola shone, and gleamed on the glimmering floor.
In a splendour of colour and form, from the marvellous African's hands
Yet vivid and shining and warm, they planted the Flower of the Lands.
Inspired by the patience supreme of the mute, the magnificent past,
They toiled till the dome of their dream in the firmament blossomed at last!
Just think of these men -- of their time --
of the days of their deed, and the scene!
How touching their zeal -- how sublime
their suppression of self must have been!
In a city yet hacked by the sword and scarred by the flame of the Moor,
They started the work of their Lord, sad, silent, and solemnly poor.
These fathers, how little they thought of themselves, and how much of the days
When the children of men would be brought to pray in their temple, and praise!
Ah! full of the radiant, still, heroic old life that has flown,
The merciful monks of Seville toiled on, and died bare and unknown.
The music, the colour, the gleam of their mighty cathedral will be
Hereafter a luminous dream of the heaven I never may see;
To a spirit that suffers and seeks for the calm of a competent creed,
This temple, whose majesty speaks, becomes a religion indeed;
The passionate lights -- the intense, the ineffable beauty of sound --
Go straight to the heart through the sense,
as a song would of seraphim crowned.
And lo! by these altars august, the life that is highest we live,
And are filled with the infinite trust
and the peace that the world cannot give.
They have passed, have the elders of time --
they have gone; but the work of their hands,
Pre-eminent, peerless, sublime, like a type of eternity stands!
They are mute, are the fathers who made this church in the century dim;
But the dome with their beauty arrayed remains, a perpetual hymn.
Their names are unknown; but so long as the humble in spirit and pure
Are worshipped in speech and in song, our love for these monks will endure;
And the lesson by sacrifice taught will live in the light of the years
With a reverence not to be bought, and a tenderness deeper than tears.
No classic warrior tempts my pen
To fill with verse these pages --
No lordly-hearted man of men
My Muse's thought engages.
Let others choose the mighty dead,
And sing their battles over!
My champion, too, has fought and bled --
My theme is one-eyed Rover.
A grave old dog, with tattered ears
Too sore to cock up, reader! --
A four-legged hero, full of years,
But sturdy as a cedar.
Still, age is age; and if my rhyme
Is dashed with words pathetic,
Don't wonder, friend; I've seen the time
When Rove was more athletic.
He lies coiled up before me now,
A comfortable crescent.
His night-black nose and grizzled brow
Fixed in a fashion pleasant.
But ever and anon he lifts
The one good eye I mention,
And tries a thousand doggish shifts
To rivet my attention.
Just let me name his name, and up
You'll see him start and patter
Towards me, like a six-months' pup
In point of speed, but fatter.
He pokes his head upon my lap,
Nor heeds the whip above him;
Because he knows, the dear old chap,
His human friends all love him.
Our younger dogs cut off from hence
At sight of lash uplifted;
But Rove, with grand indifference,
Remains, and can't be shifted.
And, ah! the set upon his phiz
At meals defies expression;
For I confess that Rover is
A cadger by profession.
The lesser favourites of the place
At dinner keep their distance;
But by my chair one grizzled face
Begs on with brave persistence.
His jaws present a toothless sight,
But still my hearty hero
Can satisfy an appetite
Which brings a bone to zero.
And while Spot barks and pussy mews,
To move the cook's compassion,
He takes his after-dinner snooze
In genuine biped fashion.
In fact, in this, our ancient pet
So hits off human nature,
That I at times almost forget
He's but a dog in feature.
Between his tail and bright old eye
The swift communications
Outstrip the messages which fly
From telegraphic stations.
And, ah! that tail's rich eloquence
Conveys too clear a moral,
For men who have a grain of sense
About its drift to quarrel.
At night, his voice is only heard
When it is wanted badly;
For Rover is too cute a bird
To follow shadows madly.
The pup and Carlo in the dark
Will start at crickets chirring;
But when we hear the old dog bark
We know there's ~something~ stirring.
He knows a gun, does Rover here;
And if I cock a trigger,
He makes himself from tail to ear
An admirable figure.
For, once the fowling piece is out,
And game is on the ~tapis~,
The set upon my hero's snout
Would make a cockle happy.
And as for horses, why, betwixt
Our chestnut mare and Rover
The mutual friendship is as fixed
As any love of lover.
And when his master's hand resigns
The bridle for the paddle,
His dogship on the grass reclines,
And stays and minds the saddle.
Of other friends he has no lack;
Grey pussy is his crony,
And kittens mount upon his back,
As youngsters mount a pony.
They talk of man's superior sense,
And charge the few with treason
Who think a dog's intelligence
Is very like our reason.
But though Philosophy has tried
A score of definitions,
'Twixt man and dog it can't decide
The relative positions.
And I believe upon the whole
(Though you my creed deny, sir),
That Rove's entitled to a soul
As much as you or I, sir!
Indeed, I fail to see the force
Of your derisive laughter
Because I will not say my horse
Has not some horse-hereafter.
A fig for dogmas -- let them pass!
There's much in life to grieve us;
And what most grieves is ~this~, alas!
That all our best friends leave us.
And when I sip my nightly grog,
And watch old Rover blinking,
This royal ruin of a dog
Calls forth some serious thinking.
For, though he's lightly touched by Fate,
I cannot help remarking
The step of age is in his gait,
Its hoarseness in his barking.
He still goes on his rounds at night
To keep off forest prowlers;
But, ah! he has no teeth to bite
The cunning-hearted howlers.
Not like the Rover that, erewhile,
Gave droves of dingoes battle,
And dashed through flood and fierce defile --
The friend, but dread, of cattle.
Not like to him that, in past years,
Won fight by fight, and scattered
Whole tribes of dogs with rags of ears
And tail-ends torn and tattered.
But while time tells upon our pet,
And makes him greyer daily,
He is a noble fellow yet,
And wears his old age gaily.
Still, dogs must die; and in the end,
When he is past caressing,
We'll mourn him like some human friend
Whose presence was a blessing.
Till then, be bread and peace his lot --
A life of calm and clover!
The pup may sleep outside with Spot --
We'll keep the nook for Rover.
The Melbourne International Exhibition
[~Written for Music.~]
Brothers from far-away lands,
Sons of the fathers of fame,
Here are our hearts and our hands --
This is our song of acclaim.
Lords from magnificent zones,
Shores of superlative sway,
Awful with lustre of thrones,
This is our greeting to-day.
Europe and Asia are here --
Shining they enter our ports!
She that is half of the sphere
Beams like a sun in our courts.
Children of elders whose day
Shone to the planet's white ends,
Meet, in the noble old way,
Sons of your forefather's friends.
Dressed is the beautiful city -- the spires of it
Burn in the firmament stately and still;
Forest has vanished -- the wood and the lyres of it,
Lutes of the sea-wind and harps of the hill.
This is the region, and here is the bay by it,
Collins, the deathless, beheld in a dream:
Flinders and Fawkner, our forefathers grey, by it
Paused in the hush of a season supreme.
Here, on the waters of majesty near to us,
Lingered the leaders by towers of flame:
Elders who turn from the lordly old year to us
Crowned with the lights of ineffable fame.
Nine and seventy years ago,
Up the blaze of yonder bay,
On a great exalted day,
Came from seas august with snow --
Waters where the whirlwinds blow --
First of England's sons who stood
By the deep green, bygone wood
Where the wild song used to flow
Nine and seventy years ago.
Five and forty years ago,
On a grand auspicious morn
When the South Wind blew his horn,
Where the splendid mountains glow --
Peaks that God and Sunrise know --
Came the fearless, famous band,
Founders of our radiant land,
From the lawns where roses grow,
Five and forty years ago.
By gracious slopes of fair green hills,
In shadows cool and deep,
Where floats the psalm of many rills,
The noble elders sleep.
But while their children's children last,
While seed from seedling springs,
The print and perfume of their past
Will be as deathless things.
Their voices are with vanished years,
With other days and hours;
Their homes are sanctified by tears --
They sleep amongst the flowers.
They do not walk by street or stream,
Or tread by grove or shore,
But, in the nation's highest dream,
They shine for evermore.
By lawny slope and lucent strand
Are singing flags of every land;
On streams of splendour -- bays impearled --
The keels are here of all the world.
With lutes of light and cymbals clear
We waft goodwill to every sphere.
The links of love to-day are thrown
From sea to sea -- from zone to zone;
And, lo! we greet, in glory drest,
The lords that come from east and west,
And march like noble children forth
To meet our fathers from the North!
To Thee be the glory, All-Bountiful Giver!
The song that we sing is an anthem to Thee,
Whose blessing is shed on Thy people for ever,
Whose love is like beautiful light on the sea.
Behold, with high sense of Thy mercy unsleeping,
We come to Thee, kneel to Thee, praise Thee, and pray,
O Lord, in whose hand is the strength that is keeping
The storm from the wave and the night from the day!
By the Cliffs of the Sea
(In Memory of Samuel Bennett.)
In a far-away glen of the hills,
Where the bird of the night is at rest,
Shut in from the thunder that fills
The fog-hidden caves of the west --
In a sound of the leaf, and the lute
Of the wind on the quiet lagoon,
I stand, like a worshipper, mute
In the flow of a marvellous tune!
And the song that is sweet to my sense
Is, "Nearer, my God, unto Thee";
But it carries me sorrowing hence,
To a grave by the cliffs of the sea.
So many have gone that I loved --
So few of the fathers remain,
That where in old seasons I moved
I could never be happy again.
In the breaks of this beautiful psalm,
With its deep, its devotional tone,
And hints of ineffable calm,
I feel like a stranger, alone.
No wonder my eyes are so dim --
~Your~ trouble is heavy on me,
O widow and daughter of him
Who sleeps in the grave by the sea!
The years have been hard that have pressed
On a head full of premature grey,
Since Stenhouse went down to his rest,
And Harpur was taken away.
In the soft yellow evening-ends,
The wind of the water is faint
By the home of the last of my friends --
The shrine of the father and saint.
The tenderness touching -- the grace
Of Ridley no more is for me;
And flowers have hidden the face
Of the brother who sleeps by the sea.
The vehement voice of the South
Is loud where the journalist lies;
But calm hath encompassed his mouth,
And sweet is the peace in his eyes.
Called hence by the Power who knows
When the work of a hero is done,
He turned at the message, and rose
With the harness of diligence on.
In the midst of magnificent toil,
He bowed at the holy decree;
And green is the grass on the soil
Of the grave by the cliffs of the sea.
I knew him, indeed; and I knew,
Having suffered so much in his day,
What a beautiful nature and true
In Bennett was hidden away.
In the folds of a shame without end,
When the lips of the scorner were curled,
I found in this brother a friend --
The last that was left in the world.
Ah! under the surface austere
Compassion was native to thee;
I send from my solitude here
This rose for the grave by the sea.
To the high, the heroic intent
Of a life that was never at rest,
He held, with a courage unspent,
Through the worst of his days and the best.
Far back in the years that are dead
He knew of the bitterness cold
That saddens with silver the head
And makes a man suddenly old.
The dignity gracing his grief
Was ever a lesson to me;
He lies under blossom and leaf
In a grave by the cliffs of the sea.
Above him the wandering face
Of the moon is a loveliness now,
And anthems encompass the place
From lutes of the luminous bough.
The forelands are fiery with foam
Where often and often he roved;
He sleeps in the sight of the home
That he built by the waters he loved.
The wave is his fellow at night,
And the sun, shining over the lea,
Sheds out an unspeakable light
On this grave by the cliffs of the sea.
A silver slope, a fall of firs, a league of gleaming grasses,
And fiery cones, and sultry spurs, and swarthy pits and passes!
. . . . .
The long-haired Cyclops bated breath, and bit his lip and hearkened,
And dug and dragged the stone of death, by ways that dipped and darkened.
Across a tract of furnaced flints there came a wind of water,
From yellow banks with tender hints of Tethys' white-armed daughter.
She sat amongst wild singing weeds, by beds of myrrh and moly;
And Acis made a flute of reeds, and drew its accents slowly;
And taught its spirit subtle sounds that leapt beyond suppression,
And paused and panted on the bounds of fierce and fitful passion.
Then he who shaped the cunning tune, by keen desire made bolder,
Fell fainting, like a fervent noon, upon the sea-nymph's shoulder.
Sicilian suns had laid a dower of light and life about her:
Her beauty was a gracious flower -- the heart fell dead without her.
"Ah, Galate," said Polypheme, "I would that I could find thee
Some finest tone of hill or stream, wherewith to lull and bind thee!
"What lyre is left of marvellous range, whose subtle strings, containing
Some note supreme, might catch and change, or set thy passion waning? --
"Thy passion for the fair-haired youth whose fleet, light feet perplex me
By ledges rude, on paths uncouth, and broken ways that vex me?
"Ah, turn to me! else violent sleep shall track the cunning lover;
And thou wilt wait and thou wilt weep when I his haunts discover."
But golden Galatea laughed, and Thosa's son, like thunder,
Broke through a rifty runnel shaft, and dashed its rocks asunder,
And poised the bulk, and hurled the stone, and crushed the hidden Acis,
And struck with sorrow drear and lone the sweetest of all faces.
To Zeus, the mighty Father, she, with plaint and prayer, departed:
Then from fierce Aetna to the sea a fountained water started --
A lucent stream of lutes and lights -- cool haunt of flower and feather,
Whose silver days and yellow nights made years of hallowed weather.
Here Galatea used to come, and rest beside the river;
Because, in faint, soft, blowing foam, her shepherd lived for ever.
Kate, they say, is seventeen --
Do not count her sweet, you know.
Arms of her are rather lean --
Ditto, calves and feet, you know.
Features of Hellenic type
Are not patent here, you see.
Katie loves a black clay pipe --
Doesn't hate her beer, you see.
Spartan Helen used to wear
Tresses in a plait, perhaps:
Kate has ochre in her hair --
Nose is rather flat, perhaps.
Rose Lorraine's surpassing dress
Glitters at the ball, you see:
Daughter of the wilderness
Has no dress at all, you see.
Laura's lovers every day
In sweet verse embody her:
Katie's have a different way,
Being frank, they "waddy" her.
Amy by her suitor kissed,
Every nightfall looks for him:
Kitty's sweetheart isn't missed --
Kitty "humps" and cooks for him.
Smith, and Brown, and Jenkins, bring
Roses to the fair, you know.
Darkies at their Katie fling
Hunks of native bear, you know.
English girls examine well
All the food they take, you twig:
Kate is hardly keen of smell --
Kate will eat a snake, you twig.
Yonder lady's sitting room --
Clean and cool and dark it is:
Kitty's chamber needs no broom --
Just a sheet of bark it is.
You may find a pipe or two
If you poke and grope about:
Not a bit of starch or blue --
Not a sign of soap about.
Girl I know reads ~Lalla Rookh~ --
Poem of the "heady" sort:
Kate is better as a cook
Of the rough and ready sort.
Byron's verse on Waterloo,
Makes my darling glad, you see:
Kate prefers a kangaroo --
Which is very sad, you see.
Other ladies wear a hat
Fit to write a sonnet on:
Kitty has -- the naughty cat --
Neither hat nor bonnet on!
Fifty silks has Madame Tate --
She who loves to spank it on:
All her clothes are worn by Kate
When she has her blanket on.
Let her rip! the Phrygian boy
Bolted with a brighter one;
And the girl who ruined Troy
Was a rather whiter one.
Katie's mouth is hardly Greek --
Hardly like a rose it is:
Katie's nose is not antique --
Not the classic nose it is.
Dryad in the grand old day,
Though she walked the woods about,
Didn't smoke a penny clay --
Didn't "hump" her goods about.
Daphne by the fairy lake,
Far away from din and all,
Never ate a yard of snake,
Head and tail and skin and all.
A Hyde Park Larrikin
* To the servants of God that are to be found in every denomination,
these verses, of course, do not apply. -- H.K.
You may have heard of Proclus, sir,
If you have been a reader;
And you may know a bit of her
Who helped the Lycian leader.
I have my doubts -- the head you "sport"
(Now mark me, don't get crusty)
Is hardly of the classic sort --
Your lore, I think, is fusty.
Most likely you have stuck to tracts
Flushed through with flaming curses --
I judge you, neighbour, by your acts --
So don't you d----n my verses.
But to my theme. The Asian sage,
Whose name above I mention,
Lived in the pitchy Pagan age,
A life without pretension.
He may have worshipped gods like Zeus,
And termed old Dis a master;
But then he had a strong excuse --
He never heard a pastor.
However, it occurs to me
That, had he cut Demeter
And followed you, or followed me,
He wouldn't have been sweeter.
No doubt with "shepherds" of this time
He's not the "clean potato",
Because -- excuse me for my rhyme --
He pinned his faith to Plato.
But these are facts you can't deny,
My pastor, smudged and sooty,
His mind was like a summer sky --
He lived a life of beauty --
To lift his brothers' thoughts above
This earth he used to labour:
His heart was luminous with love --
He didn't wound his neighbour.
To him all men were just the same --
He never foamed at altars,
Although he lived ere Moody came --
Ere Sankey dealt in psalters.
The Lycian sage, my "reverend" sir,
Had not your chances ample;
But, after all, I must prefer
His perfect, pure example.
You, having read the Holy Writ --
The Book the angels foster --
Say have you helped us on a bit,
You overfed impostor?
What have you done to edify,
You clammy chapel tinker?
What act like his of days gone by --
The grand old Asian thinker?
Is there no deed of yours at all
With beauty shining through it?
Ah, no! your heart reveals its gall
On every side I view it.