an ebook published by Project Gutenberg Australia
Title: Rose Lorraine and Other Poems
Author: Henry Kendall
eBook No.: .html
Date first posted: 2023
Most recent update: 2023
This eBook was produced by: Walter Moore
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September in Australia
Sweet water-moons, blown into lights
Of flying gold on pool and creek,
And many sounds and many sights,
Of younger days are back this week.
I cannot say I sought to face,
Or greatly cared to cross again,
The subtle spirit of the place
Whose life is mixed with Rose Lorraine.
What though her voice rings clearly through
A nightly dream I gladly keep,
No wish have I to start anew
Heart-fountains that have ceased to leap.
Here, face to face with different days,
And later things that plead for love,
It would be worse than wrong to raise
A phantom far too fain to move.
But, Rose Lorraine — ah, Rose Lorraine,
I’ll whisper now where no one hears.
If you should chance to meet again
The man you kissed in soft dead years,
Just say for once “he suffered much,”
And add to this “his fate was worst
Because of me, my voice, my touch,”—
There is no passion like the first!
If I that breathe your slow sweet name
As one breathes low notes on a flute,
Have vext your peace with word of blame,
The phrase is dead — the lips are mute.
Yet when I turn towards the wall,
In stormy nights, in times of rain,
I often wish you could recall
Your tender speeches, Rose Lorraine.
Because, you see, I thought them true,
And did not count you self-deceived,
And gave myself in all to you,
And looked on Love as Life achieved.
Then came the bitter, sudden change,
The fastened lips, the dumb despair:
The first few weeks were very strange,
And long, and sad, and hard to bear.
No woman lives with power to burst
My passion’s bonds, and set me free;
For Rose is last where Rose was first,
And only Rose is fair to me.
The faintest memory of her face,
The wilful face that hurt me so,
Is followed by a fiery trace
That Rose Lorraine must never know.
I keep a faded ribbon string
You used to wear about your throat;
And of this pale, this perished thing,
I think I know the threads by rote.
God help such love! To touch your hand,
To loiter where your feet might fall,
You marvellous girl, my soul would stand
The worst of hell — its fires and all!
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.
“Daughter,” said the ancient father, pausing by the evening sea,
“Turn thy face towards the sunset — turn thy face and kneel with me!
Prayer and praise and holy fasting, lips of love and life of light,
These and these have made thee perfect — shining saint with seraph’s sight!
Look towards that flaming crescent — look beyond that glowing space —
Tell me, sister of the angels, what is beaming in thy face?”
And the daughter, who had fasted, who had spent her days in prayer,
Till the glory of the Saviour touched her head and rested there,
Turned her eyes towards the sea-line — saw beyond the fiery crest,
Floating over waves of jasper, far Hy-Brasil in the west.
All the calmness and the colour — all the splendour and repose,
Flowing where the sunset flowered, like a silver-hearted rose!
There indeed was singing Eden, where the great gold river runs
Past the porch and gates of crystal, ringed by strong and shining ones!
There indeed was God’s own garden, sailing down the sapphire sea —
Lawny dells and slopes of summer, dazzling stream and radiant tree!
Out against the hushed horizon — out beneath the reverent day,
Flamed the Wonder on the waters — flamed and flashed and passed away.
And the maiden who had seen it felt a hand within her own,
And an angel that we know not led her to the lands unknown.
Never since hath eye beheld it — never since hath mortal, dazed
By its strange, unearthly splendour, on the floating Eden gazed!
Only once since Eve went weeping through a throng of glittering wings,
Hath the holy seen Hy-Brasil where the great gold river sings!
Only once by quiet waters, under still, resplendent skies,
Did the sister of the seraphs kneel in sight of Paradise!
She, the pure, the perfect woman, sanctified by patient prayer,
Had the eyes of saints of Heaven, all their glory in her hair:
Therefore God the Father whispered to a radiant spirit near —
“Show Our daughter fair Hy-Brasil — show her this, and lead her here.”
But beyond the halls of sunset, but within the wondrous west,
On the rose-red seas of evening, sails the Garden of the Blest.
Still the gates of glassy beauty, still the walls of glowing light,
Shine on waves that no man knows of, out of sound and out of sight.
Yet the slopes and lawns of lustre, yet the dells of sparkling streams,
Dip to tranquil shores of jasper, where the watching angel beams.
But, behold, our eyes are human, and our way is paved with pain,
We can never find Hy-Brasil, never see its hills again;
Never look on bays of crystal, never bend the reverent knee
In the sight of Eden floating — floating on the sapphire sea!
Grey Winter hath gone, like a wearisome guest,
And, behold, for repayment,
September comes in with the wind of the West
And the Spring in her raiment!
The ways of the frost have been filled of the flowers
While the forest discovers
Wild wings with the halo of hyaline hours,
And the music of lovers.
September, the maid with the swift, silver feet!
She glides, and she graces
The valleys of coolness, the slopes of the heat,
With her blossomy traces.
Sweet month with a mouth that is made of a rose,
She lightens and lingers
In spots where the harp of the evening glows,
Attuned by her fingers.
The stream from its home in the hollow hill slips
In a darling old fashion;
And the day goeth down with a song on its lips,
Whose key-note is passion.
Far out in the fierce, bitter front of the sea
I stand and remember
Dead things that were brothers and sisters of thee,
The West, when it blows at the fall of the noon,
And beats on the beaches,
Is filled with a tender and tremulous tune
That touches and teaches:
The stories of Youth, of the burden of Time,
And the death of Devotion,
Come back with the wind, and are themes of the rhyme
In the waves of the ocean.
We, having a secret to others unknown,
In the cool mountain-mosses,
May whisper together, September, alone
Of our loves and our losses!
One word for her beauty, and one for the grace
She gave to the hours;
And then we may kiss her, and suffer her face
To sleep with the flowers.
High places that knew of the gold and the white
On the forehead of Morning,
Now darken and quake, and the steps of the Night
Are heavy with warning!
Her voice in the distance is lofty and loud,
Through the echoing gorges;
She hath hidden her eyes in a mantle of cloud,
And her feet in the surges!
On the tops of the hills; on the turreted cones —
Chief temples of thunder —
The gale, like a ghost, in the middle watch moans,
Gliding over and under.
The sea, flying white through the rack and the rain,
Leapeth wild at the forelands;
And the plover, whose cry is like passion with pain,
Complains in the moorlands.
Oh, season of changes — of shadow and shine —
September the splendid!
My song hath no music to mingle with thine,
And its burden is ended:
But thou, being born of the winds and the sun,
By mountain, by river,
Mayst lighten and listen, and loiter and run,
With thy voices for ever.
I purposed once to take my pen and write,
Not songs, like some, tormented and awry
With passion, but a cunning harmony
Of words and music caught from glen and height,
And lucid colours born of woodland light
And shining places where the sea-streams lie.
But this was when the heat of youth glowed white,
And since I’ve put the faded purpose by.
I have no faultless fruits to offer you
Who read this book; but certain syllables
Herein are borrowed from unfooted dells
And secret hollows dear to noontide dew;
And these at least, though far between and few,
May catch the sense like subtle forest spells.
So take these kindly, even though there be
Some notes that unto other lyres belong,
Stray echoes from the elder sons of song;
And think how from its neighbouring native sea
The pensive shell doth borrow melody.
I would not do the lordly masters wrong
By filching fair words from the shining throng
Whose music haunts me as the wind a tree.
Lo, when a stranger in soft Syrian glooms
Shot through with sunset, treads the cedar dells,
And hears the breezy ring of elfin bells
Far down be where the white-haired cataract booms,
He, faint with sweetness caught from forest smells,
Bears thence, unwitting, plunder of perfumes.
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