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The Poems Of Henry Kendall Part 13

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Keen, fitful gusts, that fly before The wings of storm when day hath shut Its eyes on mountains, flaw by flaw, Fleet down by whistling box-tree butt, Against the hut.

And, ringed and girt with lurid pomp, Far eastern cliffs start up, and take Thick steaming vapours from a swamp That lieth like a great blind lake, Of face opaque.

The moss that, like a tender grief, About an English ruin clings-- What time the wan autumnal leaf Faints, after many wanderings On windy wings--

That gracious growth, whose quiet green Is as a love in days austere, Was never seen--hath never been-- On slab or roof, deserted here For many a year.

Nor comes the bird whose speech is song-- Whose songs are silvery syllables That unto glimmering woods belong, And deep, meandering mountain dells By yellow wells.



But rather here the wild-dog halts, And lifts the paw, and looks, and howls; And here, in ruined forest vaults, Abide dim, dark, death-featured owls, Like monks in cowls.

Across this hut the nettle runs, And livid adders make their lair In corners dank from lack of suns, And out of foetid furrows stare The growths that scare.

Here Summer's grasp of fire is laid On bark and slabs that rot, and breed Squat ugly things of deadly shade, The scorpion, and the spiteful seed Of centipede.

Unhallowed thunders, harsh and dry, And flaming noontides, mute with heat, Beneath the breathless, brazen sky, Upon these rifted rafters beat With torrid feet.

And night by night the fitful gale Doth carry past the bittern's boom, The dingo's yell, the plover's wail, While lumbering shadows start, and loom, And hiss through gloom.

No sign of grace--no hope of green, Cool-blossomed seasons marks the spot; But chained to iron doom, I ween, 'Tis left, like skeleton, to rot Where ruth is not.

For on this hut hath murder writ, With bloody fingers, hellish things; And God will never visit it With flower or leaf of sweet-faced Springs, Or gentle wings.

September in Australia

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, Resplendent September!

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!

Ghost Glen

"Shut your ears, stranger, or turn from Ghost Glen now, For the paths are grown over, untrodden by men now; Shut your ears, stranger," saith the grey mother, crooning Her sorcery runic, when sets the half-moon in.

To-night the north-easter goes travelling slowly, But it never stoops down to that hollow unholy; To-night it rolls loud on the ridges red-litten, But it cannot abide in that forest, sin-smitten.

For over the pitfall the moon-dew is thawing, And, with never a body, two shadows stand sawing-- The wraiths of two sawyers (_step under and under_), Who did a foul murder and were blackened with thunder!

Whenever the storm-wind comes driven and driving, Through the blood-spattered timber you may see the saw striving-- You may see the saw heaving, and falling, and heaving, Whenever the sea-creek is chafing and grieving!

And across a burnt body, as black as an adder, Sits the sprite of a sheep-dog (was ever sight sadder?) For, as the dry thunder splits louder and faster, This sprite of a sheep-dog howls for his master.

"Oh, count your beads deftly," saith the grey mother, crooning Her sorcery runic, when sets the half-moon in.

And well may she mutter, for the dark, hollow laughter You will hear in the sawpits and the bloody logs after.

Ay, count your beads deftly, and keep your ways wary, For the sake of the Saviour and sweet Mother Mary.

Pray for your peace in these perilous places, And pray for the laying of horrible faces.

One starts, with a forehead wrinkled and livid, Aghast at the lightnings sudden and vivid; One telleth, with curses, the gold that they drew there (Ah! cross your breast humbly) from him whom they slew there:

The stranger, who came from the loved, the romantic Island that sleeps on the moaning Atlantic, Leaving behind him a patient home, yearning For the steps in the distance--never returning;

Who was left in the forest, shrunken and starkly, Burnt by his slayers (so men have said, darkly), With the half-crazy sheep-dog, who cowered beside there, And yelled at the silence, and marvelled, and died there.

Yea, cross your breast humbly and hold your breath tightly, Or fly for your life from those shadows unsightly, From the set staring features (cold, and so young, too), And the death on the lips that a mother hath clung to.

I tell you--that bushman is braver than most men Who even in daylight doth go through the Ghost Glen, Although in that hollow, unholy and lonely, He sees the dank sawpits and bloody logs only.

Daphne

Daphne! Ladon's daughter, Daphne! Set thyself in silver light, Take thy thoughts of fairest texture, weave them into words of white-- Weave the rhyme of rose-lipped Daphne, nymph of wooded stream and shade, Flying love of bright Apollo,--fleeting type of faultless maid!

She, when followed from the forelands by the lord of lyre and lute, Sped towards far-singing waters, past deep gardens flushed with fruit; Took the path against Peneus, panted by its yellow banks; Turned, and looked, and flew the faster through grey-tufted thicket ranks; Flashed amongst high flowered sedges: leaped across the brook, and ran Down to where the fourfold shadows of a nether glade began; There she dropped, like falling Hesper, heavy hair of radiant head Hiding all the young abundance of her beauty's white and red.

Came the yellow-tressed Far-darter--came the god whose feet are fire, On his lips the name of Daphne, in his eyes a great desire; Fond, full lips of lord and lover, sad because of suit denied; Clear, grey eyes made keen by passion, panting, pained, unsatisfied.

Here he turned, and there he halted, now he paused, and now he flew, Swifter than his sister's arrows, through soft dells of dreamy dew.

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