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Jephcott, Sydney (1864-1951)
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University of Sydney Library
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		  Sydney Jephcott  
			 Thomas C. Lothian 

  The Dreamers 
  HAVE courage, O, my comradry of dreamers! 
 All things, except mere Earth, are ours. 
 We pluck its passions for our flowers. 
 Dawn-dyed our great cloud-banners toss their streamers 
 Above its quaking tyrant-towers! 
 Making this stern grey planet shine with jewel-showers. 
  Our lives are mantled in forgotten glory, 
 Like trees that fringe yon dark hill-crest 
 Alight against the molten west. 
 The great night shuddering yields her stress of story— 
 The dreams that stir the past's long rest— 
 Strange, scented night-winds sighing on our naked breast. 
  Through all the spirit's spacious, secret regions— 
 By pathways we believed unknown— 
 Still thoughts immortal meet our own. 
 Ideas!—In innumerable legions! 
 Like summer's stir in forests lone 
 Their various music merges in time's monotone. 
  The dreamer sees the deep-drawn ore-veins brightening 
 Through all the huge blind bulk of Earth; 
 He led the ship around its girth; 
 He plays, as on the pulses of the lightning, 
 The song that gives its workings worth. 
 The song foredained to bring man's morrow to the birth. 
  Base, base mere doers, blind and dreamless; 
 Whose bodies engines are of toil! 
 Greasy with greed and lust they moil; 
 They cast lots for the dreamer's garment seamless, 
 To rot among their useless spoil; 
 The fathomless infinity their breath does soil. 
  Hail to the dream that roused the sleeping savage, 
 And led him from his bloody lair, 
 Across light's bridge, that single hair, 
 Above th' unpurposed, eyeless hell of ravage 
 That, beasts and men, the soulless share, 
 And left him, waking in thought's temple, Heaven's heir! 
  Our souls, in these vast Heavens unbeholden 
 Of eyes, our angel-hopes embrace; 
 Or being's shining trail retrace, 
 Through pregnant skies about our forms enfolden 
 In rapture of our kindred race, 
 Until the gaze of God consume us, face to face. 
  Ah, God! In what undying dream of beauty 
 Wrought Thou our world, so strange and fair, 
 Afloat in Thy illusive air?— 
 Ay me! We know that dreaming is our duty! 
 These dreams more intimate than prayer; 
 For in Thy dream divine our laureate spirits share. 
   Proserpine to Pluto 
  AGAIN I lose my life beneath Earth's skies so 
 The flocks, the kine with steeds among them 
 The harvests to the threshing-circle laid, 
 Grape-girls with smooth swift pace of naked feet 
 (Like cloudlets' shadows o'er the wavering wheat) 
 Until their sunlit bosoms gain the shade, 
 The peaks, the shores, with azure gulfs embayed, 
 The vivid cities and the sea-ward fleet 
 Fade out—in darkness Thou dost make divine! 
 With Thine immortal nectar, O, recruit me, 
 Quenching the savour of Sicilian wine! 
 No shameful human evils here we pine. 
 Great ghosts, new-fall'n round Ilium, salute me. 
 Thou art more great always—and Thou art mine! 
   The Golden Bee 
  BETWIXT the piercing petals of the stars I 
 gather honey; 
 From blood on earth dark-spilt; 
 From streets and seas, from stormy night and 
 summer sunny; 
 From good and guilt; 
  Out of the ribs of lions desert-dead in ages olden; 
 From dewy lips alive, 
 Athwart untraversed skies I strive with tribute 
 To eke our hive, 
  Thro' dreamlands undiscovered drift; on beauty's 
 Lie tranced in listening, 
 As my soul-sister butterfly within yon blossom 
 With wary wing— 
  Veiled, veiled in vain with smiling silence, Maiden!— 
 Thy heart's desire I drain! 
 Till stung by anguish of thy tear I fly forth, laden 
 With sweetest pain. 
  I linger in the perfumed Past, afar out-trailing 
 Behind Earth's flying orb; 
 Or, down the path our Future follows swiftlier 
 God's hopes absorb. 
   Thredbo River 
  SUMMER, like a dread disease, 
 Whelms the world in sultry shine; 
 From Hell's mouth the mocking breeze 
 Troubles all the swooning trees— 
 Heart o' mine! O, heart o' mine!— 
 'Mongst those mountains now to roam; 
 Cooling thy fever in the foam— 
 In the foam of Thredbo River!— 
 Thredbo River pouring down to Jindabyne! 
  O, the weariness, the fever, 
 Burning, barren heart o' mine! 
 O, to lie, my heart! alone; 
 Just a smooth, enduring stone 
 In the Thredbo's deepest pool, 
 Packed with plunging waters cool. 
 Where light's shadowy arrows shine! 
 Cold and old grey boulders, 
 Shoulders leaned to shoulders, 
 Baffling back white waters eager 
 That their heavy breasts beleaguer— 
 Torrents white of Thredbo River— 
 Thredbo River roaring down to Jindabyne! 
   White Paper 
  SNOWY-SMOOTH beneath the pen— 
 Richest field that iron ploughs; 
 Germinating thoughts of men; 
 Tho' no heaven its rain allows. 
  There they ripen, thousand-fold; 
 And our spirits reap the corn, 
 In a day-long dream of gold— 
 Food for all the souls unborn. 
  Like the murmur of the earth, 
 When we listen, stooping low, 
 Like sap singing nature's mirth 
 Foaming up the trees that grow, 
  Evermore a subtle song 
 Sings the pen unto it, while 
 Fluid idea flows along, 
 Each new Era's mother-Nile. 
  Greater than ensphering Sea, 
 For it holds the sea and land; 
 Seed of every deed to be 
 Down its current borne like sand. 
  I caress thy surface sheer, 
 Holding thee the Absolute; 
 Where the things to be inhere, 
 Waiting their material bruit. 
  How I love thee! my heart's blood 
 Were too dull to smutch thy white! 
 I'll aver: no lily's bud 
 Lays such unction on my sight. 
  Suave of maiden's throat or arm, 
 Bliss embodied to the touch, 
 Has not such ambrosial charm— 
 Not a marble Goddess such! 
  Dear White Paper! All To-day 
 Palpitates with spirit-heat— 
 Only on thy whiteness may 
 Seers translate its rhythms sweet! 
  Holy Paper! all the Past 
 Were a rack of ruined cloud 
 Stripping from our orbit vast, 
 But thou Eternity endowed 
  With an actual soul of speech— 
 Life of life by death distilled— 
 That all dateless days shall reach, 
 As life's vine of veins is filled. 
  O, the glorious Heavens wrought 
 By Cadmean souls of yore 
 From pure element of Thought! 
 And thy leaves their silvern door! 
  Light they open, and we stand 
 Past the sovereignty of Fate; 
 Glad among Them, still and grand, 
 The Creators and Create! 
   A Dream Theme 
  THE darkness breathes with being— 
 Life's least of things alive, 
 Such prisoned passions strive! 
 The huge bright stars unseeing 
 Peer o'er Earth's throbbing hive. 
  Led by no clue I wander 
 Through redolent garden-gloom, 
 Where ghosts gigantic loom. 
 When thro' blind blackness yonder, 
 Like some new, weird perfume, 
  The faintest foreign singing! 
 No word I know thereof. 
 But know its burden—Love! 
 Low! liquid-low, yet stinging; 
 Like that night-bird's which strove, 
  The piercing thorn brave-breasting, 
 For his great song to gain 
 The magic dyes of pain; 
 Un-rising and un-resting 
 Flows, glows that secret strain. 
  “O, voice of night,” I murmur, 
 “Let not a mortal know 
 There is such love and woe; 
 Life's film we tread the firmer 
 Unheeding aught below!” 
  In the song's swoon ensuing 
 I feel a presence come; 
 And wait its touch all numb— 
 The viewlessness hard-viewing, 
 Drinking expectance dumb: 
  Then hands—how soft and slender!— 
 Find me, and clasp and cling; 
 And, like an angel's wing 
 Slow-waved, a bosom tender 
 Thrills me, deep-shuddering:— 
  “O, you who do not know me! 
 O, you I know too well!— 
 ( Which of us weaves this spell? ) 
 What right had you to show me 
 Those dear red depths of Hell, 
  “Where mortal bosoms bleeding 
 Teach God new laws of love, 
 All hope and joy above; 
 And fuse from pain exceeding 
 Pure gold no fire can prove? 
  “And hateful heights of Heaven, 
 Where perfect Bliss stands proud, 
 Wedded in her white shroud 
 To Power no fear may leaven 
 With dearest Brotherhood?— 
  “Intolerable teaching! 
 The truth was ne'er to teach! 
 Smaller the scope of speech: 
 Refusal, or beseeching: 
 No Vortex void to reach; 
  “Truth's far-off, fatal centre! 
 Round which all orbits run, 
 Our spirits, as our sun; 
 But none may know or enter 
 Until Life's circle's spun. 
  “Beyond the bounds of Being, 
 Best of all things to be, 
 Claim this far life of me; 
 Seal, seal with kiss unseeing 
 What men unborn shall see 
  “With worship, and with wonder 
 To find no pulse repeat 
 Their own heart-urgence sweet; 
 Set more than Space asunder 
 When we tricked Time to meet!” 
   Grey Eyes 
  GREY eyes, grey eyes, your twilit heavens unbar! 
 My spirit knew you when, an ancient star, 
 It swam in skies wherein that ageless grey 
 Was deepening to the earliest day. 
  O, star, dawn-drowned before Time's wheel yet turned 
 The reeling worlds, in what blind gulfs has burned 
 Thy quenchless core, since Life and Death first played 
 Their mighty masquerade? 
  The passionate past, whose flames of joy and pain 
 Borne down in life's long storm still wavering wane 
 Along the horizon of eternity, 
 Its fervence has bequeathed to thee, 
  O, star, my Soul! and thy primaeval power 
 Re-blossoms like some tropic evening-flower— 
 Sweet fever! that I strive across strange skies to slake 
 In Love's grey, unforgotten lake! 
  Grey eyes! Again your twilight heavens unbar! 
 Relume my soul, that long-extinguished star, 
 To shine, the centre of your being's bliss, 
 Through all Night's infinite abyss! 
   A Swan Song 
  FOLLOW, comrades! and join our flying! 
 Crash into flight, 
 Jarring the night, 
 And scale the hollow, vast winter sky. 
 Above all danger, above all dying 
 Far we fly, 
 The very sky 
 Streaming in tenuous torrent by! 
  Overhead all the stars are shaken, 
 Tho' so far; 
 Every star 
 Throbbing back to our beating wings. 
 Under us all the winds awaken, 
 Tho' so still; 
 Heavy and chill 
 Under the strokes of our wondrous wings. 
  Lances of light that doubly darken 
 The deadly dark 
 Make us their mark!— 
 Swerve! swerve, and still redouble our flight! 
 Passionate! perceant! dreadful!—hearken— 
 The curlew's scream 
 Spurting its stream 
 Out of the quivering heart of night! 
  Startle the eagles lonely sleeping 
 On pathless peaks 
 That sunrise seeks 
 While the world is smothered beneath in night! 
 Cloudlets across the heavens creeping 
 Eddy back 
 From our termless track, 
 Where lightnings are lost and the storms bleed white! 
  Mist-like up-rolls the river's roaring, 
 Huge, huge and slow 
 From gulfs below— 
 Dissolving mist-like it rolls away 
 Among the night-winds, that slowly soaring, 
 Murmur wide 
 As the tide 
 That lifted our breasts in the dawn-lit bay. 
  Beyond the stars see the blue deeps brighten— 
 We shall soon 
 Meet the moon, 
 Sliding on with the eager sky. 
 We climb aloft till our wing-beats whiten; 
 Then downward stream 
 Like souls a-dream; 
 Or cloudy levels along we ply. 
  Toward us, trumpeting triumph, journey 
 Other swans! 
 Their response 
 Sounds like the song of a falling star! 
 Comrades unknown! O, to us turn ye! 
 They are gone! 
 On and on! 
 Faint, fainter their voices, and very far! 
  O, comrades follow, and join our flying! 
 Crash into flight, 
 Jarring the night, 
 And scale the hollow, vast winter sky! 
 Above all danger, above all dying 
 Far we fly! 
 The very sky 
 Streaming in tenuous torrent by! 
   Red Poppies 
  HEART'S own blossom, 
 Don't I know where the blood-red poppies grow? 
 Never bosom 
 Beat so chaste, but its wild poppies burned to waste! 
  Longing, after longing 
 Thronging, thronging!— 
 Blood-red poppies, bitter-sweet, among life's pallid wheat! 
  O, hearts insurgent! 
 O, storm-wings urgent! 
 O, poppies bruised and torn, among the angry corn! 
  “ Life and Beauty! ” 
 “ Death and Duty! ” 
 Mingles their refrain; opiate with pain. 
  Ah, poison of those poppy-flowers, 
 That makes high Heaven ours!— 
 But holds always an inner spell to make that Heaven Hell! 
  But O, Past insatiate! 
 O, Dreams forever dead! 
 Poppy-petals shed in boundless fields of sleep. 
 Where through lonely moon-rays reap 
 Forgetfulness and Fate! 
   O, Swallow! 
  O, SWALLOW! Swallow that sprang to life undying 
 From that mad mother's woe 
 In Daulis, long ago— 
 'Tis well forgotten, your child in the palace lying— 
 But what of the spirits you 
 In a younger Hellas knew?— 
 Snow heaped on the heights of old for our souls' supplying— 
 How can you suffer the Spring 
 Since the children ceased to sing 
 Your Song, for gifts at a thousand doorways crying? 
 Surely you hear them singing 
 Of you, white-breasted, bringing 
 The beautiful hours; and Echo's voice shrilly replying 
 To their shrill cadence sweet 
 From each clear Ionian street? 
   A Song of the Tent 
  TURN out once more the weary cattle, 
 And shake the canvas fold from fold 
 Before the stars again embattle 
 Round Night's long-leaguered hold. 
  It rises in a roof, enclosing 
 Out of the wilderness the home; 
 The home eternal, where, reposing 
 Our limbs grow glad again to roam. 
  Like snowy peaks along the dawning 
 The tents along Time's verges rise— 
 The Heroes rest beneath each awning; 
 How near those still unconquered skies! 
  Before our elder brothers builded 
 Thebes' prison, or Persepolis 
 This ancient light of evening gilded 
 Our father's tent with freedom's bliss. 
  When palace church and fort are rotten— 
 All, all the haunts of slavery— 
 We'll roof with bonny web of cotton 
 The dear bride-bed of Liberty! 
  Night-long the canvas throbs, receiving 
 Each suspiration of the skies— 
 Tremors of terror, joy, or grieving, 
 Or unimagined mysteries. 
  The fireshine fluctuant, the lightning 
 That flicker thro' the tissue thin 
 Kindle allied emotions, brightening 
 Our shadowy souls awake within. 
  The floods of dear oblivion deepen— 
 Death still in sleep's disguise— 
 We drown in bland black billows, sweeping 
 The last star-arrow from our eyes. 
  The famished night-winds, blind and homeless, 
 Are fended from our slumbering souls; 
 The canvas in soft ripples foamless 
 A safe sea-surface o'er us rolls. 
  And, O! far in the night to waken!— 
 Far from realities of day; 
 And watch those wells of darkness shaken 
 Still by star-strivings far way. 
  Or great dismantled moon arising 
 Turn writhing mists to white witch-fire; 
 Or else our Morning-star, surprising 
 The heart of darkness with desire! 
   Home Woe 
  THE wreckage of some name-forgotten barque 
 Half-buried by a dolorous shore; 
 Whereto the living waters nevermore 
 Their urgent billows pour, 
 But the salt spray can reach and cark— 
  So lies my spirit, lonely and forlorn 
 On Being's strange and perilous strand; 
 And rusted sword and fleshless hand 
 Point from the smothering sand, 
 And anchor chainless and outworn. 
  But o'er what deep unconquered and uncharted, 
 And steering by what vanished star, 
 Where dim-imagined consorts are, 
 Or hidden harbour far, 
 From whence my sails, unblessed, departed— 
  Can memory, nor still intuition teach. 
 And so I watch with alien eyes 
 This world's remote and unremembered skies; 
 While round me weary rise 
 The babblings of a foreign speech. 
   How Beautiful Upon the Mountains 
   I  WAKE and meet the World, adorable with Spring, 
 Leaving the purple palace of her night— 
 (Where Time sleep-walks in moon-light's dreams divine) 
 Under the stainèd banners of dawn, athrob 
 Before fierce day, whose spears of keen-edged flame 
 Blaze broad above the inconfrontable east. 
 Far trails of tenuous cloud catch fire of gold, 
 And flare into white-shining ashes soon, 
 And soon the buoyant range-backs take sun-rise, 
 Illustrious with dolphin-change of hue 
 O'er gulfs submerged in shadow—lingering lees 
 Of gloom that flow in silent, waveless ebb 
 Out thro' the west. The firmamental forests blue 
 Mantling the mighty storm of mountains round 
 In desolate rune deplore, bright-diapered 
  By covert birds ubiquitous in song. 
 Among that murmur, but unmingling, soars 
 The murmur of the torrents lost below, 
 In dreams respondent to far clamouring seas. 
  Not yet sunlight has searched those valleys veiled 
 So deep withdrawn their lissome loveliness— 
 And gracious as the magic snow of breasts 
 That heave in virgin dreams of motherhood— 
 Irradiate, now, their contours float 
 The gloss of golden sward that clothes each curve 
 Like robes of royal silk!— 
 Gazing beyond 
  O'er regions turbulent as mortal fate, 
 That, fading as the tragic years in Time, 
 Merge in faint mazes that still hide, yet are 
 The lower world; lost in Elysian haze, 
 Mine eyes for anguish of too great a joy 
 Turn from that boundlessness of beauty—Like 
 Some billow swooping back into the womb 
 Of waters from a surgy shore my soul 
 Swoops home; my veins with hateful heat are stung; 
 Intolerable tears mine eyelids shame: 
  O, Planet by thy minion, man, usurped, 
 In absolute kingdom, with his mind's empire 
 Sphered round of holy azure—visible Soul!— 
 Where, proud corrivals of Titanian Thought, 
 Ulyssean lords of Space their shoreless voyage hold:— 
  Life's brandished shield the Sun, and doom-rid Moon, 
 Whose Judgment Day burned out before the Earth 
 Had eyes, and round death's frontiers infinite 
 The watch-fires of the dauntless host of stars— 
 Amidst this indiscoverable dark 
 Sun-litten stands the naked atomy; 
 And tremulous to the softest touch of air! 
 It seems the maddest fantasy of some 
 Crazed fiend that such poor shreds of flesh should own 
  This star-associate Earth! Empyrean orb 
 Of blazoned continents and oceans globed 
 Around ten million islands! Established throne 
 Of all primordial Powers that won Existence. 
 From anarchy of increate Elements 
 Have moulded out the valleys' loveliness, 
 Have piled aloft the mountains' majesty, 
 The home-enhallowing hills, and ploughed 
  The sacred rivers quivering deep and cool, 
 Unfolded, mystical as memory, 
 Lowlands, laid ample as their sister-skies, 
 Unfathomed main of sweet, maternal soil; 
 That yearns to yield its golden sands of grain, 
 Wealth incomputable, around the isles 
 Of spicy orchard-shade, all city-shrined; 
 Black valley mould gladdened with odorous grass, 
 And uplands holy with their temple-trees!— 
  It cannot be that herb and tree should toss 
 Such lightsome leaves, singing of growth within 
 Their pores, and worm wide-searching rootlets down 
 To suck each earth-grain's fine fertility 
 With happy hunger, with thirst delicious drink 
 Beneath the surface drought from deep-hid springs, 
 And interweave, and hurry all their spoil 
 Up to the sun-light if indeed the World 
 Were owned by any men!— 
  The Universe throbs with far thunder: “God!” 
 The Being of Infinity.—But when, 
 O, atomies! did God stand forth and claim 
 Such rights as these that madness yields to you?— 
 To hold our plains, as wide as ocean, waste, 
 Our dearest valleys void, the home unbuilt, 
 The stream unused, the stunted State unfed,— 
 Whiles, whiles the piteous people starve and die— 
 And die more fortunate than those who live 
 With barely life for life-long toil allowed. 
   “Sleeping Out” 
   O WEARY walls! leaving within two thousand years' futility 
 With one blind pace I win 
 The glad heights of the Oread, 
 The dark deliciousness of Hamadryad bowers, 
 All, all these unpermitted Powers, the tumult of whose tresses sweep 
 Thine iron carapace, Utility! 
  Sweeter than sleep, our pagan Paraclete, 
 More inward than most incommunicable dream, 
 This wide-winged wakefulness doth press 
 Against the stream of starry intimations, 
 Where thought to thought from ultimate severance caught, 
 Cohere in dazzling constellations; 
 And æther throbs with human heat!— 
 The infinite puts off proportion in the night, 
 Bringing her brood of orbs beneath these trees 
 That yearn about me, with susurrant odours heaping 
 The traffic of the Odyssean breeze. 
  Dare I my spirit spend in sleeping 
 While the Universe unveiled goes by?— 
 Wer't not, indeed, to die?— 
 Lo, now!—My mountains lose their little moon, 
 Night reaches her oracular noon— 
 And shall my spirit, co-essential with those heavens darken, 
 Extinguishing the stars?— 
 What?—Shall the hours angelic pause and hearken 
 My soul's suspenses; handing back the overbrimming boon 
 Of being through dispeopled night 
 And wait my waking by that mute Muezzin, light?— 
  And yet, between involvèd bars 
 Of sentience escaping, I sink into the silken shaping 
 Of ante-natal naught; nursling of nescience again; 
 And fond infinity is fain, once more, 
 Her liquid life along my blanched veins to pour. 
   I  TAKE refuge in radiant air, 
 That thrills sun-satiate everywhere, 
 From the fulsome pressure of common fate; 
 Passions earthy, 
 Wishes unworthy, 
 The bodily burden of despair, 
 Taint suspicion, and brackish hate— 
  Evaporate! vanish away 
 In immeasurable scope of day 
 That breath creative, the bridal breeze, 
 My soul caresses 
 Till its dull distresses 
 Enchant into legions of fancies gay, 
 Sparkling aloft with the tossing trees. 
  But best of all that the mortal beast, 
 Defiling night with its evil feast, 
 Slinks out of ken to its inmost cave; 
 Life's vexed clue straightens, 
 Great heaven greatens, 
 And over Thought's ocean, where shores have ceased, 
 As from God's lips wafted my spirit's a wave! 
  O, passionate blood of my morn, that dies 
 From the pure, perpetual skies! 
 O, Sun, consuming the necromancies of night!— 
 Age steeps me slowly, 
 Ageless and holy; 
 And self, like a lense of pure crystal lies 
 Unseen at the centre of sight.