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The Song of Brotherhood (Text)

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Primary Fiction and Poetry Texts
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10465
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Sydney, Australia
Contributor:
Brereton, John Le Gay (1871-1933)
Created:
1896
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bresong.xml
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University of Sydney Library
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The Song of Brotherhood
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58625
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bresong-plain.txt
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bresong#Text
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Text

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			 The Song of Brotherhood 
			 And Other Verses 
		 
		  John Le Gay Brereton  
		 
			 London 
			 George Allen 
			 1896 
		 

	 

 
 
  The Song of Brotherhood. And Other Verses 
   Apologia 
  To him whose blood flows through my veins 
 My songs I bring— 
 To him who left me wealth of joys and pains, 
 Life's losses and her gains, 
 The love of song and the desire to sing.  
  Alas, no longer singeth he! 
 But when his life 
 Sank down and vanished in the mighty sea 
 Of being, came to me 
 Some subtle whisperings with meaning rife.  
 
  How should my ears be fit to hear 
 And understand? 
 I see as one sees blurred light through a tear, 
 In strife of hope and fear 
 When death and life stand close on either hand.  
  A voice, like sweep of summer rain 
 That passes swift, 
 Sighs to me: “Sing of Love and sing of Pain,” 
 But sighs to me in vain, 
 Who lack his thought, his heart, his spirit-gift.  
  From him who sang “The Goal of Time” 
 I hear sweet words, 
 And scrawl gnarled imitations into rhyme, 
 Because I cannot climb 
 The clouds like him whose voice was as a bird's.  
 
  The thoughts too high to catch and hold 
 Pass by and go 
 Into the vast unseen. Am I too bold, 
 To mar his words of gold 
 With stammering lips and accents harsh and low?  
  Will not men take these broken things, 
 These faded flowers, 
 And laugh to scorn the idle boor who sings 
 His witless rhymes and flings 
 Abroad these mangled shreds from other hours?  
  Will they not sneer and say: “The fool 
 Would have us think 
 His words sublime, and he a sage to school 
 The world with canting rule; 
 He gives us channel dregs as wine to drink?”  
 
  The perfect blossoms of my dreams 
 Look not so fair 
 When light from flaring tapers on them gleams, 
 Nor are they sweet, meseems, 
 Without his soulful presence, anywhere.  
  But as the wind, that passeth by 
 And comes no more, 
 Brings scents from lands beneath a summer sky, 
 Yea, even so may I 
 Bring some faint strain from him who sang before.  
 
   The Song of Brotherhood 
 
  And sent its curls of incense slowly wreathing 
 Upon the last sweet sighs the day was breathing.  
  In front, the glowing splendour of the past; 
  Behind, the frowning gloom of gorge and glen— 
 The home of Night, whence she emerged and cast 
  Her sleepy poppy in the eyes of men ; 
 About our feet, the joy of grass and fern, 
 Lulled fast to rest by croonings of a burn.  
  And careless jest and laugh ran round and sought 
  Ledges of moss, and crevices where drops 
 Of icy water oozed, and echoes caught 
  The gladsome sounds, and bore them to the tops 
 
 Of craggy dells, and left them there to die 
 Or wander with the wind that whispered by.  
  But as we sat there came a sound of song, 
  A sound that seemed to tell of Nature's gladness, 
 Of rhythmic chants and pæans, that belong 
  Of right to wind-swept wilds; yet notes of sadness 
 Seemed still to lurk behind. We could not hear 
 The words, nor did the singer yet appear.  
  Yet silence fell upon us, like the chill 
  Of winter flowing through an open door; 
 All gazed into each other's eyes as still 
  As graven stone. And now the breezes bore 
 
 Some scattered syllables, that grew more clear, 
 Until these words fell perfect on the ear :—  
  “ Nay, who am I, that I wail and cry, 
  And wrestle with hate and longing ? 
 Fair friends for me in the sea and sky 
  And here on the earth are thronging ; 
   With heart of stone 
   Have I walked alone, 
  The claim of my kindred wronging.  
  “ Each blade of grass, wherever I pass, 
  Is a friend that is glad to greet me ; 
 The stream as clear as a sheet of glass 
  Flows over the pebbles to meet me ; 
   In winter days 
   I've the cheerful blaze 
 Of a brotherly sun to heat me.  
 
  “ At dead of night, from their awful height, 
  Gaze down, with a stillness tender, 
 The stars, my brothers of love and light, 
  That fanciful dreams engender. 
   All one are we, 
   Star, insect or tree— 
 The oak and the harebell slender.”  
  And then a man came striding o'er the rise, 
  And stood before us, and the sunset's glow 
 Shone on his face and nestled in his eyes, 
  But on his face dark furrows seemed to show 
 The record of a bygone strife with fears 
 And fancies, and his cheeks were wet with tears.  
  One, with a touch of scorn, said: “You are merry !” 
  At which he laughed, and said : “See here, my friends, 
 Is there not love enough on earth to bury 
  All sadness—love enough to make amends 
 
 For all the darkness, pain and misery? 
 Yet these shall tremble at Love's face, and flee:  
  “ For Love is King ! For him the wild bird sings ; 
  For him the budding flowers burst and bloom ; 
 Its best for him each living wonder brings ; 
  For him the fire-fly flickers in the gloom. 
 Love bids us live as brothers, and shall we 
 Reject the only road to liberty ?  
  “ The old law saith ‘that thou shalt love thy neighbour 
  As thou dost love thyself'—ay, even so ! 
 To love him  is  to love thyself ; to labour 
  In his behalf, what is it but to sow 
 The seed of which thyself shalt reap the harvest ? 
 In helping him 'tis thine own fate thou carvest.  
 
  “ Ay, all things are in all ! All things are one ! 
  Scent, colour, shape and sound are different forms 
 Of one same thing ; from the all-seeing sun, 
  The light he sheds, the heat with which he warms 
 His child the earth, are one ; and something winds 
 About all things, and all together binds.  
  “ But till ye see all this ye cannot live. 
  There is no life in walking on the earth, 
 Thinking yourselves its lords. Nothing ye give 
  Without the hope of better. From your birth 
 You struggle each with each, and try to smother 
 The love which should be shed upon your brother !  
 
  “What life is this! To hoard the ancient lies 
  That made your fathers weep; to bow and pray 
 To blood-smeared idols, careless of the cries 
  Of bleeding victims; careless that decay 
 Hath seized upon your gods, and spiders run 
 Across their faces, on the webs they've spun.  
  “Men, men, what life is this! A worn-out creed 
  Is yours; you clothe yourselves in filthy rags, 
 The swaddling-clothes of bygone thought; you feed 
  On offal; and you march beneath the flags 
 Of Tyranny and robed Injustice; nay, 
 You hide your eyes and swear it is not day!”  
  He paused with flashing eyes, and some one said 
  “Poor fellow!” and another: “Is this glen 
 The home of madmen?” and a silent dread 
  Descended, till one spake: “He hateth men; 
 
 He is a cynic!” and another hissed: 
 “He hateth  God , he is an  atheist .”  
  “Having light, loving darkness rather,” sneered a youth 
  Around whose hollow head rang Gordon's song. 
 “Let's go and leave him; in the name of truth 
  Stay here no longer; we have stayed too long 
 Already,” said a pallid, pious ape 
 Of manliness—a clod in human shape.  
  And HE stood stricken to the heart—as they, 
  In scornful hate and wonder, went—a grand, 
 A noble figure, and I longed to say 
  Some word of hope; I took him by the hand, 
 We trod the dark ravine, and scaled the height 
 Together—and the hill-tops glowed with light.  
 
   For A Woman 
  YES, I! Don't touch the bell—I'll not be long, 
 But you left the blind up—may I put it down?— 
 And I saw the light and you. So I came in 
 Just for a few last words, no high-flown stuff 
 Or whining either; sit still just a moment; 
 I'll take this side of the table. But the light 
 Dazzles my eyes—there! Now I'm comfortable. 
 I'm going to speak (no beating about the bush) 
 About what's happened, but I warn you now 
 To say not a word against my wife.—Why not? 
 “What's in a name?” Six months will alter that. 
 
 Let's see the story as the papers have it! 
 You are the injured husband—please, sit still, 
 And put on your old Stoic mask; I must 
 Say what I have to say; you keep me longer— 
 In every way you were a model husband, 
 Spending your time at home, kind to your wife, 
 Over-indulgent maybe, but that fault 
 Brought its own punishment. Here I come in, 
 The faithless friend, taking a base advantage 
 Of the trust you placed in me, a lustful wretch, 
 Treacherous—no name bad enough for me! 
 What they say of her I'll not drag out for you 
 To glory in. She was a woman, and better 
 Than either of us.… Stop! one word's enough! 
 Remember now she's not your wife, but mine. 
 But I respect your feelings. False to you? 
 Say true to love! 
 This vulgar talk of the street 
 Is true, in a way, from end to end. And now 
 
 Sweep off the fly-blown surface-scum, and I'll show you 
 What lies beneath; not in my own defence, 
 But to shake you in your self-complacency 
 Into some knowledge of her wrongs—not yours— 
 To be a mirror to you. 
 I was her friend 
 At first, before I knew you. Then you came 
 And she loved you, not for what you were, of course, 
 But for the soul she shadowed for herself 
 And throned in you. And you, I suppose, were flattered 
 By her discernment. And my part in this 
 Was used against me at the trial, because 
 I did what I could to help her to her wish, 
 Without her knowledge mostly; was your friend, 
 And in a thousand little ways contrived 
 
 To bring you two together. I was wrong. 
 Late, now, to see it. But her love of you 
 Suddenly made me know myself; I loved her! 
 And all these “far-fetched schemes” of mine were just 
 So many secret parings of my heart. 
 Irony, isn't it? 
 You married her, 
 If it is marriage when a cold, self-centred 
 And analytic nature links itself 
 By a formal tie to a soul of youth and longing 
 And passionate love of life and all it means. 
 You never yielded anything, but lived 
 The same old way, letting her have her will, 
 But hardly caring what that will might be, 
 And never joining in her hopes or fears 
 Or pleasures. So her pleasures died. And she, 
 Chilled to the heart, withered and pined. I came 
 
 Often to see you—put it that way—saw 
 Her disillusionment; and heard you talk 
 Of monkeys and amœbæ, when you deigned 
 To open your lips at all, regarding her 
 As something lower than those same amœbæ,— 
 I judge by the attention paid to each— 
 While you, no doubt, stood in the van of things, 
 The topmost blossom of the tree of life, 
 The end of evolution! You had trained 
 Your intellect, and prayed into the secrets 
 That do no good when they are known, until 
 The lower life had been transcended, and you 
 Were a perfect man—or as near as possible— 
 Holding the scales of reason. So you starved 
 The woman's glorious, sympathetic soul, 
 As there you pondered on your marble pillar 
 And studied earth-worms. And she found in me, 
 Although she hardly knew it, what you denied, 
 
 And I was glad to serve her. At that time 
 I had no thought of wronging you, and she 
 Was always pure—is now! But I worshipped her 
 In silence and without a hope. 
 Time passed, 
 Till I grew mad with passion; she held out, 
 Although she found, too late for a retreat, 
 The meaning of it all. But I was helpless, 
 Swept from my feet by a vast flood of flame 
 And hurried on, whether I would or no, 
 Into a world where common ties of earth 
 Were all forgotten, and my love of her 
 Was the one thing existent, all-pervading, 
 Resistless passion. 
 Why should I tell you 
 What your refined and well-poised intellect 
 Can never comprehend. You sat there, blind 
 As an owl in the daylight; busied yourself with mud 
 
 And pointed out the pricelessness of science 
 In most grandiloquent phrases. 
 In the end, 
 When she had yielded to her nature, and you— 
 I needn't dwell on that! Then you were angry 
 In your calm, passionless way, to think that she 
 Should value you so lightly, and that I 
 Should not be able to recognise the worth 
 Of such a friend. 
 I don't disguise my faults 
 Or palliate them, but I know them. You 
 Are worse than I, because you are ignorant, 
 And that's the foulest crime on earth. Good night!  
 
   Absence 
  FLOW swifter, swifter, weary days, 
 Adown the slopes of time! 
 Dance, dance along 
 With jocund song, 
 And carol in my lady's praise 
 Your silver-sounding rime!  
  Blow, wind, across the foaming sea 
 And make the waves rejoice! 
 And bow the trees, 
 O wilful breeze, 
 To catch her tones and bring to me 
 An echo of her voice!  
 
  But sadly in the chilling wind 
 The wailing branches sway; 
 No joyous note 
 Can ever float 
 While wintry spells the season bind 
 And she is far away.  
 
   The Sunrise 
    A Love Song  
  Prelude—The Quickening Of Day. 
  OCTOBER'S roses are all faded now, 
  And with carnations full of languid scent 
 Imperial Summer wreathes her amorous brow, 
  But I am wrapt in precious discontent, 
 For Love has bound me fast, I know not how, 
  As I fled, heeding not the way I went, 
 Through free wild woods, and I am forced to bow 
 To her who taught me what my being meant.  
 
  I thought my hovering fancy might have strayed 
  Bee-like from flower to flower, but here's an end 
  To all my erring thoughts; I never knew 
 The swiftness of the fire with which I played— 
  Last month I laughed with you as friend with friend, 
  But now I have another name for you.  
 
  I. Morning Light. 
  Why should a man call Fancy to his aid 
  To sing the beauties of our mother earth 
  And all the joy thereof, the endless mirth 
  Tempered with sadness, when the sky above 
 And earth below, with various sheen and shade, 
  Are coloured with the myriad rays of love?  
 
  Truth, naked as the statue of a god, 
  And fairer than the finest fancy wrought 
  In living shape by men who clad their thought 
  With reverence, of old, when ecstasy 
 Of beauty dwelt with every man that trod, 
  Truth, Truth and Love, befriend and speak for me!  
  Go to my fair-haired love, and whisper low 
  The endless song, vibrating through the whole 
  Of life, and echoing music to my soul 
  By day and night till all the air around 
 Is sweeter than the sweetest flowers that blow, 
  And all the world is thrilling to the sound.  
  Whisper it softly, softly, as the fall 
  Of thistle-down astray within the room; 
  Sigh it at eve within the sheltering gloom 
 
  When she is musing lonely and apart, 
 That she may sit quite still and hear it all 
  As though it were the beating of her heart.  
  Let it steal on her as a summer dawn 
  Steals upon cloudless heavens till the night 
  Draws back, and hill and dale, aflush with light, 
  Ring loud with quivering songs of many a bird, 
 And golden splendour lies on every lawn: 
  Let her not know she hears, till she hath heard.  
  I saw her yesterday, stood face to face, 
  And drank the voice whose tones are more to me 
  Than all the variant music of the sea— 
 
  The “countless laughter,” the despairing cry, 
 The wrath and headstrong frenzy at the base 
  Of age-worn crags, and strange love-longing sigh.  
  And I must coldly stand as though she were 
  Only a woman among women—she, 
  Queen of my heart!—yes, I must stand and see 
  Her perfect form and all her ways that seem 
 To claim due love, as though she were not there, 
  As though I saw her image in a dream.  
  Or rather, Fortune proves herself more kind 
  In visions, for I dreamed of some strange land 
  Where she and I sat close, and her right hand 
 
  Lay on my shoulder, and her left hand lay 
 In mine with fingers trustfully entwined— 
  Such Fortune flies before the light of day.  
  I bowed my head and looked into her eyes 
  And then our lips met clinging in a kiss— 
  What waking hour, O Love, will give me this? 
  Yet all my spirit unto hers is bent 
 In homage, for I know that she is wise; 
  Whatever be her will, I am content.  
 
  II. The Heights Of Joy 
  I laugh, I laugh alone, to think of this— 
  That I may see you often, breathe the air 
  That gathers round you, sit and see you there 
  Shedding unconscious light upon my life; 
 I laugh, for nothing now can come amiss; 
  My soul is up in arms for any strife.  
 
  O, Love, Love, Love! the world is fair indeed 
  And beauty dwells in every nook of it, 
  But till our souls with love's own light are lit 
  We cannot see what heritage is ours, 
 The glory crowning every simple weed 
  Resplendent as the crown of choicest flowers.  
  Till then, we only see the shows of things, 
  And doubt the goodness of the rhythmic power 
  That still throbs on, controlling shine or shower, 
  And think that life is blown from bad to worse; 
 We cannot hear God's message, though it rings 
  Like marvellous music down the Universe.  
 
  Upon the farthest twinkling point of space, 
  As far as thought can leap from world to world, 
  There cannot be a creature who has, furled 
  Within his heart, such cause of joy as I, 
 As I sit here and look upon your face 
  For which a man might be content to die.  
  Had you no more, I'd fall and worship you 
  As men of old before a carven stone, 
  But in your breast, as on an orient throne, 
  Sits Sweetness clad in robes of perfect white: 
 You are God's messenger and must be true 
  For shapes of evil shrink before your sight.  
 
  III. The Flower Of Life 
  Surely I've loved you for a long, long time, 
  Yea, since the power of love first dawned in me, 
  For I have sought you half-unconsciously, 
 
  And walked like one in sleep, and hardly knew 
 My quest less shadowy than a dream sublime, 
  Until I woke to find the dream was true.  
  My life is yours by right, not deed of gift; 
  I do not hold it in my hand and say: 
  “I give you this to guard or throw away!” 
  No longer do I yield to every breath, 
 Upon the sluggish sea of self adrift, 
  For you have weaned me from my love of Death.  
  A word of scorn from you were as a knife 
  Thrust home by hate with longing still unsated,— 
  Be pitiful to what you have created! 
  Like the dark god—whom aged Faith immures 
 In fleshly corse—you breathed the breath of life 
  Into my nostrils, Love, and I am yours.  
 
  To love you is to be above the reach 
  Of envy ! Is there aught that can destroy 
  The everlasting wealth of golden joy 
  Of your unworthy servant ? What am I, 
 That I should hear the music of your speech, 
  As sweet as summer rain to meadows dry ?  
  Yet, though I were the meanest clod on earth, 
  A mere waste whim of Nature and a thing 
  Past all contempt, even then my love-longing 
  Would set me higher ; and I am well content 
 That this my little sum of human worth 
  Should bow itself to your arbitrament.  
 
  IV. With The Elizabethans 
  My books have gained in value for your sake, 
  For though I rather care to lie and think 
  Of you as last I saw you, and to link 
 
  My fancies each to each, O Love of mine, 
 Yet, when I read, fresh feeling seems to make 
  Fresh worlds of meaning lurk in every line.  
  My love is wealth-bestowing : I turn again 
  With doubled pleasure to my friends of old, 
  To walk in Shakespeare's labyrinth manifold 
  And Marlowe's thunderous palaces of cloud, 
 I linger long in Lodge's lyric lane, 
  And roam at large among the meaner crowd.  
  And if they speak of beauty, then I see 
  A shadowed face, afloat upon the leaf, 
  With honest eyes, and fair above belief, 
  Like some bright scene reflected in a stream ; 
 And so the letters blur, and happily 
  I glide upon the current of a dream.  
 
  There is a hint of you in every word 
  In which they tell of maids beyond compare, 
  As sweet as budding springtide, and as fair 
  As summer nights ; and yet it's but a trace 
 Of what I know, because they never heard 
  Your voice, dear heart, nor saw you face to face.  
  Why, if I had the mind of one of these 
  And my own heart, my passion and his power, 
  My songs should dazzle heaven like a shower 
  Of blazing meteors, strong words winged with flame, 
 The world would stand amazed, and every breeze 
  Would carry endless echoes of your name.  
 
   V. The Lighting of the World 
  Whether my days be spent in calm or storm, 
  'Tis well for me, dear teacher !—this I know, 
  That as the uncertain seasons come and go 
  We still move on to no uncertain goal. 
 Though myriad seeming evils buzz and swarm, 
  Laugh fear to scorn and stand erect in soul !  
  You cannot trust the tidings, yet I say 
  From you I learned them, dear—ay, love, from you— 
  I looked into your eyes, and straight I knew 
  Despair was dead to whom I once was thrall, 
 Had melted into air or fled away 
  Self-vanquished, finding Love is All-in-All.  
 
  Long time I'd hoped and flung my hopes in rime, 
  Striving in vain to hide the secret rout 
  Of fierce temptation urging me to doubt The value of my visions ; I would rave 
 Of night shot through with dawn, but many a time 
  I longed for sleep's last benison in the grave.  
  But then you came, I loved, and I was free, 
  And life broke forth in music while I faced 
  God's light ; I'd sought in a Cimmerian waste 
  Of misty gorges for the glorious sun ; 
 I hoped no longer now for victory, 
  Because I knew the victory was won.  
 
  You cannot trust the tidings ? You of all, 
  That teach the sun his duty ? You whose feet 
  Make earth flame forth in grass and blossoms, sweet 
  As those of Aidenn ? Lo, the perfect morn 
 Waits on you ! Listen for Love's waking call, 
  And laugh the leering face of doubt to scorn.  
 
 
   The Street 
  AN outcast from the world of those who stand 
 Proud, virtuous, self-centred, statuesque 
 On spotless pedestals, to those who love 
 And see God here and now you cannot be 
 An outcast from the world.  
  I look into your eyes and pierce the bold 
 Unflinching film of laughter hung by vice 
 To screen the flickering flame that burns beyond ; 
 But, sister, for the certain sign of God 
 I look into your eyes.  
 
  I take you by the hand, and I forget 
 The flaunting rags, coarse lips, defiant air, 
 The form which sin has moulded, and the voice 
 That pleads for custom in the filthy street ; 
 I take you by the hand.  
  Fate makes us what we are ; within us all 
 Are possibilities of good and ill, 
 But there are higher heights and deeper deeps 
 Than ever man has soared or fallen to. 
 Fate makes us what we are.  
  Who knows the end ? Not we, who struggle here 
 Just time enough to wonder what we are, 
 And vanish like the bubbles in a creek : 
 The doubtful doom of praise or blame He gives 
 Who knows the end—not we !  
 
  We stand here face to face, and in the street 
 I claim equality with you by right 
 Of that humanity we share, and both 
 Are better on this flaring night because 
 We stand here face to face.  
 
   Love's Invitation 
  SEIZE on the present, for the past is dead, 
 And all the future looms with stormy sky 
 Livid and rumbling, and the dark is nigh— 
 The terrors of a night when overhead 
 The crash of thunder weighs the heart with dread, 
 And ceaseless lightnings snake-like writhe and fly 
 About the lift, and all the meadows lie 
 Sodden with streaming rain, and love hath fled. 
 
 Forget the future ; let the present shake 
 Its petals round us in the sunshine here ! 
 Forget old pain and taste new joy instead ! 
 For one brief moment, live for love's own sake 
 In careless pleasure, free from hope and fear : 
 Seize on the present, for the past is dead !  
 
   Kit Marlowe 
  BECAUSE, three hundred years ago to-day, 
 A spirit that dull custom could not tame— 
 A soul of fire that had no part in shame, 
 Nor recked what babbling tongues of men might say, 
 But trod its wild and self-elected way 
 Fearless, and left the rest to love and fame— 
 Sprang from unworthy earth like leaping flame 
 But left a name that envy cannot slay ; 
 
 Therefore we meet, strange mixture of divine 
 And human, to do honour to your shade ; 
 Prince of Bohemia, scôp whose lips have made 
 Our English verse like draughts of fiery wine ; 
 Our godlike brother, you whose words have been 
 Fierce joy to us, be with us, though unseen. 
 1 st June , 1893.  
 
   To Olive Schreiner 
  FROM the land of listless summer, sob of breeze and hum of bee, 
 Where the sunbeams gleam and glitter on the bosom of the sea, 
 Comes a message, Olive Schreiner, comes a cry of thanks to thee.  
  Daughter of the lonely desert, daughter of the lurid waste, 
 Doubts as dread as thine, in gullies green with fronds of fern and graced 
 With the film of falling waters, have been met and fairly faced.  
 
  Deep in dells of hidden sweetness, where the crested trees are swept 
 By the skirts of lagging zephyrs, oft a longing lad has leapt 
 Down the hillside to the furthest fern-clad noon—and stood and wept.  
  Stood, and clenched his fists, and whispered to his friends of brook and bough, 
 Hissed the words of hate and anguish, beat upon his throbbing brow; 
 Listen to my song, my sister, for that boy is speaking now.  
  How I've sat, and gazed, and panted, where the silver streamlet slips 
 Past the she-oaks—by the cavern, where the dewdrop swells and drips! 
 Thou hast spoken, clear and fearless, words which struggled to my lips.  
 
  Oh! the passion surging upward, yearning for a word of love, 
 When the soul cooped up within us fluttered like a prisoned dove! 
 Oh! the cruel, cruel heavens, staring coldly from above!  
  Oh! the awful days of madness when they told us “God is good,” 
 And we walked, and thought, and wondered, with the wildness of the wood, 
 Full of doubting dreams and longing for the touch of brotherhood.  
 
  Still we tread the rocky valley, where the mountains tower high, 
 Cold, relentless, frowning ever, all unheeding of our cry, 
 Be it filled with joy or sorrow—only Echo makes reply.  
 
   Drinking Song 
  THE moon is bright on glen an' height, 
 My heart is wae an' weary; 
 A tear breaks free frae ilka e'e— 
 Ye winna be my dearie. 
  Then, chiels, fill a' your glasses, O,  
  An' while the bottle passes, O,  
  We'll drink the bonny lasses, O,  
  In guid Scotch drink!   
  I ken that you are fair an' true 
 An' lovin' til anither; 
 But I maun be until I dee 
 A leal an' lovin' brither. 
 
  Noo pass the bottle round again,  
  Until my care is drowned again,  
  An' I am on the ground again  
  Wi' guid Scotch drink!   
  A bardie's soul may surely thole 
 A lover's common sorrow, 
 An' aiblins he may chance to see 
 Anither luve to-morrow. 
  But keep the bottle going, lads,  
  An' keep the bumpers flowing, lads;  
  There's naething for you growning lads  
  Like guid Scotch drink!   
 
   Hill and Dale 
  WHILE boyhood yet was young in me, I knew 
 Of cool and silent glens wherein there grew 
 Bright ferns, and hillsides where the sudden whirr 
 Of startled quail was common, and the stir 
 Of winds forlorn moved slowly through the trees 
 With long deep sighs, and wings of straying bees 
 Made murmurous melodies.  
  Now they have cleared my fairyland—and oft 
 The crash of old bush heroes marred the soft 
 And multitudinous quiet, and the ring 
 Of axes rose where wild birds used to sing 
 
 For very joy of sunny days, and then 
 Rough uncouth huts broke out on hill and glen, 
 The wretched homes of men.  
  In those past years I used to wander here 
 Alone, to seek escape from laugh and sneer 
 And folly of all kinds that make up man; 
 I knew a gully where a streamlet ran 
 Past reeds and over rocks, now swift and strong, 
 And now slow-whispering secrets in a long 
 Sweet purl of summer song.  
  There, in a little grot hung round with fern 
 And full of dancing echoes from the burn, 
 I used to hide my clothes, and with a glee 
 Born of the love of light and liberty 
 Would leap and caper down the glen, and shout, 
 And thread the maze of frondage in and out, 
 And throw my arms about.  
 
  Like some young faun I revelled. I would sing 
 Laugh-broken scraps of melodies, and fling 
 Myself at length upon the moist warm earth, 
 Half-mad and drunken with tumultuous mirth, 
 And watch the white clouds floating in the sky, 
 And see the black and yellow butterfly 
 Go softly sailing by.  
  Oh, those were glad days! when the air was filled 
 Of music, and the wayward breezes stilled 
 Their wings and slept with dreams of creek and bird 
 And fancies that the ear, pressed forward, heard 
 The fronds of fern uncoiling where the sun 
 Threw moving golden patterns—finely spun 
 On sands where ripples run.  
  Sometimes I sought a rock-pool, and would spring 
 Into the perfect water-world and fling 
 
 Bright drops aloft and watch them darting through 
 The shafts of light which pierced the trees that grew 
 About my fount, where every leaf between 
 The shadowed waters and the outer sheen 
 Was veined with vivid green.  
  Then would I gaily knock against the trees 
 And murmur to the fair-haired dryades, 
 That dwelt, meseemed, within, to come and dance 
 Over the fresh-grown grass where dewdrops glance 
 With stain of blue and green and orange-gold— 
 To play and dally till the grey mist told 
 That day was growing old.  
  And that old love is strong within me still; 
 I feel the longing for the old days thrill 
 
 My every fibre, and a strong desire 
 Burns in my breast like radiant flame of fire, 
 And makes me curse the fate that I have found, 
 The thought to which my lonely hours are bound, 
 The awe that wraps them round.  
  For once, as I went singing down a glade, 
 A sudden feeling checked me, and I stayed 
 My swinging steps, my voice died out, and then 
 In awe-struck mood I left my lonely glen 
 Nor e'er turned back; and rock and creek and tree 
 Saw me no more. I'd fled humanity— 
  Myself  I could not flee.  
 
   The Black Art 
  LET me now conjure up the vision, fair 
 As day-dawn on the waters; let me sing 
 A short, slow song of her whose face I bear 
 This night within my half-closed lids, and wear 
 Away an idle atom of the Spring.  
  Ay, let me now devote a dreaming space 
 To magic (ere I turn myself to sleep), 
 And gaze again upon the absent face 
 And eyes, dark brown, with all the heavens' grace, 
 As awesome, full of meaning, and as deep.  
 
  Tis done! She stands before me, clad with light, 
 A ray from God's own glory, and I sink 
 Upon my knees, half dazzled by the sight, 
 And doubtful if I dream or see aright, 
 Afraid to move or breathe, afraid to think.  
  The grace of arms, that move as though they knew 
 And floated to the music of the spheres; 
 The hands whose touch would thrill me through and through; 
 The eyes where sleeping Love is lurking, true 
 As Truth, to waken in the waiting years!  
  That dark, sweet mass of hair; the rounded cheeks 
 With brown, ripe tint; the subtle curves of limb 
 And waist and breast! And when she laughs and speaks 
 She shames the music of the running creeks, 
 Till all my senses seem to sway and swim.  
 
  And, oh, the lips! Twin sirens of desire! 
 So red and delicate, my blood, I wis, 
 Pulses with short, strong leaps, and ever higher 
 Flames up within my breast the fierce, new fire: 
 I long to drown all feeling in a kiss.  
  I leap towards her, fling my arms around 
 A yard of air, and stand a moment there 
 In wondering folly, while I stare, astound 
 To lose my self-raised spirit. Then the sound 
 Of my low laughter shudders through the air.  
  Oh strange, most strange, to think what dreams are these! 
 To-morrow some fresh flame will blaze as red 
 As this; fresh names will whisper through the breeze 
 As days decay. I brush my dusty knees, 
 And yawn, and say: “Good night”—and so, to bed.  
 
   Dream—Gold 
  You cannot by a word destroy my right 
 Of having that which is my life. Behold, 
 You have cast me into a pit, where fiends have tolled 
 A dirge for me and gathered in the night 
 To show my inner vision vanished light! 
 Agleam on vanished heaps of gems and gold, 
 A dazzling world of treasure, wealth untold! 
 I stretch my arms—it flashes out of sight.  
  Yet—by the might forces that combine 
 The universe of atoms—O, my saint! 
 You are enshrined within my soul, a quaint 
 
 Grotesque unstable tomb, yet music fine 
 Breathes ever where you lie, till grey time faint 
 In the stone arms of eternity, mine—mine!  
 
   The End 
  IT must be so. My dream is at an end, 
 And sorrow hangs upon me as a cloud 
 About a mountain peak that towers proud 
 And stern in cold grey dawnings. Shall I bend, 
 Like the wild oak when vexed with wind, and send 
 A plaintive wail to pierce the gloomy shroud 
 Of misty air?—be weak, and weep aloud 
 For that which all my tears may not amend?  
  No! kindest of all cruel tortures, 
 Dull and half-dead your safe advice appears 
 Because the blood is surging at my ears 
 
 And feverous madness in my being stirs 
 Until I scarce dare trust myself. And yet 
 I love you: Is there room, then, for regret?  
 
   After 
  A REVELLER at the feast of life was I, 
 Full of quaint humours born of sparkling wine, 
 Though one grave mood, behind the rest, was mine 
 Even when my wild laughter pierced the sky.  
  I filled a crystal cup and raised it high; 
 A liquor cloudy-green and opaline 
 With gleams of crimson—'twas a drink divine! 
 I drank, and cast the empty goblet by.  
  It made me mad; I thought the hall was fair, 
 The arras splendid, and our food the best; 
 And wondered when they spoke to me of care. 
 
 From that brief dream I woke, alone, unblessed 
 Even by that dread friend men term Despair 
 I'm weary, and I only long for rest.  
 
   “Maiden With the Marvellous Lute” 
  A Dirge 
  OH, visionary form! 
 Euterpe, maid divine! 
 Who lovest on the sunlit sea to shine, 
 Or revel in the shouting storm— 
 How pitiful our Kendall's cry to thee!  
 
  He clasped thee in his arms and wept aloud 
 With sobbing wail of joy, 'mid gleams of glory, 
 But, like the hero famed in story, 
 His soul at length divined 
 That his fierce-clasping arms entwined 
 
 No goddess, but a rosy-tinted cloud— 
 A lovely form indeed, but yet a cloud. 
 And then he wandered forth, 
 But wheresoe'er he went— 
 Whether his steps were bent 
 Towards the fateful South or dreamy North— 
 The vision that had blessed his eyes 
 Had dazzled them to everything; 
 But that one form—that soul that never dies: 
 Still did he give his voice to sing 
 Thy praise, Euterpe, and the hills that heard 
 His voice at eve, upon the breezes borne, 
 Caught once again, when woke the morn, 
 His song, as clear as song of brook or bird, 
 In modulations born of brook and bird. 
 And when his voice was stilled 
 The wind went whispering by, 
 A moaning horror; and a sobbing cry 
 Was heard in nights of rain, and trees were filled 
 
 With sighing tales of woe and ruined life, 
 And hissed words stabbing like a knife. 
 Is this the guerdon meted out 
 To those who love thee with a wealth of passion, 
 And wring their souls in vain attempt to fashion 
 Some words of love to greet thine ears, 
 Nor mark the multitude that jeers 
 Their agony—the fools that flout 
 One glorified by light from thee 
 And dazed by one sweet strain of melody— 
 Drowned deep in blissful pain by hint of melody?  
 
 
 
   A Song Of Friendship 
  MY hand in yours, dear friend, 
 I give you words of greeting— 
 Of friendship without end, 
 My hand in yours, dear friend, 
 My heart with yours in loving music beating.  
  To me amid my grief 
 Your darling ways are better 
 Than dew to faded leaf: 
 To me amid my grief 
 Comes love that makes me evermore your debtor.  
 
  And fairer than the light 
 Upon a sudden shower, 
 You bless my weary sight, 
 And fairer than the light 
 That breaks upon the night-enfolded flower.  
  Nor fortune's smiles nor blows 
 Our love-locked hearts shall sever; 
 Though all the world were foes, 
 Nor fortune's smiles nor blows 
 Shall alter me, for ever and for ever.  
 
   The Last Quest 
  So he spake, the hermit hoary 
 Crowned with age's peaceful glory, 
 Spake with calm and measured accents 
 To the bold Sir Bedivere, 
 Bedivere, now bent nigh double 
 By remorse and silent trouble 
 Ever gathering upon him 
 In the quiet, year by year.  
  But he scorned the sage's warning, 
 Saying: “When my manhood's morning 
 Shone in Arthur's court, good father, 
 I was better far than now. 
 
 Then I stood erect and cared not 
 For your gauded beads, and spared not 
 When I met my foe in battle, 
 Lance in rest and helm on brow.  
  “I have sought a grave to rot in. 
 Peace! it is no better; not in 
 Feeble wailings in the cloister, 
 Not in weeds like these and these 
 Lies salvation for me, father: 
 I am old, yet I would rather 
 Fight one fight and die in harness 
 Than thus babble on my knees.  
  “Never shines the sun so brightly 
 On my sloth, as when the knightly 
 Lists were pitched for fair encounter 
 In the plain by Camelot. 
 
 Have I lost my skill, I wonder; 
 Once the stoutest faltered under 
 Spear of mine when firm and certain 
 Down the flashing way I shot.  
  “Action—let us stand for action! 
 I am worse than Modred's faction, 
 They who fought and never faltered, 
 Struck and never cared to cease 
 Till each one of them was lying 
 Still or groaning, dead or dying;— 
 Did not Christ once say He brought us 
 Rather words of war than peace?  
  “Where is now the joy of battle, 
 Clash of armour, rush and rattle, 
 Shock of onset, shout and laughter 
 Shortly gasped amid the dust, 
 
 Brief retreat and sudden rally, 
 Blare of beams to sound the sally, 
 Wild encounter, surging, roaring, 
 Flash of steel in cut and thrust?  
  “After waiting twenty-seven 
 Weary years, the path to heaven 
 Now I see I have mistaken, 
 Drifting idly on the stream; 
 I should pull against the flowing 
 Of the waters; I am going 
 Down to nothingness, a coward, 
 Like the phantom of a dream.  
  “Now farewell to silent sorrow! 
 Hear me, father: on the morrow, 
 Ere the lark with falling music 
 All the misty meadow fills, 
 
 I will don my mail, and taking 
 Spear and shield, when day is breaking 
 I will bear the load of duty 
 Out across the circling hills.  
  “Perhaps too late the course is chosen, 
 Now my sluggish blood is frozen 
 By the frost of age, but gladly 
 Thus I shake my shackles free; 
 I'll no longer rust, and cherish 
 Weak regrets, but fight and perish 
 In the cause of right, God willing! 
 This is not the place for me.”  
 
   The Sparrow-Hawk 
  From “Mandeville” 
  HIGH on a rock by the roaring river, 
 A castle that well might baulk 
 The fiercest onset that e'er was made 
 By robber baron in wayward raid, 
 Stood frowning down over field and town, 
 The Hold of the Sparrow-hawk.  
  For many a mile to the east and west 
 The hold could well be seen, 
 But the peasants dreaded it not a whit, 
 And little the burghers recked of it, 
 For none dwelt there save a lady fair 
 That a witch-wife was, I ween.  
 
  And a sparrow-hawk in her hall had she, 
 That never had stretched a wing, 
 But sat like stone, and mine author writes 
 That whoso watched it three days and nights 
 Might have what he would, were it evil or good, 
 If it were but an earthly thing.  
  A many came to the tower and watched 
 And had their will, and found 
 That small good came of their high success: 
 They mourned, and thought had they asked for less, 
 Perchance their joy would not sicken and cloy 
 When they had their wishes crowned.  
  When the sun was low on a wet grey day, 
 A knight to the castle came, 
 And the damsel greeted him well, and he 
 Sat late with his eyes on her face, while she 
 
 Sang sad love-lays of the olden days 
 Till his body was all aflame.  
  At glimmer of dawn he began his task 
 Of watching the faery bird; 
 With a voiceless thought and a hope full strong 
 He watched till the coming of evensong, 
 And his heart was light when the mirk midnight 
 In the broad elm branches stirred.  
  The arras moved to a straying breath 
 By an opening panel freed, 
 And either the gay knight idly dreamed, 
 Or women stood at his back and seemed 
 To whisper near to his straining ear, 
 But he laughed and took no heed.  
  The next day passed, and the dark drew down, 
 And the midnight hour came round, 
 
 And either the stern knight wildly dreamed, 
 Or the torchlight once upon armour gleamed, 
 And a sudden clang through the long room rang: 
 He scowled, but he stood his ground.  
  The third day went, and the midnight hour 
 Drew down in stillness dread, 
 And either the fierce knight madly dreamed, 
 Or a caitiff cursed and a damsel screamed, 
 And his breath came fast, but the danger passed, 
 For he never turned his head.  
  When the birds 'gan twitter, the lady came: 
 “There are streaks in the eastern sky, 
 Now choose your boon.” And the knight was fain 
 Of her lips and arms, and the golden skein 
 Of her flowing hair, and her cheek so fair, 
 And curve of her breast and thigh.  
 
  “I have great store of the good red gold, 
 My lands are broad and fine, 
 And I fear no foe; but my boon is this, 
 I will have the fire of your lips to kiss, 
 On your heaving breast I will seek my rest, 
 And your body shall cling to mine.”  
  “Take heed, take heed, thou heedless knight! 
 Such a wish as thine may bring 
 Shame to thy house, and woe, and scorn, 
 For knowest thou not I am faery born? 
 Seek not thy bane, but choose again, 
 And crave an earthly thing.”  
  “Dear heart, I have seen thy deep dark eyes! 
 I have heard thy clear voice sing, 
 And it sang of death and of love's sweet lore! 
 I have touched thy hand, and I long for more, 
 Thy golden hair and thy breasts half bare— 
 So I ask no other thing.”  
 
  “No longer tarry, but get thee gone 
 To thy wife and children three; 
 For thy lewd desires and thy words so brave 
 I shall give thee a gift that thou dost not crave, 
 For thy sons ill-fame, for thy daughter shame, 
 And an infamous death for thee.”  
  The woods were glad with the warm sunshine, 
 The mavis thrilled the air, 
 When the knight rode forth from the castle gate, 
 His head sunk down with his sorrow's weight; 
 His eyes were dim with his future grim, 
 And glazed with a dull despair.  
 
 
   Storm 
  LIKE a ship shuddering along the sea 
 When dark-grey clouds fly shredding in the rack, 
 And far away a huge bank clambers black 
 Above the horizon, rumbling terribly, 
 And all men wonder what the end will be, 
 Flung heavenward and rushing headlong back 
 Into the depth, while all the foamy track 
 Hisses and roars and shouts in deadly glee; 
 
 So now I fly before my thoughts and find 
 No haven, and my spirit vainly broods 
 On life and death, now hurled by hope on high 
 With strange exultant laughter, straight declined 
 Into the gloom of dull despondent moods— 
 But yet I know God's sun is in the sky.  
 
   For My Sister 
  STRONGER by far than kinship's casual tie 
 Is that strong bond of friendship that unites 
 Two hearts in mutual trust, till each delights 
 To rest upon the other; each will cry 
 Its hopes and fears, as certain of reply 
 As one of echoes by the frowning heights 
 Of mountain walls and gorges when the night's 
 Soft voice of peace is hushed expectantly:  
  And so we stand together, you and I, 
 For you are good to me, and there are few 
 More dear to me in grief or joy than you, 
 And few hold fast my thoughts while you are by. 
 
 Then, sister, thus in soul I humbly bend 
 And greet you by the sacred name of 
 Friend.  
 
   Serenade 
  THE sky is icy blue, love, 
 The pale stars coldly shine; 
 Chill creeps the drenching dew, love, 
 About this form of mine; 
 But my heart is warm and true, love, 
 And my heart and soul are thine— 
 My heart and soul are thine!  
  Dead leaves and hopes are strewn, love, 
 On the summer's mournful bier, 
 For the wintry soul of June, love, 
 Now clips the shivering year; 
 But I scorn her wild sad tune, love, 
 For I know that thou art near— 
 I know that thou art near!  
 
  A fainting wind now calls, love, 
 The leaves from the sighing tree, 
 And each as it rustling falls, love, 
 Seems hissing “Beware!” to me; 
 But I gaze at the silent walls, love, 
 And I know that they harbour thee— 
 I know that they harbour thee!  
 
   The Presence of the Bush 
  IN lonely gullies and secluded dells, 
 And on the rocky hills and by the river, 
 I've whispered many a time 
 Soft secrets to the wind that never tells, 
 And many a fairy rhyme 
 I've learnt where shade and light together quiver.  
  But all too weak am I to tell the tale 
 The spirits of the sweet bush murmur to me; 
 I strive, but all in vain, 
 
 To sing the songs of wonderland—I fail 
 To give the notes again 
 That like a wave of joy thrill through and through me.  
  The city has no pleasures like to these; 
 In cramping walls the wind through crannies hisses 
 A curse of rankling hate, 
 But here it whispers love to all the trees, 
 And tinkling brooklets sate 
 Their laughing souls in melodies of kisses.  
  And birds are here, and blossoms with a scent 
 Of summer and the beauty of a dream; 
 But I am dazed, and though 
 My heart is full of music merged and blent 
 In streams of sound, I know 
 The light I bring from them is but a gleam.  
 
  And I am lapped in glory, and I long 
 For strength to share my joy with friend and foe; 
 Ah, friends! ah, brothers mine! 
 If I could blend my longings in a song, 
 As grapes are crushed in wine, 
 You might hear words would make your spirits glow.  
 
   The Picture 
  MISTER! I'm in want o' money; give me some —I won't say “please.” 
 You've got plenty; I've got nothing, an' it isn't altogether 
 Through my fault that I'm here loafin', like a scarecrow—Look at these— 
 Bet yer hat I didn't mean to choose these rags for rainy weather. 
 I don't cringe an' beg yer money on the common dead-beat plan. 
 But I stop and claim it from yer as a right from man to man.  
 
  See my hands! They're rough with labour, but I won't bow down an' whine 
 Just because I'm almost starvin'; I won't work upon yer feelin', 
 With a yarn to make yer give me what my manhood says is mine. 
 Damn yer eyes I'd rather steal it—if yer like to call it stealin'. 
 Why should you have fancy dinners till the starvin' poor are fed? 
 You've no right to jam an' treacle while a brother starves for bread!  
  Why should I be poor an' ragged, while such fools as—that 'un there, 
 With his straw hat, strut and gabble, full o' scorn, an' neat an' stately, 
 Thinkin' all the girls is runnin' after 'im? Now, is it fair?— 
 
 Don't you lean agin' the railins'; they've been paintin' of 'em lately— 
 Like enough, he's tight an' spendin' tin on some unholy lark, 
 On the nights when, tired an' hungry, I'm a-dossin' in the Park.  
  …. Earned it? …. Look across the road, now—that way!—what d'yer think o' that? 
 See the kid, the little gal there, dirty, dabblin' in the gutter, 
 Splashin' round a stinkin' puddle by the carcass of a cat! 
 Does that sort o' picture help to enjoy yer bread an' butter? 
 Taint her fault, I tell yer, mister, that's the life that she endures, 
 But while you are still and silent, maybe part of it is yours.  
 
  She don't have a chance, I tell yer! If she isn't dead before, 
 What'll be her fate, poor devil, when she's eight or nine years older? 
 She'll be beggin' in the street, sir, beggin' like a common whore, 
 In the slavery to which your nineteenth century has sold her; 
 That's what's wrong! The blasted system pampers you an' crushes me; 
 'Elp to alter the conditions. Curse yer bloody charity!  
  Thanks! Shake hands! I see you fancy I'm a little off my head. 
 But a better time is comin', an' it won't be so much longer 
 As the Fat Man thinks before the worker claims an' eats the bread 
 
 That he earns by honest labour; for the cause is growin' stronger. 
 I'll give you yer money's value—picture of a beggar brat 
 Playin' in a filthy gutter with a putrifyin' cat!  
 
   Fulfilment 
  LIKE a bird cheered with sunshine after rain, 
 My soul pants joyous music, and is glad 
 Of your sweet presence, dear, since I have had 
 Assurance of your love, and all the pain 
 Of strange past folly ne'er must come again 
 To dim those eyes or make your spirit sad; 
 What matter both have been so blindly mad? 
 We see each other's eyes—and we are sane.  
  Time passes: seize the present moment, dear; 
 Cling fast!—I love you—let us take our fill 
 Of pleasure! Let us live our lives, and still 
 Banish from out our hearts the bitter fear! 
 
 Borne on the surge of passion's waves, at last 
 Let us forget the miserable past!  
 
   Sonnet 
  OH! that swift words of fire might leave my pen 
 Like lightning on a stormy midnight sky, 
 That all the moods that love and hate supply 
 Might be expressed to move the minds of men 
 As wind among the branches, that the glen 
 Might lend its sweetness, and the mountains high 
 Their melancholy awe, and the long sigh 
 Of summer-tide its peace, for surely then 
 
 My songs would ring sweet chimes in noble ears 
 And fill the listening world with melody 
 Till every land would quiver at my fame 
 And treasure it through dark and shining years; 
 Then would all nations learn to worship thee, 
 Dear love, and bow at mention of thy name.  
 
   Rouge Et Noir 
  WHY should I be thus shaken by a dream, 
 Than which a baby's babble has more meaning, 
 Unless the tedious thoughts that I have traced 
 Of late to where they lose themselves in the sea 
 Have wronged my sense? And that my friendship, too, 
 Should lay the spell on me To think that love 
 Like mine should send a clap of misery 
 To cling upon me like a shadowy plague 
 That baffles grappling! 
 Under a sloping roof 
 Of twining branches, as I thought, I lay 
 And read, and in among the perfect green 
 
 Of new-burst leaves the sunlight pierced and threw 
 Round splashes of lilac colour on the book, 
 Twinned circles wavering to the sleepy sigh 
 Of noontide, and the gladioles were stirred 
 To half-heard rustlings in their yellowing blades 
 And light seed-bearing wands; the lizard sunned 
 His grace of bronze beside the crisping leaves 
 That the last storm had torn from the trees; afar 
 The steam-boat panted on the river. While 
 I lay with fettered senses, lazily 
 Following Gautama's golden words and deeds, 
 I heard a sound of slowly-wending feet 
 Approaching, so I rose and thrust apart 
 The boughs and looked; a sad-faced company 
 Of men and maids and children walked adown 
 
 The hillside with its rust of perished ferns, 
 And each of them was clad in spotless white 
 And crowned with faded leaves, and in their midst 
 Four young men bare a coffin, over which 
 Was spread a blood-red pall. There as they went 
 The shrubs and flowers drooped behind them. Then 
 With reverent head I stood, and while they passed 
 I plucked the hindmost by the sleeve to ask 
 Whose body lay beneath yon crimson pall; 
 For answer came two whispered words that struck 
 My soul to dulness, but I watched them go, 
 With one thought in my heart, and on my lips 
 One single phrase—“He was my friend, my friend!” 
 
 Before the words had died away, the bush 
 Had vanished, but the thought remained unchanged.  
  Now I was in my sleeping-room, and there 
 With a keen knife I pierced a purple vein 
 Within my arm, and lay awaiting death, 
 And listening to the dripping of the blood 
 That redly marked the passing time. I heard 
 The bees at work in the blossoming tree before 
 My window, and I heard a lumbering cart 
 Toil up the road with picnickers, and still 
 My blood flowed and my strength ebbed, but I thought 
 Of him, the boy I loved, and was content 
 To die, for we might meet beyond the bourne, 
 Or, though we met not, dreamless sleep were better 
 Than waking misery. A distant clock 
 Tolled out the hour, and a cow lowed far away, 
 
 And farther still it seemed to me, my ears 
 Being blunted so that the sound of ruddy drops 
 Scarce entered, and my strength was almost null; 
 All will or power to move had faded out, 
 Till I was ripe for the end. Then suddenly 
 Before the darkness fell I heard a laugh 
 Out in the sunshine, and my name was cried 
 In joyous tones; his foot scattered the gravel 
 As he ran through the garden, but I lay 
 Powerless, and the horror beats amain 
 At my temples as I write; I crushed my force 
 Into a single knot for one last cry, 
 To shout his name, and, with the effort, woke.  
 
   We Meet 
  I TOUCHED you as I passed you in the street 
 And for one moment looked you in the eyes— 
 Dark eyes and restful, sweet, 
 But full of baffled wonder and surmise; 
 I think you saw within my soul arise 
 The mad desire to perish at your feet.  
  A vague remembrance of some awful pain 
 Down the dark slopes of some forgotten age 
 Beat loudly in my brain, 
 And love that death himself could not assuage 
 Sang in a tone unknown to fool or sage. 
 We passed, and we may never meet again.  
 
   The Unfading Vision 
  HERE! 'twas here I sat that morning, change hath never set her feet 
 On this heap of rocky wildness where the gurgling waters meet— 
 Meet and sing and dance together, nodding to the thirsty tract, 
 Leap and laugh and hurry onward to the roaring cataract; 
 Down the darkly-frowning gorges, past the crouching, twisted trees, 
 Seeking other streams that saunter slowly to the distant seas. 
 Here I sat and watched the breezes scud along the dark hillside. 
 
 Where across the stunted grasses ghostly shadows sweep and glide, 
 And the darkness mounts at even from the glen with stealthy stride.  
  But I dreamed and saw before me, shining on the beaming hills, 
 Forms that smiled and beckoned upward, and their brightness thrilled, and thrills 
 All my being, and the runnels of my blood were charged with fire, 
 Till my soul was as a furnace of insatiable desire, 
 And I rose to leave the twilight of the place where doubtful sheen 
 Blotched the rocks that flanked the gully, gazing longingly between: 
 But methought the glade beneath me, glooming upward from below, 
 
 Echoed round with human echoes, shouts of hate and shrieks of woe, 
 Till a mighty horror bound me—chained me—and I could not go.  
  Then I wept, and cried: “My brothers, leave the harbourage of night, 
 Cease your strife and sorrow, brothers, clamber upward to the light, 
 Let us mount together, brothers!” but the clash of strife alone 
 Rang upon the air and rent it, shriek and sob and curse and groan, 
 And the shining heights above me stood with glittering peak and spire 
 Where the glorious shapes were calling, clad in robes of opal fire. 
 “Mystic maiden,” then I murmured, “thou, and thou alone, canst save! 
 
 Soul of love and music, teach me how to follow with the brave, 
 Come as thou didst come to help me weeping on a comrade's grave.”  
  Lo! a voice like flowers breathing all their souls upon the air 
 Answered: “I am here to help you—here to comfort your despair.” 
 There she stood in all her beauty, smiling, graceful, fair, and warm, 
 And her fragrant hair was softly floating round her shapely form; 
 So I bent in supplication: “Help!” I cried, “the kindly skies 
 Nestle down upon the hill-tops and the spirits cry ‘Arise!’ 
 But this hell that seethes around me holds me here, and all in vain 
 
 Wing my cries—they will not hear me! are they wedded to their pain? 
 Here behold the gloom I flee from, there the glamour I would gain.”  
  Then a sorrow, sinking through her, deepened in her pensive eyes, 
 As she answered low: “I see them, and I hear the grating cries 
 Rising from the chaos; never may you gain the heights above, 
 Downward, downward to the darkness, follow in the steps of Love.” 
 And she stepped amid the tumult, bringing peace and bringing light, 
 So I followed—but above me hung the summits glowing bright. 
 Oh! I longed for space to live in, open skies and spreading view, 
 
 Meadows stretching to the distance, fair with grass and gleaming dew; 
 But the gloomy valley hoarded greater treasure than I knew.  
  There the maiden dwelt for ever, and I bowed before her will, 
 And her very presence, somehow, seemed insensibly to fill 
 Every spot with light and pleasance, and I followed her and trod 
 In her footsteps, and I worshipped her as Christians worship God— 
 She was life to me; and after, when I thought upon the heights 
 That were glinting, gleaming, glowing with their opalescent lights, 
 Back I turned to other fancies of a maiden past compare, 
 
 Of a maiden clad in beauty and a wealth of flowing hair, 
 Of a maiden ever youthful—and I ridiculed Despair.  
 
 
 
 

http://ns.ausnc.org.au/corpora/austlit/source/bresong#Text