After Many Years [poem by Henry Kendall]

[Editor: This poem by Henry Kendall was published in Songs from the Mountains (1880).]

After Many Years.

The song that once I dreamed about,
The tender, touching thing,
As radiant as the rose without —
The love of wind and wing —
The perfect verses to the tune
Of woodland music set,
As beautiful as afternoon,
Remain unwritten yet.

It is too late to write them now,
The ancient fire is cold:
No ardent lights illume the brow
As in the days of old.
I cannot dream the dream again;
But when the happy birds
Are singing in the sunny rain,
I think I hear its words.

I think I hear the echo still
Of long forgotten tones,
When evening winds are on the hill,
And sunset fires the cones.
But only in the hours supreme
With songs of land and sea,
The lyrics of the leaf and stream,
This echo comes to me.

No longer doth the earth reveal
Her gracious green and gold:
I sit where youth was once, and feel
That I am growing old.
The lustre from the face of things
Is wearing all away:
Like one who halts with tired wings,
I rest and muse to-day.

There is a river in the range
I love to think about:
Perhaps the searching feet of change
Have never found it out.
Ah! oftentimes I used to look
Upon its banks, and long
To steal the beauty of that brook
And put it in a song.

I wonder if the slopes of moss
In dreams so dear to me —
The falls of flower and flower-like floss —
Are as they used to be!
I wonder if the waterfalls,
The singers far and fair
That gleamed between the wet green walls,
Are still the marvels there!

Ah! let me hope that in that place
The old familiar things
To which I turn a wistful face,
Have never taken wings.
Let me retain the fancy still
That, past the lordly range,
There always shines, in folds of hill,
One spot secure from change!

I trust that yet the tender screen
That shades a certain nook
Remains, with all its gold and green,
The glory of the brook!
It hides a secret, to the birds
And waters only known —
The letters of two lovely words:
A poem on a stone.

Perhaps the lady of the past
Upon these lines may light:
The purest verses and the last
That I may ever write.
She need not fear a word of blame;
Her tale the flowers keep;
The wind that heard me breathe her name
Has been for years asleep.

But, in the night, and when the rain
The troubled torrent fills,
I often think I see again
The river in the hills.
And when the day is very near,
And birds are on the wing,
My spirit fancies it can hear
The song I cannot sing.



Source:
Henry Kendall, Songs from the Mountains, Sydney: William Maddock, 1880, pages 225-230

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