Araluen [poem by Henry Kendall, 27 September 1879]

[Editor: A poem by Henry Kendall, regarding the death of his baby daughter. Published in The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser, 27 September 1879. It was also published in Songs from the Mountains (1880).]


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’re 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 it 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 hand 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.


The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (Sydney, NSW), 27 September 1879, p. 494

Also published in:
The West Australian (Perth, WA), 18 November 1879, p. 2
Henry Kendall, Songs from the Mountains, Sydney: William Maddock, 1880, pp. 122-126
Henry Kendall, Rose Lorraine and Other Poems, Sydney: W. H. Honey, 1945, pp. 4-6

Editor’s notes:
This poem was written by Henry Kendall regarding his daughter, Lizzie Araluen Kendall, who died on 2 February 1870, in Richmond, Victoria, aged thirteen months old (she was born 2 January 1869, in Glebe Point, NSW). Araluen’s death was a terrible tragedy for Henry and his wife, Charlotte.

Henry Kendall had previously written a different poem by the same name, “Araluen”, which was published in: Henry Kendall, Leaves from Australian Forests, Melbourne: George Robertson, 1869, pp. 24-27.

ere = before (from the Middle English “er”, itself from the Old English “aer”, meaning early or soon)

Births”, The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, NSW), 5 January 1869, p. 1
Deaths”, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 5 February 1870, p. 4
Araluen Kendall”, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 22 November 1924, p. 8
Henry Kendall”, Kendall (accessed 12 March 2015)

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