Araluen [poem by Henry Kendall]

[Editor: This poem by Henry Kendall was published in Leaves from Australian Forests (1869).]


River, myrtle-rimmed, and set
Deep amongst unfooted dells —
Daughter of grey hills of wet,
Born by mossed and yellow wells —

Now that soft September lays
Tender hands on thee and thine,
Let me think of blue-eyed days,
Star-like flowers, and leaves of shine!

Cities soil the life with rust:
Water-banks are cool and sweet:
River, tired of noise and dust
Here I come to rest my feet.

Now the month from shade to sun
Fleets and sings supremest songs,
Now the wilful woodwinds run
Through the tangled cedar throngs.

Here are cushioned tufts and turns
Where the sumptuous noontide lies.
Here are seen by flags and ferns
Summer’s large, luxurious eyes.

On this spot wan Winter casts
Eyes of ruth, and spares its green
From his bitter sea-nursed blasts,
Spears of rain and hailstones keen.

Rather here abideth Spring,
Lady of a lovely land,
Dear to leaf and fluttering wing,
Deep in blooms — by breezes fanned.

Faithful friend beyond the main —
Friend that Time nor Change makes cold —
Now, like ghosts, return again
Pallid perished days of old.

Ah, the days — the old, old theme,
Never stale, but never new,
Floating like a pleasant dream,
Back to me and back to you.

Since we rested on these slopes,
Seasons fierce have beaten down
Ardent loves and blossoming hopes —
Loves that lift, and hopes that crown.

But, believe me, still mine eyes
Often fill with light that springs
From divinity, which lies
Ever at the heart of things.

Solace do I sometimes find
Where you used to hear with me
Songs of stream and forest-wind,
Tones of wave and harp-like tree.

Araluen! home of dreams!
Fairer for its flowerful glade
Than the face of Persian streams,
Or the slopes of Syrian shade.

Why should I still love it so?
Friend and brother far away,
Ask the winds that come and go,
What hath brought me here to-day.

Evermore of you I think,
When the leaves begin to fall,
Where our river breaks its brink,
And a rest is over all.

Evermore in quiet lands,
Friend of mine beyond the sea,
Memory comes with cunning hands,
Stays, and paints your face for me.

Henry Kendall, Leaves from Australian Forests, Melbourne: George Robertson, 1869, pages 24-27

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