Forest Sanctuary [poem by C. J. Dennis]

[Editor: This poem by C. J. Dennis was published in The Singing Garden (1935).]

Forest Sanctuary

Seek you sorely, for a space,
Respite from the world’s dull fretting?
Come then to a secret place —
Man’s entanglements forgetting —
Deep within the forest dreaming,
Deep within its shadows cool,
Where the mountain waters streaming
Broaden to the placid beaming
Of a quiet pool.

Making here a great green tent,
Tea-tree bough and wattle bending —
As strong lovers’ arms are bent
Shielding beauty — droop, defending
This green sanctuary sleeping
In its soft green twilit day;
And a scrap of bright sky peeping
Thro’ the tall trees, sentry keeping,
Seems a world away.

Rage the tempest as it may
O’er the tree-tops, writhing, broiling;
Burn as may the burning day,
Frailer loveliness despoiling;
Summer’s scorn and Winter’s bluster
Seek in vain this hallowed spot
Lending its translucent lustre
To the nodding ferns that cluster
Many a mossy grot.

Steeply slope the banks above,
All the outer turmoil muting;
Softly, bush birds’ songs of love
Match an organ’s mellow fluting.
Here is peace past all conceiving
In this forest chancel, here
Spreads a grace that transmutes grieving
To hushed wonder, to believing
God is very near.



Source:
C. J. Dennis, The Singing Garden, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1935, pages 14-15

Editor’s notes:
chancel = the section of a church containing the altar, usually enclosed by a lattice or railing, for the use of the clergy and sometimes the choir

grot = (mainly used in literary works) grotto

o’er = over (pronounced the same as “oar”, “or”, and “ore”)

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