Keira [poem by E. J. Brady]

[Editor: This poem by E. J. Brady was published in Bells and Hobbles (1911).]


When Youth, a callow Knight untried,
With golden spurs to win,
Rode bright in armor at his side,
And, all his Soul within,
Love sang him on a harp apart
A song of young desire —
He, careless, threw another heart
On Life’s red altar fire.

On Keira rose the sun that day,
By Illawarra green;
On grand old Keira, far away
Beyond the Might-Have-Been.
The sun on Keira, like an earl,
Still flaunts his banners brave;
But at his feet the dews impearl
The grass above a grave.

Oh, whiter than the surf was she
That breaks those coasts along;
And redder than the coral tree
That grows by Gerringong;
And graceful as the springing palm
On Illawarra hills;
And sweeter than the meadow balm
By cool Shoalhaven rills.

A maiden of old fairyland,
With dove eyes, shy and brown;
A youth with Happiness in hand,
Who flung the rare gift down!
For he was tall and true and strong,
In her adoring eyes;
Nor could he harbor thought of wrong,
Be perjured or unwise.

To her he came, Love’s Avatar,
Resistless, from the West;
Upon his forehead shone the star
Of Morning for his crest.
World-old her dream, as songs aver
By primal poets sung;
But new and ever sweet to her
Who trusted and who clung.

He scorned the guerdon he had won,
And went his youthful ways;
So fame bewitched him, and anon
He drank the cup of Praise.
Then Gold and Women snared his thought,
And drew him to his fall;
He strove, he conquered, won and sought
And lived — to curse it all.

Grey hairs lie on him, and his brow
Is ploughed by Time. The goad
Is ever; but he would that now
He took the other road;
For, often as his mem’ry brings
Its echoes from Beyond,
One voice through all the distance rings,
Despairing, lost and fond.

He hears it in the crowded towns;
He hears it on the seas;
He hears it where the star-dome crowns
The bush infinities.
“Come back to grand old Keira;
I wait, dear heart, for thee;
Come back again to Keira,
And Love, and Youth, and Me.”

The sun on Keira, sinking yet,
Doth furl his banners brave;
And at his feet the night-dews wet
The grass above her grave.
Its wreath of joy, its cross of pain
Each generation bears;
But Time shall surely reap the grain
And sift it from the tares.

And this is true; all else is vain
And idle at the last:—
No foot shall ever find again
The cross roads of the Past.
Unto the Dark and Narrow Place
Each man must bring his load;
And woe to him who turned his face
From his appointed road!

E. J. Brady, Bells and Hobbles, Melbourne: George Robertson & Co., 1911, pp. 136-138

Editor’s notes:
anon = at another time, later (can also mean: soon, shortly)

avatar = the embodiment, personification, or visible manifestation of a concept, idea, philosophy, principle, or quality (especially appearing in human form); the earthly incarnation or manifestation of a deity or a released soul (appearing in human, superhuman, or animal form); an image, icon, character, or creature which represents a computer user in a video game, internet chat room, internet forum, or similar online space

aver = to assert, declare, or state something to be a fact; to declare positively that something is definitely true; (in a court of law) to allege or assert something as a fact (past tense: averred)

doth = (archaic) does

furl = to roll up something (usually fabric or fabric-like material) neatly and tightly around something (such as a stick or pole) or to roll it up into a tight tube shape (e.g. to roll up a flag); to roll up or fold something tightly and make secure (e.g. to roll up and secure a ship’s sail)

Gerringong = a town on the southern coast of New South Wales, located south of Kiama and north of Gerroa and Berrys Bay

goad = a prick, a stick with a sharp point, which was used to control farm oxen, by prodding them in the legs, so as to prod them onwards, or to move them in a different direction; used in the phrase “kick against the goads” (or singular “goad”), or “kick against the pricks”, which appears in the Bible, in Acts 26:14

guerdon = reward or recompense; or to give a reward or recompense to someone

Illawarra = a region on the coast of New South Wales, south of Sydney and north of Shoalhaven; the region includes Kiama, Lake Illawarra, Port Kembla, Shellharbour, and Wollongong

Keira = Mount Keira, a mountain located west of Wollongong (New South Wales); a suburb named Mount Keira is located on the mountain’s summit and southern side

mem’ry = (vernacular) memory

rill = a very small brook, creek, or stream (a rivulet)

Shoalhaven = a region on the southern coast of New South Wales, which includes the Budawang Ranges, Kangaroo Valley, Morton National Park, and the town of Nowra (although Shoalhaven has a dispersed populace, it was designated a city in 1948)

tare = an troublesome weed found in fields of grain, mentioned in the Bible, in the “parable of the tares” (Matthew 13:25-40); it is believed that the biblical “tare” is “darnel” (also known as poison darnel, darnel ryegrass, Lolium temulentum), a noxious weed which looks like wheat
See: Sarah Laskow, “Wheat’s evil twin has been intoxicating humans for centuries”, Atlas Obscura, 22 March 2016

thee = (archaic) you

Speak Your Mind