Kiama [poem by Henry Kendall]

[Editor: This poem by Henry Kendall was published in Poems and Songs (1862).]


Towards the hills of Jamberoo
Some few fantastic shadows haste,
Uplit with fires
Like castle spires
Outshining through a mirage waste.
Behold, a mournful glory sits
On feathered ferns and woven brakes,
Where sobbing wild like restless child,
The gusty breeze of evening wakes !
Methinks I hear on every breath
A lofty tone go passing by,
That whispers — “Weave,
Though wood winds grieve,
The fadeless blooms of Poesy!”

A spirit hand has been abroad —
An evil hand to pluck the flowers ;
A world of wealth,
And blooming health
Has gone from fragrant seaside bowers !
The twilight waxeth dim and dark,
The sad waves mutter sounds of woe,
But the evergreen retains its sheen,
And happy hearts exist below !
But pleasure sparkles on the sward
And voices utter words of bliss ;
And while my bride
Sits by my side,
O ! where’s the scene surpassing this ?

Kiama slumbers robed with mist,
All glittering in the dewy light
That, brooding o’er
The shingly shore,
Lies resting in the arms of night !
And foam-flecked crags with surges chill,
And rocks embraced by cold-lipped spray,
Are moaning loud where billows crowd,
In angry numbers, up the bay.
The holy stars come looking down
On windy heights and swarthy strand ;
And Life and Love —
The cliffs above —
Are sitting fondly hand in hand !

I hear a music, inwardly,
That floods my soul with thoughts of joy ;
Within my heart
Emotions start,
That Time may still but ne’er destroy !
An ancient Spring revives itself,
And days which made the Past divine,
And rich warm gleams from golden dreams
All glorious in their summer shine !
And songs of half forgotten hours,
And many a sweet melodious strain
Which still shall rise,
Beneath the skies,
When all things else have died again.

A white sail glimmers out at sea —
A vessel walking in her sleep.
Some power goes past
That bends the mast,
While frighted waves to leeward leap !
The moonshine veils the naked sand,
And ripples upward with the tide ;
As underground there rolls a sound
From where the caverned waters glide.
A face that bears affection’s glow,
The soul that speaks from gentle eyes,
And joy which slips
From loving lips,
Have made this spot my Paradise !

Henry Kendall, Poems and Songs, J. R. Clarke, Sydney, 1862, pages 8-11

Editor’s notes:
leeward = the lee side of a ship or other vessel (the point or quarter towards which the wind blows on a ship); or, in a wider context, away from the wind (distinct from “windward”, regarding the windward or weather side of a ship or other vessel; or, in a wider context, towards the wind)

shingly = beach gravel consisting of coarse rounded pebbles

sward = a lawn or meadow; land covered with grass

waxeth = to wax: grow or increase gradually in intensity, number, size, strength, or volume (e.g. “the moonlight waxed and waned”); or to take on a particular characteristic or state (e.g. “to wax poetic”)

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