Lament for the Dying Moon [poem by Louis Esson]

[Editor: This poem by Louis Esson was published in Red Gums and Other Verses (1912).]

Lament for the Dying Moon.

O little Moon, O little silver Moon,
The reeds are trembling by the lone lagoon
For you are fading, fading like a flower
A tropic night has quenched in one warm hour.
Dark grows the earth, and dark the lonely sky,
No more, with lovers’ lamp, you pass us by.

* * *

All living things must fade and change and pass
A planet, as the night-shade from the grass.
And are you glad of rest from wandering
Across a world that holds no constant thing,
Or have you one regret for land and sea,
Mother of Magic and of Mystery!

* * *

How many dreams, how many hopes and fears
Your eyes have brightened, these ten thousand years!
What glittering shows have swept within your ken,
The tears, the prayers, the pomps of mortal men,
Gold, incense, crumbling cities, all the vast
Vague and voluptuous vision of the Past!

* * *

The Shepherd-kings of Israel owned your sway.
By you Phoenician sailors made their way
To fragrant island and romantic shore.
Torches of cedar flared, the victims’ roar
Sated Chaldean altars. Naught remains
Of swinging censers and of swooning fanes.

* * *

Your path of splendour thro’ the ages flames,
And men have hymned you in a myriad names.
The Huntress of the Dawn with arrows keen,
The Lamp of Heaven, the Pharaoh’s Bride and Queen,
Selene, Diane, Soma, Star of Night —
And you must pass, O Moon of all Delight!

* * *

And when you fade forever from the earth
To quiet sleep or some mysterious birth,
Lovers and poets, Moon, when you are gone,
Remembering the magic nights you shone
Upon the world, to kindle kisses, dreams,
They will lament you, and your vanished beams.

Louis Esson, Red Gums and Other Verses, Melbourne: Fraser & Jenkinson, 1912, pages 12-13

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