Names upon a Stone [poem by Henry Kendall]

[Editor: This poem by Henry Kendall was published in Songs from the Mountains (1880).]

Names upon a Stone.

(Inscribed to G. L. Fagan, Esq.)

Across bleak widths of broken sea
A fierce north-easter breaks,
And makes a thunder on the lea —
A whiteness of the lakes.
Here, while beyond the rainy stream
The wild winds sobbing blow,
I see the river of my dream
Four wasted years ago.

Narrara of the waterfalls,
The darling of the hills,
Whose home is under mountain walls
By many-luted rills!
Her bright green nooks and channels cool
I never more may see;
But, ah! the Past was beautiful —
The sights that used to be.

There was a rock-pool in a glen
Beyond Narrara’s sands;
The mountains shut it in from men,
In flowerful fairy lands;
But once we found its dwelling-place —
The lovely and the lone;
And, in a dream, I stooped to trace
Our names upon a stone.

Above us, where the starlike moss
Shone on the wet green wall
That spanned the straitened stream across,
We saw the waterfall.
A silver singer far away
By folded hills and hoar,
Its voice is in the woods to-day —
A voice I hear no more.

I wonder if the leaves that screen
The rock-pool of the past
Are yet as soft and cool and green
As when we saw them last!
I wonder if that tender thing,
The moss, has overgrown
The letters by the limpid spring —
Our names upon the stone!

Across the face of scenes we know
There may have come a change;
The places seen four years ago
Perhaps would now look strange.
To you, indeed, they cannot be
What haply once they were:
A friend beloved by you and me
No more will greet us there.

Because I know the filial grief
That shrinks beneath the touch —
The noble love whose words are brief,
I will not say too much.
But often, when the night-winds strike
Across the sighing rills,
I think of him whose life was like
The rock-pool’s in the hills.

A beauty like the light of song
Is in my dreams that show
The grand old man who lived so long
As spotless as the snow.
A fitting garland for the dead
I cannot compass yet;
But many things he did and said
I never will forget.

In dells where once we used to rove
The slow sad water grieves;
And ever comes from glimmering grove
The liturgy of leaves.
But time and toil have marked my face —
My heart has older grown,
Since, in the woods, I stooped to trace
Our names upon the stone.



Source:
Henry Kendall, Songs from the Mountains, Sydney: William Maddock, 1880, pages 213-217

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