On Nights Like These [poem by “Dryblower” Murphy, 1926]

[Editor: This poem by “Dryblower” Murphy was published in Dryblower’s Verses (1926).]

On Nights Like These.

(Written during the fearful Trevessa storm.)

On nights like these, when breezes bitter blow
And all the wrath of God comes down in rain,
When crowded clouds hang pendulously low
And hell’s battalions march the ungoverned main,
The puny human crouching in his cot
Shuts himself in from all the storm and strife,
Knowing no tithe of mankind’s cruel lot,
Where Death, assassin Death, leaps after Life,
The ocean gales gigantic shake the shores;
The fierce tornadoes trample on the trees;
Man to his Maker all his soul outpours
On nights like these!

On nights like these we think of sinking ships,
Of sailors drowned, of landsmen lost to life;
The brave bruised liner that to silence slips,
Cutting the ooze as cuts a colossal knife.
And to the warring waters, now her grave
Rush rescue boats, steam-speeded to her pray’r;
But over where she lies the waters lave
The few poor fragments floating lonely there,
Some gulls affrighted where she lately swirled
A ghostly death-cry beating on the breeze;
The wail of orphans echoes round the world
On nights like these!

On nights like these we think of dear ones dead,
Lying so cold beneath the showered sand,
The sombre cypress dripping overhead,
A pall of darkness o’er that lifeless land.
When suns are shining and the skies are blue,
And God’s own glory-light illumes the way,
We see the rose that blooms amid the rue;
We kneel to pluck the lilies where they stray.
But when the darkness comes and we depart,
Though knowing they are clustered round His knees;
O, but the hopeless longing in the heart —
On nights like these!

On nights like these we think of kings accurst,
Kaisers and such who woke the world to war,
Blasphemous brutes whose tyrant hearts have nursed
Ambitious madness in their cankered core.
When they by say or sign had dug a grave
For millions lying mangled where they fell,
The wild, wild voices of the land and wave
Bring to them all the horrors of a hell.
The thunders of the sky, the shouting storms,
Recall the dead that sleep beneath the seas;
These Cains see Death in all its fearful forms —
On nights like these!

Stand you with me upon some mighty hill
When the Great Hand strikes on the stormy chords;
Watch where the rain-clouds all their fullness spill;
Hear you the thunder of the over-lords.
Look where the lightning leaps and gashes deep
The bosom of the timid, trembling earth;
Hear you the tumult where the surges sweep
And great ships groan as ones of human birth.
These are the tokens of Almighty Power,
Whose breaths can burn, whose blizzards blast and freeze.
God shows Himself to man in every hour —
On nights like these!



Source:
Edwin Greenslade Murphy, Dryblower’s Verses, Perth, W.A.: E. G. Murphy, 1926, pages 102-103

Previously published (with some differences) in:
The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 10 June 1923, p. 4

Editor’s notes:
Cain = the oldest of the two sons of Adam and Eve (according to the Bible, in the Book of Genesis); Cain murdered Abel, and thus the word Cain became associated with murder

cot = a crib (a bed for a baby or small child; an enclosed bed with high sides); a portable bed (made of fabric, especially canvas, stretched over a folding frame); can also refer to a cottage or a small house

lave = to lap up against or wash up against

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