Orara [poem by Henry Kendall]

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


The strong sob of the chafing stream,
That seaward fights its way
Down crags of glitter, dells of gleam,
Is in the hills to-day.

But, far and faint, a gray-winged form
Hangs where the wild lights wane:
The phantom of a bygone storm —
A ghost of wind and rain.

The soft white feet of Afternoon
Are on the shining meads:
The breeze is as a pleasant tune
Amongst the happy reeds.

The fierce, disastrous flying fire,
That made the great caves ring,
And scarred the slope, and broke the spire,
Is a forgotten thing.

The air is full of mellow sounds;
The wet hill-heads are bright;
And, down the fall of fragrant grounds,
The deep ways flame with light.

A rose-red space of stream I see
Past banks of tender fern:
A radiant brook, unknown to me
Beyond its upper turn.

The singing silver life I hear,
Whose home is in the green
Far-folded woods of fountains clear
Where I have never been.

Ah, brook above the upper bend,
I often long to stand
Where you in soft cool shades descend
From the untrodden Land!

Ah, folded woods that hide the grace
Of moss and torrents strong,
I often wish to know the face
Of that which sings your song!

But I may linger, long, and look
Till night is over all:
My eyes will never see the brook,
Or sweet strange waterfall!

The world is round me with its heat,
And toil, and cares that tire:
I cannot with my feeble feet
Climb after my desire.

But, on the lap of lands unseen,
Within a secret zone,
There shine diviner gold and green
Than man has ever known.

And where the silver waters sing,
Down hushed and holy dells,
The flower of a celestial Spring —
A tenfold splendour, dwells.

Yea, in my dream of fall and brook
By far sweet forests furled,
I see that light for which I look
In vain through all the world.

The glory of a larger sky
On slopes of hills sublime
That speak with God and Morning, high
Above the ways of Time!

Ah! haply, in this sphere of change
Where shadows spoil the beam
It would not do to climb that range
And test my radiant Dream.

The slightest glimpse of yonder place,
Untrodden and alone,
Might wholly kill that nameless grace
The charm of the Unknown.

And therefore, though I look and long,
Perhaps the lot is bright
Which keeps the river of the song
A beauty out of sight.

Henry Kendall, Songs from the Mountains, Sydney: William Maddock, 1880, pages 153-157

[Editor: Changed “to day” to “to-day”.]

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