Persia [poem by Henry Kendall]

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


I am writing this song at the close
Of a beautiful day of the spring,
In a dell where the daffodil grows,
By a grove of the glimmering wing.
From glades where a musical word
Comes ever from luminous fall,
I send you the song of a bird
That I wish to be dear to you all.

I have given my darling the name
Of a land at the gates of the day,
Where morning is always the same,
And spring never passes away.
With a prayer for a lifetime of light,
I christened her Persia, you see;
And I hope that some fathers to-night
Will kneel in the spirit with me.

She is only commencing to look
At the beauty in which she is set;
And forest, and flower, and brook,
To her are all mysteries yet.
I know that to many my words
Will seem insignificant things;
But you who are mothers of birds
Will feel for the father who sings.

For all of you doubtless have been
Where sorrows are many and wild;
And you know what a beautiful scene
Of this world can be made by a child.
I am sure, if they listen to this,
Sweet women will quiver, and long
To tenderly stoop to and kiss
The Persia I’ve put in a song.

And I’m certain the critic will pause,
And excuse, for the sake of my bird,
My sins against critical laws —
The slips in the thought and the word.
And, haply, some dear little face
Of his own to his mind will occur —
Some Persia who brightens his place —
And I’ll be forgiven for her.

A life that is turning to gray
Has hardly been happy you see;
But the rose that has dropped on my way
Is morning and music to me.
Yea, she that I hold by the hand
Is changing white winter to green,
And making a light of the land —
All fathers will know what I mean!

All women and men who have known
The sickness of sorrow and sin,
Will feel — having babes of their own —
My verse and the pathos therein.
For that must be touching which shows
How a life has been led from the wild
To a garden of glitter and rose,
By the flowerlike hand of a child.

She is strange to this wonderful sphere:
One summer and winter have set
Since God left her radiance here —
Her sweet second year is not yet.
The world is so lovely and new
To eyes full of eloquent light;
And, sisters, I’m hoping that you
Will pray for my Persia to-night.

For I who have suffered so much,
And know what the bitterness is,
Am sad to think sorrow must touch
Some day even darlings like this!
But sorrow is part of this life;
And, therefore, a father doth long
For the blessing of mother and wife
On the bird he has put in a song.

Henry Kendall, Songs from the Mountains, Sydney: William Maddock, 1880, pages 87-91

Editor’s notes:

haply = by accident, by chance, or by luck

pathos = compassion or pity; or an experience, or a work of art, that evokes feelings of compassion or pity

yea = yes; indeed; truly; an affirmation (especially an affirmative vote), an indication of assent

Old spelling in the original text:
doth (does)

[Editor: Changed “By he flowerlike” to “By the flowerlike”.]

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