Sutherland’s Grave [poem by Henry Kendall]

[Editor: This poem by Henry Kendall was published in Leaves from Australian Forests (1869).]

Sutherland’s Grave.

[The first white man buried in Australia.]

All night long the sea out yonder — all night long the wailful sea,
Vext of winds and many thunders, seeketh rest unceasingly!
Seeketh rest in dens of tempest where, like one distraught with pain,
Shouts the wild-eyed sprite, Confusion: seeketh rest, and moans in vain!
Ah, but you should hear it calling, calling when the haggard sky
Takes the darks and damps of Winter with the mournful marsh-fowl’s cry;
Even while the strong, swift torrents from the rainy ridges come
Leaping down and breaking backwards — million coloured shapes of foam!
Then, and then, the sea out yonder chiefly looketh for the boon
Portioned to the pleasant valleys, and the grave sweet summer moon:
Boon of Peace, the still, the saintly spirit of the dewdells deep —
Yellow dells, and hollows haunted by the soft dim dreams of sleep.

All night long the flying water breaks upon the stubborn rocks —
Ooze-filled forelands burnt and blackened, smit and scarred with lightning shocks;
But above the tender sea-thrift — but beyond the flowering fern,
Runs a little pathway westward — pathway quaint with turn on turn —
Westward trending, thus it leads to shelving shores and slopes of mist:
Sleeping shores, and glassy bays of green and gold and amethyst!
There tread gently — gently, pilgrim; there with thoughtful eyes look round;
Cross thy breast and bless the silence: lo, the place is holy ground!
Holy ground for ever, stranger! All the quiet silver lights
Dropping from the starry heavens through the soft Australian nights —
Dropping on those lone grave-grasses — come serene, unbroken, clear,
Like the love of God the Father, falling, falling, year by year!
Yea, and like a Voice supernal, there the daily wind doth blow
In the leaves above the Sailor buried ninety years ago.

Henry Kendall, Leaves from Australian Forests, Melbourne: George Robertson, 1869, pages 115-117

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