The Banks of Wollombi [poem by Basil E. Kendall, 26 February 1861]

[Editor: A poem published in The Empire, 26 February 1861.]

The Banks of Wollombi.

An Australian Lyric,

By Basil E. Kendall

Some lovely tints are lingering yet
Above the couch of pallid day,
Where nature mourns with fond regret
For all her treasures snatched away.
The crimson brilliance shuns the lake,
But trembles on the branches still;
And faithless lights have left the brake;
To glimmer round the orient hill.
A scattered force of evening shades
Are gathering up the southern sky,
To chase the glory from the glades,
And cloak the banks of Wollombi.

We’ll wander hand in hand with thought,
Along the tranquil water’s side,
Ere night grows old on scenes we sought
In days before you were my bride.
And faith and hope will join our train —
For from a past undimmed by tears,
We’ll turn to love’s undying reign,
Beneath the suns of future years.
And while the laughing ripples chime,
To every wind-breath floating by,
We’ll raise the veil of mystic time
Upon the banks of Wollombi.

We’ll choose some lone, secluded nook,
Some well-remember’d rural seat,
Where we can watch the babbling brook
Bear leafy blossoms from our feet;
The myrtle trees, among the rocks,
Will whisper in the restless air,
And shake their perfume-bearing locks
Like sportive children free of care.
And while we talk of pleasant hours,
And while the golden moments fly,
I’ll weave for thee a crown of flowers
Upon the banks of Wollombi.

* * * * *

The youthful stars are still as pale
Behind the blue mysterious skies,
As modest Beauty in the veil
That shrouds her from enquiring eyes.
Where reddening mountains bear the flush,
Out-streaming through the eastern doors,
The moon comes forth with merry blush
To tread high Heaven’s gilded floors;
And curlew-screams are roaming wide
Through tea-tree marshes far and nigh;
And we are sitting side by side
Upon the banks of Wollombi!

How many things about this place
Recall the vernal years of yore!
How many relics we may trace
Of friendships fled for evermore!
On pendant bough, and tangled brake,
There’s not a single forest-bloom
That has no power at all to wake
Some latent memory from the tomb;
And Fancy chants a bygone strain
On every eddy dancing by,
As if we both were young again
Upon the banks of Wollombi!

Kind kindred spirits round us throng,
Familiar forms once more have met;
And we are singing pleasure’s song,
To hearts that claim affection yet.
O’er fragrant lands and tufted grass,
With ferns and emerald tresses rife,
The waves of light and shadow pass,
Like scenes that cross the path of life.
Here wakes the lyre, I joy to hear,
Above the springs of poesy;
Here gleams the face I hold so dear,
Upon the banks of Wollombi!

I twine my fingers through the gold,
That ripples down your peerless cheek;
Your eyes are dazzling to behold,
And love leaps out, his prayer to speak.
The bell-birds cluster round the spray,
Blight music roves, with outspread wings,
And all my soul is borne away
On boyhood’s wild imaginings;
For you are kind, your words are sweet,
And I have little cause to sigh
For riches scatter’d at your feet,
Upon the banks of Wollombi!

* * * * * *

Like sun-gleam fading down the west,
Like glimmering lamp or setting sail,
So in the regions of the breast
Rememb’rance lingers faint and pale;
We cannot light the days of yore,
Or call again departed springs,
But balmy scenes are stretched before,
Where we may look on happier things.
And though the hair has changed its hue —
Though time has dimmed the cheek and eye —
Our hearts are beating warm and true
Upon the banks of Wollombi.

A darkling group of thunder-clouds,
Are sailing up to meet the moon,
A demon shadow overshrouds
The glory on the clear lagoon;
The wandering spirit of the storms
Flies moaning past the ancient trees,
That lift their time-defying forms
To mock the anger of the breeze;
But need we ever mourn the ray
That gales have driven from the sky,
While fond affection holds its sway
Upon the banks of Wollombi?

The Empire (Sydney, NSW), 26 February 1861, p. 2

Editor’s notes:
Basil E. Kendall was the brother of Henry Kendall.

[Editor: Corrected “Recal” to “Recall”; “glod” to “gold”.]

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