The Evening Hour [poem by Menie Parkes]

[Editor: This poem by Menie Parkes was published in Poems (1867).]

The Evening Hour.

What is’t thou meanest, solemn hour
Of soft composure? what thy power
That seals our lips almost from breath,
And bids us couple night with death?

Now God folds down His silence o’er us;
Suspensive, leans across the world,
Baring his waiting heart before us,
With its star-bannered love unfurled.

What is the solemn, sacred theme
That deepens in the deepening shade?
What mystic meaning in that gleam
Of lamp-light far along the glade?

There is a strange, mysterious thrill
In every faintly-stirring leaf,
In the soft flowing of the rill,
And the corn’s rustling, rattling sheaf.

I feel it on the impulsive air
That palpitates around my brows, —
That gentle, buoyant messenger
For whom the evening primrose blows.

I see it on the darkened world,
Frowning because the heavens are light:
My heart earth’s joy has from me hurled—
The heavens and Heaven have power to-night.

I see it on the pearling life,
Flushing the quickening east to light;
Cutting me free with a moon-ray knife,
And lifting my soul through the sacred night.

Yes: ’tis the holy waiting hour,
When God doth a mightier message send,
And Nature’s myriad forms have power
Eternity and time to blend.

* * * *

I’ve seen a sight I cannot tell,
I’ve listened thoughts I cannot speak;
I have been still, and let the swell
Of mystery upon me break.

And oh, I know the holy peace
And noble teachings of thought’s power
Shall make, until my life shall cease
My dearest time — an evening hour!

Menie Parkes, Poems, F. Cunninghame, Sydney, [1867], pages 46-47

Editor’s notes:
rill = a very small brook, creek or stream (a rivulet)

[Editor: Corrected “Yes: to” to “Yes: ’tis”, with regard to the “Errata” corrections.]

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