The Girl I Left Behind Me [poem by Henry Kendall]

[Editor: This poem by Henry Kendall was published in Poems and Songs (1862).]

The Girl I Left Behind Me.

(New words to an old air.)

With sweet Regret — (the dearest thing that Yesterday has left us) —
We often turn our homeless eyes to scenes whence Fate has reft us.
Here sitting by a fading flame, wild waifs of song remind me
Of Annie with her gentle ways, the Girl I left behind me.

I stood beside the surging sea, with lips of silent passion —
I faced you by the surging sea, O brows of mild repression !
I never said — “my darling, stay!” — the moments seemed to bind me
To something stifling all my words for the Girl I left behind me.

The pathos worn by common things — by every wayside flower,
Or autumn leaf on lonely winds, revives the parting hour.
Ye swooning thoughts that had no voice — ye tears which rose to blind me,
Why did she fade into the Dark, the Girl I left behind me.

At night they always come to me, the tender and true-hearted ;
And in my dreams we join again the hands which now are parted ;
And, looking through the gates of Sleep, the pleasant Moon doth find me
For ever wandering with my Love, the Girl I left behind me.

You know my life is incomplete, O far-off faint Ideal !
When shall I reach you from a depth of darkness which is real ?
So I may mingle, soul in soul, with her that Heaven assigned me ;
So she may lean upon my love, the Girl I left behind me.

Henry Kendall, Poems and Songs, J. R. Clarke, Sydney, 1862, pages 128-130

Editor’s notes:
reft = to reave, bereave, to deprive someone of something; plunder, rob

waif = an item found but not claimed by its owner (such as something washed up by the sea); a stray person or animal, especially an abandoned, homeless, or orphaned child

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