The Lake [poem by E. J. Brady]

[Editor: This poem by E. J. Brady was published in Bush-land Ballads (1910).]

The Lake

Its call is Peace — deep sylvan rest,
Unbroken, save by chords
The Mozart touch of Nature, best
In low, harmonic words
Of Music, draws from bough and breast
Of tuneful trees and birds.

Through silvern Morns and golden Noons
And jewelled Nights, ablaze
With sapphire stars and opal moons
Of topaz-tinted rays;
From wooded hills to seaward dunes
It spreads its sparkling ways.

Mount Howe red granite walls uprears
To guard its Northern verge;
And West, with sharp, forbidding spears,
The grass-tree plains emerge;
While South and East one faintly hears
The warnings of the surge.

So — shielded round by mount and sea —
O’er scarcely trodden shores,
The Bird of Ancient Mystery
On musing pinion soars,
While yet its beauties virgin be
To Vandal sail or oars.

No ash of tribal camp fires gray,
No cryptic trunk or mound —
Whereon the naked savage lay
By vanished fires — are found;
For ’twas, the dusky greybeards say,
All times a sacred ground.

Its note is peace! While Theban kings
In robes of conquest shone;
While lions fierce with flaunting wings
Were carved in Babylon;
Its autumns and its southern springs,
To woodland harps, danced on.

No song Hellenic fluted o’er
Its calm and placid tide;
No beacon lights the white dunes wore
Home-coming ships to guide;
No mourning voice along its shore
Proclaimed how Cæsar died.

Mailed legions marched; green harvest lands
Were reddened as they sped;
Proud monarchs, mouthing high commands,
Came forth, and backward fled;
Their names were written on the sands,
And by the sands o’er spread.

As ever Time’s all-circling blade
In steady downstrokes whirled,
Gaunt prophets, standing in the shade
Of frowning temples, hurled
Fierce inspirations forth that made
And yet unmade the World.

Lone sons of Genius, from the Night
Where dead Dust crowds the Urn
Of Nothingness, uprose in bright
Mortality, to burn
Their tapers at the Shrine of Light —
And . . . into Night return;

Their deathless Words o’er years between
Yet loud reverberate;
No Echo fell; in jungles green
The wild wood pigeon sate,
And cooed across that still demesne,
Love greetings to her mate.

O’er water clear the black swan plied
His graceful gondolet;
Or slowly from his glossy side
A vagrant white wing set
To sail the Lake’s unrippled tide
In roving amoret.

Peace bideth here. Clear skies, unstained
By smoke of Progress, blue
Its daylight loveliness. Gold maned,
Apollo’s horses through
Their cloudless sky tracks tramp, unreined
From dew to ev’ning dew:

On slender pipes of reed the West
Wind plays a silken song,
When from their dry, discarded nest
The feathered cygnets throng,
And Summer’s sandalled footsteps rest
That cooling marge along.

In iridescent flight swift pass
Winged insects o’er its stream;
A python windeth through the grass,
His patterned length a-gleam;
Their shadows mirrored in a glass,
The mottled bitterns dream.

But, when the lonely ranges hide,
Deep-mantled, from the day,
She lays her golden gown aside
And locks her pearls away,
With chilly vassals at her side
To meet the Cloud Kings grey.

Lean Cares that hunt the highways hard
And trodden tracks austere
Of men who hold in most regard
Earth’s goods, and gods revere
Of Might and Gold, the musing bard
May not encounter here.

For, velvet Dawn and damask Eve,
And Night with stars o’erstrown,
Afar from harried Hours that grieve
And driven Days agroan,
By this fair lakeside soft achieve
Their pleasant tasks alone.

And at the Dusk one dimly hears,
In echoes, faint and low
As dew upon the rustling ears,
Or clouds on moonlit snow,
The Voices of the ended years
From crystal depths below.

E. J. Brady, Bush-land Ballads, Melbourne: Thomas C. Lothian, 1910, pp. 15-28

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