A splendid sun betwixt the trees
Long spikes of flame did shoot,
When turning to the fragrant south,
With longing eyes and burning mouth,
I stretched a hand athwart the drouth,
And plucked at cooling fruit.
So thirst was quenched, and hastening on
With strength returned to me,
I set my face against the noon,
And reached a denser forest soon ;
Which dipped into a still lagoon
Hard by the sooming sea.
* * * *
All day the Ocean beat on bar
And bank of gleaming sand ;
Yet that lone pool was always mild,
It never moved when waves were wild,
But slumbered, like a quiet child,
Upon the lap of land.
And when I rested on the brink,
Amongst the fallen flowers,
I lay in calm ; no leaves were stirred
By breath of wind, or wing of bird ;
It was so still, you might have heard
The footfalls of the hours.
Faint slumbrous scents of roses filled
The air which covered me :
My words were low — “she loved them so,
In Eden vales such odours blow :
How strange it is that roses grow
So near the shores of Sea !”
A sweeter fragrance never came
Across the Fields of Yore !
And when I said — “we here would dwell,” —
A low voice on the silence fell —
“Ah ! if you loved the roses well,
You loved Aileen the more.”
“Ay, that I did, and now would turn,
And fall and worship her !
But O ! you dwell so far — so high !
One cannot reach, though he may try,
The Morning land, and Jasper sky —
The balmy hills of Myrrh.
“Why vex me with delicious hints
Of fairest face, and rarest blooms ;
You Spirit of a darling Dream
Which links itself with every theme
And thought of mine by surf or stream,
In glens — or caverned glooms?”
She said, “Your wishes led me down,
From amaranthine bowers :
And since my face was haunting thee
With roses (dear which used to be),
They all have hither followed me,
The scents and shapes of flowers.”
“Then stay, mine own evangel, stay !
Or, going, take me too ;
But let me sojourn by your side,
If here we dwell or there abide,
It matters not !” I madly cried —
“I only care for you.”
Oh, glittering Form that would not stay ! —
Oh, sudden, sighing breeze !
A fainting rainbow dropped below
Far gleaming peaks and walls of snow
And there, a weary way, I go,
Towards the Sunrise seas.
Henry Kendall, Poems and Songs, J. R. Clarke, Sydney, 1862, pages 14-17
amaranthine = regarding the amaranth plant (a herb); a deep purplish red color; a never-fading flower; eternally beautiful, everlasting, undying or unfading
bower = a shaded, leafy resting place or shelter commonly made with tree boughs or vines (a garden arbor); a country cottage or retreat; a woman’s bedroom or apartments in a medieval castle or mansion
drouth = drought (a prolonged period of no rain or an abnormally low amount of rain); or, in general terms, a prolonged shortage or lack of something
evangel = gospel; an important doctrine; good news; an evangelist (a preacher of the Christian gospel, or a zealous advocate of a cause)
slumbrous = (an alternative spelling of “slumberous”) asleep; drowsy, lethargic, or sleepy
soom = swim [see: John Jamieson, An Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language (“Jamieson’s Scottish Dictionary”), revised edition, vol. 4, Alexander Gardner, Paisley (Scotland), 1882 page 336; James A. H. Murray, et al (editors), A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles: Founded Mainly on the Materials Collected by the Philological Society, vol. 9 part 1, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1919, page 426]