[Editor: This poem by Henry Kendall was published in Leaves from Australian Forests (1869).]
They built his mound of the rough red ground,
By the dip of a desert dell,
Where all things sweet are killed by the heat,
And scattered o’er flat and fell.
In a burning zone they left him alone,
Past the uttermost western plain;
And the nightfall dim heard his funeral hymn
In the voices of wind and rain.
The songs austere of the forests drear,
And the echoes of clift and cave,
When the dark is keen where the storm hath been,
Fleet over the far-away grave.
And through the days when the torrid rays
Strike down on a coppery gloom,
Some spirit grieves in the perished leaves
Whose theme is that desolate tomb.
No human foot, or paw of brute,
Halts now where the stranger sleeps;
But cloud and star his fellows are,
And the rain that sobs and weeps.
The dingo yells by the far iron fells,
The plover is loud in the range,
But they never come near to the slumberer here,
Whose rest is a rest without change.
Ah! in his life, had he mother or wife,
To wait for his step on the floor?
Did Beauty wax dim while watching for him
Who passed through the threshold no more?
Doth it trouble his head? He is one with the dead;
He lies by the alien streams;
And sweeter than sleep is death that is deep
And unvexed by the lordship of dreams.
Henry Kendall, Leaves from Australian Forests, Melbourne: George Robertson, 1869, pages 28-29
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