Sing the song of wave-worn Coogee — Coogee in the distance white
With its jags and points disrupted, gaps and fractures fringed with light!
Haunt of gledes, and restless plovers of the melancholy wail
Ever lending deeper pathos to the melancholy gale.
There, my brothers, down the fissures, chasms deep and wan and wild,
Grows the sea-bloom, one that blushes like a shrinking fair blind child;
And amongst the oozing forelands many a glad green rock-vine runs,
Getting ease on earthy ledges sheltered from December suns.
Often, when a gusty morning, rising cold and gray and strange,
Lifts its face from watery spaces, vistas full with cloudy change;
Bearing up a gloomy burden which anon begins to wane,
Fading in the sudden shadow of a dark determined rain;
Do I seek an eastern window, so to watch the breakers beat
Round the steadfast crags of Coogee, dim with drifts of driving sleet:
Hearing hollow mournful noises sweeping down a solemn shore
While the grim sea-caves are tideless and the storm strives at their core.
Often when the floating vapours fill the silent autumn leas,
Dreaming memories fall like moonlight over silver sleeping seas,
Youth and I and Love together! — other times and other themes
Come to me unsung, unwept for, through the faded evening gleams:
Come to me and touch me mutely — I that looked and longed so well,
Shall I look and yet forget them? — who may know or who foretell?
Though the southern wind roams, shadowed with its immemorial grief,
Where the frosty wings of Winter leave their whiteness on the leaf?
Friend of mine beyond the waters, here and here these perished days
Haunt me with their sweet dead faces and their old divided ways.
You that helped and you that loved me, take this song, and when you read
Let the lost things come about you, set your thoughts and hear and heed:
Time has laid his burden on us: we who wear our manhood now —
We would be the boys we have been, free of heart and bright of brow —
Be the boys for just an hour, with the splendour and the speech
Of thy lights and thunders, Coogee, flying up thy gleaming beach!
Heart’s desire and heart’s division! who would come and say to me
With the eyes of far-off friendship, “You are as you used to be”?
Something glad and good has left me here with sickening discontent,
Tired of looking, neither knowing, what it was or where it went.
So it is this sight of Coogee, shining in the morning dew,
Sets me stumbling through dim summers once on fire with youth and you.
Summers pale as southern evenings when the year has lost its power,
And the wasted face of April weeps above the withered flower.
Not that seasons bring no solace — not that time lacks light and rest;
But the old things were the dearest, and the old loves seem the best.
We that start at songs familiar — we that tremble at a tone,
Floating down the ways of music, like a sigh of sweetness flown,
We can never feel the freshness — never find again the mood
Left among fair-featured places brightened of our brotherhood;
This, and this, we have to think of, when the night is over all,
And the woods begin to perish and the rains begin to fall.
Henry Kendall, Leaves from Australian Forests, Melbourne: George Robertson, 1869, pages 83-86