Farewell ! But Ah, How Soon ! [poem by Philip Durham Lorimer]

[Editor: This poem by Philip Durham Lorimer was published in Songs and Verses by Philip Durham Lorimer: An Australian Bush Poet, 1901.]

Farewell ! But Ah, How Soon !

And must I say “ Farewell” to all
That I have loved and wooed ;
And only drink from memory’s hands
Her vintage as my food ?
How can I then recall the dreams
I had on Nature’s breast,
And see the breath of morn unveil
The mountain’s golden crest ?

How can this tender heart resign
Its love-songs free and wild
To lips that never knew the love
That comes from Nature’s child ?
How can I sudden cease to roam
In search of scenes that bring
The foot-prints of mine early years
Still gladsome, still in Spring ?

Will not the brooklets look for me,
And stay their rippling song ?
And count mine absent hours each one
As years of grief, too long ?
While through the snowy bars of age,
My head bent on my breast,
I’ll count those hours that brought no song
As years that knew not rest.

How shall I trace the eagle’s flight
From cliffs to summit high,
Its eyes, undaunted, upward turned
Unweary to the sky ?
Can I be here a conquered thing,
And know, as once I did.
What glory passed before my sight,
What joy the years forbid ?

Will not for me a greeting rise
From hills and gentle slopes ?
Will there be then untiring hands
To raise my fallen hopes ?
That when my soul is growing dim,
Almost a withered leaf ;
Will Nature leave me weeping there,
Her old child in his grief ?

But Nature’s hand still clasped by mine,
Is tenderly caressed ;
I cannot, may not, loose my hold,
With it my heart is blessed.
Her lips, her ruby lips, are pressed
On mine with loving words ;
Her breath around me fills the hills
With songs that come from birds.

To part with her I cannot now,
Though failing health is mine ;
She has my vow, she has my heart,
On her I now recline.
Take thou, my love, my early songs,
I sang upon thy breast,
And let thy voice awaken love
Around me while I rest.

Jamberoo, February 11, 1892.

E. A. Petherick (editor). Songs and Verses by Philip Durham Lorimer: An Australian Bush Poet, William Clowes and Sons, London, 1901, pages 185-187

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