Farewell! [poem by Menie Parkes]

[Editor: This poem by Menie Parkes was published in Poems (1867).]


To my father departing for England.

When the first thought of parting
Was calmly spoken forth,
It seemed as God, departing,
Had stricken me in wrath.
Like the burst of a storm it swept o’er my soul,
It crashed on my ear like the thunder-bolt’s roll;
Yet it left but a pain and a stolid expression,
A sense of strange sorrow, dim dream of depression.
As I looked in your eyes,
Could a doubt arise
That ever their kind light could flicker as now,
And I lose the light of that smile on your brow?
While your voice filled my ear,
How then could I fear
That ere long all my speech would be helpless to reach
And draw forth thine accents my spirit to teach?
Farewell, oh, farewell!
Would my words could tell
All the swelling prayer, through the listening air,
From my burning heart that doth upward start,
In that sweet, sad word, by the blank night heard,
Farewell, oh, farewell!
Farewell, farewell!

Yet, sure as Death, advancing,
The hour of parting drew,
And, moments onward glancing,
Left me bereft of you:
And, stabbing thro’ the smiles I did so vainly wear,
Because I did not dare to weep my timeless misery there,
Nor hide, by any tear-cloud, the face that one short hour
Would take beyond the gaze of aught but memory’s power,
Came the shivering grasp,
The convulsive clasp,
The tear, and the kiss, and the tearing apart,
And the wild, wild, helpless leap of the heart,
And the parting was past,
And we saw you last,
Go down thro’ the night, in the moon’s sad light,
Away and away from our straining sight.
Farewell and farewell!
By our thoughts that dwell
On that bitter pain again and again;
By the thoughts we throw over every woe
The long years through to our meeting with you,
Farewell, oh, farewell!
Farewell, farewell!

Menie Parkes, Poems, F. Cunninghame, Sydney, [1867], pages 27-28

Editor’s notes:
stolid = impassive, showing little or no emotion

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