[Editor: This poem by Philip Durham Lorimer was published in Songs and Verses by Philip Durham Lorimer: An Australian Bush Poet, 1901.]
There was silence in the village,
And a deep, delightful calm
Seemed a prelude to the sweetness
Of the coming morning’s psalm.
In the brightness of the moonlight
I had wandered many hours
Down the mountain, now behind me,
In my search for ferns and flowers.
I was tired and weary, ready
For a long refreshing sleep,
When again upon the ranges
Dreaming thoughts to life would leap.
So I slept beneath the shelter
Of a broad-leafed coral tree,
And I fancied that the tree-ferns
Then were whispering to me.
In that night, that night of dreaming,
On the brow of Jamberoo,
Soft again I saw the beauty
Of the stretching valley’s view.
Long my spirit seemed to loiter,
And to gather in the shades
Of the many-terraced acres
That are seen through high arcades.
And methought the water’s rippling
Was the sweetest voice of all,
As it swept around each homestead.
From the frowning mountain wall ;
While the gleams of Summer showing
Now a patch of lightest green,
Then a cloud would hover o’er me
And, like gold, another scene
Would, like magic, break upon me,
And so woo my raptured gaze,
Till my eyes were spell-bound, watching
All the lustre and the ways
That the sunlight has for winning
(In those calms so close to all)
The thoughts of man when wand’ring
In the light of Freedom’s hall.
I could see the hamlet nestling
’Mong the fig trees and the oak ;
Where the whitened walls were glistening
’Neath the clouds of rising smoke,
Stood the churches in their silence,
In the holiness of rest,
With God’s acre near them filling
With the wicked and the blest.
I could note the cattle browsing
In the meadows far away,
And where crops were quickly ripening,
There the men were making hay.
While the teams of bullocks, ploughing,
Were then pulling might and main
Up the sidlings, and their sinews
Could be seen at ev’ry strain.
Swept the ranges outward, falling
Into headlands far at sea,
While I traced the streamlet, winding
By the oak and willow tree,
Through the clear and open forest,
On its bed of pebbles grey,
With its face like crusted silver,
In the glory of the day.
In the gullies from the mountain
On the fells that once had been,
Stood the cabbage-palm, all singly,
As the remnants of a scene
Where, when once in days primeval,
Countless creepers closely bound
Many a mighty forest monarch
As their captive to the ground.
I beheld the berries reddening
In the cone-shaped scrubby nooks,
And reflection kissed them nearer
In the pools of crystal brooks.
Where the ferns dipped in the eddies,
And the vines with purple bloom
Knew the hiding-place of songsters
That were clad in sombre plume ;
And the whacking of the Coachman,
From the thicket’s leafy den,
Hushed the tiny birds to silence,
Was as music to the wren,
As he fluttered through the bushes
With his clear and songful throat,
While a calmness reigned to listen
To the sweeter, shorter note.
* * * * *
Then a sound of music, stealing
In its softest, plaintive tone,
Seemed so near me in my dreaming
’Neath that coral tree alone ;
And awak’ing I was musing
When I heard, in dawning’s calm,
From a church that stood behind me,
On a rise, man’s morning psalm.
Rose the heart and voice together
(For I knew them both before),
And I peeped into the chapel
On my tip-toe near the door.
On the south, outside, the ivy
O’er the windows, with its shade,
Called the living to the mem’ry
Of the past that will not fade.
Just a moment, and unnoticed
I had passed the player by,
And I stood before the pulpit,
While I drew a deep-drawn sigh.
“ Thou art King, O Christ, of glory !
And the singer’s noble voice
Truly told me that that Loved One
Was his all-eternal choice.
Then methought of all the “lilies,”
And the flowers that I had seen,
And the “feet of those on mountains,”
And the brightness of their sheen.
Then I saw that Nature surely
Has the keeping of the Truth,
For her scenes are ever open
To the agéd and the youth.
There the windows each are tokens
Of the love the living bore
To the mem’ry of their loved ones,
Who had only “gone before.”
While the light above the chancel
Is in sad remembrance yet
Of a “pillar” who “departed,”
And whom love will not forget.
Scarce a pew there but the holder
In his joy has sat for years,
Scarce a seat but where the list’ner
Has long watered it with tears ;
Seems the place so full of whispers
In their tones more felt than heard ;
For that silence is majestic
Where the angels watch each word.
When the morning prayers were ended,
To the hills I hied away ;
With the waters, happy, leaping,
I then lingered all the day ;
In their fury and their dashing
I loud lifted up my voice,
And I felt that Nature, listening,
Did, with me, to God rejoice.
Scarce a gnarléd root but mosses
Peeped from shelter of the fern ;
Scarce a log but, while decaying,
There was much for man to learn.
There was beauty in the colours
Of each leaf and drooping flower ;
Oh ! the sweetness in the knowledge
That from Nature man gains power !
There were crags and rocks o’erhanging
All the brambles in their bloom,
There were stumps and ghostly figures
That decaying trees assume,
While the kurrajongs were flow’ring
On their rich and native soil,
Where the tree-clad rocks above them
Scarcely see the sons of toil.
There were vines and creepers only
That one finds in such a scene ;
They were twisted and contorted
Into every shape I ween ;
In their wildness they were ringing
Round the girths of giant limbs,
While the birds thereon were perching,
Singing forth their daily hymns ;
And the waterfall was roaring
In the ferny, hollow grove,
While the blue above it streaming
Shed its smile on it in love,
Spread its tints upon the rising
Of the spray that rose up high
In the mid-air, when the moments
Saw two rainbows in the sky.
Such a scene as this is hallowed
To a beautiful degree.
For the harmony unbroken
Takes its place by Heaven’s decree.
’Mong the people there are churches,
But wild Nature has them, too ;
And when far from brick and mortar,
Man can see God in the blue !
Rooty Hill, December 31, 1892.
E. A. Petherick (editor). Songs and Verses by Philip Durham Lorimer: An Australian Bush Poet, William Clowes and Sons, London, 1901, pages 199-206
chancel = the section of a church containing the altar, usually enclosed by a lattice or railing, for the use of the clergy and sometimes the choir
hied = to hie is to hurry, to go quickly
Jamberoo = a place in New South Wales, north-west of Kiama