[Editor: This poem by Henry Kendall was published in Leaves from Australian Forests (1869).]
Sweet water-moons, blown into lights
Of flying gold on pool and creek,
And many sounds, and many sights,
Of younger days, are back this week.
I cannot say I sought to face,
Or greatly cared to cross again,
The subtle spirit of the place
Whose life is mixed with Rose Lorraine.
What though her voice rings clearly through
A nightly dream I gladly keep,
No wish have I to start anew
Heart-fountains that have ceased to leap.
Here, face to face with different days,
And later things that plead for love,
It would be worse than wrong to raise
A phantom far too fain to move.
But, Rose Lorraine — ah, Rose Lorraine,
I’ll whisper now where no one hears.
If you should chance to meet again
The man you kissed in soft dead years,
Just say for once “he suffered much,”
And add to this “his fate was worst
Because of me, my voice, my touch,” —
There is no passion like the first!
If I that breathe your slow sweet name
As one breathes low notes on a flute,
Have vext your peace with word of blame,
The phrase is dead — the lips are mute.
Yet when I turn towards the wall,
In stormy nights, in times of rain,
I often wish you could recall
Your tender speeches, Rose Lorraine.
Because, you see, I thought them true,
And did not count you self-deceived,
And gave myself in all to you,
And looked on Love as Life achieved.
Then came the bitter, sudden change,
The fastened lips, the dumb despair:
The first few weeks were very strange,
And long, and sad, and hard to bear.
No woman lives with power to burst
My passion’s bonds, and set me free;
For Rose is last where Rose was first,
And only Rose is fair to me.
The faintest memory of her face,
The wilful face that hurt me so,
Is followed by a fiery trace
That Rose Lorraine must never know.
I keep a faded ribbon string
You used to wear about your throat;
And of this pale, this perished thing,
I think I know the threads by rote.
God help such love! To touch your hand,
To loiter where your feet might fall,
You marvellous girl, my soul would stand
The worst of hell — its fires and all!
Henry Kendall, Leaves from Australian Forests, Melbourne: George Robertson, 1869, pages 161-163
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