Strange Contrarieties [poem by Menie Parkes]

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

Strange Contrarieties.

Oh, when some sudden gladness rushes
In torrents o’er our spirits’ calm,
And God’s smiles beam in flashing gushes,
And perfect bliss gives life a charm;
Then, when sweet joy alone possesses
Our hearts, and leaves no room for fears,
How strangely have we met caresses
With pouring, burning floods of tears!

Oh, when some fearful sorrow came,
And rose from earth grief’s heavy mist,
And we have felt so faint, so lorn,
That calmly we had Death’s lips kist;
Then, when we hate this bitter earth,
And think “Was never world so drear?”
How strangely, strangely, with wild mirth,
We seek to banish every tear!

How say ye, then, that joys will smile,
And sorrows show their trace in tears?
Oh, no: for sad hearts seek to wile
Mid scenes of joy their weary fears:—
The eyes that shine most radiantly
Are lit from wounded thought within,
And, like some flowers, more beauteously
Are gleaming when decays begin.

But they who pass with pensive tread,
And thoughtful glance, and voice subdued,
Are oft the happiest: joy has shed
Some terror lest their bliss be strewed
In after years with carking cares;
And so they hide away their gladness,
And seek to keep it by their prayers —
So veiling it with some light sadness.

Menie Parkes, Poems, F. Cunninghame, Sydney, [1867], pages 67-68

Editor’s notes:
carking = burdened with troubles or worries (a “cark” is a trouble or worry)

kist = kissed (as distinct from “kist” meaning chest, especially one containing money or riches; or a basket, or coffin)

lorn = bereft, desolate, forlorn, forsaken, wretched

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