The Departed [poem by Menie Parkes]

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

The Departed.

Five are gone from us: one, who saw but a few hours of life, and then
Was, all unspotted, lifted up to the eternal worlds again:
And one, who counted days for hours, tho’ short those days, incessant wailed,
Until its little pink-flushed form to a pure lily paleness failed:
They came in promise to their mother’s breast,
As promise the young fledglings in their nest;
As full of promise as the new-born bud
’Tween parent leaves — sweet Nature’s pledge to God.

And one— when Life’s young tree first blushed
Into its frail, faint-perfumed bloom of laughter,
Just smiled up in our eyes, and passed away, —
That smile for ever beckoning us to follow after:
And one, a little later, when the words
Broke, still irresolute, from its baby lips,
Then ceased to speak, and lay down calm,
And daily faded under Death’s eclipse.

Another, — perhaps the dearest! — a frail girl
Whose hair three summers sunbeams kist,
Until each separate glossy curl
Was ripe and golden as the grain, I wist!
Our beauty, with the tremulous mouth
Ever alive for kissing deeper still
The love that met her thro’ our eyes,
Went up, her place in Heaven to fill.

Death took them all; drew down his still, white shade
Of solemn thoughts on their blue eyes and sober brows,
Kissed his snow-impress on the mutes he made,
And deafly tranced them from our pleading vows:
We have been much afflicted? have a right to weep?
Nay, nay, oh nay! we still have two of seven,
And these we would not grieve to lay to sleep
Like those before them — treasure stored in Heaven!

Menie Parkes, Poems, F. Cunninghame, Sydney, [1867], pages 36-37

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

trance = attract, cause to be enamoured, entrance

wist = know

[Editor: Corrected “days” to “hours”, and “summer” to “summers”, with regard to the “Errata” corrections.]

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