The Garden of Youth
Shall Youth endure? . . .
Before mine eyes
In pale, lost Beauty all
Its vanished splendours far uprise;
And, as the long years fall,
A Voice unto my quest replies
As Samuel spake to Saul.
Behind it sloped the sunlit hills;
Around it burned the three-
Fold wealth of cloudless blue that fills
All mountain, sky and sea
What time our Southern summer trills
Her lute of ecstasy.
So faint and far; so long ago,
Some other eye than mine
Beheld, ’twould seem, in gallant show
Its lilies all a-line;
Its lilacs and the petalled snow
Of white moss-roses fine.
Blue larkspurs by its borders grew;
With cat-faced pansies rare.
To Illawarra winds out-threw
The stocks their perfumes fair.
And brave hibiscus banners flew
Bold challenge to the air.
The splendid sunflow’r on his stalk
Day-long his lord obeyed;
And proudly by the pebbled walk,
Like soldiers on parade,
The poppy and the hollyhock
Gay uniforms displayed.
Old-fashioned wall-flowers in their prim
Cut robes of spinster brown,
Upon the dancing crocus slim,
In débutante gown,
From social altitudes of dim,
Ancestral pride looked down.
With yellow pollen at their thighs
The bees, an earnest throng
Unto the spendthrift butterflies,
Droned out a warning song,
That in each honeyed cup the prize
Is offered not for long.
And Thou, whose deft hands gently looped
The over-burdened vine,
Who in thy tender girlhood stooped
A vagrant bloom to twine;
I wonder if the years have duped
Thy memories, like mine,
With dreams. If in thy heart the tongue
Of youth may yet recall,
In silver echoes softly sung,
The glamour of it all;
Or is its voice with portent hung,
As Samuel spake to Saul?
That garden of the south, in rare
Fresh fragrance of young joy,
No more, oh penitent, a snare
Of roses shall employ
To lure our feet, in passion where
We dallied, girl and boy.
And yet, thy callow love, in sooth,
Than all earth’s offering gleams
More fair. As Boaz unto Ruth
My heart will cling, it seems,
To that remembered shrine of Youth,
And all its youthful dreams.
E. J. Brady, Bush-land Ballads, Melbourne: Thomas C. Lothian, 1910, pp. 7-14