[Editor: This poem by Kenneth Mackay was published in Stirrup Jingles from the Bush and the Turf and Other Rhymes (1887).]
The Old Actor — A Memory.
’Tis years ago, and memories have grown dim,
For fled the lights that lit them to the mind:
Alas! I’ve heard each soul’s expiring hymn,
All gone before, while I am left behind.
Yet, from the wreck of many fancies flown,
One tender flow’ret of the past I keep, —
One picture that I cherish for my own, —
A memory near me when I wake or sleep.
Yes, still it comes to me, through years now gray
With age, and early hope for ever gone;
And, floating down Time’s dark and sullen way,
It strikes my senses like a low sweet song.
I see a crowd of faces all intent
To seize amusement from the mimic play;
I see her face alight with merriment,
As through the wings she trips — a joyous fay.
I hear applauding cries that loudly ring,
And listen to her as the full notes swell;
I see the floral gifts the people fling,
Then wait to hear her ask — “Was that done well?”
* * * * * * *
The road to fame was reached, yet never more
Saw I her winning eyes or fairy form;
Fate, merciless, our too short friendship tore —
Gave her the calm, gave me the drifting storm.
I since have heard her later life has brought
A harvest rich of histrionic art;
And wonder does she ever give a thought
To one who helped her in her earliest “part.”
Kenneth Mackay, Stirrup Jingles from the Bush and the Turf and Other Rhymes, Sydney: Edwards, Dunlop & Co., 1887, pages 72-73
fay = a fairy or an elf
flow’ret = floweret: small flower; floret
histrionic = of or relating to actors or acting (may also refer to a melodramatic display of emotion; a deliberately affected display of temperament)