To a Piccolo.
You may hear, when, with sharp silver shuttles of light,
The moonbeams are weaving a web in the night
To tangle the tresses of mermaidens sleeping,
A sudden, soft voice through the warm silence sweeping
In pure, liquid cadence, unfettered by words,
’Tis a piccolo singing,
Across the night flinging
A musical mingling of waters and birds.
When the violin sings, there come, freighted with fire,
Strange voices that waken our highest desire,
We dream like a prophet; we open the portals
That hide the sublime from the vision of mortals,
We are burnt with its beauty; eternity rolls
Before us, and haunts us,
And beckons and taunts us,
And wakes a divine discontent in our souls.
And the harp, with its love-laden, vibrating tone,
Hath meanings as powerful and deep of its own.
We love, and are filled by the glory and splendour
Of soft-smitten strings inexpressibly tender,
Entreating with pauses pathetic as prayer,
And ever renewing
Its exquisite wooing
In melting pulsations of hope and despair,
But the piccolo sings with the sweet, wanton, wild,
Shadowless glee of a little glad child,
Unconscious of genius or passion, its singing
Is like runnels of water through pearly caves ringing,
It curves into ripples that break and rebound,
Now rising, now falling,
Now merrily calling,
In the cheek of the night ’tis a dimple of sound.
It runs, like the slight silver thread of a stream
That leaps with a flash and an opaline gleam,
Over waters whose turbulent shadowy places
Hold secrets deep down in their ebon embraces,
It is glad in itself, like the blossoms that wave
In warm, lissom whiteness,
Undimmed in their brightness
Above a bride’s smile, or the turf of a grave.
Then pipe on, sweet piccolo! thou whom I love,
Coo in thy silver-soft throat like a dove,
Murmur like airs through sea-dreaming shells stealing,
Then chime out like fairy bells suddenly pealing,
And through all soft laughters entrancingly twine,
Pipe on, little rebel,
In exquisite treble
And teach our dull spirits the magic of thine.
Agnes L. Storrie. Poems, J. W. Kettlewell, Sydney, 1909, pages 92-94
ebon = dark brown or black; ebony
lissom = supple; having the ability to bend or move with ease
opaline = something resembling, or reminiscent of, an opal (may also refer to a translucent glass of a non-white color)