[Editor: This poem by Kenneth Mackay was published in Stirrup Jingles from the Bush and the Turf and Other Rhymes (1887).]
Voices of the Night.
At times when sleep has almost won its way,
As thick its heavy chains around me twine,
I hear a chord of some far-distant day
Sound like the striking of a mellow chime.
Yet whence it comes I never quite can tell,
Although well-loved the song whose tender notes
Arrest awhile deep slumber’s heavy spell,
Ere far away upon the night it floats.
Now ’tis a crooning rhyme of years agone, —
Murmured above the cot wherein I lay, —
The simple refrain of a child’s sleep song,
Whispered by faithful lips long passed away.
And now a voice far fonder, far more sweet,
Storing my youthful life with holy themes,
Striving with earnest hope to guide my feet
Along the pathway of a mother’s dreams.
It floats away, and gentle as the sigh
Breathed from Eolian harps when winds are low,
Come notes of love which bid my memory fly
To vanished hopes and vows of long ago.
Then all are still, — and then is one sweet swell
Of tender song they linger o’er my bed,
While, soothed to slumber by their gentle spell,
I sleep — watched over by the dear-loved dead.
Kenneth Mackay, Stirrup Jingles from the Bush and the Turf and Other Rhymes, Sydney: Edwards, Dunlop & Co., 1887, page 76
Eolian = (an alternative speling of “Aeolian”) of or relating to the wind; especially a moaning or sighing sound or musical tone produced by, or as if by, the wind (from Aeolus, god of the winds, in Greek mythology)
ere = before (from the Middle English “er”, itself from the Old English “aer”, meaning early or soon)
o’er = over (pronounced the same as “oar”, “or”, and “ore”)
[Editor: Corrected “croning” to “crooning”.]