Leaves from Australian Forests (12 Sonnets)

I
A Mountain Spring

Peace hath an altar there. The sounding feet
Of thunder and the ’wildering wings of rain
Against fire-rifted summits flash and beat,
And through grey upper gorges swoop and strain;
But round that hallowed mountain-spring remain,
Year after year, the days of tender heat,
And gracious nights, whose lips with flowers are sweet,
And filtered lights, and lutes of soft refrain.
A still, bright pool. To men I may not tell
The secret that its heart of water knows,
The story of a loved and lost repose;
Yet this I say to cliff and close-leaved dell:
A fitful spirit haunts yon limpid well,
Whose likeness is the faithless face of Rose.

II
Laura

If Laura—lady of the flower-soft face—
Should light upon these verses, she may take
The tenderest line, and through its pulses trace
What man can suffer for a woman’s sake.
For in the nights that burn, the days that break,
A thin pale figure stands in Passion’s place,
And peace comes not, nor yet the perished grace
Of youth, to keep old faiths and fires awake.
Ah! marvellous maid. Life sobs, and sighing saith,
“She left me, fleeting like a fluttered dove;
But I would have a moment of her breath,
So I might taste the sweetest sense thereof,
And catch from blossoming, honeyed lips of love
Some faint, some fair, some dim, delicious death.”

III
By a River

By red-ripe mouth and brown, luxurious eyes
Of her I love, by all your sweetness shed
In far, fair days, on one whose memory flies
To faithless lights, and gracious speech gainsaid,
I pray you, when yon river-path I tread,
Make with the woodlands some soft compromise,
Lest they should vex me into fruitless sighs
With visions of a woman’s gleaming head!
For every green and golden-hearted thing
That gathers beauty in that shining place,
Beloved of beams and wooed by wind and wing,
Is rife with glimpses of her marvellous face;
And in the whispers of the lips of Spring
The music of her lute-like voice I trace.

IV
Attila

What though his feet were shod with sharp, fierce flame,
And death and ruin were his daily squires,
The Scythian, helped by Heaven’s thunders, came:
The time was ripe for God’s avenging fires.
Lo! loose, lewd trulls, and lean, luxurious liars
Had brought the fair, fine face of Rome to shame,
And made her one with sins beyond a name—
That queenly daughter of imperial sires!
The blood of elders like the blood of sheep,
Was dashed across the circus. Once while din
And dust and lightnings, and a draggled heap
Of beast-slain men made lords with laughter leap,
Night fell, with rain. The earth, so sick of sin,
Had turned her face into the dark to weep.

V
A Reward

Because a steadfast flame of clear intent
Gave force and beauty to full-actioned life;
Because his way was one of firm ascent,
Whose stepping-stones were hewn of change and strife;
Because as husband loveth noble wife
He loved fair Truth; because the thing he meant
To do, that thing he did, nor paused, nor bent
In face of poor and pale conclusions; yea!
Because of this, how fares the Leader dead?
What kind of mourners weep for him to-day?
What golden shroud is at his funeral spread?
Upon his brow what leaves of laurel, say?
About his breast is tied a sackcloth grey,
And knots of thorns deface his lordly head.

VI To ——
A handmaid to the genius of thy song
Is sweet, fair Scholarship. ’Tis she supplies
The fiery spirit of the passioned eyes
With subtle syllables, whose notes belong
To some chief source of perfect melodies;
And glancing through a laurelled, lordly throng
Of shining singers, lo! my vision flies
To William Shakespeare! He it is whose strong,
Full, flute-like music haunts thy stately verse.
A worthy Levite of his court thou art!
One sent among us to defeat the curse
That binds us to the Actual. Yea, thy part,
Oh, lute-voiced lover! is to lull the heart
Of love repelled, its darkness to disperse.

VII
The Stanza of Childe Harold

Who framed the stanza of Childe Harold? He
It was who, halting on a stormy shore,
Knew well the lofty voice which evermore,
In grand distress, doth haunt the sleepless sea
With solemn sounds. And as each wave did roll
Till one came up, the mightiest of the whole,
To sweep and surge across the vacant lea,
Wild words were wedded to wild melody.
This poet must have had a speechless sense
Of some dead summer’s boundless affluence;
Else, whither can we trace the passioned lore
O
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Henry Kendall

Thomas Henry Kendall was a nineteenth-century Australian author and bush poet, who was particularly known for his poems and tales set in a natural environment setting. more…

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"Leaves from Australian Forests (12 Sonnets)" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 21 Oct. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/17522/leaves-from-australian-forests-(12-sonnets)>.

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