Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

Paroo.

ON THE PAROO.

AS

S when the strong stream of a wintering sea

Rolls round our coast, with bodeful breaks of storm, And swift salt rain, and bitter wind that saith Wild things and woeful of the White South Land Alone with God and Silence in the cold, As when this cometh, men from dripping doors Look forth, and shudder for the mariners Abroad, so we for absent brothers looked In days of drought, and when the flying floods Swept boundless, roaring down the bald, black plains Beyond the farthest spur of western hills.

For where the Barwan cuts a rotten land,
Or lies unshaken, like a great blind creek,
Between hot mouldering banks, it came to this,
All in a time of short and thirsty sighs,
That thirty rainless months had left the pools
And grass as dry as ashes; then it was
Our kinsmen started for the lone Paroo,
From point to point, with patient strivings, sheer
Across the horrors of the windless downs,
Blue-gleaming like a sea of molten steel.

But never drought had broke them, never flood
Had quenched them; they with mighty youth and

health,

And thews and sinews knotted like the trees,
They, like the children of the native woods,
Could stem the strenuous waters, or outlive
The crimson days and dull dead nights of thirst
Like camels ! yet of what avail was strength
Alone to them — though it was like the rocks
On stormy mountains -- in the bloody time
When fierce sleep caught them in the camps at rest,
And violent darkness gripped the life in them
And whelmed them, as an eagle unawares
Is whelmed and slaughtered in a sudden snare ?

All murdered by the blacks! smit while they lay
In silver dreams, and with the far faint fall
Of many waters breaking on their sleep!
Yea, in the tracts unknown of any man
Save savages, — the dim-discovered ways
Of footless silence or unhappy winds,
The wild men came upon them, like a fire
Of desert thunder ; and the fine firm lips
That touched a mother's lips a year before,
And hands that knew a dearer hand than life,
Were hewn like sacrifice before the stars,
And left with hooting owls, and blowing clouds,
And falling leaves, and solitary wings!

Ay, you may see their graves, - you who have toiled
And tripped and thirsted, like these men of ours;
For verily I say that not so deep
Their bones are that the scattered drift and dust
Of gusty days will never leave them bare.

O dear, dead, bleaching bones! I know of those
Who have the wild strong will to go and sit
Outside all things with you, and keep the ways
Aloof from bats, and snakes, and trampling feet
That smite your peace and theirs, — who have the heart
Without the lusty limbs to face the fire,
And moonless midnights, and to be indeed,
For very sorrow, like a moaning wind
In wintry forests with perpetual rain.

Henry Kendall.

Pelican Island.

PELICAN ISLAND.

MEAN

EANWHILE, not idle, though unwatched by me,

The coral architects in silence reared Tower after tower beneath the dark abyss. Pyramidal in form the fabrics rose, From ample basements narrowing to the height, Until they pierced the surface of the flood, And dimpling eddies sparkled round their peaks. Then (if great things with small may

be compared) They spread like water-lilies, whose broad leaves Make green

islets on the pool,
For golden flies, on summer days, to haunt,
Safe from the lightning-seizure of the trout ;
Or yield their lap to catch the minnow springing

and sunny

Clear from the stream to 'scape the ruffian pike,
That prowls in disappointed rage beneath,
And wonders where the little wretch found refuge.

One headland topt the waves, another followed; A third, a tenth, a twentieth soon appeared, Till the long barren gulf in travail lay With many an infant struggling into birth. Larger they grew and lovelier, when they breathed The vital air, and felt the genial sun; As though a living spirit dwelt in each, Which, like the inmate of a flexile shell, Moulded the shapeless slough with its own motion, And painted it with colors of the morn. Amidst that group of younger sisters stood The Isle of Pelicans, as stands the moon At midnight, queen among the minor stars, Differing in splendor, magnitude, and distance. So looked that sleeping archipelago: small isles, By interwinding channels linked yet sundered ; All flourishing in peaceful fellowship, Like forest-oaks that love society: Of various growth and progress; here, a rock On which a single palm-tree waved its banner There, sterile tracts unmouldered into soil ; Yonder, dark woods whose foliage swept the water, Without a speck of turf, or line of shore, As though their roots were anchored in the ocean. But most were gardens redolent with flowers, And orchards bending with Hesperian fruit That realized the dreams of olden time.

Throughout this commonwealth of sea-sprung lands Life kindled in ten thousand happy forms; Earth, air, and ocean were all full of life, Still highest in the rank of being soared The fowls ainphibious, and the inland tribes Of dainty plumage or melodious song; In gaudy robes of many-colored patches, The parrots swung like blossoms on the trees, While their harsh voices undeceived the ear. More delicately pencilled, finer drawn In shape and lineament, — too exquisite For gross delights, the Birds of Paradise Floated aloof, as though they lived on air, And were the orient progeny of heaven, Or spirits made perfect veiled in shining raiment. From flower to flower, where wild bees flew and sung, As countless, small, and musical as they, Showers of bright humming-birds came down, and

plied The same ambrosial task, with slender bills Extracting honey, hidden in those bells Whose richest blooms grew pale beneath the blaze Of twinkling winglets hovering o'er their petals, Brilliant as rain-drops where the western sun Sees his own beams of miniature in each.

*

The fierce sea-cagle, humble in attire, In port terrific, from his lonely eyrie, (Itself a burden for the tallest tree) Looked down o'er land and sea as his dominions : Now, from long chase, descending with his prey,

« НазадПродовжити »