The Secret Key and Other Verses


A Brisbane River Reverie

George Essex Evans

AN amphitheatre of purple hills
And emerald slopes where nestling villas gleam,
Flooded with golden light that crowns and fills
            Height, vale, and stream.

The clouds float motionless like isles of snow
Set in the sapphire of the summer sky,
The river, like a ribbon, far below
            Winds rippling by;

As, like a creeping snake, with curve and sweep
The languid current steals past mead and scar,
To the dark mangrove fringing on the deep
            Abreast the bar.

Slow drifts the boat past homestead, town, and lea;
The waters laugh and sob against the side
As down the murmuring river to the sea,
            Dreaming, I glide.

Past meadowy marshland and gray limestone bluff,
Low mangrove fens and waste lantana heights,
Long reaches where the tides and winds are rough,
            And sheltered bights.

Now wider spread the waters to the eyes;
Now sparser grow the homesteads, scarcely seen,
Save where some roof or gaunt gray trunk may rise
            Against the green.

And salter on the cheek the breezes blow;
And in a deeper key the river sings;
And from the viewless sea move to and fro
            Swift snow-like wings.

These are the harbingers from voyaged seas
Who knows what seas of thought man yet may sail
As science slowly sifts Life’s mysteries—
            And lifts the veil?

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