LET me talk of years evanished, let me harp upon the time|
When we trod these sands together, in our boyhood’s golden prime;
Let me lift again the curtain, while I gaze upon the past,
As the sailor glances homewards, watching from the topmost mast.
Here we rested on the grasses, in the glorious summer hours,
When the waters hurried seaward, fringed with ferns and forest flowers;
When our youthful eyes, rejoicing, saw the sunlight round the spray
In a rainbow-wreath of splendour, glittering underneath the day;
Sunlight flashing past the billows, falling cliffs and crags among,
Clothing hopeful friendship basking on the shores of Wollongong.
Echoes of departed voices, whispers from forgotten dreams,
Come across my spirit, like the murmurs of melodious streams.
Here we both have wandered nightly, when the moonshine cold and pale
Shimmer’d on the cone of Keira, sloping down the sleeping vale;
When the mournful waves came sobbing, sobbing on the furrowed shore,
Like to lone hearts weeping over loved ones they shall see no more;
While the silver ripples, stealing past the shells and slimy stones,
Broke beneath the caverns, dying, one by one, in muffled moans;
As the fragrant wood-winds roaming, with a fitful cadence sung
‘Mid the ghostly branches belting round the shores of Wollongong.
Lovely faces flit before us, friendly forms around us stand;
Gleams of well-remembered gladness trip along the yellow sand.
Here the gold-green waters glistened underneath our dreaming gaze,
As the lights of Heaven slanted down the pallid ether haze;
Here the mossy rock-pool, like to one that stirs himself in sleep,
Trembled every moment at the roaring of the restless deep;
While the stately vessels swooping to the breezes fair and free,
Passed away like sheeted spectres, fading down the distant sea;
And our wakened fancies sparkled, and our soul-born thoughts we strung
Into joyous lyrics, singing with the waves of Wollongong.
Low-breathed strains of sweetest music float about my raptured ears;
Angel-eyes are glancing at me hopeful smiles and happy tears.
Merry feet go scaling up the old and thunder-shattered steeps,
And the billows clamber after, and the surge to ocean leaps,
Scattered into fruitless showers, falling where the breakers roll,
Baffled like the aspirations of a proud ambitious soul.
Far off sounds of silvery laughter through the hollow caverns ring,
While my heart leaps up to catch reviving pleasure on the wing;
And the years come trooping backward, and we both again are young,
Walking side by side upon the lovely shores of Wollongong.
Fleeting dreams and idle fancies! Lo, the gloomy after Age
Creepeth, like an angry shadow, over life’s eventful stage!
Joy is but a mocking phantom, throwing out its glitter brief—
Short-lived as the western sunbeam dying from the cedar leaf.
Here we linger, lonely-hearted, musing over visions fled,
While the sickly twilight withers from the arches overhead.
Semblance of a bliss delusive are those dull, receding rays;
Semblance of the faint reflection left to us of other days;
Days of vernal hope and gladness, hours when the blossoms sprung
Round the feet of blithesome ramblers by the shores of Wollongong.