Songs from the Mountains


Henry Kendall

THE STRONG sob of the chafing stream
    That seaward fights its way
Down crags of glitter, dells of gleam,
    Is in the hills to-day.

But far and faint, a grey-winged form
    Hangs where the wild lights wane—
The phantom of a bygone storm,
    A ghost of wind and rain.

The soft white feet of afternoon
    Are on the shining meads,
The breeze is as a pleasant tune
    Amongst the happy reeds.

The fierce, disastrous, flying fire,
    That made the great caves ring,
And scarred the slope, and broke the spire,
    Is a forgotten thing.

The air is full of mellow sounds,
    The wet hill-heads are bright,
And down the fall of fragrant grounds,
    The deep ways flame with light.

A rose-red space of stream I see,
    Past banks of tender fern;
A radiant brook, unknown to me
    Beyond its upper turn.

The singing, silver life I hear,
    Whose home is in the green,
Far-folded woods of fountains clear,
    Where I have never been.

Ah, brook above the upper bend,
    I often long to stand
Where you in soft, cool shades descend
    From the untrodden land!

Ah, folded woods, that hide the grace
    Of moss and torrents strong,
I often wish to know the face
    Of that which sings your song!

But I may linger, long, and look
    Till night is over all:
My eyes will never see the brook,
    Or sweet, strange waterfall.

The world is round me with its heat,
    And toil, and cares that tire;
I cannot with my feeble feet
    Climb after my desire.

But, on the lap of lands unseen,
    Within a secret zone,
There shine diviner gold and green
    Than man has ever known.

And where the silver waters sing
    Down hushed and holy dells,
The flower of a celestial Spring—
    A tenfold splendour, dwells.

Yea, in my dream of fall and brook
    By far sweet forests furled,
I see that light for which I look
    In vain through all the world—

The glory of a larger sky
    On slopes of hills sublime,
That speak with God and morning, high
    Above the ways of Time!

Ah! haply in this sphere of change
    Where shadows spoil the beam,
It would not do to climb that range
    And test my radiant Dream.

The slightest glimpse of yonder place,
    Untrodden and alone,
Might wholly kill that nameless grace,
    The charm of the unknown.

And therefore, though I look and long,
    Perhaps the lot is bright
Which keeps the river of the song
    A beauty out of sight.

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