Leaves from Australian Forests

At Dusk

Henry Kendall

AT DUSK, like flowers that shun the day,
    Shy thoughts from dim recesses break,
And plead for words I dare not say
        For your sweet sake.

My early love! my first, my last!
    Mistakes have been that both must rue;
But all the passion of the past
        Survives for you.

The tender message Hope might send
    Sinks fainting at the lips of speech,
For, are you lover—are you friend,
        That I would reach?

How much to-night I’d give to win
    A banished peace—an old repose;
But here I sit, and sigh, and sin
        When no one knows.

The stern, the steadfast reticence,
    Which made the dearest phrases halt,
And checked a first and finest sense,
        Was not my fault.

I held my words because there grew
    About my life persistent pride;
And you were loved, who never knew
        What love could hide!

This purpose filled my soul like flame:
    To win you wealth and take the place
Where care is not, nor any shame
        To vex your face.

I said “Till then my heart must keep
    Its secrets safe and unconfest;”
And days and nights unknown to sleep
        The vow attest.

Yet, oh! my sweet, it seems so long
    Since you were near; and fates retard
The sequel of a struggle strong,
        And life is hard—

Too hard, when one is left alone
    To wrestle passion, never free
To turn and say to you, “My own,
        Come home to me!”

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