Leaves from Australian Forests


Henry Kendall

        ON THE storm-cloven Cape
            The bitter waves roll,
            With the bergs of the Pole,
And the darks and the damps of the Northern Sea:
            For the storm-cloven Cape
            Is an alien Shape
With a fearful face; and it moans, and it stands
            Outside all lands

        When the fruits of the year
            Have been gathered in Spain,
            And the Indian rain
Is rich on the evergreen lands of the Sun,
            There comes to this Cape
            To this alien Shape,
As the waters beat in and the echoes troop forth,
            The Wind of the North,

        And the wilted thyme,
            And the patches past
            Of the nettles cast
In the drift of the rift, and the broken rime,
            Are tumbled and blown
            To every zone
With the famished glede, and the plovers thinned
            By this fourfold Wind—
                This Wind sublime!

        On the wrinkled hills,
            By starts and fits,
            The wild Moon sits;
And the rindles fill and flash and fall
            In the way of her light,
            Through the straitened night,
When the sea-heralds clamour, and elves of the war,
            In the torrents afar,
                Hold festival!

        From ridge to ridge
            The polar fires
            On the naked spires,
With a foreign splendour, flit and flow;
            And clough and cave
            And architrave
Have a blood-coloured glamour on roof and on wall,
            Like a nether hall
                In the hells below!

        The dead, dry lips
            Of the ledges, split
            By the thunder fit
And the stress of the sprites of the forked flame,
            Anon break out,
            With a shriek and a shout,
Like a hard, bitter laughter, cracked and thin,
            From a ghost with a sin
                Too dark for a name!

        And all thro’ the year,
            The fierce seas run
            From sun to sun,
Across the face of a vacant world!
            And the Wind flies forth
            From the wild, white North,
That shivers and harries the heart of things,
            And shapes with its wings
                A chaos uphurled!

        Like one who sees
            A rebel light
            In the thick of the night,
As he stumbles and staggers on summits afar—
            Who looks to it still,
            Up hill and hill,
With a steadfast hope (though the ways be deep,
            And rough, and steep),
                Like a steadfast star—

        So I, that stand
            On the outermost peaks
            Of peril, with cheeks
Blue with the salts of a frosty sea,
            Have learnt to wait,
            With an eye elate
And a heart intent, for the fuller blaze
            Of the Beauty that rays
                Like a glimpse for me—

        Of the Beauty that grows
            Whenever I hear
            The winds of Fear
From the tops and the bases of barrenness call;
            And the duplicate lore
            Which I learn evermore,
Is of Harmony filling and rounding the Storm,
            And the marvellous Form
                That governs all!

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