Leaves from Australian Forests

Rose Lorraine

Henry Kendall

SWEET water-moons, blown into lights
    Of flying gold on pool and creek,
And many sounds and many sights
    Of younger days are back this week.
I cannot say I sought to face
    Or greatly cared to cross again
The subtle spirit of the place
    Whose life is mixed with Rose Lorraine.

What though her voice rings clearly through
    A nightly dream I gladly keep,
No wish have I to start anew
    Heart fountains that have ceased to leap.
Here, face to face with different days,
    And later things that plead for love,
It would be worse than wrong to raise
    A phantom far too fain to move.

But, Rose Lorraine—ah! Rose Lorraine,
    I’ll whisper now, where no one hears—
If you should chance to meet again
    The man you kissed in soft, dead years,
Just say for once “He suffered much,”
    And add to this “His fate was worst
Because of me, my voice, my touch.”
    There is no passion like the first!

If I that breathe your slow sweet name,
    As one breathes low notes on a flute,
Have vext your peace with word of blame,
    The phrase is dead—the lips are mute.
Yet when I turn towards the wall,
    In stormy nights, in times of rain,
I often wish you could recall
    Your tender speeches, Rose Lorraine.

Because, you see, I thought them true,
    And did not count you self-deceived,
And gave myself in all to you,
    And looked on Love as Life achieved.
Then came the bitter, sudden change,
    The fastened lips, the dumb despair.
The first few weeks were very strange,
    And long, and sad, and hard to bear.

No woman lives with power to burst
    My passion’s bonds, and set me free;
For Rose is last where Rose was first,
    And only Rose is fair to me.
The faintest memory of her face,
    The wilful face that hurt me so,
Is followed by a fiery trace
    That Rose Lorraine must never know.

I keep a faded ribbon string
    You used to wear about your throat;
And of this pale, this perished thing,
    I think I know the threads by rote.
God help such love! To touch your hand,
    To loiter where your feet might fall,
You marvellous girl, my soul would stand
    The worst of hell—its fires and all!

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