The Poems of Henry Kendall

In Memory of Edward Butler

Henry Kendall

A VOICE of grave, deep emphasis
    Is in the woods to-night;
No sound of radiant day is this,
    No cadence of the light.
Here in the fall and flights of leaves
    Against grey widths of sea,
The spirit of the forests grieves
    For lost Persephone.

The fair divinity that roves
    Where many waters sing
Doth miss her daughter of the groves—
    The golden-headed Spring.
She cannot find the shining hand
    That once the rose caressed;
There is no blossom on the land,
    No bird in last year’s nest.

Here, where this strange Demeter weeps—
    This large, sad life unseen—
Where July’s strong, wild torrent leaps
    The wet hill-heads between,
I sit and listen to the grief,
    The high, supreme distress,
Which sobs above the fallen leaf
    Like human tenderness!

Where sighs the sedge and moans the marsh,
    The hermit plover calls;
The voice of straitened streams is harsh
    By windy mountain walls;
There is no gleam upon the hills
    Of last October’s wings;
The shining lady of the rills
    Is with forgotten things.

Now where the land’s worn face is grey
    And storm is on the wave,
What flower is left to bear away
    To Edward Butler’s grave?
What tender rose of song is here
    That I may pluck and send
Across the hills and seas austere
    To my lamented friend?

There is no blossom left at all;
    But this white winter leaf,
Whose glad green life is past recall,
    Is token of my grief.
Where love is tending growths of grace,
    The first-born of the Spring,
Perhaps there may be found a place
    For my pale offering.

For this heroic Irish heart
    We miss so much to-day,
Whose life was of our lives a part,
    What words have I to say?
Because I know the noble woe
    That shrinks beneath the touch—
The pain of brothers stricken low—
    I will not say too much.

But often in the lonely space
    When night is on the land,
I dream of a departed face—
    A gracious, vanished hand.
And when the solemn waters roll
    Against the outer steep,
I see a great, benignant soul
    Beside me in my sleep.

Yea, while the frost is on the ways
    With barren banks austere,
The friend I knew in other days
    Is often very near.
I do not hear a single tone;
    But where this brother gleams,
The elders of the seasons flown
    Are with me in my dreams.

The saintly face of Stenhouse turns—
    His kind old eyes I see;
And Pell and Ridley from their urns
    Arise and look at me.
By Butler’s side the lights reveal
    The father of his fold,
I start from sleep in tears, and feel
    That I am growing old.

Where Edward Butler sleeps, the wave
    Is hardly ever heard;
But now the leaves above his grave
    By August’s songs are stirred.
The slope beyond is green and still,
    And in my dreams I dream
The hill is like an Irish hill
    Beside an Irish stream.

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