The Poems of Henry Kendall

Robert Parkes

Son of Sir Henry Parkes

Henry Kendall

HIGH travelling winds by royal hill
    Their awful anthem sing,
And songs exalted flow and fill
    The caverns of the spring.

To-night across a wild wet plain
    A shadow sobs and strays;
The trees are whispering in the rain
    Of long departed days.

I cannot say what forest saith—
    Its words are strange to me:
I only know that in its breath
    Are tones that used to be.

Yea, in these deep dim solitudes
    I hear a sound I know—
The voice that lived in Penrith woods
    Twelve weary years ago.

And while the hymn of other years
    Is on a listening land,
The Angel of the Past appears
    And leads me by the hand;

And takes me over moaning wave,
    And tracts of sleepless change,
To set me by a lonely grave
    Within a lonely range.

The halo of the beautiful
    Is round the quiet spot;
The grass is deep and green and cool,
    Where sound of life is not.

Here in this lovely lap of bloom,
    The grace of glen and glade,
That tender days and nights illume,
    My gentle friend was laid.

I do not mark the shell that lies
    Beneath the touching flowers;
I only see the radiant eyes
    Of other scenes and hours.

I only turn, by grief inspired,
    Like some forsaken thing,
To look upon a life retired
    As hushed Bethesda’s spring.

The glory of unblemished days
    Is on the silent mound—
The light of years, too pure for praise;
    I kneel on holy ground!

Here is the clay of one whose mind
    Was fairer than the dew,
The sweetest nature of his kind
    I haply ever knew.

This Christian, walking on the white
    Clear paths apart from strife,
Kept far from all the heat and light
    That fills his father’s life.

The clamour and exceeding flame
    Were never in his days:
A higher object was his aim
    Than thrones of shine and praise.

Ah! like an English April psalm,
    That floats by sea and strand,
He passed away into the calm
    Of the Eternal Land.

The chair he filled is set aside
    Upon his father’s floor;
In morning hours, at eventide,
    His step is heard no more.

No more his face the forest knows;
    His voice is of the past;
But from his life of beauty flows
    A radiance that will last.

Yea, from the hours that heard his speech
    High shining mem’ries give
That fine example which will teach
    Our children how to live.

Here, kneeling in the body, far
    From grave of flower and dew,
My friend beyond the path of star,
    I say these words to you.

Though you were as a fleeting flame
    Across my road austere,
The memory of your face became
    A thing for ever dear.

I never have forgotten yet
    The Christian’s gentle touch;
And, since the time when last we met,
    You know I’ve suffered much.

I feel that I have given pain
    By certain words and deeds,
But stricken here with Sorrow’s rain,
    My contrite spirit bleeds.

For your sole sake I rue the blow,
    But this assurance send:
I smote, in noon, the public foe,
    But not the private friend.

I know that once I wronged your sire,
    But since that awful day
My soul has passed through blood and fire,
    My head is very grey.

Here let me pause! From years like yours
    There ever flows and thrives
The splendid blessing which endures
    Beyond our little lives.

From lonely lands across the wave
    Is sent to-night by me
This rose of reverence for the grave
    Beside the mountain lea.

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