Songs from the Mountains

By the Cliffs of the Sea

(In Memory of Samuel Bennett.)

Henry Kendall

IN A far-away glen of the hills,
    Where the bird of the night is at rest,
Shut in from the thunder that fills
    The fog-hidden caves of the west—
In a sound of the leaf, and the lute
    Of the wind on the quiet lagoon,
I stand, like a worshipper, mute
    In the flow of a marvellous tune!
And the song that is sweet to my sense
    Is, “Nearer, my God, unto Thee”;
But it carries me sorrowing hence,
    To a grave by the cliffs of the sea.

So many have gone that I loved—
    So few of the fathers remain,
That where in old seasons I moved
    I could never be happy again.
In the breaks of this beautiful psalm,
    With its deep, its devotional tone,
And hints of ineffable calm,
    I feel like a stranger, alone.
No wonder my eyes are so dim—
    Your trouble is heavy on me,
O widow and daughter of him
    Who sleeps in the grave by the sea!

The years have been hard that have pressed
    On a head full of premature grey,
Since Stenhouse went down to his rest,
    And Harpur was taken away.
In the soft yellow evening-ends,
    The wind of the water is faint
By the home of the last of my friends—
    The shrine of the father and saint.
The tenderness touching—the grace
    Of Ridley no more is for me;
And flowers have hidden the face
    Of the brother who sleeps by the sea.

The vehement voice of the South
    Is loud where the journalist lies;
But calm hath encompassed his mouth,
    And sweet is the peace in his eyes.
Called hence by the Power who knows
    When the work of a hero is done,
He turned at the message, and rose
    With the harness of diligence on.
In the midst of magnificent toil,
    He bowed at the holy decree;
And green is the grass on the soil
    Of the grave by the cliffs of the sea.

I knew him, indeed; and I knew,
    Having suffered so much in his day,
What a beautiful nature and true
    In Bennett was hidden away.
In the folds of a shame without end,
    When the lips of the scorner were curled,
I found in this brother a friend—
    The last that was left in the world.
Ah! under the surface austere
    Compassion was native to thee;
I send from my solitude here
    This rose for the grave by the sea.

To the high, the heroic intent
    Of a life that was never at rest,
He held, with a courage unspent,
    Through the worst of his days and the best.
Far back in the years that are dead
    He knew of the bitterness cold
That saddens with silver the head
    And makes a man suddenly old.
The dignity gracing his grief
    Was ever a lesson to me;
He lies under blossom and leaf
    In a grave by the cliffs of the sea.

Above him the wandering face
    Of the moon is a loveliness now,
And anthems encompass the place
    From lutes of the luminous bough.
The forelands are fiery with foam
    Where often and often he roved;
He sleeps in the sight of the home
    That he built by the waters he loved.
The wave is his fellow at night,
    And the sun, shining over the lea,
Sheds out an unspeakable light
    On this grave by the cliffs of the sea.

Back    |    Words Home    |    Kendall Home    |    Site Info.    |    Feedback