Author:

In The Poppy Field

Mad Patsy said, he said to me,
That every morning he could see
An angel walking on the sky;
Across the sunny skies of morn
He threw great handfuls far and nigh
Of poppy seed among the corn;
And then, he said, the angels run
To see the poppies in the sun.

A poppy is a devil weed,
I said to him – he disagreed;
He said the devil had no hand
In spreading flowers tall and fair
Through corn and rye and meadow land,
by garth and barrow everywhere:
The devil has not any flower,
But only money in his power.

And then he stretched out in the sun
And rolled upon his back for fun:
He kicked his legs and roared for joy
Because the sun was shining down:
He said he was a little boy
And would not work for any clown:
He ran and laughed behind a bee,
And danced for very ecstasy.

An Exile’s Farewell

The ocean heaves around us still
With long and measured swell,
The autumn gales our canvas fill,
Our ship rides smooth and well.
The broad Atlantic’s bed of foam
Still breaks against our prow;
I shed no tears at quitting home,
Nor will I shed them now!

Against the bulwarks on the poop
I lean, and watch the sun
Behind the red horizon stoop —
His race is nearly run.
Those waves will never quench his light,
O’er which they seem to close,
To-morrow he will rise as bright
As he this morning rose.

How brightly gleams the orb of day
Across the trackless sea!
How lightly dance the waves that play
Like dolphins in our lee!
The restless waters seem to say,
In smothered tones to me,
How many thousand miles away
My native land must be!

Speak, Ocean! is my Home the same
Now all is new to me? —
The tropic sky’s resplendent flame,
The vast expanse of sea?
Does all around her, yet unchanged,
The well-known aspect wear?
Oh! can the leagues that I have ranged
Have made no difference there?

How vivid Recollection’s hand
Recalls the scene once more!
I see the same tall poplars stand
Beside the garden door;
I see the bird-cage hanging still;
And where my sister set
The flowers in the window-sill —
Can they be living yet?

Let woman’s nature cherish grief,
I rarely heave a sigh
Before emotion takes relief
In listless apathy;
While from my pipe the vapours curl
Towards the evening sky,
And ‘neath my feet the billows whirl
In dull monotony!

The sky still wears the crimson streak
Of Sol’s departing ray,
Some briny drops are on my cheek,
‘Tis but the salt sea spray!
Then let our barque the ocean roam,
Our keel the billows plough;
I shed no tears at quitting home,
Nor will I shed them now!

Adam Lindsay Gordon

Wolf And Hound

You’ll take my tale with a little salt;

But it needs none, nevertheless!

I was foiled completely – fair at fault –

Disheartened, too, I confess!

At the splitters’ tent I had seen the track

Of horse-hoofs fresh on the sward;

And though Darby Lynch and Donovan Jack

(Who could swear through a ten-inch board)

Solemnly swore he had not been there,

I was just as sure they lied;

For to Darby all that is foul was fair,

And Jack for his life was tried.

We had run him for seven miles or more

As hard as our nags could split;

At the start they were all too weary and sore,

And his was quite fresh and fit.

Young Marsden’s pony had had enough

On the plain where the chase was hot;

We breasted the swell of the Bitterns’ bluff,

And Mark couldn’t raise a trot.

When the sea like a splendid silver shield

To the south-west suddenly lay,

On the brow of the Beetle the chestnut reeled –

And I bid good-bye to McCrea.

And I was alone when the mare fell lame

With a pointed flint in her shoe,

On the Stony Flats: I had lost the game! –

And what was a man to do?

I turned away with a fixed intent

And headed for Hawthorndell:

I could neither eat in the splitters’ tent

Nor drink at the splitters’ well.

I know that they gloried in my mishap,

And I cursed them between my teeth: –

A blood-red sunset through Brayton’s Gap

Flung a lurid fire on the hearth.

Could I reach the Dell? I had little reck,

And with scarce a choice of my own

I threw the reins on Miladi’s neck –

I had freed her foot from the stone.

That season most of the swamps were dry,

And after so hard a burst

In the sultry noon of so hot a sky

She was keen to appease her thirst –

Or by instinct urged, or impelled by Fate

(I care not to solve these things)

Certain it is that she took me straight

To the Warrigal water springs!

I can shut my eyes and recall the ground

As though it were yesterday:

With shelf on the low, grey rocks girt round,

The springs in their basin lay.

Woods to the east and wolds to the north

In the sundown suddenly bloomed:

Dead black on a curtain of crimson cloth

Large peaks to the westward loomed.

I led Miladi through weed and sedge,

She leisurely drank her fill:

There was something close to the water’s edge –

And my heart, with one leap, stood still!

For a horse’s shoe and a rider’s boot

Had left clean prints on the clay:

Someone had watered his beast on foot –

”Twas he! – he had gone! – which way?

Then the mouth of the cavern faced me fair

As I turned and fronted the rocks:

So at last I had pressed the wolf to his lair!

I had run to his earth the fox!

I thought so! Perhaps he was resting?

Perhaps He was waiting,

watching for me?

I examined all my revolver caps;

I hitched my mare to a tree.

I had sworn to have him, alive or dead!

And to give him a chance was loth:

He knew his life had been forfeited!

He had even heard of my oath!

In my stockinged soles to the shelf I crept –

I crawled safe into the cave:

All silent! – if he was there he slept –

Not there – all dark as a grave!….

Through the crack I could hear the leaden hiss!

See the livid face through the flame!

How strange it seemed that a man should miss

When his life depends on his aim!

There couldn’t have been a better light

For him, nor a worse for me:

We were cooped up – like caged beasts for a fight –

And dumb as dumb beasts were we!

Flash! flash! – Bang! Bang! – and we blazed away,

And the grey roof reddened and rang!

Flash! flash! – and I felt his bullet flay

The tip of my ear -Flash! bang!

Bang! flash! -and my pistol arm fell broke:

I struck with my left hand then:

-Struck at a corpse through a cloud of smoke!

I had shot him dead in his den.

The Shipman’s Tale

Listen my masters! I speak naught but truth.
From dawn to dawn they drifted on and on,
Not knowing wither nor to what dark end.
Now the North froze them, now the hot South scorched.
Some called to God, and found great comfort so;
Some gnashed their teeth with curses, some laughed
An empty laughter, seeing they yet lived,
So sweet was breath between their foolish lips.
Day after day the same relentless sun,
Night after night the same unpitying stars.
At intervals fierce lightning tore the clouds,
Showing vast hollow spaces, and the sleet
Hissed, and the torrents of the sky were loosed.
From time to time a hand relaxed its grip,
And some pale wretch slid down into the dark
With stifled moan, and transient horror seized
The rest who waited, knowing what must be.
At every turn strange shapes reached up and clutched
The whirling wreck, held on awhile, and then
Slipt back into that blackness whence they came.
Ah, hapless folk, to be so tost and torn,
So racked by hunger, fever, fire, and wave,
And swept at last into the nameless void–
Frail girls, strong men, and mothers with their babes!

And was none saved?
My masters, not a soul!

O shipman, woful, woful is thy tale!
Our hearts are heavy and our eyes are dimmed.
What ship is this that suffered such ill fate?

What ship, my masters? Know ye not?–The World!

A Farewell

With all my will, but much against my heart,
We two now part.
My Very Dear,
Our solace is, the sad road lies so clear.
It needs no art,
With faint, averted feet
And many a tear,
In our opposèd paths to persevere.
Go thou to East, I West.
We will not say
There ‘s any hope, it is so far away.
But, O, my Best,
When the one darling of our widowhead,
The nursling Grief,
Is dead,
And no dews blur our eyes
To see the peach-bloom come in evening skies,
Perchance we may,
Where now this night is day,
And even through faith of still averted feet,
Making full circle of our banishment,
Amazèd meet;
The bitter journey to the bourne so sweet
Seasoning the termless feast of our content
With tears of recognition never dry.

Egypt

Fantastic sleep is busy with my eyes;
I seem in some waste solitude to stand
Once ruled of Cheops; upon either hand
A dark illimitable desert lies,
Sultry and still — a zone of mysteries.
A wide-browed Sphinx, half buried in the sand,
With orbless sockets stares across the land,
The wofulest thing beneath these brooding skies
Save that loose heap of bleachèd bones, that lie
Where haply some poor Bedouin crawled to die.
Lo! while I gaze, beyond the vast sand-sea
The nebulous clouds are downward slowly drawn,
And one bleared star, faint glimmering like a bee,
Is shut in the rosy outstretched hand of Dawn.

A Dedication

They are rhymes rudely strung with intent less
Of sound than of words,
In lands where bright blossoms are scentless,
And songless bright birds;
Where, with fire and fierce drought on her tresses,
Insatiable Summer oppresses
Sere woodlands and sad wildernesses,
And faint flocks and herds.
Where in drieariest days, when all dews end,
And all winds are warm,
Wild Winter’s large floodgates are loosen’d,
And floods, freed by storm;
From broken-up fountain heads, dash on
Dry deserts with long pent up passion–
Here rhyme was first framed without fashion,
Song shaped without form.
Whence gather’d?–The locust’s glad chirrup
May furnish a stave;
The ring os rowel and stirrup,
The wash of a wave.
The chauntof a marsh frog in rushes
That chimes through the pauses and hushes
Of nightfall, the torrent that gushes,
The tempests that rave.
In the deep’ning of dawn, when it dapples
The dusk of the sky,
With streaks like the redd’ning of apples,
The ripening of rye.
To eastward, when cluster by cluster,
Dim stars and dull planets, that muster,
Wax wan in a world of white lustre
That spreads far and high.
In the gathering of night gloom o’er head, in
The still silent change,
All fire-flush’d when forest trees redden
On slopes of the range.
When the gnarl’d knotted trunks Eucalyptian
Seemed carved like weird columns Egyptian
With curious device–quaint inscription,
And heiroglyph strange.
In the Spring, when the wattle gold trembles
‘Twixt shadow and shine,
When each dew-laden air draught resembles
A long draught of wine;
When the skyline’s blue burnished resistance
Makes deeper the dreamiest distance,
Some song in all hearts hath existence,–
Such songs have been mine.

Love Not

LOVE not, love not! ye hapless sons of clay!
Hope’s gayest wreaths are made of earthly flowers—
Things that are made to fade and fall away
Ere they have blossom’d for a few short hours.
Love not!

Love not! the thing ye love may change:
The rosy lip may cease to smile on you,
The kindly-beaming eye grow cold and strange,
The heart still warmly beat, yet not be true.
Love not!

Love not! the thing you love may die,
May perish from the gay and gladsome earth;
The silent stars, the blue and smiling sky,
Beam o’er its grave, as once upon its birth.
Love not!

Love not! oh warning vainly said
In present hours as in the years gone by;
Love flings a halo round the dear ones’ head,
Faultless, immortal, till they change or die,
Love not!

I Do Not Love Thee

I DO not love thee! – no! I do not love thee!
And yet when thou art absent I am sad;
   And envy even the bright blue sky above thee,
Whose quiet stars may see thee and be glad.

   I do not love thee! – yet, I know not why,
Whate’er thou dost seems still well done, to me:
   And often in my solitude I sigh
That those I do love are not more like thee!

   I do not love thee! – yet, when thou art gone,
I hate the sound (though those who speak be dear)
   Which breaks the lingering echo of the tone
Thy voice of music leaves upon my ear.

   I do not love thee! – yet thy speaking eyes,
With their deep, bright, and most expressive blue,
   Between me and the midnight heaven arise,
Oftener than any eyes I ever knew.

   I know I do not love thee! yet, alas!
Others will scarcely trust my candid heart;
   And oft I catch them smiling as they pass,
Because they see me gazing where thou art.

Threnody

I

Upon your hearse this flower I lay
Brief be your sleep! You shall be known
When lesser men have had their day:
Fame blossoms where true seed is sown,
Or soon or late, let Time wound what it may.

II

Unvext by any dream of fame,
You smiled, and bade the world pass by:
But I–I turned, and saw a name
Shaping itself against the sky–
White star that rose amid the battle’s flame!

III

Brief be your sleep, for I would see
Your laurels–ah, how trivial now
To him must earthly laurel be
Who wears the amaranth on his brow!
How vain the voices of mortality!

The Lorelei

Yonder we see it from the steamer’s deck,
The haunted Mountain of the Lorelei —
The hanging crags sharp-cut against a sky
Clear as a sapphire without flaw or fleck.
‘Twas here the Siren lay in wait to wreck
The fisher-lad. At dusk, as he rowed by,
Perchance he heard her tender amorous cry,
And, seeing the wondrous whiteness of her neck,
Perchance would halt, and lean towards the shore;
Then she by that soft magic which she had
Would lure him, and in gossamers of her hair,
Gold upon gold, would wrap him o’er and o’er,
Wrap him, and sing to him, and drive him mad,
Then drag him down to no man knoweth where.