Poem: To Henry Halloran by Henry Kendall

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You know I left my forest home full loth;
   And those weird ways I know so well and long,
Dishevelled with their sloping sidelong growth
   Of twisted thorn and kurrajong.

It seems to me, my friend (and this wild thought
   Of all wild thoughts, doth chiefly make me bleed),
That in those hills and valleys wonder-fraught,    
   I loved and lost a noble creed !

A splendid creed! but let me even turn
   And bide myself from what I've seen, and try
To fathom certain truths you know, and learn
   The Beauty shining in your sky:   

Remembering you, in ardent autumn nights,
   And Stenhouse near you, like a fine stray guest
Of other days, with all his lore of lights
   So manifold and manifest!

Then hold me firm. I cannot choose but long
   For that which lies and burns beyond my reach;
Suggested in your steadfast subtle song
   And his most marvellous speech !

For now my Soul goes drifting back again ;
   Ay, drifting, drifting, like the silent snow
While scattered sheddings, in a fall of rain,
   Revive the dear lost Long Ago!

The time I, loitering by untrodden fens,
   Intent upon low-hanging lustrous skies,
Heard mellowed psalms from sounding southern glens,  
   Euroma, dear to dreaming eyes!  

And caught seductive tokens of a Voice
   Half-maddened with the dim delirious themes
Of perfect Love, and the immortal choice
   Of starry-faces-astral dreams!

That last was yours! And if you sometimes find
   An alien darkness on the front of things,
Sing none the less for Life, nor fall behind,
   Like me; with trailing tired wings!

Yea, though the heavy Earth wears sackcloth now
   Because she hath the great prophetic grief
Which makes me set my face one way, and bow
   And falter for a far belief,

Be faithful yet for all, my brave bright peer,
   In that rare light you hold so true and good;
And find me something clearer than the clear
   White spaces of Infinitude.

First published
in The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 September 1864

Note: the subject of this poem is the poet Henry Halloran (1811-93).  "Stenhouse" in verse three is probably Nicol Drysdale Stenhouse (1806-73) who was a literary patron.

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