Once when I saw the far-off hills,
The frosty moon or a white-veiled tree,
The hills, the moon, the tree would come
To be a trembling part of me.
The sea beyond the rose-flushed dunes
Withdrawn and cold - a river-flood
Silvering the hollow pasture-lands
Would set a fever in my blood.
Now I can watch the lilac gulls
Circle the darker lilac tide,
And turn my collar up and wish
That I were home and safe inside . . .
O, Time, what have you done to me
That I can stay unmoved and stare
At Beauty's very self and reach
No core of wonder prisoned there!
If such be so how dare I live,
Draw easy breath, laugh, work and play,
For I have let into my soul
The first slow shadow of decay.
Here now then I shall go again
Humbly to the small things and find
In the shape of a single rounded stone
Wonder and joy to fill my mind.
Rapture implicit there will be
In the brown-spored moss, a spire of grass,
A strange lost world that beckons from
A raindrop hanging clear as glass!
First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 April 1953