To an Old Pocket Book by Henry Parkes

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The star which brightens through the breaking storm,
In solitary beauty, hath a charm,
For him whose eye discovers its pale speck
From off the writhing vessel's sea wrench'd deck --
A charm which o'er reviving sense will dart,
And almost master manhood's resolute heart,
Recalling, with the magic of its beam --
Sudden and vivid -- dreams of childhood's dream;
The home, the very self-same home he left,
The lights and shadows which were wont to shift
Before his eyes, years, many years ago,
When oft he wonder'd in the starlight's glow,
('Ere his lone heart the wide world's ills had proved,)
With those who loved him, and were his beloved!
And, like that star, my friend's old pocket book,
   (Though gone thy outward glass, and worthless thou,)
Up-turn'd unthinkingly, -- thy time-worn look
   Breaks through the tempest of my bosom now,
And brings bright pictures of the past to mind,
Faces all smiles, and hearts for ever kind.
Yes! we were happy when I first saw thee,
Both -- he who had thee then in keeping, he
Who now will keep thee, as his parting gift!
But that brief season of the soul flew swift;
Both had our troubles ere we parted -- both
Bore hearts of unmatured and wither'd growth   
Away in heaviness; though sun and rain,
For him, may now have brought the flowers again.
Such is my prayer and hope -- that Misery
Left him with Fortune when she follow'd me!
But oh! the sight of thee recalls the sunny
Moments which flew, uncursed by strife for money.

First published in Australasian Chronicle, 12 January 1841

Author: Henry Parkes (1815-1896) was born into rather meagre circumstances in Warwickshire England in 1815.   After a series of financial difficulties he and his wife left England for New South Wales, arriving in Sydney on 25 July 1839.  Although dogged with business problems, Parkes became increasingly involved with the literary and political life of the colony and entered Parliament in 1854. He served five terms as Premier of the colony between 1872 and 1891.  In later years he actively campaigned for the Federation of Australia but failed to live to see his dream fulfilled in 1901.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on January 12, 2011 8:48 AM.

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