The Old Sundial by Emily Coungeau

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Enclosed within a Roman wall
   An old-world garden hidden lies,
Where gorgeous tulips, slim and tall,
   Tilt fragile cups with laughing eyes.   
Upon the green, close shaven lawn,
   Where graceful pampas grasses sway,
And beauty long ago was born,
Sunlight and shadow ever play.

An antique dial long since grey,
   With moss-rimmed pedestal for throne,
Dreams 'mid these lovely colours gay
   Of all the changes it has known.
For here once walked in pensive mood
   An Abbot with his breviary,
Who murmured oft beneath his hood
   A "Miserere Dominie."

Yonder, long bearded, stonily
   Time's statue, with his scythe, looks o'er
This place of hallowed memory,
   Haunted in spirit evermore.
Only one brush with magic power
   Could paint the buds enlaced with dew,   
Day, golden-winged, the lilac hour,
   Soft thisteldowns beneath the blue.

The gilded hands have backward sped,
   And with the old, enchanting spell
The cloak of years has gently fled,
  While chords of sweet, lost music swell.
Across the grass comes smiling youth,
   I ask of Time, "Can this be Me ?"
"Ah, yet, it once was you in truth,"
   And then he breathed "Eternity."

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 9 April 1927

Author: Emily Coungeau (1860-1936) was born in Essex, England, and migrated to Australia in 1887, following three of her brothers.  She married in 1889 in Richmond, Melbourne and moved to Brisbane where she and her husband ran a very successful wine saloon. She began publishing poetry in 1913 and produced four collections of her verse during her lifetime.  She died in Brisbane in 1936.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on April 9, 2011 10:51 AM.

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