Hy-Brasil by Henry Kendall

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"Daughter," said the ancient father, pausing by the evening sea,
"Turn thy face towards the sunset -- turn thy face and kneel with me!  
"Prayer and praise and holy fasting, lips of love and life of light,  
"These and these have made thee perfect-shining saint with seraph's sight
"Look towards that flowing crescent -- look beyond that glowing space,
Tell me, sister of the angels, what is beaming in thy face?"
And the daughter who had fasted-who had spent her days in prayer
Till the glory of the Saviour touched her head and rested there,  
Turned her eyes towards the sea-line -- saw beyond the fiery crest,
Floating over waves of jasper, far Hy-Brasil in the West.

All the calmness and the colour -- all the splendour and repose
Flowing where the sunset flowered like a silverhearted rose!
There indeed was singing Eden, where the great gold river runs
Past the porch and gates of crystal ringed by strong and shining ones!
There indeed was God's own garden sailing down the sapphire sea --
Lawny dells and slopes of summer, dazzling stream and radiant tree!
Out against the hushed horizon -- out beneath the reverent day, --
Flamed the Wonder on the waters -- flamed, and flashed, and passed away.    
And the maiden who had soon it felt a hand within her own,
And an angel that we know not led her to the Lands unknown.

Never since hath eye behold it -- never since hath mortal, dazed
By its strange unearthly splendour, on the floating Eden gazed!
Only once since Eve went weeping through a throng of glittering wings
Hath the holy seen Hy-Brasil, where the great gold river sings!  
Only once by quiet waters -- under still, resplendent skies
Did the sister of the seraphs kneel in sight of Paradise!       
She the pure, the perfect woman, sanctified by patient prayer
Had the eyes of saints of Heaven -- all their glory in her hair;
Therefore God the Father whispered to a radiant spirit near --
"Show Our daughter fair Hy-Brasil -- show her this and lead her here."

But, beyond the halls of sunset -- but within the wondrous West,
On the rose-red seas of evening, sails the Garden of the Blest.
Still, the gates of glassy beauty -- still the walls of glowing light
Shine on waves that no man knows of: out of sound and out of sight.  
Yet the slopes and lawns of lustre -- yet the dells of sparkling streams
Dip to tranquil shores of jasper where the watching angel beams.
But, behold, our eyes are human, and our way is paved with pain,
We can never find Hy-Brasil -- never see its hills again!
Never look on bays of crystal -- never bend the reverent knee
In the sight of Eden floating -- floating on the sapphire sea!

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 14 June 1879;
and later in
The Freeman's Journal, 18 December 1880;
Songs from the Mountains by Henry Kendall, 1880;
An Anthology of Australian Verse, edited by Bertram Stevens, 1907;
The Golden Treasury of Australian Verse, edited by Bertram Stevens, 1909;
Selections from Australian Poets edited by Bertram Stevens, 1925;
Rose Lorraine and Other Poems edited by Henry Kendall, 1945;
Selected Poems of Henry Kendall edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1957;
The Poetical Works of Henry Kendall edited by Thomas Thornton Reed, 1966;
A Treasury of Colonial Poetry, 1982; and
Selected Poems of Henry Kendall edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1988.

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

See also.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on June 14, 2012 8:57 AM.

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