Orara by Henry Kendall

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The strong sob of the chafing stream
   That seaward fights its way
Down crags of glitter, dells of gleam,
   Is in the hills to-day.

But far and faint, a grey-winged form
   Hangs where the wild lights wane --
The phantom of a bygone storm,
   A ghost of wind and rain.

The soft white feet of afternoon
   Are on the shining meads,
The breeze is as a pleasant tune
   Amongst the happy reeds.

The fierce, disastrous, flying fire,
   That made the great caves ring,
And scarred the slope, and broke the spire,
   Is a forgotten thing.

The air is full of mellow sounds,
   The wet hill-heads are bright,
And down the fall of fragrant grounds,
   The deep ways flame with light.

A rose-red space of stream I see,
   Past banks of tender fern;
A radiant brook, unknown to me
   Beyond its upper turn.

The singing, silver life I hear,
   Whose home is in the green,
Far-folded woods of fountains clear,
   Where I have never been.

Ah, brook above the upper bend,
   I often long to stand
Where you in soft, cool shades descend
   From the untrodden land!

Ah, folded woods, that hide the grace
   Of moss and torrents strong,
I often wish to know the face
   Of that which sings your song!

But I may linger, long, and look
   Till night is over all:
My eyes will never see the brook,
   Or sweet, strange waterfall.

The world is round me with its heat,
   And toil, and cares that tire;
I cannot with my feeble feet
   Climb after my desire.

But, on the lap of lands unseen,
   Within a secret zone,
There shine diviner gold and green
   Than man has ever known.

And where the silver waters sing
   Down hushed and holy dells,
The flower of a celestial Spring --
   A tenfold splendour, dwells.

Yea, in my dream of fall and brook
   By far sweet forests furled,
I see that light for which I look
   In vain through all the world --

The glory of a larger sky
   On slopes of hills sublime,
That speak with God and morning, high
   Above the ways of Time!

Ah! haply in this sphere of change
   Where shadows spoil the beam,
It would not do to climb that range
   And test my radiant Dream.

The slightest glimpse of yonder place,
   Untrodden and alone,
Might wholly kill that nameless grace,
   The charm of the unknown.

And therefore, though I look and long,
   Perhaps the lot is bright
Which keeps the river of the song
   A beauty out of sight.

First published in The Sydney Mail, 6 December 1879;
and later in
Songs from the Mountains by Henry Kendall, 1880;
The Oxford Book of Australian Verse edited by Walter Murdoch, 1918;
An Australasian Anthology: Australian and New Zealand Poems edited by Percival Serle, R.H. Croll and Frank Wilmot, 1927;
Selected Poems of Henry Kendall edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1957;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964;
The Poetical Works of Henry Kendall edited by Thomas Thornton Reed, 1966;
Bards in the Wilderness edited by Brian Elliott and Adrian Mitchell, 1970;
The Collins Book of Australian Poetry compiled by Rodney Hall, 1981;
A Treasury of Colonial Poetry, 1982;
Selected Poems of Henry Kendall edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1988;
Henry Kendall: Poetry, Prose and Selected Correspondence edited by Michael Ackland, 1993; and
Australian Verse: An Oxford Anthology edited by John Leonard, 1998.

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