Sometimes before the moon has climbed the hill,
I take a candle in my hand and go
Into a fragrant garden lying still
With sleep, and part the leaves and steal with slow
Soft steps, for fear the shy green things should hear
Me come and my strange presence know,
And cease their tender blossoming.
Where wave the drowsy, shapeless boughs I creep,
(Pushing with seeking arms the pulsing air),
And flash my candle where pale lilies sleep.
But how their naked whiteness shames me there!
I blow the yellow flame in sudden fear,
A thrill that I all unaware
Have stumbled on some secret thing.
Sometimes I slip from out the giddy roar
Of city streets into the mystic gloom
Of some cathedral, whose mosaic floor
All flecked with rosy light like the soft bloom
Of sunset, flings the sound of tapping feet
To vaulted roof; and loud the boom
Of organ-music gathering
In volume like a swelling wave sings loud,
And sweeps about me drowning me with cries,
Till past the fluted pillars' rows, a bowed,
Uncovered head starts up where heavy lies
The dark. I feel unuttered prayers that beat
The Throne--and veil these straying eyes
That linger on some secret thing.
Sometimes when night leans waiting in the west,
And wanton day, disporting ere she goes,
Flings flaming necklets o'er her neck and breast,
And plucks the petals of the last-born rose,
I halt outside some open cottage door,
Where twining honeysuckle blows,
And hear a lowly mother sing
Unto her sleeping child. I hear a chaunt
Of deathless love, all wild with brooding fears;
She looks into the years that cannot daunt
Her faith, though she see naught save salty tears
And pain and strivings vain for him she bore.
She sings and smiles! I close my ears,
That hearken to some secret thing.
First published in The Australasian, 22 June 1918