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Perdita by Rolf Boldrewood

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She is beautiful yet, with her wondrous hair
   And eyes that are stormy with fitful light,
The delicate hues of brow and cheek
   Are unmarred all, rose-clear and bright;
That matchless frame yet holds at bay
The crouching bloodhounds, Remorse, Decay.

There is no fear in her great dark eyes --
   No hope, no love, no care,
Stately and proud she looks around
   With a fierce, defiant stare;
Wild words deform her reckless speech,
Her laugh has a sadness tears never reach.

Whom should she fear on earth?  Can Fate
   One direr torment lend
To her few little years of glitter and gloom
   With the sad old story to end
When the spectres of Loneliness, Want and Pain
Shall arise one night with Death in their train?

     .    .    .    .    .

I see in a vision a woman like her
   Trip down an orchard slope,
With rosy prattlers that shout a name
   In tones of rapture and hope;
While the yeoman, gazing at children and wife,
Thanks God for the pride and joy of his life.

     .    .    .    .    .

Whose conscience is heavy with this dark guilt?
   Who pays at the final day
For a wasted body, a murdered soul,
   And how shall he answer, I say,
For her outlawed years, her early doom,
And despair -- despair -- beyond the tomb?

First published in The Australasian, 16 February 1883;
and later in
Old Melbourne Memories by Rolf Boldrewood, 1884; and
An Anthology of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1907.

Author: Thomas Alexander Brown (1826-1915) was born in London and emigrated to Australia with this family in 1831.  He owned and ran cattle stations until drought drove him to live in Sydney on 1869.  He was appointed a Police Magistrate in New South Wales 1871 and served in several districts throughout the state.  He is mainly known for his novel Robbery Under Arms (1883),  He died in Melbourne in 1915.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

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