A Valentine

A poem by Barcroft Henry Boake

A Valentine The Bree was up; the floods were out
Around the hut of Culgo Jim:
The hand of God had broke the drought
And filled the channels to the brim:
The outline of the hut loomed dim
Among the shades of murmurous pine,
That eve of good Saint Valentine.

He watched, and to his sleepy gaze
The dying embers of the fire,
Its yellow reds and pearly greys,
Made pictures of his younger days.
Outside the waters mounted higher
Beneath a half-moon's sickly shine,
That eve of good Saint Valentine.

There, in the great slab fire-place
The oak log, burnt away to coal,
Showed him the semblance of a face
Framed in a golden aureole:
Eyes, the clear windows of a soul
Soul of a maid, who used to sign
Herself, ‘Jim, dear, your Valentine.'

Lips, whose pink curves were made to bear
Love's kisses, not to be the mock
Of grave-worms . . . Suddenly a whirr,
And twelve loud strokes upon the clock;
Then at the door a gentle knock.
The collie dog began to whine
That morn of good Saint Valentine.

He opened; by his heels the hound
Sniffed at the night. ‘Who comes, and why?
What? no one! Hush! was that a sound?
Methought I heard a human cry.
Bah! 'twas a curlew passing by
Out where the lignum bushes twine,
This morn of good Saint Valentine.

‘What ails the dog? Down, Stumpy, down!
No? Well, lead on, perchance a
It is, poor brute, that fears to drown.
Heavens! how chill the waters creep!
Why, Stumpy, do you splash and leap?
'Tis but a foolish quest of thine,
This morn of good Saint Valentine.

‘Nay, not so foolish as I thought . . .
Hark! 'mid those reeds a feeble scream!
Mother of God! a cradle brought
Down from some homestead up the stream!
A white-robed baby! Do I dream?
No, 'tis that dear dead love of mine
Who sends me thus a Valentine!'

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