Australia Vindex

A poem by Henry Kendall

Who cometh from fields of the south
With raiment of weeping and woe,
And a cry of the heart in her mouth,
And a step that is muffled and slow?

Her paths are the paths of the sun;
Her house is a beautiful light;
But she boweth her head, and is one
With the daughters of dolour and night.

She is fairer than flowers of love;
She is fiercer than wind-driven flame;
And God from His thunders above
Hath smitten the soul of her shame.

She saith to the bloody one curst
With the fever of evil, she saith
“My sorrow shall strangle thee first
With an agony wilder than death!

“My sorrow shall hack at thy life!
Thou shalt wrestle with wraiths of thy sin,
And sleep on a pillow of strife
With demons without and within!”

She whispers, “He came to the land
A lord and a lover of me
A son of the waves with a hand
As fearless and frank as the sea.

“On the shores of the stranger he stood
With the sweetness of youth on his face;
Till there started a fiend from the wood,
Who stabbed at the peace of the place!

“Because of the dastardly thing
Thou hast done in the sight of the day,
All horrors that sicken and sting
Shall make thee for ever their prey.

“Because of the beautiful trust
Destroyed by a devil like thee,
Thy bed shall be low in the dust
And my heel as a shackle shall be!

“Because” (and she mutters it deep
Who curseth the coward in chains)
“Thou hast stricken and murdered our sleep,
Thy sleep shall be perished with pains;

“Thy sleep shall be broken and sharp
And filled with fierce spasms and dreams,
And shadow shall haunt thee and harp
On hellish and horrible themes!

“I will set my right hand on thy neck
And my foot on thy body, nor bate,
Till thy name shall become as a wreck
And a byword for hisses and hate!”

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