Names Upon a Stone

A poem by Henry Kendall

Across bleak widths of broken sea
A fierce north-easter breaks,
And makes a thunder on the lea
A whiteness of the lakes.
Here, while beyond the rainy stream
The wild winds sobbing blow,
I see the river of my dream
Four wasted years ago.

Narrara of the waterfalls,
The darling of the hills,
Whose home is under mountain walls
By many-luted rills!
Her bright green nooks and channels cool
I never more may see;
But, ah! the Past was beautiful
The sights that used to be.

There was a rock-pool in a glen
Beyond Narrara’s sands;
The mountains shut it in from men
In flowerful fairy lands;
But once we found its dwelling-place
The lovely and the lone
And, in a dream, I stooped to trace
Our names upon a stone.

Above us, where the star-like moss
Shone on the wet, green wall
That spanned the straitened stream across,
We saw the waterfall
A silver singer far away,
By folded hills and hoar;
Its voice is in the woods to-day
A voice I hear no more.

I wonder if the leaves that screen
The rock-pool of the past
Are yet as soft and cool and green
As when we saw them last!
I wonder if that tender thing,
The moss, has overgrown
The letters by the limpid spring
Our names upon the stone!

Across the face of scenes we know
There may have come a change
The places seen four years ago
Perhaps would now look strange.
To you, indeed, they cannot be
What haply once they were:
A friend beloved by you and me
No more will greet us there.

Because I know the filial grief
That shrinks beneath the touch
The noble love whose words are brief
I will not say too much;
But often when the night-winds strike
Across the sighing rills,
I think of him whose life was like
The rock-pool’s in the hills.

A beauty like the light of song
Is in my dreams, that show
The grand old man who lived so long
As spotless as the snow.
A fitting garland for the dead
I cannot compass yet;
But many things he did and said
I never will forget.

In dells where once we used to rove
The slow, sad water grieves;
And ever comes from glimmering grove
The liturgy of leaves.
But time and toil have marked my face,
My heart has older grown
Since, in the woods, I stooped to trace
Our names upon the stone.

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