Robert Parkes

A poem by Henry Kendall

High travelling winds by royal hill
Their awful anthem sing,
And songs exalted flow and fill
The caverns of the spring.

To-night across a wild wet plain
A shadow sobs and strays;
The trees are whispering in the rain
Of long departed days.

I cannot say what forest saith
Its words are strange to me:
I only know that in its breath
Are tones that used to be.

Yea, in these deep dim solitudes
I hear a sound I know
The voice that lived in Penrith woods
Twelve weary years ago.

And while the hymn of other years
Is on a listening land,
The Angel of the Past appears
And leads me by the hand;

And takes me over moaning wave,
And tracts of sleepless change,
To set me by a lonely grave
Within a lonely range.

The halo of the beautiful
Is round the quiet spot;
The grass is deep and green and cool,
Where sound of life is not.

Here in this lovely lap of bloom,
The grace of glen and glade,
That tender days and nights illume,
My gentle friend was laid.

I do not mark the shell that lies
Beneath the touching flowers;
I only see the radiant eyes
Of other scenes and hours.

I only turn, by grief inspired,
Like some forsaken thing,
To look upon a life retired
As hushed Bethesda’s spring.

The glory of unblemished days
Is on the silent mound
The light of years, too pure for praise;
I kneel on holy ground!

Here is the clay of one whose mind
Was fairer than the dew,
The sweetest nature of his kind
I haply ever knew.

This Christian, walking on the white
Clear paths apart from strife,
Kept far from all the heat and light
That fills his father’s life.

The clamour and exceeding flame
Were never in his days:
A higher object was his aim
Than thrones of shine and praise.

Ah! like an English April psalm,
That floats by sea and strand,
He passed away into the calm
Of the Eternal Land.

The chair he filled is set aside
Upon his father’s floor;
In morning hours, at eventide,
His step is heard no more.

No more his face the forest knows;
His voice is of the past;
But from his life of beauty flows
A radiance that will last.

Yea, from the hours that heard his speech
High shining mem’ries give
That fine example which will teach
Our children how to live.

Here, kneeling in the body, far
From grave of flower and dew,
My friend beyond the path of star,
I say these words to you.

Though you were as a fleeting flame
Across my road austere,
The memory of your face became
A thing for ever dear.

I never have forgotten yet
The Christian’s gentle touch;
And, since the time when last we met,
You know I’ve suffered much.

I feel that I have given pain
By certain words and deeds,
But stricken here with Sorrow’s rain,
My contrite spirit bleeds.

For your sole sake I rue the blow,
But this assurance send:
I smote, in noon, the public foe,
But not the private friend.

I know that once I wronged your sire,
But since that awful day
My soul has passed through blood and fire,
My head is very grey.

Here let me pause! From years like yours
There ever flows and thrives
The splendid blessing which endures
Beyond our little lives.

From lonely lands across the wave
Is sent to-night by me
This rose of reverence for the grave
Beside the mountain lea.

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