Roderic Quinn (1867 - 1949 / Australia)
At End Of A Holiday
'LEAVES and brambles from hill and hollow
Come and gather!' the children cried;
'The sun goes down, and the night will follow,
A moonless night on the dark hillside.'
All ways they wandered — the dry twigs snapping,
With laugh and prattle and song between;
Down on the rocks the waves were lapping,
The long swell swaying the seaweed green.
And she stood by in her white sun-bonnet,
All lace and snow on her tressy hair,
With a gold king-beetle dreaming on it
A lotus dream in the lustrous air.
Was it love, or a dove in the tall tree cooing?
Was it love, or a dove that loitered nigh?
The eventide is the hour for wooing —
But I was silent, and she was shy.
Then suddenly rose a far faint humming,
A growing noise in the evening hush,
And the prattle of children homeward coming,
Laden with spoil of the gold-brown bush.
'Leaves and brambles from hill and hollow!
The way was tangled, and tangles tire.
The sun goes down and the night will follow, —
Now down on your knees and make us a fire!'
The leaves were wet (how a storm may hinder!)
The brambles damp with a shower at noon;
She bent to help . . .and my heart of tinder,
Ah, why did it burst to flame so soon?
'Dry leaves, dry leaves from the twilight forest,
Or bark that is sheltered, or hidden ferns:
Dry leaves, dry leaves!' the children chorused,
'The drier the leaf the redder it burns!'
The fire leapt up with a sudden glancing,
The first flame flushing her hands of snow;
And round about went the children dancing,
Their faces lit by the rosy glow.
That fire has gone beyond all returning,
For wild winds scatter and chill rains drench:
All dust the leaves; but a fire is burning
That wind or water shall never quench.
Ah, leaves and brambles from hill and hollow!
And two together, and violet eyes . . .
The sun goes down, and love must follow,
A quenchless fire, and a flame that dies.
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