Henry Kendall

(18 April 1839 – 1 August 1882 / Ulladulla, New South Wales)

Passing Away


THE SPIRIT of beautiful faces,
The light on the forehead of Love,
And the spell of past visited places,
And the songs and the sweetness thereof;
These, touched by a hand that is hoary;
These, vext with a tune of decay,
Are spoiled of their glow and their glory;
And the burden is, “Passing away!
Passing away!”

Old years and their changes come trooping
At nightfall to you and to me,
When Autumn sits faded and drooping
By the sorrowful waves of the sea.
Faint phantoms that float in the gloaming,
Return with the whispers that say,
“The end which is quiet is coming;
Ye are weary, and passing away!
Passing away!”

It is hard to awake and discover
The swiftness that waits upon Time;
But youth and its beauty are over,
And Love has a sigh in its rhyme.
The Life that looks back and remembers,
Is troubled and tired and gray,
And sick of the sullen Decembers,
Whose burden is, “Passing away!
Passing away!”

We have wandered and wandered together,
And our joys have been many and deep;
But seasons of alien weather
Have ended in longings for sleep.
Pale purpose and perishing passion,
With never a farewell to say,
Die down into sobs of suppression;
The burden is, “Passing away!
Passing away!”

We loved the soft tangle of tresses,
The lips that were fain and afraid.
And the silence of far wildernesses,
With their dower of splendour and shade!
For faces of sweetness we waited,
And days of delight and delay,
Ere Time and its voices were mated
To a voice that sighs, “Passing away!
Passing away!”

O years interwoven with stories
Of strong aspirations and high,
How fleet and how false were the glories
That lived in your limited sky!
Here, sitting by ruinous altars
Of Promise, what word shall we say
To the speech that the rainy wind falters,
Whose burden is, “Passing away!
Passing away!”

Submitted: Wednesday, April 07, 2010

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