Henry Kendall

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

Euterpe - Poem by Henry Kendall

CHILD of Light, the bright, the bird-like! wilt thou float and float to me,
Facing winds and sleets and waters, flying glimpses of the sea?
Down amongst the hills of tempest, where the elves of tumult roam—
Blown wet shadows of the summits, dim sonorous sprites of foam?
Here and here my days are wasted, shorn of leaf and stript of fruit:
Vexed because of speech half spoken, maiden with the marvellous lute!
Vexed because of songs half-shapen, smit with fire and mixed with pain:
Part of thee, and part of Sorrow, like a sunset pale with rain.
Child of Light, the bright, the bird-like! wilt thou float and float to me
Facing winds and sleets and waters, flying glimpses of the sea?

All night long, in fluent pauses, falling far, but full, but fine,
Faultless friend of flowers and fountains, do I hear that voice of thine—
All night long, amidst the burden of the lordly storm, that sings
High above the tumbled forelands, fleet and fierce with thunderings!
Then and then, my love, Euterpe, lips of life replete with dreams
Murmur for thy sweet, sharp fragments dying down Lethean streams:
Murmur for thy mouth’s marred music, splendid hints that burn and break,
Heavy with excess of beauty: murmur for thy music’s sake.
All night long, in fluent pauses, falling far, but full, but fine,
Faultless friend of flowers and fountains, do I hear that voice of thine.

In the yellow flame of evening sound of thee doth come and go
Through the noises of the river, and the drifting of the snow:
In the yellow flame of evening—at the setting of the day—
Sound that lightens, falls and lightens, flickers, faints and fades away.
I am famished of thy silence—broken for the tender note
Caught with its surpassing passion—caught and strangled in thy throat!
We have nought to help thy trouble—nought for that which lieth mute
On the harpstring and the lutestring and the spirit of the lute.
In the yellow flame of evening sound of thee doth come and go
Through the noises of the river, and the drifting of the snow.

Daughter of the dead red summers! Men that laugh and men that weep
Call thee Music—shall I follow, choose their name, and turn and sleep?
What thou art, behold, I know not; but thy honey slakes and slays
Half the want which whitens manhood in the stress of alien days!
Even as a wondrous woman, struck with love and great desire,
Hast thou been to me, Euterpe! half of tears and half of fire.
But thy joy is swift and fitful; and a subtle sense of pain
Sighs through thy melodious breathing, takes the rapture from thy strain,
Daughter of the dead red summers! Men that laugh and men that weep
Call thee Music—shall I follow, choose their name, and turn and sleep?


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 7, 2010



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