Henry Kendall

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

Syrinx - Poem by Henry Kendall

A HEAP of low, dark, rocky coast,
Unknown to foot or feather!
A sea-voice moaning like a ghost;
And fits of fiery weather!

The flying Syrinx turned and sped
By dim, mysterious hollows,
Where night is black, and day is red,
And frost the fire-wind follows.

Strong, heavy footfalls in the wake
Came up with flights of water:
The gods were mournful for the sake
Of Ladon’s lovely daughter.

For when she came to spike and spine,
Where reef and river gather,
Her feet were sore with shell and chine;
She could not travel farther.

Across a naked strait of land
Blown sleet and surge were humming;
But trammelled with the shifting sand,
She heard the monster coming!

A thing of hoofs and horns and lust:
A gaunt, goat-footed stranger!
She bowed her body in the dust
And called on Zeus to change her;

And called on Hermes, fair and fleet,
And her of hounds and quiver,
To hide her in the thickets sweet
That sighed above the river.

So he that sits on flaming wheels,
And rules the sea and thunder,
Caught up the satyr by the heels
And tore his skirts asunder.

While Arcas, of the glittering plumes,
Took Ladon’s daughter lightly,
And set her in the gracious glooms
That mix with moon-mist nightly;

And touched her lips with wild-flower wine,
And changed her body slowly,
Till, in soft reeds of song and shine,
Her life was hidden wholly.


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 7, 2010



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