Henry Kendall

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

To The Spirit Of Music - Poem by Henry Kendall

I
The cool grass blowing in a breeze
Of April valleys sooms and sways;
On slopes that dip to quiet seas
Through far, faint drifts of yellowing haze.
I lie like one who, in a dream
Of sounds and splendid coloured things,
Seems lifted into life supreme
And has a sense of waxing wings.
For through a great arch-light which floods
And breaks and spreads and swims along
High royal-robed autumnal woods,
I hear a glorious sunset song.
But, ah, Euterpe! I that pause
And listen to the strain divine
Can never learn its words, because
I am no son of thine.

How sweet is wandering where the west
Is full of thee, what time the morn
Looks from his halls of rosy rest
Across green miles of gleaming corn!

How sweet are dreams in shady nooks,
When bees are out, and day is mute,
While down the dell there floats the brook’s
Fine echo of thy marvellous lute!

And oh, how sweet is that sad tune
Of thine, within the evening breeze,
Which roams beneath the mirrored moon
On silver-sleeping summer seas!

How blest are they whom thou hast crowned,
Thy priests — the lords who understand
The deep divinity of sound,
And live their lives in Wonderland!

These stand within thy courts and see
The light exceeding round thy throne,
But I — an alien unto thee —
I faint afar off, and alone.

II

In hills where the keen Thessalonian
Made clamour with horse and with horn,
In oracular woods the Dodonian —
The mystical maiden was born.
And the high, the Olympian seven,
Ringed round with ineffable flame,
Baptized her in halos of heaven,
And gave her her beautiful name.
And Delphicus, loving her, brought her
Immutable dower of dreams,
And clothed her with glory, and taught her
The words of the winds and the streams.

She dwelt with the echoes that dwell
In far immemorial hills;
She wove of their speeches a spell —
She borrowed the songs of the rills;
And anthems of forest and fire,
And passionate psalms of the rain
Had life in the life of the lyre,
And breath in its infinite strain.

In a fair, in a floral abode,
Of purple and yellow and red,
The voice of her floated and flowed,
The light of her lingered and spread,
And ever there slipt through the bars
Of the leaves of her luminous bowers,
Syllables splendid as stars,
And faultless as moon-litten flowers.

III

Lady of a land of wonder,
Daughter of the hill supernal,
Far from frost and far from thunder
Under sons and moons eternal!
Long ago the strong Immortals
Took her hence on wheels of fire,
Caught her up and shut their portals —
Floral maid with fervent lyre.
But stray fallen notes of brightness
Yet within our world are ringing,
Floating on the winds of lightness
Glorious fragments of her singing.

Bud of light, she shines above us;
But a few of starry pinions —
Passioned souls who are her lovers —
Dwell in her divine dominions.
Few they are, but in the centric
Fanes of Beauty hold their station;
Kings of music, lords authentic,
Of the worlds of Inspiration.
These are they to whom are given
Eyes to see the singing stream-land,
Far from earth and near to heaven,
Known to gods and men as Dreamland.

Mournful humanity, stricken and worn,
Toiling for peace in undignified days,
Set in a sphere with the shadows forlorn,
Seeing sublimity dimmed by a haze —
Mournful humanity wearing the sign
Of trouble with time and unequable things,
Long alienated from spaces divine,
Sometimes remembers that once it had wings.
Chiefly it is when the song and the light
Sweeten the heart of the summering west,
Music and glory that lend to the night
Glimpses of marvellous havens of rest.

Chiefly it is when the beautiful day
Dies with a sound on its lips like a psalm —
Anthem of loveliness drifting away
Over a sea of unspeakable calm.

Then Euterpe’s harmonies
In the ballad rich and rare,
Freighted with old memories,
Float upon the evening air —
Float, like shine in films of rain,
Full of past pathetic themes,
Tales of perished joy and pain,
Frail and faint as dreams in dreams.
Then to far-off homes we rove,
Homes of youth and hope and faith,
Beautiful with lights of love —
Sanctified by shrines of death.

Ah! and in that quiet hour
Soul by soul is borne away
Over tracts of leaf and flower,
Lit with a supernal day;
Over Music-world serene,
Spheres unknown to woes and wars,
Homes of wildernesses green,
Silver seas and golden shores;
Then, like spirits glorified,
Sweet to hear and bright to see,
Lords in Eden they abide
Robed with strange new majesty.


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 7, 2010



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