Henry Kendall ( )

Other Poems (1871-82). In MemoriamAlice Fane Gunn Stenhouse

The grand, authentic songs that roll
 Across grey widths of wild-faced sea,
The lordly anthems of the Pole,
 Are loud upon the lea.

Yea, deep and full the South Wind sings
 The mighty symphonies that make
A thunder at the mountain springs
 A whiteness on the lake.

And where the hermit hornet hums,
 When Summer fires his wings with gold,
The hollow voice of August comes,
 Across the rain and cold.

Now on the misty mountain tops,
 Where gleams the crag and glares the fell,
Wild Winter, like one hunted, stops
 And shouts a fierce farewell.

Keen fitful gusts shoot past the shore
 And hiss by moor and moody mere
The heralds bleak that come before
 The turning of the year.

A sobbing spirit wanders where
 By fits and starts the wild-fire shines;
Like one who walks in deep despair,
 With Death amongst the pines.

And ah! the fine, majestic grief
 Which fills the heart of forests lone,
And makes a lute of limb and leaf
 Is human in its tone.

Too human for the thought to slip
 How every song that sorrow sings
Betrays the broad relationship
 Of all created things.

Man's mournful speech, the wail of tree,
 The words the winds and waters say,
Make up that general elegy,
 Whose burden is decay.

To-night my soul looks back and sees,
 Across wind-broken wastes of wave,
A widow on her bended knees
 Beside a new-made grave.

A sufferer with a touching face
 By love and grief made beautiful;
Whose rapt religion lights the place
 Where death holds awful rule.

The fair, tired soul whose twofold grief
 For child and father lends a tone
Of pathos to the pallid leaf
 That sighs above the stone.

The large beloved heart whereon
 She used to lean, lies still and cold,
Where, like a seraph, shines the sun
 On flowerful green and gold.

I knew him wellthe grand, the sweet,
 Pure nature past all human praise;
The dear Gamaliel at whose feet
 I sat in other days.

He, glorified by god-like lore,
 First showed my soul Life's highest aim;
When, like one winged, I breathedbefore
 The years of sin and shame.

God called him Home.  And, in the calm
 Beyond our best possessions priced,
He passed, as floats a faultless psalm,
 To his fair Father, Christ.

But left as solace for the hours
 Of sorrow and the loss thereof;
A sister of the birds and flowers,
 The daughter of his love.

She, like a stray sweet seraph, shed
 A healing spirit, that flamed and flowed
As if about her bright young head
 A crown of saintship glowed.

Suppressing, with sublime self-slight,
 The awful face of that distress
Which fell upon her youth like blight,
 She shone like happiness.

And, in the home so sanctified
 By death in its most noble guise,
She kissed the lips of love, and dried
 The tears in sorrow's eyes.

And helped the widowed heart to lean,
 So broken up with human cares,
On one who must be felt and seen
 By such pure souls as hers.

Moreover, having lived, and learned
 The taste of Life's most bitter spring,
For all the sick this sister yearned
 The poor and suffering.

But though she had for every one
 The phrase of comfort and the smile,
This shining daughter of the sun
 Was dying all the while.

Yet self-withdrawnheld out of reach
 Was grief; except when music blent
Its deep, divine, prophetic speech
 With voice and instrument.

Then sometimes would escape a cry
 From that dark other life of hers
The half of her humanity
 And sob through sound and verse.

At last there came the holy touch,
 With psalms from higher homes and hours;
And she who loved the flowers so much
 Now sleeps amongst the flowers.

By hearse-like yews and grey-haired moss,
 Where wails the wind in starts and fits,
Twice bowed and broken down with loss,
 The wife, the mother sits.

God help her soul!  She cannot see,
 For very trouble, anything
Beyond this wild Gethsemane
 Of swift, black suffering;

Except it be that faltering faith
 Which leads the lips of life to say:
"There must be something past this death
 Lord, teach me how to pray!"

Ah, teach her, Lord!  And shed through grief
 The clear full light, the undefiled,
The blessing of the bright belief
 Which sanctified her child.

Let me, a son of sin and doubt,
 Whose feet are set in ways amiss
Who cannot read Thy riddle out,
 Just plead, and ask Thee this;

Give her the eyes to see the things
 The Life and Love I cannot see;
And lift her with the helping wings
 Thou hast denied to me.

Yea, shining from the highest blue
 On those that sing by Beulah's streams,
Shake on her thirsty soul the dew
 Which brings immortal dreams.

So that her heart may find the great,
 Pure faith for which it looks so long;
And learn the noble way to wait,
 To suffer, and be strong.

* Daughter of Nicol Drysdale Stenhouse.

Henry Kendall's other poems:
  1. Other Poems (1871-82). From the Forests
  2. Early Poems (1859-70). Dungog
  3. Early Poems (1859-70). Deniehy's Dream
  4. Early Poems (1859-70). Rizpah
  5. Early Poems (1859-70). Cui Bono?

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