Whisperings in Wattle-Boughs
OH, gaily sings the bird, and the wattle-boughs are stirr’d
And rustled by the scented breath of spring ;
Oh, the dreary, wistful longing ! Oh, the faces that are thronging !
Oh, the voices that are vaguely whispering !
Oh, tell me, father mine, ere the good ship cross’d the brine,
On the gangway one mute hand-grip we exchanged,
Do you, past the grave, employ, for your stubborn reckless boy,
Those petitions that in life were ne’er estranged ?
Oh, tell me, sister dear, parting word and parting tear
Never pass’d between us ;—let me bear the blame.
Are you living, girl, or dead ? bitter tears since then I’ve shed
For the lips that lisp’d with mine a mother’s name.
Oh, tell me, ancient friend, ever ready to defend,
In our boyhood, at the base of life’s long hill,
Are you waking yet, or sleeping ? have you left this vale of weeping?
Or do you, like our comrade, linger still ?
Oh, whisper, buried love, is there rest and peace above ?—
There is little hope or comfort here below ;—
On your sweet face lies the mould, and your bed is strait and cold—
Near the harbour where the sea-tides ebb and flow.
. . . . . . .
All silent—they are dumb—and the breezes go and come
With an apathy that mocks at man’s distress ;
Laugh, scoffer, while you may ! I could bow me down and pray
For an answer that might stay my bitterness.
Oh, harshly screams the bird ! and the wattle-bloom is stirr’d !
There’s a sullen weird-like whisper in the bough :
‘Aye, kneel, and pray, and weep, but HIS BELOVED SLEEP
CAN NEVER BE DISTURB’D BY SUCH AS THOU !!’
Published in ‘Sea Spray and Smoke Drift’ (1867).