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



Published in ‘Sea Spray and Smoke Drift’ (1867).