The Spike or Victoria College Review, June 1907
"Les dieux eux-mêmes meurent,
Mais les vers sœverains Demeurent
Plus fort que les airains."
Look how serene the mountains that outwatch
Our stormy sea of agony unheard
From the far south; a welter from the cold,
Shattering its load of icy reticence
Over our tumbled shore; a sound resolved
Into Eternity, that never joy
Nor sorrow linked with words. The thunder rolls
Beneath the cumulative spires that hear
Immoveable: far, far below, the sea,
The forest, and the cataract are gloom
With cloud and tempest; light is on the peak
Shut from the world, an alter unsustained
By anything but sacrament of heaven.
Upon the very summit of the peak,
Where the breath hardly hath a sustenance,
How incorruptible the fading air
Thinning to vacancy away from the world,
Scarce feeling the curved aerolite that glows
One moment for the marveling eyes beneath.
Mark the felicity that does not want
The appanage of cloud or wandering rain
For its supremacy—the best is best
Aloof in its Olympian majesty.
The peak the sunrise captures when the earth
Lies in a drug below, hath silences
page 69 More soul-unburdening than eloquence.
The hour the pool of the heart an angel stirs
We are as music, or the beat of wing,
Or evanescent cloud, or as the shade,
Too imperceptible moving to the eye
A far upon the hills; aye, anything
So be it not the soil; for God is found
Dearer and holier in us when the foam
Of daily struggle is forgotten, sunk
Below the horizon, when we stand like scars
Uncanopied by any film of earth.
Would God the silent Spirit of the hills
Were the forerunner in the mind of men
Of the Messiah, Truth, who cannot bear
One blade of grass denied, who can but look
And in her eyes are all the splendours told,
And all the miseries; nothing glozed or hid
Beneath a lying lace. What sacrifice
Is too exorbitant for rich design
To build a temple for the mind wherein
All snare an trickery are maladroit,
And withered where the glance of Truth compels
The soul to be a music sung by her.
She hath her precinct where he foot must fall
Still to the rapture of the holy place;
Light clouded by the mullioned shaft of aisle
Makes softer prayer that wells within the heart
Softer than moonlit seas or taper flame
The abbess burns before her crucifix.
Art thou her votary? Dost thou contend
In struggle of the world to overcome
Reef perilous of many seas, and pierce
The vast, bare, main, unbroken, yet behind
Thy boat that with the setting of thy Sun
Hath visionary light upon its sail?
Oh, fortunate if thou hast her domain
Alone thy covenanted walk and shade;
One chosen from the multitude art thou,
That know not thy impending glory, a light
Making the dim path clear. It is for thee
The sun hath matins and the moon desires
The waters with her vespers; they respond
To her meek prayer, and follow her; the earth
Rolls round for thee, and all her joy is thine.
An Autumn Evening.
Evening of prefect April day,
Mirror of Autumn sea,
Shivered by fitful airs that sway
The glittering wavelets o'er the bay
To kiss the harbour quay.
Calm of the sun now westening low,
Glory of cloudy isle,
Far and aloof on the wide sea-bow,
Bathed in the sunset smiles.
Shadow of lonely mountain height
Lengthening o'er the plain,
Pillar of smoke ascending light
From cottage ingle, which the night
Grows in the East again.
Glimmer of lights in the gloaming sky,
Glimmer of lights on the hill,
Murmur of restless surf, faint sigh
Of breathing pines, late owl's lone cry;
All else is dark and still.
A. F. T. Chortlton.
The Quest of the Sancgreal.
Who seeks the Holy Grail he rides aloof.
The lure o lips and rippled hair
And clinging arms,—all love's white silken snare
He shall thrust from him for his soul's behoof;
And when Night cowers upon Comfort's roof
The leaping fire an circling wine forswear
And follow where Adventure's clarions blare
And spirit frets its fleshly warp and woof.
The salt of life shall mock with appetite
His lips denied the savour and the spice
Wherein the sons of men do take delight:
He shall enthrone his soul beyond their price,
And follow the cold twilight of the trail,
And in the end he shall not win the Grail.
So all is over, then,
This love of a month and a day;
Ended as April leaves
Began to fall, in May.
Matters the wrong or the right?
No more our arms entwine!
For you—warm Love and kisses wait,
For me—the Vestal Shrine.
I could half forget I live
Were it not for the sound of the sea—
The swish of the rain on the roof—
For the wind, and rain, and the sea.
All speak of a tale of war
Of the strife of Love and Delight
Warring with things that are,
And I have gone down in the fight.
Through all the jarring years
While I sought for you—my mate,
Did I turn away from all
To fine you at last—too late.
Yes, just for a month and a day,
While the glamour lasted—so—
Our spirits rushed together
As we kissed—then I Let you go.
What harm did you get from me
I loved you—love you still
With a love that is not of he senses born
Robbed of their passionate thrill—
Robbed of the joy and the thrill,
Purged of the passionate pain,
Love it is still, though sense rebels,
Love let it still remain.
Do I yearn to hold you yet?
Does the Earth desire the Rain?
Ah! for the right to feel your lips
On my lips and brow again!
I have a task to do!
I am beaten to earth—but shall I
Falter when love is pointing the way?
No! let selfishness die!
Then go to the other and take
Her kisses in place of mine
For you—warm Love is waiting,
For me—the Vestal Shrine.
McKenna, sprung from Ancient Kings
Of Erin, O My friend in need,
Of many men the poet sings;
And first of such as love the steed;
The centaurs of the Classic race
At Riccarton or Avondale
Leap from the barrier, set the pace,
And closely hug the inner rail
And spurn the dust along the straight
And win the cup and stakes, that crown
Them lords of earth, and gods create
For seventh heaven of renown.
Then here a man, if city mobs
To pride of office him would bear,
With ecstacy of triumph throbs,
When he is thrice elected mayor;
And there another lives to hoard
The fruits of Canterbury fields,
And keeps them in his corner stored,
Till to his price the market yields.
The freehold farmer with his plough
Not all the gold of Grand Waihi
Would tempt aboard an Auckland scow
To cleave the barren Tasman sea.
The merchant midst the billows high
Of wind-swept Straits afraid to drown
For rural restfulness will sigh
Back in the suburbs of his town;
page 73 But soon upon the Patent Slip
He has repaired his battered craft
And braves the Terawhiti rip,
With genteel poverty abaft.
What of the man who does not spurn
A fragrant cup of rich Bohea
And snatches by the steaming urn
Part of the solid business day!
Lo, here the kilted warrior wipes
His lips and chafes his ice-cold knees,
Then marches to the to the skirling pipes,
While mothers erring infants seize;
See there the hunter bivouac,
Unmindful of his tender wife,
When stag is viewed by yelling pack
Or boar at bay awaits the knife.
The hero of the bounding ball
'Mid jostling forms of friend and foe
Essays with might and main to fall
Across the line in heaving throe.
The student, for his learning capped
A Bachelor of Laws or Arts,
Straight on Olympian clouds is wrapt
And from the mob for ever parts.
But me the cooling bush delights
Across the harbour at the bay
And quaint fandangos danc'd o' nights
By rustic nymphs in light array;
Yet if Torzillo touch the lyre
Or Arral warble sweetest bars,
I feel such music might inspire
Songs worthy of the lyric stars.
Translation by A. F. T. C.