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Sydney Harbour

Henry Kendall 1839 (Australia) – 1882 (Sydney)



Where Hornby, like a mighty fallen star,
Burns through the darkness with a splendid ring
Of tenfold light, and where the awful face
Of Sydney’s northern headland stares all night
O’er dark, determined waters from the east,
From year to year a wild, Titanic voice
Of fierce aggressive sea shoots up and makes, —
When storm sails high through drifts of driving sleet,
And in the days when limpid waters glass
December’s sunny hair and forest face, —
A roaring down by immemorial caves,
A thunder in the everlasting hills.
But calm and lucid as an English lake,
Beloved by beams and wooed by wind and wing,
Shut in from tempest-trampled wastes of wave,
And sheltered from white wraths of surge by walls
Grand ramparts founded by the hand of God,
The lordly Harbour gleams. Yea, like a shield
Of marvellous gold dropped in his fiery flight
By some lost angel in the elder days,
When Satan faced and fought Omnipotence,
It shines amongst fair, flowering hills, and flows
By dells of glimmering greenness manifold.
And all day long, when soft-eyed Spring comes round
With gracious gifts of bird and leaf and grass
And through the noon, when sumptuous Summer sleeps
By yellowing runnels under beetling cliffs,
This royal water blossoms far and wide
With ships from all the corners of the world.

And while sweet Autumn with her gipsy face
Stands in the gardens, splashed from heel to thigh
With spinning vine-blood — yea, and when the mild,
Wan face of our Australian Winter looks
Across the congregated southern fens,
Then low, melodious, shell-like songs are heard
Beneath proud hulls and pompous clouds of sail,
By yellow beaches under lisping leaves
And hidden nooks to Youth and Beauty dear,
And where the ear may catch the counter-voice
Of Ocean travelling over far, blue tracts.

Moreover, when the moon is gazing down
Upon her lovely reflex in the wave,
(What time she, sitting in the zenith, makes
A silver silence over stirless woods),
Then, where its echoes start at sudden bells,
And where its waters gleam with flying lights,
The haven lies, in all its beauty clad,
More lovely even than the golden lakes
The poet saw, while dreaming splendid dreams
Which showed his soul the far Hesperides.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:54 min read
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Henry Kendall

Thomas Henry Kendall was a nineteenth-century Australian author and bush poet, who was particularly known for his poems and tales set in a natural environment setting. more…

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