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The Year's End

Roderic Quinn 1867 (Surry Hills, New South Wales) – 1949 (Darlinghurst, New South Wales)

THE voices of the wind and wave
They sigh the Old Year's requiem;
The dead are calling from the grave
Good friends, a little space I crave
To turn aside and think of them.
They were as even you and I
When you and I were young as they;
And yet they knew the way to die —
Come, think with me, and tell me why
It should be thus with hearts so gay.
Ah, blessed be the gracious God
Who, moulding us from clay and dew,
From morning dew and clay untrod,
So breathed Himself into the sod
That we, at best, grow Godlike, too.
For, treading pleasure underneath,
These glory-souls, our country's flower,
Arose responsive to that breath
And looked into the face of Death,
And did not tremble at his power.
Should it not make us sure and tough
As tested steel, and unafraid,
To feel, though Fate ride robber-rough,
That we are fashioned of the stuff
Whereof these heroes, too, were made?
Though they are dead, and o'er them bends
A people's soul in mourning mood,
Proud Honour at their grave attends:
Henceforth we are a nation, friends,
By right of sacrificial blood.
The care-free days of youth are gone;
What once we were no more we are;
And dead are all the dreams that shone
Ere we were bruised and hammered on
The ringing anvils of red war.
The Spirit of Immortal Times,
With lights that dazzle and entice,
Is vitalizing all earth's climes;
Once more in golden tones it chimes
The anthem of High Sacrifice.
And yet, though Fame be very fair,
And great the yearning and desire
Of hero-hearts to do and dare,
Behold, there stands an empty chair
Beside a cold and ashen fire!
Because, as even you and I,
They loved and were beloved, my friends,
Not all the glory-stars on high,
The splendid things for which men die,
Can for their passing make amends.
There is a house that waits in vain
To give them entrance at its door,
When frost's afoot or chilly rain;
There is a track across the plain
That they, alas, shall ride no more.
A whip, a saddle, and a spur!
(Ah, love-lit rides! The moon above,
Sweet scents around, soft winds astir!)
God give him rest! And what of her?
Why ask? Is love not always love?
Dear eyes that pain has made divine,
Sad eyes that burn with tears unshed,
Within whose depths are griefs that pine
And pilgrim thoughts that seek the shrine,
The grave of their beloved dead;
Dear eyes, dear hearts, dear folk, tear-blind,
Who greet each morn with grief anew,
Pale cheeks grown cold, and foreheads lined, —
Since God is good and Heaven is kind,
There shall be recompense for you!
The Old Year dies; and o'er the waves,
Wind-borne, there comes a requiem
Deep-chanted by a sea that laves
The shores they loved. Oh, may their graves
Give goodly rest and peace to them!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:32 min read

Roderic Quinn

Roderic Joseph Quinn was an Australian poet. more…

All Roderic Quinn poems | Roderic Quinn Books

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