Roderic Quinn

The Greater Love

Roderic Joseph Quinn was an Australian poet.

ONCE upon a time,
Little Golden-Head,
Steeples used to chime,
And their chiming said:
'Peace is in the land —
Joy on every hand.'
Glowing youths and men
Rose and went their ways,
Some to hill and glen,
Some to shining bays.
And they left behind
Ills of heart and mind.
Oh, but it was sweet
Underneath the trees,
Bare of throat and feet,
Bathed in golden ease,
Two and two to lie
While the hours went by!
Sweet indeed it was
Thus to lie and laze,
Couched upon the grass
Through the shining days —
Sweet to breathe the air,
Free of toil and care!
On the beaches then,
Sporting with the sea,
Gathered brown-limbed men
Graced like statuary
Chiselled by some bold
Master hand of old.
All were guests of Joy;
All his sportive clan —
Here a shouting boy,
There a jesting man,
While the breakers hymned,
Braving them, stout-limbed.
Listen, Golden-Head!
Came a Wondrous One
Unto each, and said:
'Look on me, my son!
Am I not above
All things else you love?'
Then that love began
Which is more than life —
More than love of man,
Love of maid or wife;
Love of queen or king,
Aught or anything.
Little Golden-Head,
Is it well to tell
How they wrought and bled,
How they fought and fell
In their glowing prime,
Once upon a time?
Nay, but it is writ
That such things must be;
Oh the shame of it,
Oh the tragedy!
Oh the days of rue,
Oh the glory, too!
Little Golden-Head,
By the skies above,
By our honoured dead,
You shall know that love —
Know, and hold the time
When 'twas born sublime!