― 142 ―

The River.

In the springtime, when the wattles
All their golden glory strewed,
When the north wind, sweet and faithless,
With his kiss their blossoms wooed,
Then the river, clear and tranquil,
Flowed with silver rippling tide
Past the town, and ever downward,
Till it joined the ocean wide.

Here the joy of life ran riot
By the river's mazy ways,
Youth and age and happy childhood
Revelled in those vernal days;
Wedding-bells pealed o'er the water
Music gay and sounds of glee
Came across that sparkling river
In those days of jubilee.

When the night stole o'er the ranges,
Blotting out the sunset gleam,
Myriad lights from happy households
Glittered in the placid stream;
And when all was steeped in slumber
And the Cross shone out on high,
Then the river to the sheoaks
Sang a tender lullaby.

From the arid west the summer
Came, and all the gardens sweet,
All the fruitful fields and pastures
Shrivelled in the scorching heat;
Plaintively the river murmured,
Shrunken from its lordly flow,
Hazy were the skies at noontide,
Red at eve, with flery glow.

  ― 143 ―
Then up from the sea the south wind
Swept, with clouds and floods of rain;
O'er its banks the waters rising
Overflowed the sodden plain;
And upon the town the river,
Roaring through the midnight gloom,
Bearing death and sure destruction,
Came with unrelenting doom.

Now no longer by the river
Smiles the gay and busy town;
Where it stood are swamps and marshes
Overgrown with rushes brown.
Here the joybells ring no longer,
But the plaintive plover's cry,
And the sad and eerie curlew
Walls beneath the lonely sky.

But at midnight if you listen
By the river cold and bright
You may hear the dirges chanted
Softly, sadly, through the night.
You may hear a sound of mourning
Through the reeds and rushes sere,
And a slow and solemn tolling
In the river marshes drear.