― 77 ―

Crooked River

A LEAGUE of brown with lights of gold,
And, 'gainst blue sky's resistance,
Far hilltops gleaming white and cold
Across the purple distance!

Beyond the hum of city streets,
Their strife and stress and scorning,
Again through worn world-pulses beats
The magic of the morning.

I see the lone hawk wheeling high,
The blown, brown reed-beds shiver,
And faint and far the hills that lie
Beyond the Crooked River.

O haunted hills! O holy hills!
Where wizard lights are streaming
O'er Youth's enchanted window sills
From hinter-skies of dreaming;

O hills behind the hollow dark
Where human wisdom falters,
And Hate keeps vigil, stern and stark,
By Custom's petty altars!

It seems so long since life was love
From God's heart brimming over,
The lark-song in the blue above,
The brown bee in the clover:

So long, by drifting dawns and darks
Since—(Christ! Thy creed grows colder!)
God lived among the ironbarks
On Lookout's ragged shoulder.

  ― 78 ―
What tho' since then (Ah, ruthless change!)
On charts of land Australian,
They've writ my hills a mountain range
With title cold and alien!

“Australian Alps?” No pulses leap
To greet that title olden,
Where hushed in memoried twilight sleep
Life's glamoured things and golden.

“Australian Alps?” Nay, nay, there thrills
Through Memory's skies a-quiver
The glory of my hills—“the hills
Beyond the Crooked River.”