Names Upon a Stone

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Across bleak widths of broken sea
   A fierce north-easter breaks,
And makes a thunder on the lea —
   A whiteness of the lakes.
Here, while beyond the rainy stream
   The wild winds sobbing blow,
I see the river of my dream
   Four wasted years ago.

Narrara of the waterfalls,
   The darling of the hills,
Whose home is under mountain walls
   By many-luted rills!
Her bright green nooks and channels cool
   I never more may see;
But, ah! the Past was beautiful —
   The sights that used to be.

There was a rock-pool in a glen
   Beyond Narrara's sands;
The mountains shut it in from men
   In flowerful fairy lands;
But once we found its dwelling-place —
   The lovely and the lone —
And, in a dream, I stooped to trace
   Our names upon a stone.

Above us, where the star-like moss
   Shone on the wet, green wall
That spanned the straitened stream across,
   We saw the waterfall —
A silver singer far away,
   By folded hills and hoar;
Its voice is in the woods to-day —
   A voice I hear no more.

I wonder if the leaves that screen
   The rock-pool of the past
Are yet as soft and cool and green
   As when we saw them last!
I wonder if that tender thing,
   The moss, has overgrown
The letters by the limpid spring —
   Our names upon the stone!

Across the face of scenes we know
   There may have come a change —
The places seen four years ago
   Perhaps would now look strange.
To you, indeed, they cannot be
   What haply once they were:
A friend beloved by you and me
   No more will greet us there.

Because I know the filial grief
   That shrinks beneath the touch —
The noble love whose words are brief —
   I will not say too much;
But often when the night-winds strike
   Across the sighing rills,
I think of him whose life was like
   The rock-pool's in the hills.

A beauty like the light of song
   Is in my dreams, that show
The grand old man who lived so long
   As spotless as the snow.
A fitting garland for the dead
   I cannot compass yet;
But many things he did and said
   I never will forget.

In dells where once we used to rove
   The slow, sad water grieves;
And ever comes from glimmering grove
   The liturgy of leaves.
But time and toil have marked my face,
   My heart has older grown
Since, in the woods, I stooped to trace
   Our names upon the stone.

This work is in the public domain in Australia because it was created in Australia and the term of copyright has expired.

See Australian Copyright Council - Duration of Copyright (August 2014).

This work is also in the public domain in the United States because it was in the public domain in Australia in 1996, and no copyright was registered in the U.S. (This is the combined effect of Australia having joining the Berne Convention in 1928, and of 17 USC 104A with its critical date of January 1, 1996.)

This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.