Names Upon a Stone
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.