“Absent Friends!”

Original Text: 
Fair Girls and Gray Horses, With Other Verses (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1958): 100-101.
1."Absent Friends!." There are brought to mind again
2The scent of the buddah-bush after the rain;
3The dawn in the eastward, the death of the stars,
4The wet grass that reaches the cold stirrup bars;
5The beat of the horse-hoofs that waken the day;
6The jest and the laughter that shorten the way!
7        So Past with Present gaily blends,
8                  And merrily, with three times three,
9        We drink to ."Absent Friends!."
10."Absent Friends!." How those words in a wondrous wise
11Can conjure the lovelight in beautiful eyes;
12The sound of her voice that was tender and sweet,
13The trail of her robes and the fall of her feet;
14The moods that could move us to joy or to tears
15In the Love of our youth in the long-ago years!
16        And each one now his greeting sends,
17                  As earnestly, with three times three,
18        We toast our ."Absent Friends!."
19."Absent Friends!." -- And a home that is over the sea;
20White snow on the uplands, white rime on the tree;
21The faces we cherish, whate'er be our lot;
22The clasp of the hands will be never forgot;
23The friends of our boyhood who gather and pass
24In the misty reflection of Memory's glass!
25        Our heart across the ocean wends,
26                  And loyally, with three times three,
27        We toast our ."Absent Friends!."
28."Absent Friends!." -- The lost legion that lies in the grave;
29The friends who were false and the friends we forgave, --
30Whose words had the edge of the enemy's knife,
31To torture the heart and to poison the life; --
32The friends who lay dying and never could know
33That we loved at the last as we loved long ago!
34        So each across his wine-cup bends,
35                  And silently, and tearfully,
36        We pledge our ."Absent Friends!."
Publication Start Year: 
1898
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2004