Narrara Creek

Original Text: 
The Poems of Henry Kendall, ed. Bertram Stephens (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1920): 193-94. Sydney Electronic Text and Image Service (SETIS), digital text sponsored by AustLit:
2Leaps wild the white torrent from chasms to chasms--
3From the home of bold echoes, whose voices of wonder
4Fly out of blind caverns struck black by high thunder--
6Is heard the far psalm of unseen wildernesses--
7Like a dominant spirit, a strong-handed sharer
8Of spoil with the tempest, comes down the Narrara.
9Yea, where the great sword of the hurricane cleaveth
10The forested fells that the dark never leaveth--
11By fierce-featured crags, in whose evil abysses
12The clammy snake coils, and the flat adder hisses----
13Past lordly rock temples, where Silence is riven
14By the anthems supreme of the four winds of heaven--
15It speeds, with the cry of the streams of the fountains
16It chained to its sides, and dragged down from the mountains!
18Being strengthened with tribute from many a valley--
19It broadens and brightens, and thereupon marches
20Above the stream sapphires and under green arches,
21With the rhythm of majesty--careless of cumber--
22Its might in repose and its fierceness in slumber--
23Till it beams on the plains, where the wind is a bearer
24Of words from the sea to the stately Narrara!
25Narrara! grand son of the haughty hill torrent,
26Too late in my day have I looked at thy current--
27Too late in my life to discern and inherit
28The soul of thy beauty, the joy of thy spirit!
29With the years of the youth and the hairs of the hoary,
30I sit like a shadow outside of thy glory;
31Nor look with the morning-like feelings, O river,
32That illumined the boy in the days gone for ever!
33Ah! sad are the sounds of old ballads which borrow
34One-half of their grief from the listener's sorrow;
35And sad are the eyes of the pilgrim who traces
36The ruins of Time in revisited places;
37But sadder than all is the sense of his losses
38That cometh to one when a sudden age crosses
39And cripples his manhood. So, stricken by fate, I
40Felt older at thirty than some do at eighty.
41Because I believe in the beautiful story,
42The poem of Greece in the days of her glory--
43That the high-seated Lord of the woods and the waters
44Has peopled His world with His deified daughters--
45That flowerful forests and waterways streaming
46Are gracious with goddesses glowing and gleaming--
47I pray that thy singing divinity, fairer
48Than wonderful women, may listen, Narrara!
49O spirit of sea-going currents!--thou, being
50The child of immortals, all-knowing, all-seeing--
51Thou hast at thy heart the dark truth that I borrow
52For the song that I sing thee, no fanciful sorrow;
53In the sight of thine eyes is the history written
54Of Love smitten down as the strong leaf is smitten;
55And before thee there goeth a phantom beseeching
56For faculties forfeited--hopes beyond reaching.
           * * * * *
57Thou knowest, O sister of deities blazing
59What life the gods gave me--what largess I tasted--
60The youth thrown away, and the faculties wasted.
61I might, as thou seest, have stood in high places,
62Instead of in pits where the brand of disgrace is,
63A byword for scoffers--a butt and a caution,
65But the heart of the Father Supreme is offended,
66And my life in the light of His favour is ended;
67And, whipped by inflexible devils, I shiver,
68With a hollow "Too late" in my hearing for ever;
69But thou--being sinless, exalted, supernal,
70The daughter of diademed gods, the eternal--
71Shalt shine in thy waters when time and existence
72Have dwindled, like stars, in unspeakable distance.
74That smites at the rock while it fosters the flower--
75Shall gleam in my dreams with the summer-look splendid,
76And the beauty of woodlands and waterfalls blended;
77And often I'll think of far-forested noises,
78And the emphasis deep of grand sea-going voices,
79And turn to Narrara the eyes of a lover,
80When the sorrowful days of my singing are over.


1] Narrara: a creek on the coast of New South Wales, now in suburban Gosford. Back to Line
5] nether: lower in position; lower or under. Back to Line
17] sally: rush, bursting forth. Back to Line
58] ineffable: too great or sacred to be expressed in words; unutterable. Back to Line
64] Burns and Maginn: Robert Burns (1759-1796), Scottish poet; and William Maginn (1793-1842), Irish poet. Back to Line
73] torrented: flooding. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
Songs from the Mountains (1880)
RPO poem Editors: 
Cameron La Follette
RPO Edition: