Names upon a Stone

Henry Clarence Kendall

(Inscribed to G. L. Fagan, Esq.)

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.