Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
 
Whisperings in Wattle-boughs
By Adam Lindsay Gordon (1833–1870)
 
O, GAILY sings the bird! and the wattle-boughs are stirr’d
  And rustled by the scented breath of spring;
O, the dreary wistful longing! O, the faces that are thronging!
  O, the voices that are vaguely whispering!
 
O, tell me, father mine, ere the good ship cross’d the brine,        5
  On the gangway one mute hand-grip we exchang’d,
Do you, past the grave, employ, for your stubborn, reckless boy,
  Those petitions that in life were ne’er estrang’d?
 
O, tell me, sister dear, parting word and parting tear
  Never pass’d between us;—let me bear the blame,        10
Are you living, girl, or dead? bitter tears since then I’ve shed
  For the lips that lisp’d with mine a mother’s name.
 
O, tell me, ancient friend, ever ready to defend
  In our boyhood, at the base of life’s long hill,
Are you waking yet or sleeping? have you left this vale of weeping?        15
  Or do you, like your comrade, linger still?
 
O, whisper, buried love, is there rest and peace above?—
  There is little hope or comfort here below;
On your sweet face lies the mould, and your bed is straight and cold—
  Near the harbour where the sea-tides ebb and flow.        20
 
All silent—they are dumb—and the breezes go and come
  With an apathy that mocks at man’s distress;
Laugh, scoffer, while you may! I could bow me down and pray
  For an answer that might stay my bitterness.
 
O, harshly screams the bird! and the wattle-bloom is stirr’d;        25
  There ’s a sullen, weird-like whisper in the bough:
‘Aye, kneel, and pray, and weep, but HIS BELOVED SLEEP
  CAN NEVER BE DISTURB’D BY SUCH AS THOU!’
 
 
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