THE LATE HENRY KENDALL
(Note differences to earlier version, in bold type)
He was born at the foot of the mountain,
He was taught his first letter in sand;
His companions – mimosas and gum trees,
And the beautiful birds of our land.
To his ear the wild scream of the curlew
Was sweeter than sweetest of flutes;
And the silvery tinkling of bell birds
More soothing than fair ladies’ lutes.
The despised aborigines loved him;
They partook of his dry crust of bread;
And he followed wherever they led him,
Without fear of peril or dread.
He grew up, ‘mid struggles, to manhood,
And then he burst forth into song
That will always be heard in Australia,
Its mountains and gullies among.
Then came to his heart a great first love,
Which could never be conquered by time;
Hence his muse was oft draped in sadness,
And she wore it sometimes in his rhymes.
A first disappointment is bitter,
And may bring in its train many woes;
Though it seems but a trifling matter
To be baulked in just plucking a rose.
But pride, with its wing, covered over
The vulture that tore at his breast;
None knew what it was but this writer
It was a sealed book to the rest.
Then that curse of all curses most cursed
That scourge of our fair native land
Seized its victim, securely it bound him,
He could find no escape from its hand.
The Eumenides closely pursued him,
They always seemed close on his track;
He feared to look upward or downward,
He dared not go forward or back.
Then, like Dante, he trod the “Inferno,”
When he lifted the maddening cup;
And now, what remained to him farther?
In despair, he must needs drink it up.
His physique, never strong at the best time,
Succumbed to this demon’s great power,
And caused the best fruit of his genius
Unheeded to lie in her bower.
But at last, he is quietly sleeping,
And the present will soon be the past;
If this thought can bring comfort in sorrow,
All wrong will be righted at last.
And now he can dream out his dreaming,
Away in those regions sublime,
Without fear of encountering a critic,
Or the tempting red juice of the vine.
And from thence like another Elija
His mantle on earth he may cast,
To be worn by a second Elisha,
Who will write his grand epic at last.
(Illawarra Mercury, April 19, 1884)