The Land of Dumb Despair by William Henry Ogilvie

Beyond where farthest drought-fires burn,
By hand of fate it once befell,
I reached the Realm of No-Return
That meets the March of Hell.

A silence crueller than Death
Laid fetters on the fateful air:
She holds no hope; she fights for breath—
The Land of Dumb Despair!

Here fill their glasses, red as blood,
The victims of fell Fortune’s frown;
They drink their wine as brave men should,
And fling the goblets down.

They crowd the board, red wreaths of rose
Across their foreheads drooped and curled,
But in their eyes the gloom that knows
The grief of all the world.

The poison lies behind their wine
So close, the trembling hands that take
Might well be doubted to divine
Which draught such thirst would slake.

The bows beside their hands are strung;
The blue steel glitters, bare of sheath:
’Tis wonder tired Life drags among
So many ways to Death!

They may not whisper, one to one,
The stories of their fancied fall:
The words that ring beneath the sun
Would faint in such a pall.

In silence, man by man, they reach
For cup, for arrow, or for sword,
And still the grey world fills the breach
Each leaves beside the board.

From: Boake, Barcroft, Where the Dead Men Lie, 1897, Angus and Robertson: Sydney, pp. ix-x.

Date: 1897

By: William Henry Ogilvie (1869-1963)

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