Archive for December 18th, 2014

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Five Thousand Leagues Away! by Frederick Sydney Wilson

Like the low sweet voice of a wandering tide that returns to its own loved shore,
The waves of Memory flood my heart with a dream of the days of yore;
My brain is filled with a pleasant song–a ballad of bygone times–
Again I hear the old church bells ringing their Christmas Chimes!
Ringing the chimes, while the circling rooks are floating about the spires,
And the outside snow is all aglow with the gleam of cottage fires–
My lips are moved with a thankful prayer–
“God’s blessing on the day
That links my heart to the absent ones
Five thousand leagues away!”

Yes!–this is the happy Christmas-time; and yet how strange it seems!
The crimson flush on the flowering brush–the flame on the splendid streams!
The sun’s bold glance–the mirage-dance of the bright Australian noon.
As the warm-breath’d breeze just stirs the trees that girdle the broad lagoon.
Still as I gaze on the blooms that fringe the wild creek’s sunny flow,
I think of faces far away where the fields are white with snow!
And wonder and weep–“Will their memories keep,
‘Mid the mirth of this gladsome day,
A sacred place for an absent face
Five thousand leagues away!”

Again I see the old elm-tree, with the branches bleak and bare–
And the rustic seat where lovers meet–yes!–lovers and seat are there!
And I fancy I know that arch bright smile—the turn of the glittering curl
That hangs (like the spray of a fruitful vine) on the neck of a lovely girl!
And the sterner face, above her bent, is lit with a softer light
As her voice falls low like a wavelet’s song when sunset fades tonight,
And they list to the merry Christmas chimes
And laugh!–ah! well-a-day!
Does she ever think of a changeless face
Five thousand leagues away!

The snow may rest in last year’s nest that hangs on the hazel copse–
But the birds will flit thro’ the boughs, and sit again in the rocking tops,
Tho’ the cottage-eaves are lone, and miss the flash of a welcome wing,
We know the swallows will come again with the sunshine and the spring–
And so, returned, an old old love in each true bosom swells,
When the sad-sweet rhyme of an ancient time chimes in with the Christmas bells.
Ah! then their memories turn to me,
And “God’s blessing”–still I pray–
“On the eyes that dim when they think of him
Five thousand leagues away.”

I know Life’s time of golden prime–the beautiful time of yore–
Has faded away, like a fallen star that will shine in heaven no more!
And I sometimes yearn to backward turn my steps, and a day re-live,
That my lips might sound the happy laugh that only a child can give!
But, ah!–’tis vain, we can ne’er regain our Childhood’s sand of gold–
‘Tis well, as our bodies fade and fail, if our spirits grow not old!
That heart to heart in love may start
With the bells of each Christmas day
“Lord, keep our memories green,” for those
Five thousand leagues away!

Balmain, Sydney, N.S.W.,
December, 1868.


Date: 1868

By: Frederick Sydney Wilson (1830-1901)