Bondi

Sydney Morning Herald  1863  Henry Kendall

So you start to-day for Bondi! Bondi in the distance white,
With its peaks and points disrupted, gaps and fractures fringed with light;
Haunt of gulls and restless plovers of the melancholy wail
Ever lending deeper pathos to the melancholy gale!
There, my brothers, down the fissures—chasms deep and wan and wild—
Grows the Sea-bloom, one that blushes like a shanking fair blind child;
And, among the oozing foreland-, many a glad green rock-vine runs,
Getting ease on earthy ledges sheltered from December suns.

Pencil sketch entitled "Bondi Bay", by S.T. Gill, ca. 1863.

Pencil sketch entitled “Bondi Bay”, by S.T. Gill, ca. 1863.

Often, when a gusty morning, rising cold and gray and strange,
Lifts its face from watery faces—vistas full with cloudy change
(Bearing up a gloomy burden which anon begins to wane;
Fading in the sudden shadow of a dark, determined rain),
Do I seek an eastern window so to watch the breakers beat
Round the steadfast crags of Bondi, dim with drifts of driving sleet:
Hearing hollow, mournful noises sweeping down a solemn shore
While the grim sea-caves are tideless, and the storm strives at their core.

Often, when the weeping vapours fill the silent Autumn leas,
And the stars come floating slowly over silver-sleeping seas,
Do I hearken where the soft Wind, wending to the rosy South,
Passes breathing like a maiden with a warm and bodied mouth,
There the red Moon, low and lustrous, waxing with a fuller light,
Broods behind the swaying vessels rising on the verge of Night,
Till she sculptures from the darkness every sail and spar and line;
And the ghostly-gliding squadrons shoot weird glances o’er the brine;

Once I knew the face of Pleasure, standing on that gleaming beach;
And the depths of passion, brothers, depths which now I cannot reach,
Something bright and good has left me here with sickening discontent,
Yearning blindly, neither knowing what it was or where it went!
Yellow leaves are dropping, dropping, and I feel it is too late
Now to look for red ripe roses: therefore let me watch and wait,
(As the lonely willow waiteth through the winter wan and sere),
For the far-off blue October of another fruitful year.

Bondi, dear to friend and lover! if my thoughts could flow as free
As thy many mellow breezes, I should turn and sing of thee
Till my brothers all should loiter eager for a swelling strain,
Fluent as the mountain runnel gladdened with a plenteous rain;
So that with thy quaint old ridges, and thy dim wild-sounding shore,
One more echo yet should linger through the years for evermore!
But I falter, vainly striving. Since young Passion’s white decline,
Sweeter voices may have risen: let them work in stead of mine.

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