Arthur Henry Adams

6 December 1872 – 4 March 1936 / Lawrence / New Zealand

The Dwellings Of Our Dead

They lie unwatched, in waste and vacant places,
In sombre bush or wind-swept tussock spaces,
Where seldom human tread
And never human trace is—
The dwellings of our dead!
No insolence of stone is o'er them builded;
By mockery of monuments unshielded,
Far on the unfenced plain
Forgotten graves have yielded
Earth to free earth again.
Above their crypts no air with incense reeling,
No chant of choir or sob of organ pealing;
But ever over them
The evening breezes kneeling
Whisper a requiem.
For some the margeless plain where no one passes,
Save when at morning far in misty masses
The drifting flock appears.
Lo, here the greener grasses
Glint like a stain of tears!

For some the quiet bush, shade-strewn and saddened,
Whereo'er the herald tui, morning-gladdened,
Lone on his chosen tree,
With his new rapture maddened,
Shouts incoherently.
For some the gully where, in whispers tender,
The flax-blades mourn and murmur, and the slender
White ranks of toi go,
With drooping plumes of splendour,
In pageantry of woe.
For some the common trench where, not all fameless,
They fighting fell who thought to tame the tameless,
And won their barren crown;
Where one grave holds them nameless—
Brave white and braver brown.
But in their sleep, like troubled children turning,
A dream of mother-country in them burning,
They whisper their despair,
And one vague, voiceless yearning
Burdens the pausing air …

“ Unchanging here the drab year onward presses;
No Spring comes trysting here with new-loosed tresses ,
And never may the years
Win Autumn's sweet caresses —
Her leaves that fall like tears .
And we would lie 'neath old-remembered beeches ,
Where we could hear the voice of him who preaches
And the deep organ's call ,
While close about us reaches
The cool, grey, lichened wall .”
But they are ours, and jealously we hold them;
Within our children's ranks we have enrolled them,
And till all Time shall cease
Our brooding bush shall fold them
In her broad-bosomed peace.
They came as lovers come, all else forsaking,
The bonds of home and kindred proudly breaking;
They lie in splendour lone—
The nation of their making
Their everlasting throne!
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