John Bernard O'Hara

1862-1927 / Australia

A Country Village

Among the folding hills
   It lies, a quiet nook,
Where dreaming nature fills
   Sweet pages of her book,
While through the meadow flowers
She sings in summer hours,
Or weds the woodland rills
   Low-laughing to the brook.

The graveyard whitely gleams
   Across the soundless vale,
So sad, so sweet, yet seems
   A watcher cold and pale
That waits through many springs
The tribute old Time brings,
And knows, though life be loud,
   The reaper may not fail.

Here come not feet of change
   From year to fading year;
Ringed by the rolling range
   No world-wide notes men hear.
The wheels of time may stand
Here in a lonely land,
Age after age may pass
   Untouched of change or cheer;

As still the farmer keeps
   The same dull round of things;
He reaps and sows and reaps,
   And clings, as ivy clings,
To old-time trust, nor cares
What science does or dares,
What lever moves the world,
   What progress spreads its wings.

Yet here, of woman born,
   Are lives that know not rest,
With fierce desires that scorn
   The quiet life as best;
That see in wider ways
Life's richer splendours blaze,
And feel ambition's fire
   Burn in their ardent breast.

Yea, some that fain would know
   Life's purpose strange and vast,
How wide is human woe,
   What wailing of the past
Still strikes the present dumb,
What phantoms go and come
Of wrongs that cry aloud,
   "At last, O God! at last!"

Here, too, are dreams that wing
   Rich regions of Romance;
Love waking when the Spring
   Begins its first wild dance,
Love redder than the rose,
Love paler than the snows,
Love frail as corn that tilts
   With morning winds a lance.

For never land so lone
   That love could find not wings
In every wind that's blown
   By lips of jewelled springs,
For love is life's sweet pain,
And when sweet life is slain
It finds a radiant rest
   Beyond the change of things.

Beyond the shocks that jar,
   The chance of changing fate,
Where fraud and violence are,
   And heedless lust and hate;
Yet still where faith is clear,
And honour held most dear,
And hope that seeks the dawn
   Looks up with heart elate.
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