Roderic Quinn

1867 - 1949 / Australia

Garden Street

LONG and drowsy and white and wide,
Villas and arbours on either side,
Pleasant under the cloudless skies,
Garden Street in the sunlight lies.
Twice a day — at the morning hour,
And again when the lights of sunset flower —
Its pavements ring to the footfall-noise
Of men and women, and girls and boys.
Townward, sprightly of foot, they go;
Home they come in the evening glow,
Labours over and questing done —
Some with money and some with none.
Most hours through, from morn to night,
It dreams and dreams in the drowsy light:
No call is there of the huckster-clan,
Of the bottle-oh and the rabbit-man.
Wafted odours of nameless flowers
Perfume the march of the golden hours;
Under the laurels, cooling the eye,
Pools of shade in the sunshine lie.
All day long, and night-long too,
Sunlight-sweetened or washed by dew,
Leaf and petal and fern and palm
Open their lungs, out-breathing balm.
Now the cooing of doves is heard,
Now the song of a single bird;
Beetles drone, and the murmuring bees
Make their round of the flowers and trees.
Echoes alone of the trouble and strife,
Stir and flurry and noise of life —
Hints alone of its fever and heat
Steal through the quiet of Garden Street.
Traffic and Trade with eyes awry
Seek the city, and pass it by;
Few daylong through its distance wend
With money to make or money to spend.
Yet yesterday, when the moon was sped,
Up and down, with a furtive tread,
Lounged a rogue with a wistful smile,
Whistling a jig on the wind the while.
Twice or thrice in the stirless trance
Stilling his feet, he paused to glance
Over the way to the vine-clad gate
Where the laurels droop and the poppies wait.
Rogue and robber and fool, I swear —
Love was the plunder that brought him there;
Love that laughed through a curtain of green,
Watching his tricks the while, I ween.
Rogue and robber, he went away
Sour and sick at the end of day,
Empty of hope and sad to see;
For bolt and bar on her heart had she.
She who lives in the Doric house,
Secret and shy as a little mouse,
Dainty and dear from head to feet —
Pansy. Princess of Garden Street!
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