Funereal Antipodean Poem.

Thomas Bracken was a Irish Born man, sent, at age 12, to Australia to be with his uncle. He moved to New Zealand and became the MP for Dunedin, supporting George Grey. He wrote the lyrics for our national song. But the Oxford Book of Australasian Verse chose this as the one poem in that anthology. With, in my view, good reason.

Pax Vobiscum

In a forest, far away,
One small creeklet, day by day,
Murmurs only this sad lay:
‘Peace be with thee, Lilian.’

One old box-tree bends his head,
One broad wattle shades her bed,
One lone magpie mourns the dead:
‘Peace be with thee, Lilian.’

Echoes come on every breeze,
Sighing through the ancient trees,
Whisp’ring in their melodies:
‘Peace be with thee, Lilian.’

Mellow sunbeams, morn and eve,
Quick to come and slow to leave,
Kiss the quilt where daisies weave
Rich designs o’er Lilian.

When the dying blossoms cling
To the skirts of parting Spring,
Wattle-boughs and branches fling
Showers of gold o’er Lilian.

When the Summer moon mounts high,
Queen of all the speckless sky,
Shafts of silver softly lie
O’er the grave of Lilian.

Mystic midnight voices melt
Through each leafy bower and belt,
Round the spot where friends have knelt—
‘Peace be with thee, Lilian.’

Far away from town and tower,
Sleeping in a leafy bower,
Withered lies the forest flower—
‘Peace be with thee, Lilian.’

There, where passions ne’er intrude,
There, where Nature has imbued
With her sweets the solitude,
Rests the form of Lilian.

Dear old forest o’er the sea,
Home of Nature’s euphony,
Pour thy requiem psalmody
O’er the grave of Lilian.

Guard that daisy-quilted sod:
Thou hast there no common clod;
Keep her ashes safe; for God
Makes but few like Lilian.

Sceptics ask me: ‘Is that clay
In the forest far away
Part of her?’—I only say:
‘Flow’rets breathe out Lilian;

‘From her grave their sweets mount high—
Love and beauty never die—
Sun and stars, earth, sea and sky
All partake of Lilian.’

Thomas Bracken

The NZ Dictionary of Biography minimizes his poetry, saying his only real work is God Defend New Zealand. I disagree. Though his wife outlived him, he knew grief. One should ignore fashion. The good is always good, the true is always true. And this Lilian was truly loved.