Hugh J. Evans


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South Africa

South Africa, thou land of many dreams,
Whose children do but scanty harvests reap,
Whose many dreams have set again in sleep,
Though still one glowing crop in sunlight gleams;
Thou land of unfulfill'd, forgotten schemes,
Of pledge and promise--a pathetic heap,
Yet, yet, our hold upon thee will we keep.
Thy havens, veld and kopjes, and thy streams!

We care not howsoe'er thy foes malign,
But those, the brood thou fosterest, we scorn,
Who only love the gifts that make them thine,
And honour not the land where they were born:
Thy children round thy neck will join their hands,
And rise to make thee blessÚd among lands.

To Shakespeare

(From Johannesburg)

A St. George's Day Sonnet

And here where throbs, amid a silent waste,
A myriad-hammer'd hum, whose Siren sound
Is heard re-echoing the world around,
Luring with golden hope who hither haste,
Guided by Fortune or by Furies chased,
To lose again such riches as they found,
While still the patient worker wins the ground
Where a new nation's future life is based,--
Even here is heard a voice to swell the praise
Of thy loved England, who did mother thee
And thy world-moving human pageantry;
Of thee, too, on whose glorious brow the bays
Will yet be green when, in dim Šons to come,
Poets that sing of England will be dumb.

The Veld

From sky to sky the veld, vast, tawny, bare,
Surrounds me like a vision in a dream,
Mysterious and unreal: no flower or stream,
No friendly smoke or stack is anywhere;
E'en God's own living creatures are not there,--
No bird, no bough whereon to perch, no theme
Whereof to sing; to me there only seem
The sun, sky, veld, the light immaculate air.--
Whose great majestic archicraft did raise
This blue-domed temple without priest or psalm,
Without a tone of all the diapase,
With unascending incense without balm,
Without a worshipper in prayer or praise,
Mute with an incommunicable calm?

Love

With shimmering shoulders on the eastern steep
Came Dawn, grey, breathless in pursuit of Night:
His gold and sable mantle in his flight
Her trembling outstretch'd fingers could not keep.
A touch upon the folded wing of Sleep,
And he, too, sighing, slipp'd beyond her sight.
Then did her body on the Day alight
And glow, exhausted, in his bosom deep.

So Love, with vain endeavour, did pursue
A phantom fleet, or one who loved him not,
But ever fled from his approaching view--
A visage shunn'd regretted, unforgot,
And met with her whom only he could win,
Waiting, patient and warm, to take him in.

Solace

I lay beneath the Afric stars awake,
While all the neighbour-noise of city slept,
And all the solace of the silence crept
Into the turmoil of my spirit's ache;
And this worn heart, whereon life's billows break,
Was smoothed; the futile cares o'er which had wept
These weary eyes, where careless joys had leapt,
A slow and sweet transfiguring grace did take.

With wide lids open to the glorious night,
With soul and sense entranquill'd by the calm,
I lay awake, while in procession bright
The holy-hymning stars with spheric psalm
Bedew'd my inmost being with delight--
Yea, with the fragrance of enduring balm.