Pax Vobiscum

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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