new zealand electronic poetry centre

Lola Ridge

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A Song of the Hills

     Glowing noon on the spire and steeple –
         Never boon of shadow spun
     O’er the parched ways for the people
         In this City of the Sun
Through the glaring day I sicken for the purple on the Hills –
            For the storm-light on the peaks,
            When the mighty thunder speaks,
And the tearing torrents quicken in the wide womb of the Hills.

     Is it strife for place or plunder?
         Or the glory of the quest?
     When the weaklings stumble under,
         Shall I fall among the rest?
And I reel amid the riot of the never-resting mills,
            Where the ground and garnered grains
            Are the spoil of human brains,
Till I hunger for the quiet of the strong and silent Hills.

     From the crowd’s incessant motion,
         And the feud twixt faith and creed,
     Oh, for some magician’s potion,
         Like the ancient charms we read,
That might bear me from men’s babble to the cloister of the Hills.
            Like pale friars grouped around
            Keeping guard on holy ground,
Where the stooping branches dabble in the cold lakes of the Hills!

     Old Tuhua’s grey form ending
         Where the lake and mountain meet,
     Like Achilles, stern, unbending,
         With dead Hector at his feet.
Are there smouldering desires in the sounds on Stoic Hills?
            Hidden craters in the deeps
            Of their chill and frozen steeps –
Are there wells of molten lava in the shut hearts of the Hills?

     And I feel the undulating
         Of a chord invisible –
     All my spirit palpitating
         Like the music of a bell.
And I may not stay nor falter, for it draws me where it wills:
            ‘Tis the wand the Magi wield
            O’er their white and icy field,
From a dim untapered altar in the circle of the Hills.



‘A Song of the Hills,’Bulletin 13 Dec 06: 20. Lola Ridge. NSW.
Verses 1905: 85-86.

Last updated 30 May, 2013