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Lola Ridge

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The Legend of the Cross

A STAR – the brightest shining
   Of all the gleaming race –
Once, for the dark earth pining,
   Sighed o’er lone leagues of space,
But scarce she heard him suing –
   Too faint and far his ray,
Till in his eager wooing
   He left the Milky Way.

He heard the moon call to him,
   But paused not in his flight,
The planets hardly knew him,
   Swift shooting through the night.
He passed the Sisters Seven,
   Bright eyed and cold and high;
To all the stars in heaven
   He whispered a good-bye.

The Earth, a dusky maiden,
   Stirred in her vestal dreams,
Her dark eyes slumber laden
   Dazed in his burning beams;
Close in his arms he wound her,
   And with her tangled hair,
The forests braided round her,
   She screened her bosom bare.

Her breasts, two mountains swelling,
   Rose soft and round and white;
Her heart’s loud clamour quelling,
   She clasped the son of light –
Bathed in his gleaming splendour,
   His star-eyes on her face,
In trembling sweet surrender
   She sank in his embrace.

But soon he seemed to ponder –
   How apt is love to sate!
Those starry spaces yonder,
   His aerial estate –
The welkin scarce could span it –
   So faint and vast and far:
Was Earth – dull, lowly planet!
   Fit mate for high-born Star?

He sped, ere Earth had missed him,
   In cover of the day,
Fast through the Solar System,
   Past where the Milky Way
Hung o’er the roof of Heaven
   Like nebula of pearls,
Back to the Sisters Seven,
   That group of high-born girls.

Dull wak’ning of the “after”
   That she who loves must learn!
Earth heard the fairies laughter,
   As through the waving fern
They peeped, await for plunder,
   Where dazed with glare o’ day –
Weak eyes alight with wonder,
   The starry children lay.

But Dusk, the secret guessing,
   Drew near to hide their birth,
With cool, kind hands caressing
   The fevered brow of Earth;
Where first the prying day leaves
   The long, dim forest busk,
She swaddled them in grey leaves –
   Close, calm-eyed, secret Dusk!

And Night, the swarthy mother,
   Drew on her sable glove –
Old Night the foster-mother,
   The screener o’ light love!
To where no moon-beam ripples
   Down hollow caves she crept,
And from the Earth’s warm nipples,
   Where clinging still they slept,

She drew each star-child glowing
   And dewy from its nest,
The waking eye-lids throwing
   A halo on her breast;
She covered up their faces,
   And on the pale moon-bars,
By lone and secret places,
   They mounted through the stars.

With holy dew to wet them,
   And priestly Dark to shrive,
High o’er the South she set them,
   The bright-eyed children five;
And from a rocky highland
   Earth watched, till faint and far
Up in the distant skyland,
   They opened star by star.

And, night by night, they grew there
   Till o’er the South Sea track,
A blaze of light they threw there
   Out to the Line and back;
And gleaming down the ages
   O’er seas that drift and toss,
The great Pacific’s pages,
   They glitter in the Cross.

While pale stars burn above them
   And roam o’er trackless skies,
They watch the Isles that love them
   With wise and beaming eyes;
And from lone bush-bound stations
   To wild grey seas a-toss,
Men hail them from the nations,
   The Guide Lights of the Cross.



‘The Legend of the Cross,’ NZ Illustrated Magazine 8.1 (Apr 1903): 45-46. Lola Ridge.
See also Verses 1905: 35-37.

Last updated 29 May, 2013