new zealand electronic poetry centre

Lola Ridge

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At Sundown

The bush is leaning like a tired child
    Her dear, dark head upon the breast of night;
    One star is lone and cold above the height;
The call of cities turbulent and wild
    Is with me like the sound of far-off fight.

The hot sky flames above the bush-line dim;
    Beyond the ratas where the red sun dips
    Are gleaming bays and galaxies of ships.
My life is bounded by the forest rim –
    The cities call me with a million lips!

The bush leans o’er me, and her tresses, long,
    Sweet-scented, dark, are trailing on my breast
    That craves the strife, the trial and the test,
The burning impulse and endeavor strong –
    To fail or win – to stand among the rest!

The night is coming, and the shadows trail
    Like wasted lives across the forest belt;
    A bove the sky-line is a crimson veldt
With dim, heroic forms that strive and fail;
    And other faces rise and fade and melt,

That sank to greatness for a fallen name.
    I seem to hear the tumult and the din
    Of that wide vortex that draws all things in
About its circle towards the crest of fame;
    Some rise to failure, and some stoop to win.

The upward shadow of the broad earth meets
    The sky-line, gleaming like life’s golden rim –
    All dark beneath but bubbles at the brim.
My heart is throbbing for the roar of streets!
    The cloister of the bush is screened and dim.



‘At Sundown,’ Bulletin 10 Sep 1903: 16. Lola Ridge. ML.
See also Verses 1905: 2-3.

Last updated 28 May, 2013