Out from the hut at break of day,
And up the hills in the dawning grey;
With the young wind flowing
From the blue east, growing
Red with the white sun’s ray!
Lone and clear as a deep-bright dream
Under mid-night’s and mid-slumber’s stream,
Up rises the mount against the sunrise shower,
Vast as a kingdom, fair as a flower:
O’er it doth the foam of foliage ream
In vivid softness serene,
Pearly-purple and marble green;
Clear in their mingling tinges,
Up away to the crest that fringes
Skies studded with cloud-crags sheen.
Like birds frayed from their lurking-shaw,
Like ripples fleet ‘neath a furious flaw,
The echoes re-echo, flying
Down from the mauls hot-plying;
Clatter the axes, grides the saw.
Ruddy and white the chips out-spring,
Like money sown by a pageant king;
The free wood yields to the driven wedges,
With its white sap-edges,
And heart in the sunshine glistening.
Broadly the ice-clear azure floods down,
Where the great tree-tops are overthrown;
As on through the endless day we labour;
The sun for our nearest neighbour,
Up o’er the mountains lone.
And so intensely it doth illume,
That it shuts by times to gloom;
In the open spaces thrilling;
From the dead leaves distilling
A hot and harsh perfume.
Give over! All the valleys in sight
Fill, fill with the rising tide of night;
While the sunset with gold-dust bridges
The black-ravined ridges,
Whose mighty muscles curve in its light.
In our weary climb, while night dyes deep,
Down the broken and stony steep,
How our jaded bodies are shaken
By each step in half-blindness taken —
One’s thoughts lie heaped like brutes asleep.
Open the door of the dismal hut,
Silence and darkness lone were shut
In it, as a tidal pool, until returning
Night drowns the land, — no ember’s burning, —
One is too weary the food to cut.
Body and soul with every blow,
Wasted for ever, and who will know,
Where, past this mountained night of toiling,
Red life in its thousand veins is boiling,
Of chips scattered on the mountain’s brow?
© Sydney Wheeler Jephcott