Outlines

The tufted gums along the rise
Stand black against the evening skies.

And in the red west sombreing
As daylight dies,
A simple moon-the loveliest thing.

I love outlines. It may be
Some old wise heritage in me,
For well we know that finite mind
Calls for the bounded and defined.
Though random fancy loves to range
The aimless mists of dawn, and strange
Lovely illusions in the sky
That charm and lie,
Something there is in mortal man
Must have a margin and a plan;
And Truth the tyrant has decreed
For human need,
Limit and form since thought began.

This long bold mountain line is true,
But not those changing whims I see
Gleamy and vague and visionary
In air-built blue.

Deep in the soul we understand
Our nature's mystical demand
For the old sane austerities:
O pilgrim of a homeless land,
Hold fast to these.

Across the stumbling centuries
The eyes of men turn backward still
To a firm Cross upon a hill.

                                   James Devaney

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A Dedication

Because I went the lone ways
Among the tall trees,
Because I loved the blue days,
The bird melodies,
Deemed you I did our love wrong
In loving these too?
Ah, every forest love song
Was sung, love, for you.

The green slope, the sky above,
The wild forest lore-
All these were but the mind's love:
The deep heart has more.
And were you rival of the wren?
Resentful of the dawn?
Ah, what would these avail, then,
If you, dear, were gone?

The wild joy that things possess
Would seem out of place,
And all beauty meaningless
For want of one face;
The wren's lilt for lack of you
Would wring the heart's core,
And stars upon the night's blue
Would move me no more.

                                  James Devaney,1930


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Winter Westerlies

                                   by James Devaney

Leaning against the wind across the paddock ways
Comes Dan home with forward stoop like a man bent and old,
Clashes the door in haste as one pursued: 'By Christ it's cold!'
And crooks his fingers to the blaze.

We do not live these days, but each exhausting day
Unnerved we numbly wait return of life, and must abide
The wind, the still beleaguering wind; all voices else outside
Imperiously it has blown away.

Over the bronze-brown paddocks the grass is bowed flat down;
Along the birdless creek a cold malevolence has passed;
A forlorn sparrow clings on the fence against the icy blast,
His soft breast feathers loosely blown.

We watch the saplings buffeted without repose,
Their foliage all on one side, plunging without rest,
Stems leaning all one way from the assailing west,
Bending as backs cower from blows.

The hunched cattle no longer feeding dejected stand
With dumb endurance, tails to the flogging wind hour after hour;
From some far frozen hell of winds a blind and soulless power
Invades and harries all the land.

The wind!  The wind! It fumbles at the fastened panes,
Fills and possesses all, a tyranny without control;
Ceaseless, changeless, malign, searching into the very soul
The rushing desolation reigns.

James Devaney, 1950

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Dark Road

                     By James Devaney (1939)

I will be your stayJames and Phyllis Devaney
When the feet falter.
I will be your stay
When the tears blind.
Love will sweeten yet
Though the friend alter,
And the world’s unkind. 

Not alone you go this way.
Hold my hand on the dark road.
I will be your courage: would the load 
On me might lay.

We will share the dust
Who have shared heaven,
Nearer now in trust
That the need calls.
I will be your stay 
Till the path fail us,
Till the night veil us,
And the silence falls. 

                    James Devaney, 1939

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