THE CALL OF THE NORTH
by Mabel Forrest (1909)
A creaking crane and a swinging weight, the moist, hot dark about us,
And the laugh of a girl from the prow, with mirth that seems to flout us;
And over there, where the crouching rock, lion like, leans o'er the town,
The reds and greens of the signal light, from the slender spar look down;
And here and there on the sleeping deck lies a gleaming shaft of white,
Here and there the long soft shadow creeps on the pathway of the light,
Where the mighty engines wake and stir, hid under the polished wood,
The shadows cover your drooping head, just as though they understood.
A whistle cuts thro' the wide black night, as the train slides o'er the rail,
The last train out from the sleeping town, with its midnight load of mail;
And overhead, in one swift red spark, a meteor spurns the sky,
And a voice that seems a spirit thing, trails faint in a last "Good-bye!"
A slack chain swings, and a rope drags past, and the pulsing engines beat,
The shore bell jangles above the thud and the rush of naked feet,
And fair and far in the oily wash of the tide that draws us forth,
One white crest lifts in the sheeted gloom of that deep curved bay up North.
I have left behind the jetty wharf, and the hulls of the waiting ships,
My hand still warm from another's hand, my lips from another's lips;
And Magnetic Island, on the left, seems a menace in the night,
While dwindle aft, o'er the churning waves, the gems of the Signal light.
I have left behind the long brown beach, with its haunting tropic charm,
The Chapel hidden among the trees, and the ragged groves of palm;
I have left behind the red-streaked rock, and the still pandanus glade,
The mango trees o'er paling fence, with their great unbroken shade;
The tamarinds in the garden plot, and the cannias on the rise,
The bougainvillea's regal-red, and the milk white orchids' eyes.
To the citied South have set my face, as the rocking boat speeds forth,
And yet the cry in my soul to-day, is a cry for the green-isled North!
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