For James Ralph Darling

In that keen morning it was good to wake.
The sun that roused the swans on the lagoon
And caught the clock-tower in his kindling beam
Made every day a lordlier circuit. Wide
The sky of our expanding universe.
The air had tingle. In that heady spring
Music and drama, art and poetry
Flowered from the ground, with handicrafts and skills
Buried till then. A pulse and pain of growth
Set the blood coursing, and the earth was young.

Yet was the new engrafted on the old
With a wise husbandry: the rule of law,
The athlete’s and the soldier ’s discipline
Not scorned in that renaissance of the mind,
But guarded in a general scheme of good,
The intended growth of body, mind and soul
For all the freemen of our commonwealth.
‘Lovers of wisdom, but with manliness’ –
The Periclean trumpet-call you blew
Stirred us who knew your coming, stirs us yet
With gratitude and pride that we were there.

But more than grace of Hellas, Italy,
The Roman virtue, or the rich ripe store
Of Shakespeare’s England and humanity
There was a treasure hidden in a field
Worth all the world, there was another road
You knew and told of, questing still yourself,
– Adventurous, stony, but the way to life
For men and nations in a dying world.
‘Christ is our Wisdom.’ Blazoned out by Paul,
Chosen by those, the builders of our house,
Bold master-builders, wiser than they knew,
To be the crown and cornerstone; that all
Our pride should melt like snow in sun at noonday,
That all who glory, glory in the Lord,
God’s foolishness, that makes our wisdom nothing,
Lest in his presence any flesh should boast.

Now, while the earth waits trembling for such morning
Or such a darkness as we have not known,
We would take up with you the task eternal
To walk that road and see that morning break.
Nothing is lost in all the universe.
The pearl of price lies ever in the hand
That grasps no earthly jewel in its stead,
And the great wheel of stars that we have seen
In frosty blaze above Corio Bay
Gaze, powerless in their longing, to behold
That marvellous dawn light every land and people,
And brave men choosing for a world reborn.

Tributes