Is the torrent in spate? He
must ford it or swim.
Has the rain wrecked the road? He must climb by the cliff.
Does the tempest cry ‘halt’? What are tempests to him?
The service admits not a ‘but’ or an ‘if.’
While the breath’s in his mouth, he must bear without fail,
In the Name of the Empress, the Overland Mail.
From aloe to rose-oak, from rose-oak
From level to upland, from upland to crest,
From rice-field to rock-ridge, from rock-ridge to spur,
Fly the soft-sandalled feet, strains the brawny brown chest.
From rail to ravine—to the peak from the vale—
Up, up through the night goes the Overland Mail.
There’s a speck on the hill-side,
a dot on the road—
A jingle of bells on the foot-path below—
There’s a scuffle above in the monkey’s abode—
The world is awake and the clouds are aglow.
For the great Sun himself must attend to the hail:
—’In the Name of the Empress, the Overland Mail!’
My garden blazes brightly with the rose-bush and
And the koeil sings above it, in the siris by the well,
From the creeper-covered trellis comes the squirrel’s chattering
And the blue jay screams and flutters where the cheery satbhai
But the rose has lost its fragrance, and the koeil’s note is
I am sick of endless sunshine, sick of blossom-burdened bough.
Give me back the leafless woodlands where the winds of Springtime
Give me back one day in England, for it’s Spring in England now!
Through the pines the gusts are booming, o’er the brown fields
From the furrow of the plough-share streams the fragrance of the
And the hawk nests on the cliffside and the jackdaw in the hill,
And my heart is back in England ’mid the sights and sounds of Home.
But the garland of the sacrifice this wealth of rose and peach is,
Ah! koeil, little koeil, singing on the siris bough,
In my ears the knell of exile your ceaseless bell-like speech is—
Can you tell me aught of England or of Spring in England now?