Barcroft
Henry
Boake

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At the "J.C."

(Banjo Paterson thought this was one of Barcroft's first class works)

None ever knew his name,
Honoured, or one of shame,
  Highborn or lowly;
Only upon that tree
Two letters, J and C,
Carved by him, mark where he
  Lay dying slowly.

Why came he to the West?
Had then the parent nest
  Grown so distasteful?
What cause had he to shun
Life, ere ‘twas well begun?
Was he that youngest son,
  Of substance wasteful?

Were Fate and he at War?
Was it a pennance, or
  Renunciation?
Is it a glad release?
Has he at length found peace,
Now Death hath bid him cease
  Peregrination?

Hands white, without a blot,
Told us that he was not
  One of “the vulgar.”
What can those cyphers be?
Two only, J and C.
Carved in his agony
  Deep in the mulga.

Was there no woman’s face
Whose sunny smile might chase
  Clouds from above him?
No bosom white as snow?
No lips to whisper low,
“Why doth he seek to go?
  Do
I not love him.”

Haunted by flashing charms -
White bosoms, rounded arms,
  Lips of fair ladies,
Striving to break some link,
Was ‘t that which made him sink,
Dragged by the curse of drink
  Deeper than Hades?

Now, the wind across the grave,
Tuning a sultry stave,
  Drearily whistles,
Stirring those branches where
Two silent cyphers stare,
Two letters of a prayer,
  God’s Son’s initials.