by Eva Mary O'Doherty
Far off! far off! within the desert rude,
In the cold heart of that deep solitude,
Two magic letters on the rugged bark,
With touching memory on that pathway dark,
The wanderer's footsteps tenderly still mark.
The mosses, clustering, grew not to efface,
But crept along in melancholy grace,
And made the outline of the letters dear
Unto the eager eyes more true and clear,
Through all the tumult of our hope and fear.
Along the pathway sterile, lone and grey,
We follow still, where'er they point the way;
And ever still, before our longing eyes,
We see the whitening of the dawn arise,
And hear the whisper of a glad surprise.
Ah! mournful letters – who may now divine
The unspoken tale of which you are the sign?
You hold it in your keeping, graven deep;
And men conjecturing, perchance, may weep –
But it is locked, for aye, in deathly sleep!
"L. L.!" alas! for those dark, weary days,
With failing footsteps toiling through the maze –
The lonely anguish of a hero soul,
Bent 'neath the burthen of a heavy dole,
Yet ever struggling forward to the goal!
Beloved letters! not that desert tree
Alone shall keep a record fond of thee –
A nation, treasuring its precious lore,
Shall have thee graven deep for evermore,
With mournful pride, upon its inmost core.
Eva Mary O'Doherty (published 1909)
* In the search for Leichhardt, one of the explorers of the Australian Continent, several trees were found bearing the initials of his name, "L, L."