Spirit girl to whom ’twas given
To revisit scenes of pain,
From the hell I thought was Heaven
You have lifted me again;
Through the world that I inherit,
Where I loved her ere she died,
I am walking with the spirit
Of a dead girl by my side.
Through my old possessions only
For a very little while,
And they say that I am lonely,
And they pity, but I smile:
For the brighter side has won me
By the calmness that it brings,
And the peace that is upon me
Does not come of earthly things.
Spirit girl, the good is in me,
But the flesh you know is weak,
And with no pure soul to win me
I might miss the path I seek;
Lead me by the love you bore me
When you trod the earth with me,
Till the light is clear before me
And my spirit too is free.
Notes by Andrew Guild:
This poem by Henry Lawson was inspired by Hannah Thomburn, one of Lawson’s great loves.
Colin Roderick, another Australian poet, said in an interview that Henry Lawson regarded Hannah Thomburn highly: “She was, what we might say, his ideal woman. I mean, that she was the idea of all that was perfect in a woman, that existed in Lawson’s mind, particularly from about the middle of his life onward, and she was the inspiration for some of the most beautiful poems he has written”.
See: “Dame Mary Gilmore and others who knew Henry Lawson interviewed by Hazel de Berg in the Hazel de Berg collection [sound recording]“; session 5, interviewer Hazel de Berg, interviewee Colin Roderick [0.26 min.] [link to the NLA catalogue record for the recording]