I wonder if the spell, the mystery,
That like a haze about your silence clings,
Moulding your void until we seem to see
Tangible Presences of Deathless Things,
Patterned but little to our spirits’ woof,
Yet from our love or hate not all aloof,
Can. be the matrix where are forming slowly
Troy tales of Old Australia, to refine
Eras to come of ordered melancholy
‘Neath lily-pale Perfection’s anodyne.
For Troy hath ever been, and Homer sang
Its younger story for a lodging’s fee,
While o’er Scamander settlers’ axes rang
Amid the Bush where Ilium was to be.
For Cretan Art, dim centuries before,
Minoan Dream-times some Briseis bore.
Sumerian Phoebus by a willowed water
Song-built a Troy for far Chaldea, where
The sons of God, beholding Leda’s daughter,
Bartered eternal thrones for love of her.
Across each terraced aeon Time hath sowed
With green tautology of vanished years,
Gaping aghast or webbed with shining lode,
Achilles’ anger’s earthquake-rift appears.
The towers that Phoebus builds can never fall:
Desire that Helen lights can never pall:
Yea, wounded Love hath still but gods to fly to,
When lust of war inflames Diomedes:
Must some Australian Hector vainly die, too?
Captives in ships? (0 change that omen, Trees!)
Yea, Mother Bush, in your deep dreams abide
Cupids alert for man and maid unborn,
Apprentice Pucks amid your saplings hide,
And wistful gorges wait a Roland horn:
Wallet of Sigurd shall this swag replace,
And centaurs curvet where those brumbies race.
That drover’s tale of love shall greaten duly
Through magic prisms of a myriad years,
Till bums Isolde to Tristram’s fervour newly,
Or Launcelot to golden Guinevere’s.
The miner cradling washdirt by the creek,
Or pulled through darkness dripping to the plat:
The navvy boring tunnels through the peak:
The farmer grubbing box-trees on the flat:
The hawker camping by the roadside spring:
The hodman on the giddy scaffolding:
Moths that around the fashion windows flutter:
The racecourse spider and the betting fly:
The children romping by the city gutter,
While baby crows to every passer-by-
From these rough blocks strewn o’er our ancient stream
Sculptors shall chisel brownie, fairy, faun,
Any myrmidons of some Homeric dream
From Melbourne mob and Sydney push be drawn.
The humdrum lives that now we tire of, then
Romance shall be, and “we heroic men
Treading the vestibule of Golden Ages,
The Isthmus of the Land of Heart’s Desire:
For lo! the Sybil’s final volume’s pages
Ope with our Advent, close when we expire.
Forgetful Change in one “antiquity”
Boreal gleams shall drown, and southern glows;
Out of some singing woman’s heart-break plea
Australia’s dawn shall flush with Sappho’s rose:
Strong Shirlow’s hand shall trace Mantegna’s line,
And Soma foam from Victor Daley’s wine:
Scholars to be our prehistoric drama
From Esson’s “Woman Tamer” shall restore,
Or find in Gilbert’s “Lotus Stream and Lama”
An Austral Nile and Buddhas we adore.
The sunlit Satyrs follow Hugh McCrae,
Quinn spans the ocean with a Celtic ford,
And Williamson the Pan-pipe learns to play
From magpie-songs our schoolboy ears ignored:
A sweeter woe no keen of Erin gave
Than Kendall sings o’er Araluen’s grave:
Tasmanian Wordsworth to his chapel riding
The Burning Bush and Ardath mead shall pass,
Or, from the sea-coast of Bohemia gliding
On craft of dream, behold a shepherd lass.
Jessie Mackay on Southern Highlands sees
The elves deploy in kem and gallowglass:
Our Gilbert Murray writes “Euripides”:
Pirani merges in Pythagoras:
Marsyas plunges into Lethe, flayed,
From Rhadamanthine Stephens’ steady blade:
While Benvenuto Morton, drunk with singing,
Sees salamanders in a bush-fire’s bed,
And Spencer sails from Alcheringa bringing
Intaglios, totems and Books of the Dead.
On Southern fiords shall Brady’s Long Snakes hiss,
Heavy with brides he wins to Viking troth:
O’Reilly’s Sydney shall be Sybaris,
While Melbourne’s Muses sup their Spartan broth:
Murdoch, Zenobia’s counsellor, in time,
Redacts from Burke his book on The Sublime:
By Way was Homer into Greek translated:
And Shakespeare’s self is Sophocles so plain
They know the kerb whereon the Furies waited
Outside the Mermaid Inn in Brogan’s Lane.
Vane shall divide with Vern Eureka’s fame;
Tillett and Mann are Tyler then and Cade:
Dowie’s entwines with Cagliostro’s name,
And in Tarpeia’s, lo, those fair forms fade
Who drug the poor, for social bread and wine,
And lift the furtive latch to Catiline:
There, where the Longmore-featured Gracchi hurry,
And Greek-browed Higinbotham walks, anon,
The “wealthy lower orders” leap the Murray
Before the stockwhip cracks of Jardine Don.
Cleons in “Windsor dress at Syracuse
Their thin plebeians’ promised meal delay;
And Archibald begets Australia’s Muse
Upon an undine red of Chowder Bay:
Paterson’s swan draws Amphitrite’s car,
And Sidon learns from Young what purples are:
Rose Scott refutes dogmatic Cyril gaily,
Hypatia turns the anti-suffrage flank,
And Herod’s daughter sools her “morning daily”
On John the Baptist by the Yarra Bank.
Yon regal bustard, fading hence ere long,
Shall seem the guide we followed to the Grail;
This lyre-bird on his dancing-mound of song
Our mystagogue of some Bacchantic vale,
Where feathered Pan guffaws “Evoe!” above,
And Maenad curlews shriek their midnight love:
That trailing flight of distant swans is bearing
Sarpedon’s soul to its eternal joy:
This ibis, from the very Nile, despairing,
Memnon our own would warn from fatal Troy.
Primeval gnomes distilled the golden bribes
That have impregnated your musing waste with men;
But shall the spell of your pathetic tribes
Curl round, in time, our fairer limbs again?
Through that long tunnel of your gloom, I see
Gardens of a metropolis to be!
Out of the depths the mountain ash is soaring
To embryon gods of what unsounded space?
Out of the heights what influence is pouring
Thin desolation on your haunted face?
Many there are who see no higher lot
For all your writhing centuries of toil
Than that the avaricious plough should blot
Their wilding burgeon, and the red brand spoil
Your cyclopean garniture, to sow
The cheap parterres of Europe on your woe.
They weave all sorceries but yours, and borrow
The tinkling spells of alien winds and seas
To drown the chord of purifying sorrow,
Bom ere the world, that pulses through your trees.
For, save when we, in not o’er-subtle mood,
Hear magpies warbling soft November in,
Or, hand in hand with Love, a dreaming wood
Or bouldered crest of crisper April win,
Your harps, unblurred by glozing strings, intone
The dirges that behind Creation moan-
“Where, riding reinless billows, new lives dash on
The souring beach of yesterday’s decay,
Where Love’s chord leaps from mandrake shrieks of passion,
And groping gods mould man from quivering clay.
(Is Nature deaf and blind and dumb? A cruse
Unfilled of wine? Clay for an unbreathed soul?
Alien to man, till his desires transfuse
Their flames through wind and water, leaf and bole,
And each crude fane elaborately fit
With oracles that echo all his wit?
The living wilds of Greece saw death returning
When Pan that men had made fell from his throne:
Till through her sap our very blood is churning
The Bush her lonely alien woe shall moan!
Or is she reticent but to be kind?
Whispers she not beneath her mask of clods-
“Who asks he shall receive, who seeks shall find,
Who knocks shall open every door of God’s?”
Dumb Faith’s, blind Hope’s eternal consort she,
Gravid with all that is on earth to be;
Corn, wine and oil in hungry granite hiding,
All Beauty under sober wings of clay,
All life beneath her dead heart long abiding,
Yea, all the gods her sons and she obey!)
What sin’s wan expiation strewed your Vast
With mounded pillage of what conquering fire?
Slumbering throes of what prodigious Past
Exhale these lingering ghosts of its desire?
Sunshine that bleached corruption out, that glare?
Desolate blue of Purgatory, there?
Flagellant winds through guilty Eden scouring?
Sahara drowning Prester John’s domain?
Satumian dam her progeny devouring?
Hath dawn-time Hun these footprints left? Hath Cain?
Even the human wave, that shall at length
To man’s endurance key your strident surge,
Sings in your poignant tones and sombre strength,
And makes, as yet, its own your primal dirge:
A gun-shot startles dawn back from the sky,
And mourning tea-trees echo Gordon’s sigh:
Nardoo with Burke’s faint sweat is dank for ever:
Spectral a tribe round poisoned rations shrieks:
Till doomday Leichhardt walks die Never Never:
Pensive, of Boake, the circling stock-whip speaks.
The wraiths unseen of roadside crimes unnamed
About that old-time shanty’s ruins roam:
This squatter’s fenceless acres hide ashamed
The hearth and battered zinc of Naboth’s home:
Deserted “yam-holes” pit your harmonies
With sloughing pock-marks of the gold-disease:
The sludgy creek ‘mid hungry rushes rambles,
Where teal once dived and lowan raised her mound:
That tree, with crows, o’erlooks the township shambles:
These paddocks, ordure-smeared, the city bound.
0 yield not all to factory and farm!
For we, who drew a milk no stranger knows
From her scant paps, yearn for the acrid charm
That gossamers the Bush Where No Tree Grows.
And we have ritual moments when we crave
For worship in some messmate-pillared nave,
Where contrite “bears” for woodland sins are kneeling,
And, ‘mid the censers of the mountain musk,
Acolyte bell-birds the Angelus are pealing,
And boobooks moan lone vespers in the dusk,
And you have Children of the Dreaming Star,
Who care but little for the crowded ways
Where meagre spirits’ vapid prizes are,
Or for the paddocked ease of dreamless days
And hedges clipped of every sunny growth
That plights the soul to God in daily troth:
Their wayward love prefers your desolation,
Or (where the human trail hath seared its charm)
The briar-rose on some abandoned “station”,
To all the tilled obedience of the farm.
Vineyards that purblind thrift shall never glean
The weedy waste and thistly gully hold:
No mint shall melt to currency unclean
Yon river-rounded hillock’s Cape-broom gold:
The onion-grass upon that dark green slope
Returns our gaze from eyes of heliotrope:
But more we seek your underflowered expanses
Of scrub monotonous, or, where, O Bush,
The craters of your fiery noon’s romances,
Like great firm bosoms, through the bare plains push.
As many. Mother, are your moods and forms
As all the sons who love you. Here, you mow
Careering grounds for every brood of storms
The wild sea-mares to desert stallions throw;
Anon, up through a sea of sand you glance
With green ephemeral exuberance,
And then quick seeds dive deep to years of slumber
From hot-hoofed drought’s precipitate return:
There, league on league, the snow’s cold fingers number
The shrinking nerves of supple-jack and fern.
To other eyes and ears you are a great
Pillared cathedral tremulously green,
An odorous and hospitable gate
To genial mystery, the happy screen
Of truants or of lovers rambling there
‘Neath sun-shot boughs o’er miles of maidenhair.
Wee rubies dot the leaflets of the cherries,
The wooing wagtails hop from log to bough,
The bronzewing comes from Queensland for the berries,
The bell-bird by the creek is calling now.
And you can ride, an Eastern queen, they say,
By living creatures sumptuously borne,
With all barbaric equipages gay,
Beneath the torrid blue of Capricorn.
That native lotus is the very womb
That was the Hindoo goddess’ earthly tomb.
The gang-gang screams o’er cactus wildernesses,
Palm trees are there, and swampy widths of rice,
Unguents and odours ooze from green recesses,
The jungles blaze with birds of Paradise.
But I, in city exile, hear you sing
Of saplinged hill and box-tree dotted plain,
Or silver-grass that prays the North Wind’s wing
Convey its sigh to the loitering rain:
And Spring is half distraught with wintry gusts,
Summer the daily spoil of tropic lusts
The sun and she too fiercely shared together
Lingering thro’ voluptuous Hindoo woods,
But o’er my windless, soft autumnal weather
The peace that passes understanding broods.
When, now, they say “The Bush!”, I see the top
Delicate amber leanings of the gum
Flutter, or flocks of screaming green leeks drop
Silent, where in the shining morning hum
The gleaning bees for honey-scented hours
‘Mid labyrinthine leaves and white gum flowers.
Cantering midnight hoofs are nearing, nearing,
The straining bullocks flick the harpy flies,
The “hatter” weeds his melancholy clearing,
The distant cow-bell tinkles o’er the rise.
You are the brooding comrade of our way,
Whispering rumour of a new Unknown,
Moulding us white ideals to obey,
Steeping whate’er we learn in lore your own,
And freshening with unpolluted light
The squalid city’s day and pallid night,
Till we become ourselves distinct, Australian,
(Your native lightning charging blood and nerve),
Stripped to the soul of borrowed garments, alien
To that approaching Shape of God you serve.
Brooding, brooding, your whispers murmur plain
That searching for the clue to mystery
In grottos of decrepitude is vain,
That never shall the eye of prophet see
In crooked Trade’s tumultuous streets the plan
Of templed cities adequate to man.
Brooding, brooding, you make us Brahmins waiting
(While uninspired pass on the hurtling years),
Faithful to dreams your spirit is creating,
Till Great Australia, born of you, appears.
For Great Australia is not yet: She waits
(Where o’er the Bush prophetic auras play)
The passing of these temporary States,
Flaunting their tawdry flags of far decay.
Her aureole above the alien mists
Beacons our filial eyes to mountain trysts:
‘Mid homely trees with all ideals fruited,
She shelters us till Trade’s Simoom goes by,
And slakes our thirst from cisterns unpolluted .
For ages cold in brooding deeps of sky.
We love our brothers, and to heal their woe
Pluck simples from the known old gardens still:
We love our kindred over seas, and grow
Their symbols tenderly o’er plain and hill;
We feel their blood rebounding in our hearts,
And speak as they would speak our daily parts:
But under all we know, we know that only
A virgin womb unsoiled by ancient fear
Can Saviours bear. So, we, your Brahmins, lonely,
Deaf to the barren tumult, wait your Year.
The Great Year’s quivering dawn pencils the Night
To be the morning of our children’s prime,
And weave from rays of yet ungathered Light
A richer noon than e’er apparelled Time.
If it must be, as Tuscan wisdom knew,
Babylon’s seer, and wistful Egypt too,
That mellow afternoon shall pensive guide us
Down somnolent Decay’s ravine to rest,
Then you, reborn, 0 Mother Bush, shall hide us
All the long night at your dream-laden breast.
Australian eyes that heed your lessons know
Another world than older pilgrims may:
Prometheus chained in Kosciusko’s snow
Sees later gods than Zeus in turn decay:
Boundless plateaux expand the spirit’s sight,
Resilient gales uphold her steeper flight:
And your close beating heart, 0 savage Mother,
Throbs secret words of joy and starker pain
Than reach the ears all old deceptions smother
In Lebanon, or e’en in Westermain.
We marvel not, who hear your undersong,
And catch a glimpse in rare exalted hours
Of something like a Being gleam along
Festooned arcades of flossie creeper flowers,
Or, toward the mirk, seem privileged to share
The silent rapture of the trees at prayer-
We marvel not that seers in other ages,
With eyes unstrained by peering logic, saw
The desolation glow with Koran pages,
Or Sinai stones with Tables of the Law.
Homers are waiting in the gum trees now,
Far driven from the tarnished Cyclades:
More Druids to your green enchantment bow
Than ‘neath unfaithful Mona’s vanished trees:
A wind hath spirited from ageing France
To our fresh hills the carpet of Romance:
Heroes and maids of old with young blood tingling
In ampler gardens grow their roses new:
And races long apart their manas mingling
Prepare the cradle of an Advent due.
And those who dig the mounded eld for runes
To read Religion’s tangled cipher, here,
Where all Illusion haunts the fainting noons
Of days hysteric with the tireless leer
Of ravenous enamoured suns, shall find
How May a flings her mantle o’er the mind,
Till sober sand to shining water changes,
Dodona whispers from the she-oak groves,
Afreets upon the tempest cross the ranges,
And Fafnir through the bunyip marshes roves.
Once, when Uranian Love appeared to glow
Through that abysmal Night that bounds our reign-
Love that a man may scarcely feel and know i
Quite the same world as other men again-
With earthward-streaming frontier wraiths distraught,
Your oracles, 0 Mother Bush, I sought:
But found, dismayed, that eerie light revealing
Those wraiths already in your depths on sleuth,
Termagant Scorns along your hillsides stealing,
Remorse unbaring slow her barbed tooth.
My own thoughts first from far dispersion flew
Back to their sad creator, with the crops
Of woes in flower and all the harvests due
Till tiring Time the fearful seeding stops:
In pigmy forms of friends and foes, anon
In my own image, they came, stung, were gone:
And then I heard the voice of Him Who Questions,
Knowing the faltered answer ere it came,
Chilling the soul by hovering suggestions
Of wan damnation at a wince of blame.
And all your leaves in symbols were arranged,
Despairs long dead would leap from bough to bough,
A gum-tree buttress to a goblin changed
Grinning the warmth of some old broken vow:
Furtive desires for scarce-remembered maids
Glanced in a fearful bo-peep from your shades:
Till you became a purgatory cleansing
With rosy flakes in form of manikins,
To fiercer shame within my soul condensing,
The dim pollution of forgotten sins.
And She, the human symbol of that Love,
Would, as my cleansed eyes forgot their fear,
Comrade beside me. Comforter above,
With sunny smile ubiquitous appear:
Run on before me to the nooks we knew,
Walk hand in hand as glad young lovers do,
Gravely reprove me toying with temptation,
Show me the eyes and ears in roots and clods,
Bend with me o’er some blossom’s revelation,
Or read from clouds the judgments of the gods.
My old ideals She would tune until
The grating note of self no longer rang:
She drove the birds of gloom and evil will
Out of the cote wherein my poems sang.
Time at Her wand annulled his calendar,
And Space his fallacy of Near and Far,
For through my Bush along with me She glided,
And crowded days of Beauty made more fair,
Though lagging weeks and ocean widths divided
Her mortal casing from Her Presence there.
Her wetted finger oped my shuttered eyes
To boyhood’s scership of the Real again:
Upon the Bush descended from the skies
The rapt-up Eden of primordial men:
August Dominions through the vistas strode:
On white-maned clouds the smiling cherubs rode:
Maltreated Faith restored my jangled hearing
Till little seraphs sang from chip and clod:
And prayers were radiant children that, unfearing,
Floated as kisses to the lips of God.
It matters not that for some purpose wise
Myopic Reason censored long ago
The revelations of that Paradise,
When, back of all I feel or will or know,
Its silent angels beacon through the Dark
And point to harbours new my drifted ark.
Nor need we dread the fogs that round us thicken
Questing the Bush for Grails decreed for man,
When Powers our fathers saw unseen still quicken
Eyes that were ours before the world began.
‘Twas then I saw the Vision of the Ways,
And ‘mid their gloom and glory seemed to live,
Threaded the coverts of the Dark Road’s maze,
Toiled up, with tears, the Track Retributive,
And, on the Path of Grace, beheld aglow
The love-lit Nave of all that wheeled below.
And She who flowered, my Mystic Rose, in Heaven,
And lit the Purging Mount, my Guiding Star,
Trudged o’er the marl, my mate, through Hell’s wan levin,
Nor shrank, like lonely Dante’s love, afar.
High towered a cloud over one leafy wild,
And to a bridged volcano grew. Above,
A great Greek group of father, mother, child,
Illumed a narrow round with radiant love.
Below, a smoke-pool thick with faces swirled,
The mutinous omen. of an Under-world,
Defeated, plundered, blackened, but preparing,
E’en though that calm, white dominance fell down,
To overflow the rim, and, sunward faring,
Shape myriad perfect groups from slave and clown.
Or thus I read the symbol, though ’twas sent
To hound compunction on my wincing pride,
That dreamed of raceless brotherhood, content
Though all old Charm dissolved and Glory died.
For often signs will yield their deeper signs,
Virginal Bush, in your untrodden shrines,
Than where the craven ages’ human clamour
Distorts the boldest oracle with fear,
Or where dissolving wizards dew with glamour
Arden, Broceliande, or Windermere.
Once while my mother by a spreading tree
Our church’s sober rubric bade me con,
My vagrant eyes among the boughs would see
Forbidden wings and .wizard aprons on
Father’s “wee people” from their Irish glades
Brighten and darken with your lights and shades.
And I would only read again those stern leaves
For whispered bribe that, when their tale I told,
We would go and look for fairies in the fern-leaves
And red-capped leprechauns with crocks of gold.
Anon, my boyhood saw how Sunbursts flamed
Or filmy hinds lured on a pale Oisin,
Where lithe indignant saplings crowding claimed
The digger’s ravage for their plundered queen:
And heard within yon lichened “mullock-heap”
Lord Edward’s waiting horsemen moan in sleep:
Or flew the fragrant path of swans consoling
Lir’s exiled daughter wandering with me,
And traced below the Wattle River rolling
Exuberant and golden toward the sea.
Here, would the .wavering wings of heat uplift
Some promontory till the tree-crowned pile
Above a phantom sea would swooning drift,
St. Brendan’s vision of the Winged Isle:
Anon, the isle divides again, again,
Till archipelagos poise o’er the main.
There, lazy fingers of a breeze have scattered
The distant blur of factory chimney smoke
hi poignant groups of all the young lives shattered
To feed the ravin of a piston-stroke!
Or when I read the tale of what you were
Beyond these hungry eyes’ home-keeping view,
I peopled petrel rocks with Sirens fair,
In Maid Mirage the Fairy Morgan knew,
Steered Quetzalcoatl’s skiff to coral coasts,
On Chambers’ Pillar throned the Olympian hosts,
Heard in white sulphur-crested parrots’ screeches
Remorseful Peris vent their hopeless rage,
Atlantis’ borders traced on sunken beaches,
m Alcheringa found the Golden Age.
Sibyl and Siren, with alternate breaths
You read our foetal nation’s boon and bane,
And lure to trysts of orgiastic Deaths
Adventurous love that listens to your strain:
Pelsarts and Vanderdeckens of the world
Circle your charms or at your feet are hurled:
And, Southern witch, whose glamour drew De Quiros
O’er half the earth for one unyielded kiss,
Were yours the arms that healed the scalded Eros
When Psyche’s curious lamp darkened their bliss?
Ye, who would challenge when we claim to see
The bush alive with Northern wealth of wings,
Forget that at a common mother’s knee
We learned, with you, the lore of Silent Things.
There is no New that is not older far
Than swirling cradle of the first-born star:
Our youngest hearts prolong the far pulsation
And churn the brine of the primordial sea:
The foetus writes the pr?cis of Creation:
Australia is the whole world’s legatee.
Imagination built her throne in us
Before your present bodies saw the sky:
Your myths were counters of our abacus,
And in your brain developed long our eye:
We from the misty folk have also sprung
Who saw the gnomes and heard the Ever Young:
Do Southern skies the fancy disinherit
Of moly flower and Deva-laden breeze?
Do nerves attuned by old defect and merit
Their timbre lose by crossing tropic seas?
All mysteries ye claim as yours alone
Have wafted secrets over oceans here:
Our living soil Antiquity hath sown
With just the corn and tares ye love and fear:
Romance and song enthral us just as you,
Nor change of zenith changes spirit too:
Our necks as yours are sore with feudal halters:
To the Pole ye know our compasses are set;
And shivering years that huddled round your altars
Beneath our stars auspicious tremble yet.
Who fenced the nymphs in European vales?
Or Pan tabooed from all but Oxford dreams?
Warned Shakespeare off from foreign Plutarch’s tales?
Or tethered Virgil to Italian themes?
And when the body sailed from your control
Think ye we left behind in bond the soul?
Whate’er was yours is ours in equal measure,
The Temple was not built for you alone,
Altho’ ’tis ours to grace the common treasure
With Lares and Penates of our own!
Ye stole yourselves from gardens fragrant long
The sprouting seed-pods of your choicest blooms,
And wove the splendid garments of your song
From Viking foam on grave Hebraic looms:
‘Twas Roman nerve and rich Hellenic lymph
Changed your pale pixie to a nubile nymph:
Yea, breathed at dawn around Atlantis’ islands,
Wind-home o’er some Hesperidean road,
The morning clouds on dim Accadian highlands
Spring-fed the Nile that over Hellas flowed!
As large-eyed Greek amid Sicilian dews
Saw Dis, as ne’er before, pursue the Maid,
Or, safe ‘neath screening billows, Arethuse
Alpheus’ rugged sleuth unsoiled evade:
We shall complete the tale ye left half-told,
Under the ocean lead your fountains old,
To slake our sceptic thirst with haunted water,
And tame our torrents with a wedding kiss,
Shall loose, mayhap, the spell on Ceres’ daughter,
And show, unclouded, God in very Dis.
(Yet, there are moods and mornings when I hear,
Above the music of the Bush’s breath,
The rush of alien breezes far and near
Drowning her oracles to very death:
Exotic battle-cries the silence mar,
Seductive perfumes drive the gum-scent far;
And organ-tones august a moment show me
Miltonic billows and Homeric gales
Until I feel the older worlds below me,
And all her wonder trembles, thins and fails.)
Yea, you are all that we may be, and yet
In us is all you are to be for aye!
The Giver of the gifts that we shall get?
An empty womb that waits the wedding day?
Thus drifting sense by age-long habit buoyed
Plays round the thought that knows all nature void!
And so, my song alternate would believe her
Idiot Bush and Daughter of the Sun,
A worthless gift apart from the receiver,
An empty womb, but in a Deathless One.
To shapes we would of Freedom, Truth and Joy
Shall we your willing plasm mould for man:
Afresh rebuild the world, and thus destroy
What only Ragnarok in Europe can:
There is no Light but in your dark blendes sleeps,
Drops from your stars or through your ether leaps:
Yea, you are Nature, Chaos since Creation,
Waiting what human Word to chord in song?
Matrix inert of what auspicious nation?
For what far bees your nectar hiving long?
Exhausted manas of the conquering North
Shall rise refreshed to vivid life again
At your approach, and in your lap pour forth
Grateful the gleanings of his mighty reign:
As, when a tropic heat-king southward crawls,
Blistering the ranges, till he hears the calls
Of some cold high-browed bride, her streaming tresses,
Sprinkled with rose-buds, make his wild eyes thrill
To such desire for her superb caresses
He yields his fiery treasures to her will.
“Where is Australia, singer, do you know?
These sordid farms and joyless factories,
Mephitic mines and lanes of pallid woe?
Those ugly towns and cities such as these
With incense sick to all unworthy power,
And all old sin in full malignant flower?
No! to her bourn her children still are faring:
She is a Temple that we are to build:
For her the ages have been long preparing:
She is a prophecy to be fulfilled!
All that we love in olden lands and lore
Was signal of her coming long ago!
Bacon foresaw her, Campanella, More
And Plato’s eyes were with her star aglow!
Who toiled for Truth, whate’er their countries were,
Who fought for Liberty, they yearned for her!
No corsair’s gathering ground, or tryst for schemers,
No chapman Carthage to a huckster Tyre,
She is the Eldorado of old dreamers,
The Sleeping Beauty of the world’s desire!
She is the scroll on which we are to write
Mythologies our own and epics new:
She is the port of our propitious flight
From Ur idolatrous and Pharaoh’s crew.
She is our own, unstained, if worthy we,
By dream, or god, or star we would not see:
Her crystal beams all but the eagle dazzle;
Her wind-wide ways none but the strong-winged sail:
She is Eutopia, she is Hy-Brasil,
The watchers on the tower of morning hail I
Yet she shall be as we, the Potter, mould:
Altar or tomb, as we aspire, despair:
What wine we bring shall she, the chalice, hold:
What word we write shall she, the script, declare:
Bandage our eyes, she shall be Memphis, Spain:
Barter our souls, she shall be Tyre again:
And if we pour on her the red oblation
All o’er the world shall Asshur’s buzzards throng:
Love-lit, her Chaos shall become Creation:
And dewed with dream, her silence flower in song.
(Bernard O Dowd)
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