Australia [poem by Bernard O’Dowd]

[Editor: This poem by Bernard O’Dowd was published in The Golden Treasury of Australian Verse (1909); it was previously published in The Bulletin (12 May 1900).]

Australia

Last sea-thing dredged by sailor Time from Space,
Are you a drift Sargasso, where the West
In halcyon calm rebuilds her fatal nest?
Or Delos of a coming Sun-god’s race?
Are you for Light, and trimmed, with oil in place,
Or but a Will o’ Wisp on marshy quest?
A new demesne for Mammon to infest?
Or lurks millennial Eden ’neath your face?

The cenotaphs of species dead elsewhere
That in your limits leap and swim and fly,
Or trail uncanny harp-strings from your trees,
Mix omens with the auguries that dare
To plant the Cross upon your forehead sky,
A virgin helpmate Ocean at your knees.



Source:
Bertram Stevens (ed.), The Golden Treasury of Australian Verse, Macmillan and Co., London, 1909, page 244

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