Picturesque Australia [poem, 7 May 1887]

[Editor: A poem published in The Queenslander, 7 May 1887.]

Picturesque Australia.

Oh! where’s the land whose beauty can compare
With our Australia’s, or her riches share?
’Neath sunny skies in molten azure sea,
Spreads far and wide the country of the free;
Where lordly trees their branches rear on high,
Whose topmost boughs would seem to kiss the sky,
Their smooth leaves glist’ning in the sun’s bright ray,
Or whispering as breezes with them play;
Whilst in their tremulous beauty flowers sweet,
’Neath Nature’s regal sway, adorn their feet;
With sunset’s colours fraught, their petals fair
With soothing odours fill the balmy air;
And birds of brightest plumage there abound,
Who, in their gambols, circling round and round,
Seem many-coloured meteors — chasing by
The forest kings or skimming through the sky;
Where ferns of beauty rare with tendrils young,
Above each crystal purling brook are hung —
Cool camping grounds ’mid noontide’s tropic heat,
Wherein to rest and muse on memories sweet;
While drowsy breezes passing whisper low
In answer to the brooklet’s rippling flow.

Let us ascend this mount and see this view
Which stretches far — then blends with heaven’s blue.
The far-off river winds ’tween tall green hills,
Its banks untouched by Trade’s smoke-reeking mills.
Oh! long may Nature here preside in peace,
Ere Lucre’s votaries bid its beauties cease.
Yon lordly hill, behold — ’mid foliage green —
’Tis rich in ores no human eye has seen;
Deep in its heart, beneath the odorous pine,
What wealth of precious ore perchance may shine!

And lo! beneath our feet, how snowy white —
Dazzling to see — all glistening in the light —
Coral and shells — such as elsewhere abound
But in the ocean’s emerald depths profound.
Ages ago — by wise men we are told —
Where now we stand the mighty waters rolled;
Till by volcanic power the land upheaved
With force resistless those blue billows cleaved.
In chaos wild retired the conquered main,
And secrets strange, that had for ages lain
Beneath the sea, at length were brought to light.
O wondrous proof of our Creator’s might!
Then as the sun once more refulgent beamed
Above the barren waste, with life it teemed.
Birds from far lands bore precious seed to shed —
Whence this green sward, those matted boughs o’er-head,
Which spread where deserts were. By God’s own hand
Transformed to this our bright and sunny land.

Vivian Whitaker.
Oxley, 15th April.

The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld.), 7 May 1887, p. 729

Editor’s notes:
azure = the blue of a clear unclouded sky

cleave = to split, part, or divide, such as by a cutting blow by an axe or sword, especially along a natural line of division, such as along a grain line in a piece of wood; to cut off or sever; to forcefully pass through or penetrate, such as through air, forest, or water (may also mean to adhere, attach, cling, or stick, to someone or something; to be emotionally devoted to someone; to adhere, or follow loyally and unwaveringly, to a person or cause)

ere = before (from the Middle English “er”, itself from the Old English “aer”, meaning early or soon)

gambol = to playfully skip or jump, to frolic

lucre = money, financial gain, or wealth, especially used in a negative sense, such as when money has been obtained in a distasteful or dishonourable fashion (the negativity inherent in the phrase “filthy lucre” arose from the King James version of the Bible, where it warns against “filthy lucre” in 1 Peter 5:2, 1 Timothy 3:3 & 3:8, Titus 1:7 & 1:11)

o’er = over (pronounced the same as “oar”, “or”, and “ore”)

sward = a lawn or meadow; land covered with grass

votary = (plural: votaries) someone who is bound by solemn vows to a religious life, such as a monk or a nun; a devoted adherent, admirer, advocate, believer, fan, or follower of a particular cause, leader, religion, hobby, or pursuit

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