Australia [poem by Grant Hervey]

[Editor: This poem by Grant Hervey was published in Australians Yet and Other Verses, 1913.]


O Land immense, in far extent and power —
In latent strength, that yet shall perfect be ;
O Thou, who bendest low thy Freedom-flower,
Thy chaliced mouth, whose kiss is liberty:
The story tell ! — what is thy gift and dower,
Commonweal, for him who serveth Thee ?

“I am the Land of hope, of gracious mornings —
He welcome is, whoever cleanly comes ;
I stand erect — I hear the epoch’s warnings
Strike through the years, like swinging pendulums.
I know no hates, no ancient fears and scornings
Arouse my States with fratricidal drums !

“I am the Land that yet in peerless splendour
By nations all shall equal hailed be,
When I with ships walk on the seas, and render
My true account to human destiny ;
My gift of sons, my daughters sweet and tender,
My children all ! — the heart’s warm gift of me !

“I am the Land whereof the written story
Shall incense breathe far down the distant years ;
Shall say of me : ‘Her’s was the lustrous glory,
Undimmed with blood and death’s hate-potent tears !
The surf that beats upon each promontory
Shall croon : ‘Here dwell no futile lusts nor fears !’

“I am the Land of peace and righteous labour,
The home of skill and patient industry ;
Where equal man shall join with equal neighbour
His strong right hand in perfect amity.
Ye older lands, that power and ancient sway bore,
Behold a People fearless, brave, and free !

“Mine Outlook shines with light serene and splendid —
My forward Path, O faithful sons, I see ;
Ye are my strength — from fathers strong descended,
And ye shall march far down the years with me !
Shall give me fame, with genius starlike blended,
My glory-crown for all eternity !

“My brow I lift with faith undimmed and peerless —
A constant faith, that will not be denied ;
I face the world with eyes all clear and tearless —
Why should I quail, when ye are at my side ?
My children all — my Titans strong and fearless,
Australia’s hope, Australia’s joy and pride !

“Know ye my heart ? — its secret tides of passion,
The midmost Thoughts that dwell, O sons, in me ?
A Nation fair I bid ye nobly fashion
That with my love all permeate shall be !
I am Desire ! And I am sweet Compassion,
And I am Truth and Joy and Liberty !

“All these have thrilled within my heart and being —
All these abide within my central soul ;
Mine eyes are true, clear eyes all Task-ward seeing,
And I shall see a Nation brave and whole !
From sordidness — from strife and rancour fleeing,
A People clean with one fair-shining goal !

“No jarring chords of bitter feud and schism —
No discontent, no falsehood and no greed ;
All-consecrate with Freedom’s priceless chrism,
A People true in thought and word and deed :
Whereof each soul, like some reflecting prism,
Shall flash the rays of Time’s divinest Creed !

“To Nations new — to lands unshaped, uncharted,
A pattern I, O Kinsmen all, would be ;
Who worketh well ? Who labours steadfast-hearted ? —
He is the truest, noblest son of me !
And from my fields, whose wealth shall yet be marted,
Shall win the fruits of forthright Industry !

“Where shining rails, beneath their mighty burden
Of Commerce new, their song exultant sing ;
There see my gifts — Australia’s proffered guerdon
To all whose arms the gleaming axe shall swing !
When Europe’s heart at last my Call hath stirred in,
Shall millions haste to share the harvesting !

“Know ye my prayer ? ’Tis that the Elder Nations
Their quarrels vain may compass and forget ;
Yea, that their sons, in nobler consecrations,
Might come to me — and I will have them yet !
Shall draw them hence. These are the consummations
Whereon mine heart of hearts is ever set !

“I am the Promise of a braver, fairer Morrow,
The White Man’s Hope — a priceless heritage ;
When shall the Elder Lands have done with sorrow —
With needless woe, and turn a clearer page ?
Why will they strife and fruitless discord borrow,
When I am here — here, too, a nobler Age ?

“Within my gates might Europe’s sons be reaping
The produce of mine harvest-bearing fields.
This is mine Outlook ! — let the time of weeping,
With all the tawdry fame that Carnage yields,
Be done with now. And let the world’s heart, leaping,
Know that the warring Powers have joined their shields !

“This is my hope — to see the sons of Britain,
With German kith, whence their forefathers sprung,
Turn southward yet : for lo ! my star is litten,
And I am waiting — I, elate and young!
When will that lasting bond, O Powers, be written
And jubilating Peace’s censers swung ?

“When will mankind know that the Day is breaking —
The Night of war and needless conflict done ?
When shall the hearts of men have done with aching,
And Arbitration’s writ triumphant run ? . . .
These are the thoughts that in my breast are waking,
And in the breast of each Australian son !

“Here are the Lands that all too long have waited
New Commonweals, engirt by land and sea ;
A thousand years has ancient Europe hated,
And ground her sons in mills of agony :
Here are the lands with boundless treasure freighted —
O that our kin the better path might see !

“I for myself, my sea-girt self, am speaking,
And Canada — my Sister, is she dumb ?
On Europe’s back the load of War is creaking,
And ever rolls the note of warning drum !
South Africa and Maoriland are seeking
Strong Pioneers — will Europe bid them come ?

“This is mine Outlook ! — clear and law-adjusted,
Embracing lands, O Europe, far from me ;
Know ye what Foes have world-dominion lusted —
What dangers loom in mists of tragedy ?
When Europe’s sword at last has sheath-ward thrusted,
Then shall her grip on Empire safer be !

“I am the Land — the Land above all others
Where men’s ambitions, in their nobler flight,
Bid White Men All be linked as mates and brothers —
In God’s high Name, why should the kinsmen fight ?
Why should the grief of myriad wives and mothers
Go up to God from Europe’s battle-night?

“An end I call to all death-grips and slaughter —
Ye Elder Lands, shall Reason call in vain ?
Shall blood still flow as flows the mountain- water,
When Nations walk the reeking paths of Pain ?
Hear ye my Call — for I am Europe’s Daughter,
And I would be priestess in Reason’s fane !”

“This land immense, in sheer extent and power —
In sleeping strength, that yet shall valiant be ;
This is her Song ! I know her Freedom-flower —
Her chaliced mouth, whose kiss spells liberty :
This is her spirit, this her faith and dower —
Shall Europe hear, beyond the circling sea?

Grant Hervey. Australians Yet and Other Verses, Thomas C. Lothian, Melbourne, 1913, pages 105-111

Editor’s notes:
fane = temple, church

litten = lighted (archaic usage)

Speak Your Mind