[Editor: This poem, by H. E. Hansen (a pseudonym of E. J. Brady), was published in The Native Companion (Melbourne, Vic.), 1 August 1907.]
Australia: The Unready
What will ye, when these poppied days
Of Peace and Play are done,
When down our wide Australian ways
The Horseman gallops on!
From scarred red Cadia’s slopes wilt tear
Crude ore to feed the mill?
On flying freight trains grimly bear
The lead from Broken Hill?
Will ready anvil’s ring refrain;
Cyclopean hammers fall,
When, York to Howe, and round again,
Thus, bell-voiced bugles call?
To arms! Ye Townsmen in the South!
To arms, Selectors’ sons!
We echo challenge from the mouth
Of Asiatic guns.
The hour must strike: Time’s certain sands
In ruthless rhythm fall —
The Sword at last be in your hands,
Your backs be to the wall!
What will ye, then, in Bush and town —
Ye men of Sport and Play —
When all the haggard years look down
Upon your plight that day?
God give ye vision to foresee,
And wisdom to prepare;
God give ye Prophets, too, for ye
Are Dreamers unaware.
H. E. Hansen
The Native Companion (Melbourne, Vic.), 1 August 1907, p. 60
Cadia = a locality in New South Wales, in the Cadia Valley, located south-west of Orange; it was previously a private township established by a mining company (the area being mined for copper ore and iron ore)
See: 1) “Cadia, New South Wales”, Wikipedia
2) “Cadia-Ridgeway Mine”, Wikipedia
Cyclopean = of or relating to a Cyclops (singular) or to the Cyclopes (plural); something which is characteristic of the Cyclopes (a race of giants, the individuals of which have only one eye, situated in the middle of their forehead; the Cyclopes were part of Greek mythology, and were mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey)
See: “Cyclopes”, Wikipedia
Howe = Cape Howe, a headland on the coast of eastern Australia, located on the border of New South Wales and Victoria
selector = the purchaser of an area of land obtained by free-selection; land legislation in Australia in the1860s was passed by several colonies which enabled people to obtain land for farming, whereby they could nominate a limited area of land to rent or buy, being able to select land which had not yet been surveyed (hence the phrase “free selection before survey”) and even obtain land previously leased by squatters (although squatters were able to buy sections of their land, up to a designated limit; with many of them buying up further sections under the names of family members, friends, and employees)
See: “Selection (Australian history)”, Wikipedia
wilt = (archaic) will
ye = (archaic; dialectal) you (still in use in some places, e.g. in Cornwall, Ireland, Newfoundland, and Northern England; it can used as either the singular or plural form of “you”, although the plural form is the more common usage)
York = Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, the northern-most point of the Australian mainland