[Editor: This poem by Randolph Bedford was published in The West Australian (Perth, WA), 3 January 1896.]
The New to the Old.
Men of the older lands! I barter my gold with your ease!
I give you red gold for your sweatings, and wealth in the hand for your pains!
Not for you are the fountains that plash, nor the song of the sussurent trees.
But days that shall blister and burn, to balance the scale of your gains;
And to him that dareth the most shall the mintage of me be the meed —
I was made for the men who shall win me — the red British blood and its seed!
In the ages dead did my Leeuwin crouch, fawning, alone on the seas,
And my ocean knew never a keel, and my shores were in solitude’s ban,
And Pelsaert came! And, now, Gold shall bring the whole world to my knees!
And I give it but to the strong — to the seed and the son of a man!
Dare ye, and do ye, enough, and lo! ye shall conquer thy drouth,
And make my palm fruitful and moist, and give endless mirth to my mouth.
No more shall my song be sustaltic; I have lain full long in a swoon —
My desert of gold knew not any, and ever my secrets have slept,
Only a red swimming sun, and a wan and a pale-faced moon,
Knew I was giant and bound, and now on the world have I leapt!
I lay like a couchant lion, and now all my gifts I fling
To the men who can break my bond strings, and teach me the lion’s spring.
I take all the cream of the nations, and give them the cream of my land;
If they dare me they win me and conquer — my strength at their strength is hurled!
Give me but men to my body, and I give you red gold to your hand;
Sail in the deep ships to me, and make me a teeming world;
But only in strength shall ye win, and ye beat with a pulsing true,
And my mintage I pour to The Old who shall conquer and father The New.
— Randolph Bedford.
Perth, January 1.
The West Australian (Perth, WA), 3 January 1896, p. 3
couchant = (regarding animals) lying belly down, with front legs extended and the head raised (especially for use in heraldry); in a lying position; crouching
dareth = (archaic) dares
drouth = drought (a prolonged period of no rain or an abnormally low amount of rain); or, in general terms, a prolonged shortage or lack of something
Leeuwin = Cape Leeuwin, Western Australia, the most south-westerly point of the Australian mainland
meed = (archaic) a fitting recompense; an appropriate amount of praise, honour, or reward; a payment or reward given for work done or services rendered
mintage = coins, minted money; the act or process of minting coins; a fee charged for minting coins; the design imprinted or impressed on a coin; the output of a particular mint, coins made during a particular period, a batch of coins minted at a particular time
Pelsaert = Francisco Pelsaert (ca. 1595-1630) a Dutch merchant and ship captain, of the Dutch East India Company; whilst under his command the Batavia was shipwrecked off the coast of Western Australia in June 1629
plash = a splash; the sound made by a splash; to cause a splash or spatter; a puddle; a shallow pool, a small pool
sussurent = murmuring, whispering, or rustling (especially to do so quietly or softly)
sustaltic = (also spelt “systaltic”) mournful, depressing, affecting the emotions with deep sadness (especially relating to a style of ancient Greek music); rhythmic contracting or pulsating, something characterised by regular or rhythmic contraction and dilatation (such as the rhythm of the heart)
thy = (archaic) your
wan = having a sickly or pale appearance; a poorly appearance suggestive of unhappiness or grief; a lack of energy or feeling (e.g. a smile or laugh, displaying little effort, energy, or enthusiasm); lacking good health or vitality (may also refer to something which is dim or faint, e.g. light, stars, sun)
ye = (archaic) you (however, 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 apparently the more common usage)
[Editor: Changed “Pelsart” to “Pelsaert”.]
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