Verse > Anthologies > Walter Murdoch, comp. > The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse
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Walter Murdoch (1874–1970).  The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse.  1918.
 
36. Australia
 
By J. Laurence Rentoul
 
 
SHE rose amid the Nations, tall and fair,
  The wide South seas kissed at her garment hem,
Lights of new heavens gleamed in her lustrous hair,
  Freedom her diadem!
 
And on her bosom, Time’s glad prophecy,        5
  Six stars that into one rich radiance ran,
Her Urim and her Thummim of the free
  Young Commonwealth of Man:
 
And in her raiment, curiously inwrought,
  Opal and sapphire, gems of price untold,        10
Pearl from far wave, and, through deep mine-shaft sought,
  The shimmering glow of gold:
 
And magic colours blent of range and dell
  And pasture where the sportive lambs may bleat,
And subtlest tints—no poet’s tongue can tell—        15
  From sun-kissed fields of wheat.
 
Too confident of beauty to be proud,
  Too satisfied and young to doubt or pray,
Her open glance and buoyant will unbowed
  Fronted the broadening day.        20
 
Her face uplifted and her brave bold eyes
  Gazed on into the future unafraid,—
No mystic depths of reverence, awe, surprise,
  No Past to make dismayed!
 
No martyr-moan from pyre or battle-plain        25
  Had seamed that beauty, frank and debonair,
No sobbings from Gethsemanes of pain,
  No midnights of despair—
 
Changed into morns of triumph, when the day
  Saw men like gods, but featured homelier far,        30
As, in the pass, by mazed Thermopylae
  Or glorious Trafalgar.
 
And, all-accustomed to her wide-wayed sea
  And amplest spaces and unhindered room,
She faltered not to meet her destiny        35
  Nor reck’d of gathering Doom.
 
But at her girdle hung an opening scroll,
  On whose white virgin folds might yet be writ
Tales of high deeds, transcending utmost goal
  Of Man’s prophetic wit.        40
 
And at her feet the Ocean yearned away
  To East and North, and Southward without bound,
And Westward where the sequent Night and Day
  Circled the great world round.
 

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