Bernard O'Dowd

(11 April 1866 – 1 September 1953 / Beaufort)

Last Stanzas of the Bush


WHERE is Australia, singer, do you know?
These sordid farms and joyless factories,
Mephitic mines and lanes of pallid woe?
Those ugly towns and cities such as these
With incense sick to all unworthy power,
And all old sin in full malignant flower?
No! to her bourn her children still are faring:
She is a temple that we are to build:
For her the ages have been long preparing:
She is a prophecy to be fulfilled!

All that we love in olden lands and lore
Was signal of her coming long ago!
Bacon foresaw her, Campanella, More,
And Plato’s eyes were with her star aglow!
Who toiled for Truth, whate’er their countries were,
Who fought for Liberty, they yearned for her!
No corsair’s gathering ground, nor tryst for schemers,
No chapman Carthage to a huckster Tyre,
She is the Eldorado of old dreamers,
The Sleeping Beauty of the world’s desire.

She is the scroll on which we are to write
Mythologies our own and epics new:
She is the port of our propitious flight
From Ur idolatrous and Pharaoh’s crew.
She is our own, unstained, if worthy we,
By dream, or god, or star we would not see:
Her crystal beams all but the eagle dazzle.
Her wind-wide ways none but the strong-winged sail:
She is Eutopia, she is Hy-Brasil,
The watchers on the tower of morning hail!

Yet she shall be as we, the Potter, mould:
Altar or tomb, as we aspire, despair:
What wine we bring shall she, the chalice, hold:
What word we write shall she, the script, declare:
Bandage our eyes, she shall be Memphis, Spain:
Barter our souls, she shall be Tyre again:
And if we pour on her the red oblation,
All o’er the world shall Asshur’s buzzards throng:
Love-lit, her Chaos shall become Creation:
And dewed with dream, her silence flower in song.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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