Mary Hannay Foott

(1846 - 1918 / Australia)

The Aurora Australis Poem by Mary Hannay Foott


A radiance in the midnight sky
No white moon gave, nor yellow star;
We thought its red glow mounted high
Where fire and forest fought afar,

Half questioning if the township blazed,
Perchance, beyond the boundary hill;
Then, finding what it was, we gazed
And wondered till we shivered chill.

And Fancy showed the sister-glow
Of our Aurora, sending lines
Of lustre forth to tint the snow
That lodges in Norwegian pines.

And South and North alternate swept
In vision past us, to and fro;
While stealthy winds of midnight crept
About us, whispering fast and low.

The North, whose star burns steadily,
High set in heaven long ago:
The South, new-risen on the sea,
A tremulous horizon-glow.

We mused, “Shall there be gallant guests
Within our polar hermitage,
As on the shore where Franklin rests,
And others, named in Glory's page?

And, “Shall the light we look on blaze
Above such battles as have been,
In other countries, other days,
The giants and the gods between?”

Till one declared, “We live to-night
In what shall be the poet's world:
The lands 'neath our Aurora's light
Are as the rocks the Titans hurled.

“From southern waters, ice-enthralled,
Year after year the rays that glance
Shall see the Desert shrink appalled
Before the City's swift advance.

“Shall see the precipice a stair,
The river as a road. And then
There shall be voices to declare
‘This work was wrought by manly men.'”

And so our South all stately swept
In vision past us, to and fro;
While stealthy winds of midnight crept
About us, whispering fast and low.

Submitted: Monday, March 1, 2010

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