Poem: Last Stanzas of "The Bush" by Bernard O'Dowd

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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,
   O'er all the world shall Asshur's buzzards throng;
Love-lit, her Chaos shall become Creation;
   And dewed with dream, her silence flower in song.

First published in The Oxford Book of Australian Verse edited by Walter Murdoch, 1918. 

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on November 12, 2011 8:23 AM.

Reprint: Our Own Writers: O'Dowd, the Questioner by Nettie Palmer was the previous entry in this blog.

Australian Bookcovers #282 - A Imaginary Life by Davif Malouf is the next entry in this blog.

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