To a Fair Australian by Douglas B. W. Sladen

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I wonder what home folks would think
   Who saw you sitting there
In that delightful maze of pink
  By some French dressmaker,
Toying a slender foot --- size 2, --
   In broidered silk encased,
In and out of the last Court shoe
   That took Parisian taste?

The first time they took stock of you
   They'd note the union rare --
Complexion of the warmer hue
   With crown of pale gold hair;
'Twas this Italian masters loved
   On canvas to pourtray,
And some such witchery that moved
   The king Cophetua:

While the refinement of your face
   And the unconscious knack,
The careless captivating grace
   With which you're leaning back,
Could not be bettered if you were
   The daughter of a peer,
Or long-descended commoner
   In the same social sphere.

There's not a fairer in Mayfair,
   Or better bred or drest
In the galaxy gathered there
   Of England's loveliest.
You look so dainty, so complete,
   So far from common folk,
As if you'd never crossed the street
   Without a Raleigh's cloak.

And yet I've seen you --- often too ---
   On a half-broken horse
Pressing an old man kangaroo
   O'er fence and watercourse;
Galloping hard 'twixt low-branched trees,
   Mid burrows and ant-heaps,
Pulling the colt up from his knees,
   Or putting him at leaps.

And if they knew the simple things
   With which you're gratified,
And saw your hearty welcomings
   And freedom from false pride,
They'd never dream that you command
   All money can acquire,
And occupy a block of land
   As large as Lincolnshire.

I wish I'd Millais' art to trace
   You as you're sitting there,
With your bright summer-tinted face
   And golden crown of hair!
To catch the sweet simplicity
   And gallant confidence
That mingle in your frank blue eye
   And argue innocence.

I like to see your elegance
   And fashionableness;
To see Australia meet France
   Not blushing at her dress;
And like to think that, when at rest,
   And lounging as you please,
You can face England's haughtiest,
   And not look ill at ease.

Innocence need not be uncouth,
   And Nature's not ill drest;
Nor is it any crime for youth
   To try to look her best.
It pleases most when wealth and grace,
   Accomplished and ornate,
Seek not with coldness to efface
   The pleasure they create.

First published in The Queenslander, 11 February 1882

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on February 11, 2012 8:24 AM.

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