"I hear them speak of a Fed'ral site
Where shall arise a city bright -
Mother, where is this bonzer spot?
Shall we not seek it and build our cot?
Is it in some mild and temp'rate zone
Where the native of drought is never known?"
"Not theah, not theah, me che-ild."
"Is it where the mighty ranges rise
And point their white tops to the skies
Where mountain torrents hurry down
Past thriving farm and peaceful town
Where our great city may be planned,
A credit to our native land?"
"Not on yer life, me che-ild."
"Is it where the noble rivers flow,
And fruit and corn abundant grow;
Where wide and verdant grasslands sweep,
And pleasant orchards, fruited deep,
Reach out for miles across the plains,
Smiling to sun and grateful rains?"
"You bet it ain't, me che-ild."
"Is it far away, in the Empty North,
Where the camel trains pro back and forth;
Some unprotected, distant spot
Where the populace congesteth not;
Fair to our foeman's envious eye,
Which 'twould be wise to occupy?"
"Right off the track, me che-ild."
"Is it in that land where grows the spud,
And the patient dairy cow her cud
Doth ruminate, while high green maize,
And oats, and rape delight her days;
Where pumpkins, large as great barn doors,
Astonish country edi-tors?"
"That ain't the place, me che-ild."
"Is it where the squatters squat their sheep,
And large and easy incomes reap;
That fertile land. unpeopled still,
Where none may delve, or grow, or till;
Those large, unoccupied estates
Where sheep-lords reign and dodge their rates?"
"Clean out of it, me che-ild."
"Then, mother, where the devil is
This splendid city to be riz?
Is it where the giant forest trees
Sway in the soft and balmy breeze;
Where laughing brooklets twist and turn
Through gullies decked with tender fern?"
"Aw, give it up, me che-ild."
"Where the cocky prays, me gentle lad,
In vain for rain, and the seasons bad
Come regularly once a year,
And the outlook's permanently drear;
Where the Cotter cots - but mostly not;
Right, in the coastland's driest spot;
"It is theah, it is theah, me che-ild."
First published in The Bulletin, 21 July 1910