Saturday, 23 December 2017

Written in Australia - Arthur Adams

The wide sun stares without a cloud:
  Whipped by his glances truculent
The earth lies quivering and cowed.
  My heart is hot with discontent:
  I hate this haggard continent.

But over the loping leagues of sea
A lone land calls to her children free:
My own land holding her arms to me—
But oh, the long loping leagues of sea.

The grey old city is dumb with heat;
  No breeze comes leaping, naked, rude,
Adown the narrow, high-walled street;
  Upon the night thick perfumes brood:
  The evening oozes lassitude.

But over the edges of my town,
  Swept in a tide that ne’er abates,
The riotous breezes tumble down;
  My heart looks home, looks home where waits
  The Windy City of the Straits!

The land lies desolate and stripped;
  Across its waste has thinly strayed
A tattered host of eucalypt
  From whose gaunt uniform is made
  A ragged penury of shade.

But over my isles the forest drew
  A mantle thick—save where a peak
Shows his grim teeth a-snarl—and through
  The filtered coolness creek and creek,
  Tangled in ferns, in whispers speak.

And there the placid great lakes are;
  And brimming rivers proudly force
Their ice-cold tides. Here, like a scar,
  Dry-lipped, a withered water-course
  Crawls from a long-forgotten source.

My glance, home-gazing, scarce discerns
  This listless girl, in whose dark hair
A starry red hibiscus burns;
  Her pallid cheeks are like a pair
  Of nuns, bloom-ravished, yet so fair.

And like a sin her warm lips flame
  In her wan face; swift passions brim
In those brown eyes too soft for blame;
  Her form is sinuous and slim—
  That lyric line of breast and limb!

But one there waits whose brown face glows,
  Whose cheeks with Winter’s kisses smart—
The flushing petals of a rose.
  Of earth and sun she is a part;
  Her brow is Greek and Greek her heart.

At love she laughs a faint disdain;
  Her heart no weakly one to charm;
Robust and fragrant as the rain,
  The dark bush soothed her with his balm,
  The mountains gave her of their calm.

Her fresh young figure, lithe and tall,
  Her radiant eyes, her brow benign,
She is the peerless queen of all—
  The maid, the country, that I shrine
  In this far-banished heart of mine!

And over the loping leagues of green
A lone land waits with a hope serene—
My own land calls like a prisoner queen—
But oh, the long loping leagues between!

Arthur Adams (1872 - 1936) New Zealand
Source: Walter Murdoch, compiler, The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse. London, New York: H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1918

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