Australia by Philip Joseph Holdsworth

A RHAPSODY.
O Muse divine! within whose strange soft lyre
Melodious lays of subtle strength and splendour
Sleep, till the Bard’s quick touch and tongue of fire
Lure them to life: — Even Thou, sweet Muse, engender
Within my brain, songs passionate and tender —
Songs sung or harped ‘mid thy most secret spheres,
But snatched by amorous couriers to mine ears,
And hoarded in my soul’s most hallowed cells
(Where the mute seraph. Contemplation, dwells)
Till the renascent hour,
When, summoned by thy power,
Dainty and swift once more their melody outwells.

I.
Australia! he that anthems thee aright
Must psalm his loud delight
With lips of gold, and supple tongue as pure,
And sounding harp, than mine less immature!
Yet, should my happy verse, though faint, refuse
To trumpet forth thy dues,
Methinks dumb trees (each leaf a tongue of flame!)
Would clarion out thy grandeur, and my shame;
Thy timorous vales responsively would hymn
Like sweet-lipped cherubim—
Each peak would lift its sky-saluting crest
Still loftier from earth’s breast,
And blend, with melting murmurs, into strong
Ambrosial breaths of song:
Yea, vehemently plead to listening earth
The perfect marvel of thy matchless worth!

II.
Thrice hail the bright day when the refluent sea
Witnessed the birth of thee!
When, from dark, solemn, depths of foam-fringed surge,
Mysterious and divine, thou didst emerge;
Framed, by God’s grace, that after-years might see
A sacred shrine, thrice dear to Liberty!
On that glad day (O best-born day of Time!)
God gathered rare delights from each fair clime,
And scattering them with bountiful High Hand,
Most lavishly they rained on thee O Land!
Such was the ripe wealth of the prodigal dower
That decked thy natal hour!

III.
Yet, like some magic scroll,
Which no man dare unroll,
Enchantment veiled thy beauties, while sublime
And shadowy epochs scaled the steeps of Time;
Till the brave mariner, with bounding ships,
Clove, through green Sea’s foam-lips,
To where thy tranquil splendors slept, impearled,
And, from obscure recesses, called a Second World.

IV.
Thine was the trumpet-tongue, illustrious Cook,
That roused Mankind, and shook
Blind, brooding, Ignorance from Austral waves,
And drove her, darkling, to far dungeon-caves!
Thine was the hand that found,
And valiantly unbound,
The long-closed Volume of our land’s delight,
And bared the priceless wealth thereof, in all men’s sight.

V.
For this, O chief of Ocean’s pioneer’s,
Thy dauntless deeds make music in our ears —
(Outsinging all thy peers!)
For this, just Memory, heedful of great acts,
Imperially enacts
That, in her clearest chronicle, loud Fame
Shall glorify thy name!
(A shining tribute which few kings can claim!)

VI.
Dear land! above whose hills, and vales, and streams,
Joy swoons, delirious, rapt with honeyed dreams! —
Thou hast no storied plains,
Thick-strewn with shattered palaces and fanes —
No old-world wrecks, which prate to distant times
Of perished pomps, and records red with crimes.
And thy clear springing waters,
Unbeaconed with the blood of human slaughters,
Haste, garrulous with glee,
To mix full treasures in one placid sea!
Nor hast thou viewed the baleful day
When phalanxes, in mailed array,
Spurred by the hate that Vengeance hoards,
Shook the sharp clamors from their clashing swords
And bade the foe, with blow and thrust,
Bite the blind, suffocating dust —
Till Virtue trembled from her god-like seat,
And, wailing, fled with faint, reluctant feet.

VII.
For round thy broad, delectable expanse,
Soft Peace broods, sweetly, in celestial trance;
While, quiet and benign,
Unnumbered synods of winged joys combine
To guard, with gracious care, thy prospering State
From rough, rude brawls, and travelling tongues of hate!

VIII.
O Austral hills, and dim delightful dells!
O boundless plains, made glad with fruitful things!
O storm-worn cliffs, whose stern, stark, front repels
The surge that spins aloft on soft white wings!
O sleepless clamors of sea-thunderings!
Straight through your realms let one triumphal chant
Ring, — swift and jubilant!
Even from the sea, to where lone, swirling, plains
(Remote from grovelling cits, and stolid swains!)
Stretch, for fantastic leagues, their drear domains —
Lift your high anthems — till dull Man confess
(Right volubly) my land’s rare loveliness;
And trump, in tones that none dare controvert
A World’s loud homage to her rich desert!

From: Holdsworth, Philip J., Station Hunting on the Warrego: Australia: At the Valley of the Popran: and Other Poems, 1885, William Maddock: Sydney, pp. 2-6.
(https://archive.org/stream/stationhuntingon00hold#page/n9/mode/2up)

Date: 1885

By: Philip Joseph Holdsworth (1851-1902)

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