Where the Pelican Builds
and Other Poems

The Future of Australia

Mary Hannay Foott

SING us the Land of the Southern Sea,—
    The land we have called our own;
Tell us what harvest there shall be
    From the seed that we have sown.

We love the legends of olden days,
    The songs of the wind and wave;
And border ballads and minstrel lays,
    And the poems Shakespeare gave,—

The fireside carols and battle rhymes,
    And romaunt of the knightly ring;
And the chant with hint of cathedral chimes,—
    Of him “made blind to sing.”

The tears they tell of our brethren wept,—
    Their praise is our fathers’ fame;
They sing of the seas our navies swept,—
    Of the shrines that lent us flame.

But the Past is past,—with all its pride,—
    And its ways are not our ways.
We watch the flow of a fresher tide
    And the dawn of newer days.

Sing us the Isle of the Southern Sea,—
    The land we have called our own;
Tell us what harvest there shall be
    From the seed that we have sown.

I see the Child we are tending now
    To a queenly stature grown;
The jewels of empire on her brow,
    And the purple round her thrown.

She feeds her household plenteously
    From the granaries we have filled;
Her vintage is gathered in with glee
    From the fields our toil has tilled.

The Old World’s outcast starvelings feast,—
    Ungrudged,—on her corn and wine;
The gleaners are welcome, from west and east,
    Where her autumn sickles shine.

She clothes her people in silk and wool,—
    Whose warp and whose woof we spun;
And sons and daughters are hers to rule;
    And of slaves,—she has not one!

There are herds of hers on a thousand hills!
    There are fleecy flocks untold?
No foreign conquest her coffer fills,—
    She has streams whose sands are gold!

She shall not scramble for falling crowns,—
    No theft her soul shall soil,—
So rich in rivers, so dowered with downs,—
    She shall have no need of spoil!

But if,—wronged or menaced,—she shall stand
    Where the battle-surges swell,—
Be a sword from Heaven in her swarthy hand
    Like the sword of La Pucelle!

If there be ever so base a foe
    As to speak of a time-cleansed stain,—
To say, “She was cradled long ago,
    ’Mid clank of the convict’s chain.”

Ask,—as the taunt in his teeth is hurled,—
    “What lineage sprang SHE from
Who was Empress, once, of the Pagan World
    And the Queen of Christendom?”

When the toilsome years of her youth are o’er,
    And her children round her throng;
They shall learn from her of the sage’s lore,
    And her lips shall teach them song.

Then of those in the dust who dwell,
    May there kindly mention be,
When the birds that build in the branches tell
    Of the planting of the tree.

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