Australia to her Children

I am so old, oh very old, my children,
   Ye that are so young,
And I have seen the weary centuries
   Like endless camels strung.

The shy unpractised sun could scarcely make
   A smooth arc in the sky
When first I knew and loved him. We were young
   Together, he and I.

I am not of these great new continents,
   All my folk are fled.
Atlantis was my sister, long ago,
   And she, I know, is dead.

And while the sun has taken from the years
   Manhood more glorious-bright,
I am grown grey, and all my youthful beauty
   Dimmed to your questing sight.

Yea, of a truth, my face is now grown quiet,
   Saddened and smoothed with age;
Brown plains and sombre trees and smoke-blue hills –
   These are your heritage.

Spent are my rivers and my hills bowed low,
   My pastures brown and burnt;
No soft green garments clothe my agèd limbs,
   This truly have ye learnt.

I cannot give you those. They are of youth,
   And I am very old.
But have ye seen the glory of my skies
   At eve, like wings, unfold?

And have ye loved my dreamy distances,
   The breathless mysteries
Of my hushed forests? But ye, too, are young,
   Your thoughts are not for these.

Go, fare you forth; I would not have you stay;
   Go to your lover ’s arms;
To England; she is young and very fair,
   Oh very sweet her charms.

Joyful her face, and tender vivid beauty
   In all her gracious parts;
Green fields are hers and colours of the seasons;
   Oh she will steal your hearts

I bid you seek her, for my heart can tell
   Your weary heads will rest
At length all passion spent and travail ended
   Here, on my agèd breast.

School poems

Richard’s choice

Poems of Australia