The Dominion Of Australia {A Forecast}

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SHE is not yet, but he whose ear  
Thrills to that finer atmosphere  
Where footfalls of appointed things,  
 Reverberant of days to be,  
Are heard in forecast echoings,
 Like wave-beats from a viewless sea—  
Hears in the voiceful tremors of the sky  
Auroral heralds whispering “She is nigh.”  

She is not yet; but he whose sight  
Foreknows the advent of the light,
Whose soul to morning radiance turns  
 Ere night her curtain hath withdrawn,  
And in its quivering folds discerns  
 The mute monitions of the dawn,  
With urgent sense strained onward to descry
Her distant tokens, starts to find her nigh.  

Not yet her day. How long “not yet?”  
There comes the flush of violet!  
And heavenward faces, all aflame  
 With sanguine imminence of morn,
Wait but the sun-kiss to proclaim  
 The Day of the Dominion born.  
Prelusive baptism!—ere the natal hour  
Named with the name and prophecy of power.  

Already here to hearts intense
A spirit force, transcending sense,  
In heights unscaled, in deeps unstirred,  
 Beneath the calm, above the storm,  
She waits the incorporating word  
 To bid her tremble into form:
Already, like divining-rods, men’s souls  
Bend down to where the unseen river rolls;  

For even as, from sight concealed,  
By never flush of dawn revealed,  
Nor e’er illumed by golden noon,
 Nor sunset-streaked with crimson bar,  
Nor silver-spanned by wake of moon,  
 Nor visited of any star,  
Beneath these lands a river waits to bless  
(So men divine) our utmost wilderness,—

Rolls dark, but yet shall know our skies,  
Soon as the wisdom of the wise  
Conspires with nature to disclose  
 The blessing prisoned and unseen,  
Till round our lessening wastes there glows  
 A perfect zone of broadening green,—  
Till all our land Australia Felix called,  
Become one Continent-Isle of Emerald;—  

So flows beneath our good and ill  
A viewless stream of common will,
A gathering force, a present might,  
 That from its silent depths of gloom  
At Wisdom’s voice shall leap to light,  
 And hide our barren fields in bloom,  
Till, all our sundering lines with love o’er-grown,
Our bounds shall be the girdling seas alone.

© James Brunton Stephens