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The Sydney International Exhibition

Henry Kendall 1839 (Australia) – 1882 (Sydney)



Now, while Orion, flaming south, doth set
A shining foot on hills of wind and wet—
Far haughty hills beyond the fountains cold
And dells of glimmering greenness manifold—
While August sings the advent of the Spring,
And in the calm is heard September’s wing,
The lordly voice of song I ask of thee,
High, deathless radiance—crowned Calliope!
What though we never hear the great god’s lays
Which made all music the Hellenic days—
What though the face of thy fair heaven beams
Still only on the crystal Grecian streams—
What though a sky of new, strange beauty shines
Where no white Dryad sings within the pines:
Here is a land whose large, imperial grace
Must tempt thee, goddess, in thine holy place!
Here are the dells of peace and plenilune,
The hills of morning and the slopes of noon;
Here are the waters dear to days of blue,
And dark-green hollows of the noontide dew;
Here lies the harp, by fragrant wood-winds fanned,
That waits the coming of thy quickening hand!
And shall Australia, framed and set in sea,
August with glory, wait in vain for thee?
Shall more than Tempe’s beauty be unsung
Because its shine is strange—its colours young?
No! by the full, live light which puts to shame
The far, fair splendours of Thessalian flame—
By yonder forest psalm which sinks and swells
Like that of Phocis, grave with oracles—
By deep prophetic winds that come and go
Where whispering springs of pondering mountains flow—
By lute-like leaves and many-languaged caves,
Where sounds the strong hosanna of the waves,
This great new majesty shall not remain
Unhonoured by the high immortal strain!
Soon, soon, the music of the southern lyre
Shall start and blossom with a speech like fire!
Soon, soon, shall flower and flow in flame divine
Thy songs, Apollo, and Euterpe, thine!
Strong, shining sons of Delphicus shall rise
With all their father’s glory in their eyes;
And then shall beam on yonder slopes and springs
The light that swims upon the light of things.
And therefore, lingering in a land of lawn,
I, standing here, a singer of the dawn,
With gaze upturned to where wan summits lie
Against the morning flowing up the sky—
Whose eyes in dreams of many colours see
A glittering vision of the years to be—
Do ask of thee, Calliope, one hour
Of life pre-eminent with perfect power,
That I may leave a song whose lonely rays
May shine hereafter from these songless days.

For now there breaks across the faint grey range
The rose-red dawning of a radiant change.
A soft, sweet voice is in the valleys deep,
Where darkness droops and sings itself to sleep.
The grave, mute woods, that yet the silence hold
Of dim, dead ages, gleam with hints of gold.
Yon eastern cape that meets the straitened wave—
A twofold tower above the whistling cave—
Whose strength in thunder shields the gentle lea,
And makes a white wrath of a league of sea,
Now wears the face of peace; and in the bay
The weak, spent voice of Winter dies away.
In every dell there is a whispering wing,
On every lawn a glimmer of the Spring;
By every hill are growths of tender green—
On every slope a fair, new life is seen;
And lo! beneath the morning’s blossoming fires,
The shining city of a hundred spires,
In mists of gold, by countless havens furled,
And glad with all the flags of all the world!

These are the shores, where, in a dream of fear,
Cathay saw darkness dwelling half the year!
These are the coasts that old fallacious tales
Chained down with ice and ringed with sleepless gales!
This is the land that, in the hour of awe,
From Indian peaks the rapt Venetian saw!
Here is the long grey line of strange sea wall
That checked the prow of the audacious Gaul,
What time he steered towards the southern snow,
From zone to zone, four hundred years ago!
By yonder gulf, whose marching waters meet
The wine-dark currents from the isles of heat,
Strong sons of Europe, in a far dim year,
Faced ghastly foes, and felt the alien spear!
There, in a later dawn, by shipless waves,
The tender grasses found forgotten graves.
Far in the west, beyond those hills sublime,
Dirk Hartog anchored in the olden time;
There, by a wild-faced bay, and in a cleft,
His shining name the fair-haired Northman left;
And, on those broad imperial waters, far
Beneath the lordly occidental star,
Sailed Tasman down a great and glowing space
Whose softer lights were like his lady’s face.
In dreams of her he roved from zone to zone,
And gave her lovely name to coasts unknown
And saw, in streaming sunset everywhere,
The curious bea
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Henry Kendall

Thomas Henry Kendall was a nineteenth-century Australian author and bush poet, who was particularly known for his poems and tales set in a natural environment setting. more…

All Henry Kendall poems | Henry Kendall Books

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    "The Sydney International Exhibition" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 15 Oct. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/17598/the-sydney-international-exhibition>.

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