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Nearing Port

Mary Hannay Foott 1846 (Glasgow) – 1918 (Bundaberg)

A blue line to the westward that surely is not cloud;
A green tinge in the waters; a clamorous bird-crowd;
Then far-off foamy edges, and hill-tops timber fringed;
And, perched aloft, a light-house, o'er grey cliffs golden-tinged.

O watchers leaning landward, know ye of nothing more?
And hear ye but the sea-birds? and see ye but the shore?
Nay, look awhile, and listen who bids you welcome there;
The great seas kiss her sandals, the high stars gem her hair!
Behold her in the gateway! high-held in either hand
A blazing beacon, lighted to lead you to the land.

“Now welcome, kindly welcome, who come to me for cheer!
My forts may frown on others, but ye have nought to fear.
The cannon's flash and thunder are all for joy to-day,
No murmurs meet your coming, none wish to bar your way.”

O, later called to labour, shall we who toiled at morn
Remember, as against you, the heat and burthen borne?
No, verily, we shall not! We pray the labourer's Lord
May give you after-comers a full day's full reward.

Now fear not, fair-haired maiden, for gladness waits thee here,
As by thy father's fireside in bygone days and dear.

Thy troubled brow, O matron, beneath its silvering hair,
Shall gain no fresher furrows, shall lose its look of care;
No longer for thy household the winter need'st thou dread,
Nor, fearing for to-morrow, shalt stint the children's bread.

And thou, a “mother's darling,” on those young locks of thine
What midnight rains shall batter, what tropic suns shall shine!
Thy tender hands, toil-hardened, unwonted tools shall wield,
Shall fell the columned forest, shall till the furrowed field.
Yet, when at England's fireside her olden tales are told,
Perchance, 'mid tearful silence, one from the land of gold.
Shall tell a brave new story, of want, and work, and care,
Of trial and of triumph, to touch the coldest there!

Now enter ye a haven your fathers have not known;
Now dwell ye in a country that once was not your own.
Part of the New World's army, the pioneers, are ye;
For whom there waits, ungathered, the wealth of earth and sea!
No need of “fiery baptism,” no blood, no tears to flow,
Ah, legions of the Caesars, had you but conquered so!
Ah, Vikings in Valhalla our fathers dead and gone
Could you have made such landing such golden shores upon!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Mary Hannay Foott

Mary Hannay Foott 26 September 1846 12 October 1918 was an Australian poet and editor who is best remembered for the poem Where the pelican builds more…

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