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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Oceanica: Vol. XXXI. 1876–79.

Introductory to Australasia

Western Australia

By John Boyle O’Reilly (1884–1890)

O BEAUTEOUS Southland! land of yellow air,

That hangeth o’er thee slumbering, and doth hold

The moveless foliage of thy valleys fair

And wooded hills, like aureole of gold.

O thou, discovered ere the fitting time,

Ere Nature in completion turned thee forth!

Ere aught was finished but thy peerless clime,

Thy virgin breath allured the amorous North.

O land, God made thee wondrous to the eye!

But his sweet singers thou hast never heard;

He left thee, meaning to come by and by,

And give rich voice to every bright-winged bird.

He painted with fresh hues thy myriad flowers,

But left them scentless: ah! their woful dole,

Like sad reproach of their Creator’s powers,

To make so sweet fair bodies, void of soul.

He gave thee trees of odorous precious wood,

But midst them all bloomed not one tree of fruit;

He looked, but said not that his work was good,

When leaving thee all perfumeless and mute.

He blessed thy flowers with honey: every bell

Looks earthward, sunward, with a yearning wist;

But no bee-lover ever notes the swell

Of hearts, like lips, a-hungering to be kist.

O strange land, thou art virgin! thou art more

Than fig-tree barren! Would that I could paint

For others’ eyes the glory of the shore

Where last I saw thee; but the senses faint

In soft delicious dreaming when they drain

Thy wine of color. Virgin fair thou art,

All sweetly fertile, waiting with soft pain

The spouse who comes to wake thy sleeping heart.