Thursday, July 02, 2009

Australia by A.D. Hope

A nation of trees, drab green and desolate grey
in the field uniform of modern wars,
darkens her hills: those endless outstretched paws
of sphinx demolished or stone lion worn away.

They call her a young country but they lie
she is the last of lands, the emptiest,
a woman beyond her change of life, a breast
still tender, but within the womb is dry.

She has no gods, no songs, no history:
the emotions and superstitions of younger lands,
her rivers of water drown among inland seas;
only the river of her stupidity

floods her monotonous tribes from Cairns to Perth.
In them at last those ultimate men arrive
who will not boast “we live” but “we survive”:
a type that will inhabit the dying earth.

And her five cities, like five teeming sores
each drains her: a vast parasite robber state
where second-hand Europeans pullulate
timidly on the edge of alien shores.

Yet there are some like me turn gladly home
from the lush jungle of modern thought, to find
the Arabian desert of the human mind;
hoping, if still from the deserts prophets come,

such savage and scarlet as no green hills dare
springs in this waste, some spirit which escapes
the learned doubt, the chatter of cultured apes
which is called civilization over there.

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