Ode for Commonwealth Day, 1st January,

by George Essex Evans

Awake! Arise! The wings of dawn
Are beating at the gates of day,
The morning star hath been withdrawn,
The silver vapours melt away.
Rise royally, O sun, and crown
The shoreward billow, streaming white,
The forelands, and the mountains brown,
With crested light;
Flood with soft beams the valleys wide,
The mighty plains, the desert sand,
Till the New Day hath won for bride
This Austral land!
Free-born of nations, virgin white,
Not won by blood, nor ringed with steel.
Thy throne is on a loftier height,
Deep-rooted in the commonweal.
O thou, for whom the strong have wrought,
And poets sung with souls aflame,
Born of long hope and patient thought,
A mighty name—
We pledge thee faith that shall not swerve,
Our land, our lady, breathing high
The thought that makes it love to serve,
And life to die!
Now are thy maidens linked in love,
Who erst have striven for pride of place;
Lifted all meaner thoughts above
They greet thee, one in heart and race;
She, in whose sunlit coves of peace
The navies of the world may rest,
And bear her wealth of snowy fleece
Northward and west.
And she, whose corn and rock-hewn gold
Built that Queen City of the South,
Where the lone billow swept of old
Her harbour-mouth.
Come, too, thou Sun-maid, in whose veins
For ever burns the tropic fire
Whose cattle roam a thousand plains,
Come, with thy gold and pearls for tire;
And that sweet Harvester who twines
The tender vine and binds the sheaf;
And she, the Western Queen, who mines
The desert reef;
And thou, against whose flowery throne
And orchards green the wave is hurled;
Australia claims you; ye are one
Before the world.
Crown her—most worthy to be praised—
With eyes uplifted to the morn;
For, on this day, a flag is raised,
A triumph won, a nation born;
And ye, vast armies of the dead,
From mine and city, plain and sea,
Who fought and dared, who toiled and bled
That this might be,
Draw round us in this hour of fate—
This golden harvest of thy hand—
With unseen lips, O consecrate
And bless the land!
Eternal power, benign, supreme,
Who weigh'st the nations upon earth;
Without whose aid the empire-dream
And pride of states is nothing worth,
From shameless speech, and vengeful deed,
From licence veiled in Freedom's name,
From greed of gold, and scorn of creed,
Guard Thou our fame!
In stress of days that yet may be,
When hope shall rest upon the sword,
In welfare and adversity,
Be with us, Lord!