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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 69

Zealandia: A Song of Five Decades

page 45

Zealandia: A Song of Five Decades.

There's a mighty tone moves round us, uncontrollable, supreme,
Folding all things in the euphony of its compelling theme
Whence its grandeur and completeness? its sublime, majestic grace?
Why surroundeth it with sweetness our bright island dwelling-place?

Tis the keynote, full, resistless, for an anthem of the free!
For a hymn of loud thanksgiving to the glorious One in Three!
For the song of fifty Summers, fifty Winters, fifty Springs,
And of fifty Autumns laden with the riches Nature brings;
For the the stately march of minstrels, bearing each his gifted lyre,
Struck by magic from a flame of inextinguishable fire,
For the patriot's kindling paeans, full of holiest desire;
Yea, for South's sublimest music, sung in poet's noblest lays,
Clothed in self-created beauty—great with honour, love, and praise;
For the lordly swell of voices 'mid these fair isles of the sea—
The triumphal hallelujahs of their splendid Jubilee.

Five decades! how swiftly compassed! like to shadows flit away!
For almost a mortal's life-span barely sums a nation's day!
'Twas a day of stern vicissitudes-now joyous, now forlorn—
Mantled oft in thund'rous midnight-soon again like glorious morn;
Full of pulsings, and life-breathings, strangely shot with joy and pain,
Stained with War's blood-crimsoned girdle, graced with beauteous Peace again.
And 'tis Peace's kind autocracy—a gentle sceptre's sway—
That our hearts, O fair Zealandia, can glory i to-day!
Hark! in strains of gath'ring grandeur from the far exultant North,
And from sturdier South, in loud response, one Amen cometh forth!
Full of potency in childhood, Princess Royal of the Sea
Now as Southern Queen we crown thee-thus proclaim thy Jubilee!

Swift as sky's far-flashing signals, borne on lightning's fiery wings,
Down the range of ten times five of years, come Hist'ry's foremost things;
Deeds and words alike immortal, from the hands and lips of men,
Who have built the stirring city, who have tracked the wildest glen;
And our souls are fed to fulness with the ceaseless sound of years,
Voiced in mighty spoken tribute to our dauntless pioneers!

Stand we thus upon our vantage, gazing back along the past,
Lauding those heroic spirits who were faithful to the last—
Sires and grandsires—queenly mothers—royal souls of days agone—
Dead, yet living in a ripened fame the present shines upon.
Not an empty panegyric is the honour that we pay—
'Tis a grateful nation's homage in our Jubilee to-day!
To such fitly modelled yeomen be our sterling praises sung,
For their prowess when the century, and they with it, were young!
Nor alone of Anglo-Saxon speaks the deep, soul-moving tone,
For the dusky Maori has his seat on Manhood's broad'ning throne;
Full of courage as a foeman, large of nature as a friend—
Once an ally, true and steadfast—uncorrupted to the end.
Great and brave departed spirits! now the voices of the free
Chant above thy honoured sepulchres a grateful Jubilee!

Count we quick ten fertile lustrums, whose heroic days are gone,
Ripe with each sun-mantled noontide which upon their progress shone;
But our amplest mem'ry faileth, and our tongues are stricken dumb,
At the marvels they have brought us, and their deeds' untotalled sum,
From the days when pious Marsden came, and Christian message bare,
And in God's vast open Temple prayed his soft proemial prayer,
To the cogent times when Wakefield, and his stern intrepid band,
Strode across the ocean wilderness to this new Goshen land;
From the rule of gallant Hobson, and the potent spell of Grey,
To the sway of Drummond Jervois and the Onslows of to-day!
Gladsome task indeed is ours this day to rise o'er paltry blame,
To rejoice in better things and ways, to keep in worthy fame
All that hist'ry yields of goodness—all that noblest is and best.
In the lives whose toil is ended, who in slumb'ring greatness rest,
Or the few in age surviving, whose white, venerable brows
Tell of days and vigour extra kindly Providence allows.

O the hands, the hearts, the bold emprise, the valour of the past!
O the muscle, mind, and chivalry which made and held us fast!
O the penetrating searchings, and the keenly-whetted glance,
Whose prophetic sight lit pathways for a nation to advance!
The indomitable will which tamed the mountain's frowning brow,
And then pierced its stubborn sides, through which the fire steed plunges now!
And the might which high erect upflung its columns in the flood,
Quickly spanned the yawning breaches with Goliaths of the wood,
Till, 'mid vict'ry's rending cheers, complete, a splendid structure stood!
Sound we, too, the praise of tireless arms, stript to naked strength,
While their gleaming axes echoed through the fore t's breadth and length,
And like iron besoms swept the breast of undulating miles,
Where our teeming cities flourish, and uprear their solid piles—
Merchant-mansions, halls of knowledge, sacred fanes with dome and spire
page 46 Tell their brightest tale of progress, and a people's high desire;
While the boom of heating furnace, and the hiss and roar of steam,
Break the silence of the morning, rouse the sluggard from his dream;
And the merry chink of anvil, and the drone of busy mill,
Gird the day with sounding triumph from the valley and the hill!
But our vision, still ambitious, seeking larger vantage ground,
Scans the nation's vast estate, untouched by city's outmost bound;
Sees the fire fed steed of mighty strength, and vap'rous, flaming mane.
With his rushing din of trailing wheels, speed o'er the quiv'ring plain—
Where unsullied leagues all-forth-ward spread their fatness to the morn,
And prolific nature panteth 'neath the burden of her corn—
Where the herds with lazy carelessness their fleshy wealth increase,
And the sheep's profuser tresses tell the richness of her fleece;
And the many sounds come near us from the distant swarming mine,
When the toilers count their treasures, and behold their trophies shine.
Multisonous hymns of Industry! loud may your strains uprise,
Like a thousand rolling harmonies returning through the skies,
To Creation's wondrous Centre—God—august, supreme, sublime—
Who Himself made labour sacred in the infantide of Time!
Tell we, too, of lightnings conquered, and the noiseless message sped
Over mountains' rugged shoulders, through the deep sen's chartless bed;
Of the tameless waste of waters sloping forth to east and west,
Speeding hither lordly prows across its broad, majestic breast,
From the older northern portals, where the keener Winter blows,
To this newer, brighter haven, where the light of Freedom glows;
Where perennial founts of healing play, in matchless beauty still.
And the panoply of grandeur clothes each high, sky-cleaving hill;
Where the opened arms of Commerce welcome ev'ry ocean keel,
And the mighty bonds of Empire prove the unity we feel.
Heralds these of Federation, telling of the coming sway—
Twilight yearnings for the sunrise, and the ampler blaze of day!
Courage, trembling patriot brothers! tread each forward footstep sure!
Building up a great Dominion, make its bulwarks Stand secure!
Yea, our march is ever onward, and the Future's purple morn
Bids us rise to greater greatness—scions so benignly born—
Children from a splendid ancestry—a grand parental tree—
Offspring worthy of our birthright may we prove ourselves to be,
Full of dignity in impulse as our world of progress moves,
With its urgent wheels impatient of our dead forefathers' grooves.
Let us work with constant earnestness, with heart, and voice, and pen,
To erect a peerless model for a kindly race of men.
Ever higher our ambition, be our glory none the less,
In the holy flame which ever lights the feet of righteousness—
In the love that makes a nation great—the truth which makes it free—
Be it these which tune our souls to sing our song of Jubilee!

Lo! again we hear a sighing round the ramparts of the isles,
Like a mother's am'rous murm'ring when her sinless infant smiles;
But these faint uncertain tremors from the borders of the sea
Centre vigour in their sweetness as they steal athwart the lea;
And the softness mellows fuller, and the faintness waxes strong—
Faster, clearer, louder gathereth this Southern Ocean song!
Through the aisles of untrod forests, on the wings of rushing wind,
'Mid the roar of avalanches, whose incessant thunders grind—
Through the flood of merging waters, sped from dizzy foaming falls
Sheer adown to deep'ning caverns, and abysmal gloomy halls—
Swift anon up mounting spurs, the song soars round each glist'ning spire,
Knitting distant lonesome peaks as one, with happy golden wire,
Strung aloft o'er dreaminess of vale, where list'ning lakelet lies,
Peering ever into lustrous depths of cloudless sapphire skies!
Flashing cannons loudly bellow! thousand trumpets blare and bray!
Clanging bells rejoice! and leaping fires in festal frolic play!
And in every heart is earnestness and happiness to-day!

Thus the isles hold highest festival, and sound with righteous pride,
Anthems great with praise and gratitude, and full as ocean's tide.
Yea, the pent-up voice of fifty years—it swelleth—swelleth still—
Closes round us, in us, o'er us, dominating ev'ry will—
Thrilling ev'ry soul that moveth on the mountain and the plain—
Universal, irresistible, tumultuous refrain!

Make our joy, O God, Thy glory, and Thy smile our recompense;
Make our hiding-place Thyself alone, throned in Omnipotence;
Make Thy Fatherhood our Brotherhood; Thy Love our charter long;
And our guerdon Thy bright Afterland of service and of song!
Great Jehovah! God of Goodness! Thus our prayer flows forth to Thee!
Look in gracious benediction down upon our Jubilee!

S. Clarke Johnson.