Song of Australia

(Words Carleton, Music Linger)
Oodlawirra School, February 1938

The words decayed
before they reached the road – a road that ran
where phone-poles picketed the distance on
through whipstick fringed by saltbush and away
to somewhere south and greener where our song
of rosy light on knolls made sense – a land
we’d seen in Adelaide Readers. Here at home
the sun was real and nearer and the light
had eight bleak,
desiccating hours to run. Three terms to go
to where another summer waited and each week
we’d sing of sunny plains and forest heights –

– where banners waved
from wind-blown slopes of woodlands. Here in wind
that lifted grit and cauterised the sky
Sir waved us through the final lines that praised
a place of azure bright and mountain sides,
where nature’s hidden minstrelsy flowed in
from steeps to sandy strands and girdling seas –
somewhere in another country. Here, near
sunlit sand
that drifted in and buried fences we
stood circled by identical horizons and
acclaimed a land we’d read about last year.

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