The Young Queen


(The Commonwealth of Australia
inaugurated New Year’s Day 1901)

Her hand was still on her sword-hilt, the spur was still on her heel,
She had not cast her harness of grey, war-dinted steel;
High on her red-splashed charger, beautiful, bold, and browned,
Bright-eyed out of the battle, the Young Queen rode to be crowned.

She came to the Old Queen’s presence, in the Hall of Our Thousand Years—
In the Hall of the Five Free Nations that are peers among their peers:
Royal she gave the greeting, loyal she bowed the head,
Crying—“Crown me, my Mother!” And the Old Queen rose and said:—

“How can I crown thee further? I know whose standard flies
Where the clean surge takes the Leeuwin or the coral barriers rise.
Blood of our foes on thy bridle, and speech of our friends in thy mouth—
How can I crown thee further, O Queen of the Sovereign South?

“Let the Five Free Nations witness!” But the Young Queen answered swift:—
“It shall be crown of Our crowning to hold Our crown for a gift.
In. the days when Our folk were feeble thy sword made sure Our lands:
Wherefore We come in power to take Our crown at thy hands.”

And the Old Queen raised and kissed her, and the jealous circlet prest,
Roped with the pearls of the Northland and red with the gold of the West,
Lit with her land’s own opals, levin-hearted, alive,
And the Five-starred Cross above them, for sign of the Nations Five.

So it was done in the Presence—in the Hall of Our Thousand Years,
In the face of the Five Free Nations that have no peer but their peers;
And the Young Queen out of the Southland kneeled down at the Old Queen’s knee,
And asked for a mother’s blessing on the excellent years to be.

And the Old Queen stooped in the stillness where the jewelled head drooped low:—
“Daughter no more but Sister, and doubly Daughter so—
Mother of many princes—and child of the child I bore,
What good thing shall I wish thee that I have not wished before?

“Shall I give thee delight in dominion—mere pride of thy setting forth?
Nay, we be women together—we know what that lust is worth.
Peace in thy utmost borders, and strength on a road untrod?
These are dealt or diminished at the secret will of God.

“I have swayed troublous councils, I am wise in terrible things;
Father and son and grandson, I have known the hearts of the Kings.
Shall I give thee my sleepless wisdom, or the gift all wisdom above?
Ay, we be women together—I give thee thy people’s love:

“Tempered, august, abiding, reluctant of prayers or vows,
Eager in face of peril as thine for thy mother’s house.
God requite thee, my Sister, through the excellent years to be,
And make thy people to love thee as thou hast loved me!”

Choose another poem