An Ode to Terrible Beauty

it will need some polishing, but here's a poem for my beloved Australia 

I love a sunburnt country,
this land, big island red
spread from centre north
and west, east and south
to vineyard's edge, to golden
sands and green blue grey
blue sea -
                 to tangled green
of forest and carpet green
of field, I love this land,
this great big island,
its beauty, and yes, its terror.

From spiders in the corners, snakes
in unmown grass, to sting
rays, jelly fish and sharks -
         Fires and floods,
cyclones and droughts -
yes, terror lives here too.

And the sun pierces the stark blue sky
with no concern for this brown land's
inhabitants -
we pant, we yearn, we thirst for water.
We thirst for more, for kind
concern from one another,
so rare we hardly dare
imagine welcome for the stranger,
recognition of nations here

This sunburnt land, its sun-
kissed occupants, all
I love; for all I hope -
all nations reconciled who here
are represented, all Aussies
mates, not enemies terrified
of one another - there's terror
enough in our land.

Still, I hope, when all seems lost,
for still, and always, I love
this great big island, my home, my

(Sarah Agnew)


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