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Lola Ridge

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On Zelanda

       Afar in the mists of the future,
            A shadowy nation I see,
       Her cities are girded by forests,
            Her shores are caressed by the sea.
“Nation, your watchword!” the north winds cry;
The waves lashing the shore, and the forests reply
What the south wind repeats – half a song half a sigh –
                        On Zelanda!

       ‘Tis echoed by many voices,
            Murmured and tossed in the trees;
       ‘Till it reaches the frozen ranges,
            Borne on the dizzy breeze.
Daughter of Ocean! ’tis sighed o’er their snow!
‘Tis sung by the cataracts crashing below!
Listen, chanting and rushing, then muttering low –
                        On Zelanda!

       “Nation, what is your destiny?”
            The winds of the north sea say.
       A deep voice replies from the ocean,
            And echoes and rolls away.
“When Heaven commanded, ‘Arise and be
Like a flower, from the shell-strewn depths of me,’
Did a nation rise, and my waves proclaimed her free –
                        On Zelanda!

       “The salt spray glittered over her,
            Like dew in the morning sun;
       The dripping seaweed hung around her,
            Like a mermaid’s hair undone.
As she lay, new born, on my bosom wild,
The winds drew round, the wondring stars looked down and smiled,
And rain fell from the clouds – baptised the ocean’s child

       “Now the great sun cleaves the vapour,
            On her hillsides hanging low;
       White glimmer her towering mountains
            With ages of untrod snow;
Sun that sees her now lights her countless streams,
Sun that roams the universe! Ask thy wandering beams
Saw they e’er a land in their starward ranging dreams
                        Like Zelanda?

       “And would ye know her destiny?
            Winds of the cold north star
       Blow back to your home in the Arctic,
            For ye cannot rule so far.
No! they cannot rule where the free south breeze
Sweeps thy rolling forests, bends their lofty trees;
Child of the great Pacific, star of the southern seas,
                        On Zelanda!

       “Her sons shall toil at that furnace,
            Where the fuel is thoughts and deeds,
       And follow the heroes of ages,
            Where the light of their glory leads.
Injustice shall fall by the swords of the brave.
With the fetters of class in an honourless grave;
O’er the ruins, let Freedom and Brotherhood wave –
                        On Zelanda!

       “When tottering empires falter,
            And monarchs and thrones are a name;
       The star of our country shall brighten,
            Tho’ others are pale in their wane.
Zelanda – guarded by the waves of me –
Fame, and Freedom and Peace, shall your destiny be;
On, on, for the future; the voice of the free!
                        On Zelanda!”


 ‘On Zelanda,’ Canterbury Times 25 Aug 1892: 33. Lola.
See also ‘On Zelandia,’ Verses 1905: 31-32.

Last updated 27 May, 2013