A Vision Splendid

Victor James Daley 1858 – 1905

Half waking and half dreaming,
  While starry lamps hung low
I saw a vision splendid
  Upon the darkness glow.

The Capital Australian,
  With waving banners plumed -
A shining flower of marble -
  Magnificently bloomed.

Beside a snow-fed river
  'Twas built in fashion rare -
Upon a lofty mountain,
  All in a valley fair.

The stately ships were sailing,
  Like brides with flowing trains,
To seek its secret harbor
  Amidst Australian plains.

And all around it flourished
  Luxuriantly free,
The giant gum and mangrove,
  The crimson desert-pea.

And I beheld a building
  That made a stately show -
The National Australian
  Head Poetry Bureau.

I gazed upon that Building
  With trembling joy aghast;
The long-felt want of ages
  Was filled (I thought) at last.

No more the Native Poet
  Need wildly beat his head
For lofty lyric measures
  To buy him beer and bed.

Now he would lodge right nobly
  And sleep serene, secure,
All in a chamber filled with
  Adhesive furniture.

For never foot of Bailiff
  Should pass his threshold o'er,
And never knock of landlord
  Sound direful on his door.

The State should also aid him
  To build his lofty rhyme
On lordly eggs-and-bacon,
  And sausages sublime.

And he should drink no longer
  Cheap beer at common bar,
But royal wine of Wunghnu
  At two-and-nine the jar.

It was a vision splendid,
  And brighter still did grow
When I was made the Chief of
  The Poetry Bureau.

They clad me all in purple,
  They hung me with festoons,
My singing-robes were spangled
  With aluminium moons.

And, as a sign of genius
  Above the common kind,
A wreath of gilded laurel
  Around my hat they twined.

They also gave me power to
  The grain sift from the chaff,
And choose at my large pleasure
  My own poetic staff.

Then straightaway I appointed
  To chant by day and night,
The brilliant young Australian
  Who sang 'The Land of Light.'

I also gave in fashion
  Hilariously free,
The Girl and Horse Department
  In charge of Ogilvie.

And on the roof-ridge Brady
  Sang salt-junk chanties great
To cheer the stout sea-lawyers
  Who sail the Ship of State.

And tender-hearted Lawson
  Sang everybody's wrongs;
And Brennan, in the basement,
  Crooned weird, symbolic songs.

And on the throne beside me,
  Above the common din,
He sang his Songs of Beauty,
  My friend, the poet Quinn.

Our own Australian artists
  Made beautiful its halls -
The mighty steeds of Mahony
  Pranced proudly on the walls.

Tom Roberts, he was there, too,
  With painted portraits fine
Of men of light and leading -
  Me, and some friends of mine.

And Souter's Leering Lady,
  'Neath hat and over fan,
With Souter's cat was ogling
  His check-clothed gentleman.

And Fischer, Ashton, Lister,
  With beetling genius rife -
Pardieu! I was their Patron,
  And set them up for life.

And from each dusky corner,
  In petrified new birth,
Glared busts of Me and Barton,
  By Nelson Illingworth.

And nine fair Muses dwelt there,
  With board and lodging free;
Six by the States were chosen,
  And I selected three.

And there we turned out blithely
  Australian poems sound,
To sell in lengths like carpet,
  And also by the pound.

For Paddy Quinn, the Statesman,
  Had made a law which said
That native authors only
  On pain of death be read.

O, brother bards, I grieve that
  Good dreams do not come true;
You see how very nobly
  I would have done to you!

But, ah! the vision vanished,
  And took away in tow
The National Australian
  Head Poetry Bureau.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011


Victor James Daley

Victor James William Patrick Daley 5 September 1858 29 December 1905 was an Australian poet and journalist more…

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"A Vision Splendid" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 13 Aug. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/37481/a-vision-splendid>.

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