— “Mixtumque genus, prolesque biformis.”
Virg. Aen. vi.
Thou Spirit of Australia,
That redeems from utter failure,
From perfect desolation,
And warrants the creation
Of this fifth part of the Earth,
Which would seem an after-birth,
Not conceiv'd in the Beginning
(For GOD bless'd His work at first,
And saw that it was good),
But emerg'd at the first sinning,
When the ground was therefore curst; —
And hence this barren wood!
Tho' at first sight we should say,
In thy nature that there may
Contradiction be involv'd,
Yet, like discord well resolv'd,
It is quickly harmoniz'd.
Sphynx or mermaid realiz'd,
Or centaur unfabulous,
Would scarce be more prodigious,
Or Pegasus poetical,
Or hippogriff — chimeras all!
But, what Nature would compile,
Nature knows to reconcile;
And Wisdom, ever at her side,
Of all her children's justified.
She had made the squirrel fragile;
She had made the bounding hart;
But a third so strong and agile
Was beyond ev'n Nature's art;
So she joind the former two
In thee, Kangaroo!
To describe thee, it is hard:
Converse of the camélopard,
Which beginneth camel-wise,
But endeth of the panther size,
Thy fore half, it would appear,
Had belong'd to some “small deer,”
Such as liveth in a tree;
By thy hinder, thou should'st be
A large animal of chace,
Bounding o'er the forest's space; —
Join'd by some divine mistake,
None but Nature's hand can make —
Nature, in her wisdom's play,
On Creation's holiday.
For howsoe'er anomalous,
Thou yet art not incongruous,
Repugnant or preposterous.
More graceful or ethereal,
Was never follow'd by the hound,
With fifty steps to thy one bound.
Thou can'st not be amended: no;
Be as thou art; thou best art so.
When sooty swans are once more rare,
And duck-moles1 the Museum's care,
Be still the glory of this land,
Happiest Work of finest Hand!
The cygnus niger of Juvenal is no rara avis in Australia; and time has here given ample proof of the ornythorinchus paradoxus.