The Federal City

A poem by Henry Lawson

Oh! the folly, the waste, and the pity! Oh, the time that is flung behind!
They are seeking a site for a city, whose eyes shall be always blind,
Whose love for their ease grows greater, and whose care for their country less,
They are seeking a site for a city, a City of Selfishness.

In ignorance, deafness, blindness, in the cities by the sea,
With waste of time and of money, and with local jealousy;
With Anti-Federal envy, and personal paltriness,
They are seeking a site for a city, while Australia moans in distress.

By the coast with the people crowding, where Australia’s danger lies,
By the hills and the clear, cool rivers, and under the softer skies,
Where the fat shall not melt, and the ranter grow cool in the fresh’ning breeze,
And the dwellers drivel in comfort and the boodlers swindle at ease.

They are seeking a site for a city in the beauty spots of the land,
While I see so plainly, my children, where the Federal towers should stand!
Where the heart of Australia beats strongest and highest in desert air.
Make a site for a Federal City, and build you your capital there!

Where the crowd should be drawn from the coast line to the great bush that cradled the race,
Where the bush might be armed and directed should the seaboard be lost for a space;
Where the waste should be watered and gardened, in the drought-land of Never Despair,
There build you your Federal City, and make you a paradise there.

It shall be a world-wide object-lesson; it shall stand while a bushman is true,
And I tell you the bushmen will build it to show what a nation can do;
And there shall Australia sit queenly, and there shall her children be schooled,
For, I say, from the heart of Australia shall the whole of Australia be ruled.

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