HERE, where the surges of a world of sea
Break on our bastioned walls with league-long sweep,
Four fair young queens their lonely splendour keep,
Each in a city throned. The first is she
Whose face is arrogant with empery;
Her throne from out the wounded hill-side steep
Is rudely fashioned, and beneath her creep
The narrow streets; and, stretching broad and free,
Like a green-waving meadow, lies the bay,
With blossom-sails and flower-wavelots flecked.
Elate she stands; her brown and windblown hair
Haloes a face with virgin freshness fair,
As she receives, exuberant, erect,
The stubborn homage that her sisters pay.
And one is fair and winsome, and her face
Is strung with winter's kisses, and is yet
With winter's tears of parting sorrow wet;
And all her figure speaks of bonny grace.
High on the circling hills her seat has place,
Within a bower of the green bush set;
And 'neath her feet the city slopes—a net
Of broad-büilt streets and green-girt garden space.
Above her high the suburbs climb to crown
Her city's battlements; and in her thrall
Lie sleeping fiords, and forests call her queen.
About her waist she winds a belt of green,
And on her gleaming city looking down,
She hears the Siren South for ever call.
And one within a level city lies;
To whose tree-shaded streets and squares succeed;
A vista of white roads and bordering meads,
Until each suburb in the great plain dies.
The clustering spires to crown her fair head rise,
And for a girdle round her form she leads
The Avon, green with waving river-weeds
And swept with swaying willows. And her eyes
Are quiet with a student's reverie;
And in the hair that clouds her dreaming face
There lurks the fragrance of some older place,
And memories awake to die again,
As, confident and careless, glad and sorrow-free
She waits, queen of the margeless golden plain.
Set all about with walls, the last fair queen
Over a tropic city holds her sway;
Her throne on sleeping Eden, whence through grey
And red-strewn roads and gleaming gardens green
The city wanders on, and seems to lean
To bathe her beauty in the cool, clear bay,
That out past isle and islet winds its way
To the wide ocean. In her hair a sheen
Of sunlight lives; her face is sweetly pale—
A queen who seems too young and maidenly,
Her beauty all too delicate and frail,
To hold a sway imperious. But forth
From deep, dark eyes, that dreaming seem to be,
There shine the strength and passion of the North.