(The Commonwealth of Australia
inaugurated New Year’s Day 1901)
Notes by Mary Hamer
... Some of us may have been unaware to what perfection those fruits have been already matured in the virgin soil of Australia, but if there was surprise in any quarter it was pleasurable surprise, The whole country felt a thrill of pride as the work of her sons was revealed to her, and revealed to her at a time when the ties between her and them had been newly consecrated by common effort and by common sacrifice in a righteous cause. The Times, October 4th 1900.The phrase ‘The Five Nations’, which became the title of the collection is taken from this poem. Like “Our Lady of the Snows” it marks a milestone in the changing relations between England and its white colonies. To a modern reader, however, both these poems, with their sub-Arthurian fantasies of heroic queens, may seem forced and unconvincing, inflated by an emotion which has not been accurately identified.