Sunrise From Bourke's Statue by Henry Parkes

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A youth rein'd in his graceful steed
   On Bourke's proud-statued hill,
And bent his eye, with passionate heed,
   Where day was breaking still;
He watch'd the glorifying gleams
   Sent through the cloud-shapes grand,
And gazed until the god all beams
   Burst on his native land.

And like a god, indeed, he rose,
   That bright Australian sun,
Swift through the gorgeous phantom shows,
   Which flamed, -- are changed, -- are gone,--
Like battle-pomps of many a legion
   When first their bright ranks close;
Or burning city in a region
   Of dim and distant snows.

Ay, glorious more than dream of things
   All beauty, joy, and power,
Broke forth his world illuminings,
   His splendours of that hour.
And blissful as may ever seem
   This thorny world of ours,
The palaced shore and harbour-stream
   Glow'd in his beamy showers.

The young Australian press'd his steed
   Onward, with throbbing heart:
Wild, thrilling thoughts, which none might read,
   Rich hopes new-born, were part
Henceforth of his impassioned life;
   And ever in his breast,
By day, by night, in calm, in strife,
   That picture seem'd to rest.

That glorious picture he had seen
   From infancy till then;
But it a shining blank had been, --
   No thought of freeborn men
Had flash'd upon his spirit, there
   No prescience of the fame
And greatness of a land so fair
   E'er smote him, as with flame.

But ever hence shall he behold,
   That picture at all hours,
With thoughts more rich than virgin gold,
   With hopes more bright than flowers.
And, 'mid the soul-fret of the mart,
   And in the ball-room's glee,
His country shall be next his heart --
   A nation great and free.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 May 1850;
and later in
The Empire, 4 September 1851; and
Murmurs of the Stream by Henry Parkes, 1857.

Note: the statue referred to above is dedicated to Sir Richard Bourke (1777-1855) who was governor of the colony of New South Wales from 1831-37.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on May 23, 2011 7:59 AM.

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