The Home-Bound Ship by Henry Parkes

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Morn brightened into rich and cloudless day,
And beauty, resting full on earth and heaven,
Seemed as just breathed from the Creator's love.
The gallant vessel lay, with look of pride,
As conscious that the hour, at last, was come
For her glad journey back to England, bearing
The home sick homeward; that sad farewell looks,
From many a jut and point along the shore,
Would follow, seeking on her poop, for faces
To vanish soon for ever. Hark, eight bells!
And see her "meteor flag," for the last time,
Rise in the sunlight of this Southern Land
Which, too, bears England's union, floating o'er
The spot where landed first our countrymen.
Now, friends and kindred! take your last farewell,
Press close your beating hearts; nor let false shame
Lock up the tears that flow, to fertilise
The heart which has true love enough for tears.
Now the boat waits for them who go; and ye,
Dwellers in Sydney, who lose friends to-day,
May hold them by the hand no minute longer;
Now, come, and watch their bark go out to sea!
With loud and cheery song, the seamen lift
Her anchor, 'neath the pilot's watchful eye;
Already her loose sails, in white festoons,
Are stirred by the fresh, favorable breeze,
Which breaks in glittering fragments the small waves
Against her trimly-painted sides: and eyes
Are watching for her earliest gentle start
Upon her long, long journey. "Oft she goes"!
The iron keeper has forsook his hold,
And cometh home, with the crew's heightened song,
From his long post of safety in the sea.

Behold yon group upon the tide-left reef
Under the Fort which bears Macquarie's name,
And burlesques England's power, and shames her pride
Yon group, with farewell signals waving white
To passenger who answers, with the same
White symbol of quick, recognising love.
As down the harbour glides the noble ship,
With canvas set, and colours flying gaily,
Those snowy handkerchiefs are waving still,
And still are answered from her starboard quarter,
Till round dark Bradley's wooded head she's lost.
"A pleasant passage to her!" in the words
Of every sailor, bidding an old friend,
When outward bound, farewell- " A pleasant passage
To her;" and may she reach a happy land!

First published in The Weekly Register of Politics, Facts and General Literature, 6 September 1845;
and later in
Geelong Advertiser and Squatter's Advocate, 24 September 1845.

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 September 6, 2011 6:48 AM.

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