A Tasmanian Toast by Marie E J. Pitt

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Australia sings her overland
   "From Murray back to Bourke,"
Her three-mile tracks, her sun and sand
   Her men that do the work --
And here's to them --- fill high the glass! --
   Who braved all winds that blow,
Tramping through the button-grass --
   Thirty years ago!

They left the flock to face the frown,
   The grip of foemen strange,
They fled the fleshpots of the town
   To front the iron range;
Old Bischoff saw their camp-fires pass,
   Mount Lyell saw them glow,
Tramping through the button-grass --
   Thirty years ago!

From Emu Bay to Williamsford,
   From Strahan unto Dumdas,
They won the way from flood and ford,
   They won the jagged pass,
Above, the pine and sassafras,
   Beneath, the drifted snow,
The men that trumped the button-grass --
   Thirty years ago!

Where red their outpost camp-fires roared
   To forest legions thinned,
The axe flung, like a levin sword,
   Its challenge down the wind;
They saw the dark pine phalanx pass,
   The myrtle host lie low,
The men that tramped the button-grass --
   Thirty years ago! --

From out their dreams the cities rose
   As still from hill heads grey
The first red flush of morning grows
   Into the lord of day.
Yes, here's to them, fill high the glass
   To Mount Read Esquimaux
And all that tramped the button-grass ---
   Thirty years ago! --

First published in The Bulletin, 19 March 1903;
and later in
Selected Poems of Marie E.J. Pitt by Marie E.J. Pitt, 1944;
Effects of Light: the Poetry of Tasmania edited by Vivian Smith and Margaret Scott, 1985;
River of Verse: A Tasmanian Journey 1800-2004 edited by Helen Gee, 2004; and
Our Country: Classic Australian Poetry: From the Colonial Ballads to Paterson & Lawson edited by Michael Cook, 2004.

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 March 19, 2012 9:31 AM.

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