Launceston 1806-1906 by John Bufton

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How shall I sing to suit thy worth,
   O city fair, set by the stream?
   For thou art dear beyond my dream,
Thou peaceful port that gave me birth.

Forth have they sped to many lands --
   Thy sturdy sons, thy daughters fair;
   But thou didst haunt them everywhere,
With all the charm that "Home" demands.

Around the fold the circling hills,
   And in the distance sings the sea,
   How Memory bears it back to me --
The sounding shore, the laughing rills!

In fancy now, removed afar --
   For widening years do lie between
   My home and me -- youth's vision keen
Peers through the Past as some bright star.   

Oh, who may sing the joys of youth,
   Or tell, in any form of words,
   Of dewy dawns, of singing birds,
The budding love, the quest of Truth?

For ever brighter shone the light
   That led the eager mind of man,
   And swifter always Fancy ran
Than bard or minstrel could recite.

For slow is speech, and music fails
   To tell the heart's dear dreams divine;
   O were a painter's magic mine!
O winds of heaven, come fill my sails!

And let my heart steer as it sings,
   So shall I make the port I seek,
   And as I love so may I speak,
Borne by the Muse on heavenly wings.

And this, the seeking of my heart:
   That I a worthy song might raise.
   My love is great, if poor my praise;
Thy help, O heavenly Muse, impart!

I, who have strayed by stream and fell
   In classic climes, by cities old;
   But when their glories all are told
Thou still hast power to weave thy spell.

Yea, I have care alone for this:
   To sing of thee, my early home,
   How far so e'er my feet may roam
With note as dear as Memory is.

A hundred strenuous years have fled,
   And thou hast risen, a city fair,
   In wealth of trade, ill treasure rare,
Memorial to thy saintly dead.

Peace to the sturdy pioneers
   Who built and battled as of old,
   When Romulus and Remus bold
Their city planned far down the years.

I lay a wreath upon their dust,
   And pray that we who lift their load
   May keep the pace and keep the road
They set us as a sacred trust.

The Empire called thy sons one day,
   Nor did the Sovereign ask in vain;
   They gave themselves to death or pain;
They faced the foe; they said their say.

The century's dewy dawn had come,
   With sound of battle waged afar;
   It brought some "moaning of the bar,"
As if of wounded coming home.

They came to kiss a mother's brow,
   Like warrior angels in their flight;
   With hearts aglow, with footsteps light,
Forth went they all. -- Peace to them now!

Past are those pangs, but deathless still
   The glory and the sorrow stays;
   How glowed and burned those fiery days!
Our will was as the nation's will!

And we are purer for the pain,
   And we are firmer for the fire;
   No nobler end was their desire,
Though some did sleep, and some were slain.

We welcomed those who came again
   As worthy of our British stock;
   Firm stood they in the battle's shock
Beside the Empire's valiant men.

We honoured them -- the silent band,
   Beside whose grave their comrades knelt;
   Who heard the call upon the veldt
As guardians of the motherland.

The silent stars above them sweep,
   And nightly watch our honoured braves.
   Roll on, ye stars! Guard well their graves!
We gave them up; we do not weep.

Twin city of this beauteous isle
   May North and South march side by side,
   One by the stream, one by the tide!
On thee, on her, may Fortune smile!

First published in The Examiner (Launceston), 24 April 1907

Author: John Bufton (1858-1911) was born in Wales and arrived in Tasmania in 1891.  He served as a Congregational minister there until he moved to Bunbury in Western Australia around 1897.  He returned to Dunalley in Tasmania soon afterwards suffering from ill-health.  He had an interest in Australian botany and wrote an account of the Boer War, Tasmanians in the Transvaal War (1905). He died in Hobart in 1911.

Author reference sites: Austlit

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on April 24, 2012 8:46 AM.

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