Trucanini's Dirge* by Robert Adams

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"And the place thereof shall know them no more." - Psalm 103, v 16.
"They make a solitude, and call it peace." - Byron.

Thro' the forests deep the slow rains weep,
   And the leaves fall thick beneath,
As the last lone child of Tasmania's wild
   Lies passing away in death.

The she-oaks wail in the autumn gale,
   And the sad mists shadowy rise
O'er the wild swamp streams, where the curlew screams,
   As the queen of the dead tribes dies!   

The dark tribe's queen! she has suffered, and seen
   Her race perish one by one
In the terrible past, till lonely and last
   The sands of her life are run.

Ere the last ones sink on the silent brink
   Of Eternity's shrouded wave,
As her dark cheek pales, she mournfully wails
   Her dirge o'er her people's grave.

Oh, God of our race! hast thou never a place
   For the one we were spoiled of on earth?
Or shall we be left, of a heaven bereft,
   And our death be as doomed as our birth?

Oh, God of our tribes! we bore the jibes
   And scourge of our tyrants long --
Were hunted and slain, from forest and plain,   
   With never a righted wrong!

With hatchet and flame, they drove the game
   From our happy hunting grounds,
And ravished and slew, and merciless threw
   Our babes to their savage hounds.

Thou saw'st our woes, oh God of our foes!
   And heard'st the awful wails
Of our slaughtered ones, as the lightning guns
   Swept thundering through our vales.

Oh pitiless race of the fierce pale-face!
   Had'st thou a warrant from God?
In the cold grey north, to come south and drive forth
   The peaceable people who trod.

By right of their birth, their own spot of earth?
   Was there not room under Heaven
For thy people and mine, that my people by thine
   To death and destruction were given?

You came unsought, and the gifts you brought
   As Christians from over the wave,
Were greed for land and a merciless hand,
   And the fire drink that digs the grave!

Ere came the White, time's peaceful flight
   Was measured by happy years,
And we lived our life -- with scarcely a strife --
   'Midst friendship which knew no fears!

With never a foe, and scarcely a woe --
   Except for some loved one's death --
We lived by the chase -- a harmless race,
   And gladsome with freedom's breath.

Oh, the happy days! midst the pleasant ways
   Of the wildwoods and the hills,
Where the echoes rang, whilst the wild birds sang
   To the music of rippling rills!

Ah! never again o'er hill and plain
   Shall Trucanini rove,
With the swift firm tread of the wilderness bred,
   Whose home is the forest grove.

By Tamar's banks, where the bearded ranks
   Of the bright green rushes bend,
Shall her bark canoe the swan pursue,
   Or her arm the swift spear send --

No more, no more,-- ah! never once more,
   Shall the feet of my people skim
O'er the tufted grass, up the mountain pass,
   Or the bush tracks greenly dim.

Never, no never! Alas! for ever
   They have faded from river and shore;
Yea! have passed like a dream or a summer-dried stream,
   And their place shall know them no more!

Lay me to rest in the silent breast
   Of the solemn mountain chain,
Beyond all trace of the ruthless race
   By whom my race was slain!

And have remorse on my lonely corse;
   Let ravenous science reap
Nor nerve, nor bone, but leave me alone,
   Unharmed! for my last long sleep. +

My days are past, and I die, the last
   Of the tribes! So let me rest
In my long last home, where they loved to roam,
   Where the hills face the dying west;

And the shadows deep of the mountains sweep
   O'er the lonely wandering stream;
There lay my head, in its last cold bed,
   For the sleep that has never a dream!

Whilst the high stars calm, hear the night wind's psalm,
   And the rivulet's rippling wave,
As Nature wild takes home her child,
   And watches her lonely grave!

* Trucanini, the last of the Tasmanian aborigines, died May 8, 1876, aged 73 years.

+ Her last words were, "Don't let them cut me up, but bury me behind one of the mountains."

First published
in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 27 May 1876

Author: Robert Dudley Adams (1829-1912) was born Robert Dudley Herbert but changed his name when he migrated to New South Wales in 1851.  He worked mainly as a journalist for Sydney newsapers but also had work published in England.  He died in Sydney in 1912.

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on May 27, 2012 12:55 PM.

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