The Circling Hearth-Fires by Roderic Quinn

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My Countrymen, though you are young as yet
With little history, nought to show
Of lives enleagued against a foreign foe --
Torn flags and triumph, glory or regret;
Still some things make our kinshp sweet,
Some deeds inglorious but of royal worth,
As when with tireless arms and toiling feet
We felled the tree and tilled the earth.  

'Tis no great way that we have travelled since
Our feet first shook the storied dust
Of England from them, when with love and trust
In one another, and large confidence
In God above, our ways were ta'en
'Neath alien skies -- each keeping step in mind
And soul and purpose to one trumpet strain,
One urging music on the wind:

Yet tears of ours have wet the dust, have wooed
Some subtle green things from the ground --
Like violets -- only violets never wound
Such tendrils round the heart; the solitude
Has seen young hearts with love entwine;
And many gentle friends gone down to death
Have mingled with the dust, and made divine
The very soil we tread beneath.

Thus we have learned to love our country, learned
To treasure every inch from foam
To foam; to title her with name of Home;
To light in her regard a flame that burned
No land in vain, that calls the eyes
Of men to glory heights and old renown;
That wild winds cannot quench, nor thunder-skies
Make dim, nor many waters drown.

Six hearths have circled round our shores, and round
The six hearths group a common race,
Though leagues divide; the one light on their face,
The same old songs and stories rise; the sound
Of kindred voices and the dear
Old English tongue make music; and men move
From hearth to hearth with little fear
Of aught, save open arms and love.

To keep these hearth-fires red, to keep the door
Of each house wide -- that is our part!
Surely 'tis noble! Surely, heart to heart,
God's love upon us and one gaol before
Is something worth! Something to win
Our hearts to effort! Something it were good
To garner soon! And something 'twould be sin
To cast aside in wanton mood.

My countrymen, hats off! with heart and will
Thank God that you are free, and then
Arise, and don your Nationhood like men,
And, manlike, face the world for good or ill.
Peace be to you, and in the tide
Of years great plenty till Time's course be run;
Six Ploughmen in the same field side by side,
But, if need be, six Swords as one.

First published in The Bulletin, 17 June 1899;
and later in
The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse edited by Walter Murdoch, 1918.

Note: this poem is also known by the title "The Circling Hearths".

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 June 17, 2012 8:52 AM.

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