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The Young Colonial Days by Zora Cross

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We are all so old now with our wireless set,
   Our big brass band and latest Paris frocks,
   Our moving pictures, bobbed hair, and jazz socks,
I sigh for scenes the early settlers met
When we were young and fishers cast their net,
   And blackboys dived and sheep went by in flocks,
   Where now aged Commerce keeps the busy docks.
Green birth from brown soil cities soon forget.

And sometimes I go down along the quay,
  And fell wide crinolines and scarlet coats
This way and that enchant the narrow ways.
My heart is filled with old-time ecstasy;
   A hunting chorus rings; a clipper floats --
Ah! Colour of those young colonial days!

First published in The Sydney Mail, 25 November 1925

Pioneers by Zora Cross

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They are not there, the pioneers, 
   Within those narrow graves and old. 
Where progress her steam banner rears
   Their spirits still live strong and bold.

No grass grows over all they won.  
   Their souls adventures grand declare. 
They ploughed a pathway to the sun
   That we might leap the leagues of air.

First published in The Windsor and Richmond Gazette, 17 January 1930

Leichhardt's Grave by Robert Lynd

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Ye who prepare with pilgrim feet
   Your long and doubtful path to wend,
If -- whitening on the waste -- ye meet
   The relics of my murder'd friend --
His bones with rev'rence ye shall bear
   To where some mountain streamlet flows;   
There, by its mossy bank, prepare
   The pillow of his long repose.

It shall be by a stream, whose tides
   Are drank by birds of ev'ry wing;   
Where ev'ry lovelier flower abides
   The earliest wak'ning touch of spring!     
O meet that he -- (who so carest
   All beauteous Nature's varied charms) --
That he -- her martyr'd son -- should rest
   Within his mother's fondest arms!   

When ye have made his narrow bed,
   And laid the good man's ashes there,
Ye shall kneel down around the dead,    
   And wait upon your God in prayer.
What though no reverend man be near --  
   No anthem pour its solemn breath --
No holy walls invest his bier
   With all the hallow'd pomp of death!   

Yet humble minds shall find the grace,
   Devoutly bow'd upon the sod,    
To call that blessing round the place
   Which consecrates the soil to God.
And ye the wilderness shall tell
   How faithful to the hope's of men --
The Mighty Power, he served so well,  
   Shall breathe upon his bones again!  

When ye your gracious task have done,
   Heap not the rock above his dust!   
The Angel of the Lord alone
   Shall guard the ashes of the just!   
But ye shall heed, with pious care,  
   The mem'ry of that spot to keep;
And note the marks that guide me where
   My virtuous friend is laid to sleep!   

For oh, bethink -- in other times,
   (And be those happier times at hand,)   
When science, like the smile of God --
   Comes bright'ning o'er that weary land --
How will her pilgrims hail the power,  
   Beneath the drooping myall's gloom,
To sit at eve, and mourn an hour,
   And pluck a leaf on Liechhardt's tomb!  

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 July 1845

Author: Robert Lynd (1800-1851) was barrack-master of the 63rd Regiment and a friend of the explorer Ludwig Leichhardt.  He wrote this poem in July 1845 when Leichhardt was presumed dead.  However the explorer returned to Sydney, alive, in March 1846. Lynd died in Auckland, New Zealand.

Author reference site: Austlit

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

A Ballad of Eureka by Victor J. Daley

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Stand up, my young Australian,
In the brave light of the sun,
And hear how Freedom's battle
Was in the old days lost -- and won.
The blood burns in my veins, boy,
As it did in years of yore,
Remembering Eureka,
And the men of 'Fifty-four.

The old times were the grand times,
And to me the Past appears
As rich as seas at sunset,
With its many-coloured years;
And like a lonely island
Aglow in sunset light,
One day stands out in splendour --
The day of the Good Fight.

Where Ballarat the Golden
On her throne sits like a Queen,
Ten thousand tents were shining
In the brave days that have been.
There dwelt the stalwart diggers,
When our hearts with hope were high.
The stream of Life ran brimming
In that golden time gone by.

They came from many countries,
And far islands in the main,
And years shall pass and vanish
Ere their like are seen again.
Small chance was there for weaklings
With these man of iron core,
Who worked and played like Giants
In the year of 'Fifty-four.

The Tyrants of the Goldfields
Would not let us live in peace;
They harried us and chased us
With their horse and foot police.
Each man must show his licence
When they chose, by fits and starts:
They tried to break our spirits,
And they almost broke our hearts.

We wrote a Declaration
In the store of Shanahan,
Demanding Right and justice,
And we signed it, man by man,
And unto Charles Hotham,
Who was then the Lord of High,
We sent it; Charles Hotham
Sent a regiment in reply.

There comes a time to all men
When submission is a sin;
We made a bonfire brave, and
Flung our licences therein.
Our hearts with scorn and anger
Burned more fiercely than the flame,
Full well we knew our peril,
But we dared it all the same.

On Bakery Hill the Banner
Of the Southern Cross flew free;
Then up rose Peter Lalor,
And with lifted hand spake he: --
"We swear by God above us
While we live to work and fight
For Freedom and for justice,
For our Manhood and our Right.'

Then, on the bare earth kneeling,
As on a chapel-floor,
Beneath the sacred Banner,
One and all, that oath we swore;
And some of those who swore it
Were like straws upon a flood,
But there were men who swore it
And who sealed it with their blood.

We held a stern War Council,
For in bitter mood were we,
With Vern and Hayes and Humffray,
Brady, Ross, and Kennedy,
And fire-eyed Raffaello,
Who was brave as steel, though small
But gallant Peter Lalor
Was the leader of us all.

Pat Curtain we made captain
Of our Pikemen, soon enrolled,
And Ross, the tall Canadian,
Was our standard-bearer bold.
He came from where St Lawrence
Flows majestic to the main;
But the River of St Lawrence
He would never see again.

Then passed along the order
That a fortress should be made,
And soon, with planks and palings,
We constructed the Stockade.
We worked in teeth-set silence,
For we knew what was in store:
Sure never men defended
Such a feeble fort before.

All day the German blacksmith
At his forge wrought fierce and fast;
All day the gleaming pike-blades
At his side in piles were cast;
All day the diggers fitted
Blade to staff with stern goodwill,
Till all men, save the watchers,
Slept upon the fatal hill.

The night fell cold and dreary,
And the hours crawled slowly be.
Deep sleep was all around me,
But a sentinel was I.
And then the moon grew ghostly,
And I saw the grey dawn creep,
A wan and pallid phantom
O'er the Mount of Warrenheip.

When over the dark mountain
Rose the red rim of the sun,
Right sharply in the stillness
Rang our picket's warning gun.
And scarce had died the echo
Ere, of all our little host,
Each man had grasped his weapon,
And each man was at his post.

The foe came on in silence
Like an army of the dumb;
There was no blare of trumpet.
And there was no tap of drum.
But ever they came onward,
And I thought, with indrawn breath,
The Redcoats looked like Murder,
And the Blackcoats looked like Death.

Our gunners, in their gun-pits
That were near the palisade,
Fired fiercely, but the Redcoats
Fired as if upon parade.
Yet, in the front rank leading
On his men with blazing eyes,
The bullet of a digger
Struck down valiant Captain Wise.

Then "Charge!" cried Captain Thomas,
And with bayonets fixed they came.
The palisade crashed inwards,
Like a wall devoured by flame.
I saw our gallant gunners,
Struggling vainly, backward reel
Before that surge of scarlet
All alive with stabbing steel.

There Edward Quinn of Cavan,
Samuel Green the Englishman,
And Haffele the German,
Perished, fighting in the van.
And with the William Quinlan
Fell while battling for the Right,
The first Australian Native
In the first Australian Fight.

But Robertson the Scotchman,
In his gripping Scottish way,
Caught by the throat a Redcoat,
And upon that Redcoat lay.
They beat the Scotchman's head in
Smiting hard with butt of gun,
And slew him -- but the Redcoat
Died before the week was done.

These diggers fought like heroes
Charged to guard a kingdom's gate.
But vain was all their valour,
For they could not conquer Fate.
The Searchers for the Wounded
Found them lying side by side.
They lived good mates together,
And good mates together died.

Then Peter Lalor, gazing
On the fight with fiery glance,
His lion-voice uplifted,
Shouting, 'Pikemen, now advance!'
A bullet struck him, speaking,
And he fell as fall the dead:
The Fight had lost its leader,
And the Pikemen broke and fled.

The battle was not over,
For there stood upon the hill
A little band of diggers,
Fighting desperately still,
With pistol, pike, and hayfork,
Against bayonet and gun.
There was no madder combat
Ever seen beneath the sun.

Then Donaghey and Dimond,
And Pat Gittins fighting fell,
With Thaddeus Moore, and Reynolds:
And the muskets rang their knell.
And staring up at Heaven,
As if watching his soul's track,
Shot through his heart so merry,
Lay our jester 'Happy Jack'.

The sky grew black above us,
And the earth below was red,
And, oh, our eyes were burning
As we gazed upon our dead.
On came the troopers charging,
Valiant cut-throats of the Crown,
And wounded men and dying
Flung their useless weapons down.

The bitter fight was ended,
And, with cruel coward-lust,
They dragged our sacred Banner
Through the Stockade's bloody dust.
But, patient as the gods are,
Justice counts the years and waits --
That Banner now waves proudly
Over six Australian States.

I said, my young Australian,
That the fight was lost -- and won --
But, oh, our hearts were heavy
At the setting of the sun.
Yet, ere the year was over,
Freedom rolled in like a flood:
They gave us all we asked for --
When we asked for it in blood.

God rest you, Peter Lalor!
For you were a whiteman whole;
A swordblade in the sunlight
Was your bright and gallant soul.
And God reward you kindly,
Father Smith, alive or dead:
'Twas you that give him shelter
When a price was on his head.

Within the Golden City
In the place of peace profound
The Heroes sleep. Tread softly:
'Tis Australia's Holy Ground.
And ever more Australia
Will keep green in her heart's core
The memory of Lalor
And the men of 'Fifty-four.

First published in The Bulletin, 19 January 1911;
and later in
Old Ballads from the Bush edited by Bill Scott, 1987;
Bugger the Music, Give Us a Poem! edited by Keith McKenry, 1998;
The Turning Wave: Poems and Songs of Irish Australia edited by Colleen Burke and Vincent Woods, 2001;
An Australian Treasury of Popular Verse edited by Jim Haynes, 2002; and
Two Centuries of Australian Poetry edited by Kathrine Bell, 2007.

Note: the subject of this poem concerns the Eureka Rebellion in Ballarat, Victoria, in 1854.

Author: Victor Daley (1858-1905) was born in Armagh, Ireland, and arrived in Australia in 1878 where he worked as a journalist and poet.   He was very prolific, using the pen-name of Creeve Roe as well as his own name to produce a large number of poems, mainly for The Bulletin.  He died of tuberculosis in 1905.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

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