Tamed the shy son and builded many a street:
Comes now a fuller life -- the printed sheet.
What news, what news in Sydney town?
What shipping in Port Jackson lies?
Staid topics must the pen set down
For its young enterprise.
Yet in such day-spun stuff
The searcher finds enough
To garb again the 'thirties and their mode:
The days of Goulburn's birth,
The springing out of earth
Of towns along Macquarie's westward road.
But most through Sydney Heads
Draw traffic's stretching threads;
What brig from Hobart comes? What hopes attend
Port Phillip's village growth?
Are Hunter's valleys loth
To crown the settler's care with fruitful end?
Passing the southern bounds,
A Governor rides the rounds,
Sir Richard counts the flocks of Twofold Bay.
While under Flagstaff Hill,
The infant capital still
Nestles and grows -- 'tis writ from day to day.
Read and remark; hear the old Brickfield's din,
And see the coaches post to Richmond's Black Horse Inn.
Gold in the Austral soil! Her hidden veins
Reflect the golden wonder of her plains.
How the crowded columns told the tidings then!
Where gold grows the world goes -- the world of zestful men
Through the range of ramparts passed the trudging train
Bee-like swarm of "rushes" o'er the Bathurst plain.
Townsmen left the counter, sailors left the ship,
Many a crewless vessel missed its outward trip.
Turon and the Ophir -- see the names in print,
All the vanished diggings, each a season's mint.
Still the main stream gathers, now at Lambing Flat,
Now across the Murray, bound for Ballarat.
Combing countless gullies goes adventure's band;
Canvastown for vanguards, then the cities stand.
Gold with guards for escort making for the port,
Shout and shot in lonely spot, the coach a running fort,
Who shall get and squander? Who shall grasp and hold
Turn the page and con the age, the age that's writ in gold.
Shrills the far trump whose breath the war-lords blow.
Again and yet again the sons shall go.
First to Sudan
The legion sped, the tale of arms began.
Hint of a day
When round Pretoria closed the larger fray.
O distant fields,
How faint an echo now their memory yields!
Yet once they stood
Starred on our maps with dire solicitude,
And wounding came
The record of their dead in letters of flame.
Not then was seen
The opening edge of Europe's red ravine,
Nor guessed the time
Of earth and wave on fire for Prussia's crime.
Ah! scant their need--
Who saw the apocalyptic years -- to read
On visible leaf
The story of the grandeur and the grief.
Is it not stamped
Along the trench-line where the Anzacs camped,
And blown o'er sea
By winds that croon on grey Gallipoli?
Yet, by no tumults shook, secure of aim
The States are joined-a Nation finds its name.
Speak, chronicles of those who wrought--
Those who foresaw, past hesitant eyes,
The federated fabric rise,
A chiselled thought.
Up-looking brows! What if the feet
Stumbled at many a wayside stone?
Shall not the pillared pile atone
With arch complete?
Mark the great names, the elder race:
A Wentworth's earlier dreams fulfilled,
A Parkes -- let those who lived to build
Keep these a place.
Who falters now? Shall factions rude
Dissolve the woven bonds of peace,
A people's shining saga cease
In tribal feud?
Bid the clear creed find trumpet's throat,
Write the large texts constraining doom,
And let to-morrow's theme resume
The epic note.
Still pours the Press its page, and still men say.
"What news, what news in Sydney town to-day?"First published
in The Sydney Morning Herald
, 18 April 1931 Author reference sites: Austlit