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(24 April 1846 – 2 August 1881 / London / United Kingdom)

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An Australian Paean—1876

The English air is fresh and fair,
The Irish fields are green;
The bright light gleams o’er Scotland’s streams,
And glows her hills between.
The hawthorn is in blossom,
And birds from every bough
Make musical the dewy spring
In April England now.

Our April bears no blossoms,
No promises of spring;
Her gifts are rain and storm and stain,
And surges lash and swing.
No budded wreath doth she bequeath,
Her tempests toss the trees;
No balmy gales—but shivered sails,
And desolated seas.

Yet still we love our April,
For it aids us to bequeath
A gift more fair than blossoms rare,
More sweet than budded wreath.
Our children’s tend’rest memories
Round Austral April grow;
’Twas the month we won their freedom, boys,
Just twenty years ago.

Though Scotland has her forests,
Though Erin has her vales,
Though plentiful her harvests,
In England’s sunny dales;
Yet foul amidst the fairness,
The factory chimneys smoke,
And the murmurs of the many
In their burdened bosoms choke.

We hear the children’s voices
’Mid the rattle of its looms,
Crying, “Wherefore shut God’s heaven
All our golden afternoons?”
Though here the English April
Nor song nor sun imparts,
Its Spring is on our children’s lips,
Its summer in their hearts!

We’ve left the land that bore us,
Its castles and its shrines;
We’ve changed the cornfields and the rye
For the olives and the vines.
Yet still we have our castles,
Yet still we bow the knee;
We each enshrine a saint divine,
And her name is Liberty.

Liberty! name of warning!
Did’st thou feel our pulses beat
As we marching, moved this morning
All adown the cheering street?
In our federated freedom,
In our manliness allied,
While the badges of our labour
Were the banners of our pride.

Did our fancies speak prophetic
Of a larger league than this—
With higher aims and nobler claims
To grasp the good we miss;
When in freer federation
In a future yet to be,
Australia stands a nation
From the centre to the sea.

Cheer for Australia, comrades,
And cheer for Britain, too;
Who loves them both will not be loth
To give each land its due.
So cheer for Britain, comrades;
Our fathers loved the soil,
And the grandeur of her greatness
Is the measure of their toil.

But never let our sons forget,
Till mem’ry’s self be dead,
If Britain gave us birth, my lads,
Australia gave us bread!
Then cheer for young Australia,
The empire of the Free,
Where yet a Greater Britain
The Southern Cross shall see!

Submitted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010


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