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The Australiad - (A poem for children.)

Mary Hannay Foott 1846 (Glasgow) – 1918 (Bundaberg)



'Twas brave De Quiros bent the knee before the King of Spain,
And “sire,” he said, “I bring thy ships in safety home again
From seas unsailed of mariner in all the days of yore,
Where reefs and islets, insect-built, arise from ocean's floor.
And, sire, the land we sought is found, its coasts lay full in view
When homeward bound, perforce, I sailed, at the bidding of my crew.
Terra Australis1 called I it; and linked therewith the name
Of Him who guideth, as of old, in cloud and starry flame.
And grant me ships again,” he said, “and southward let me go,
A new Peru may wait thee there, another Mexico.”

A threadbare suitor, year by year, “There is a land,” said he;
While King and Court grew weary of this old man of the sea;
For there were heretics to burn, and Holland to subdue,
And England to be humbled, (which this day remains to do,)
O land he named, but never saw, his memory revere!
The gallant disappointed heart, let him be honoured here!

Meanwhile the hardy Dutchmen came, as ancient charts attest,
Hartog, and Nuyts, and Carpenter, and Tasman, and the rest,
But found not forests rich in spice, nor market for their wares,
Nor servile tribes to toil o'ertasked 'mid pestilential airs,
And deemed it scarce worth while to claim so poor a continent,
But with their slumberous tropic isles thenceforward were content.

And then came Dampier, who, erewhile, upon the Spanish Main
For silver-laden galleons lurked, and great was his disdain,
Good ships, beside, from France were sent, good ships and gallant crews,
With Marion and D'Entrecasteaux and the far-famed La Perouse.
And still, of all who sought or saw, the voyages were vain,
Australia ne'er was farm for boers nor mission-field for Spain,
Nor fleur-de-lys nor tricolor was ever planted here,
And Britain's flag to hoist was not for hands of buccaneer.

But to our lovely Eastern coast, led by auspicious stars,
Came Cook, in the Endeavour, with his little band of tars,
Who straight on shores of Botany old England's ensign reared,
With mighty dim of musketry and noise of them that cheered.
And none of all his noble fleets who sixty years was king
A prize so goodly ever brought as that small ship did bring!

And who was he, the FIRST to find Australia passing fair?
One who aforetime well had served his country otherwhere:
Who to the heights of Abraham up the swift St. Lawrence led,
When on the moonless battle-eve the midnight oarsmen sped.
No worthier captain British deck before or since hath trod,
He “never feared the face of man,” but feared alway his God.
His crew he cherished tenderly, and kept his honour bright,
For with the helpless blacks he dealt as if they had been white.

A boy, erewhile, of lowly birth, self-taught, a poor man's son,
But a hero and a gentleman, if ever there was one!
And when at last, by savage hands, on wild Owyhee slain,
He left a deathless memory, a name without a stain!

'Tis but a hundred years ago, as nearly as may be,
Since good King George's vessel first anchored in Botany.
A hundred years! Yet, oh, how many changes there have been!
Unclasp thy volume, History, and say what thou hast seen.

“Old England and her colonies stand face to face as foes,
And now their orators inveigh, and now their armies close.”
In vain, our mother-land, for once thy sword is drawn in vain,
Allies and enemies alike, thy children are the slain.
Though, save as victor, never 'twas thy wont to quit the field,
Relenting filled thy valiant heart and thou wast fain to yield.
Ah, well for loss of those fair States might King and Commons mourn!
There lay, in south, a goodly bough from England's rose-tree torn!
But now how deep its roots have struck, how stately stands the stem,
How lovely on its branches leaf and flower and dewy gem!
New life from that sore severance to our sister-scion came,
God speed thee, young America, we glory in thy fame!

“The storm that shook the Western World now eastward breaks anew,
And, oh, how black the tempest is which blotteth out the blue!
And over thee, ill-fortuned France, what floods resistless roll,
A tidal wave of blood no pitying planet may control!

“Like Samson toiling blind and bound to furnish food for those
Who light withheld and liberty, and mocked at all his woes,
So have thy people held their peace, so laboured, so have borne
The burden serfdom ever bears, the sorrow and the scorn.
But as with groping giant-hands he seized the pillars twain
And made Philistia's land one house of mourning for the slain,
So rise they, frenzied, at the last, by centuries of wrong,
And wreak a vengeance dreadful as the
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Mary Hannay Foott

Mary Hannay Foott 26 September 1846 12 October 1918 was an Australian poet and editor who is best remembered for the poem Where the pelican builds more…

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