Australasia [poem by William Charles Wentworth, 25 March 1824]

[Editor: This poem was written by William Charles Wentworth in 1823, when he was at Cambridge University, England. Published in The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 25 March 1824. Twenty explanatory footnotes were provided with the poem. As the text contains various words, phrases, and allusions that may be unfamiliar to a number of readers, some additional explanatory notes are provided at the end of the poem.]

Australasia

Written for the Chancellor’s Medal, at the Cambridge Commencement, July 1823.
By W. C. Wentworth, an Australasian.

Land of my Birth! tho’ now, alas! no more
Musing I wander on thy sea-girt shore,
Or climb with eager haste thy barrier cliff,
To catch a glimmer of the distant skiff,
That ever and anon breaks into light,
And then again eludes the aching sight,
Till nearer seen she bends her foaming way
Majestic onward to yon placid bay,
Where Sydney’s infant turrets proudly rise,
The new-born glory of the southern skies;—
Dear Australasia, can I e’er forget
Thee, Mother Earth? Ah no, my heart e’en yet
With filial fondness loves to call to view
Scenes, which, though oft remember’d, still are new; * [1]
Scenes, where my playful childhood’s thoughtless years
Flew swift away despite of childhood’s tears;
Where later too, in manhood’s op’ning bloom,
The tangled brake, th’ eternal forest’s gloom,
The wonted brook, where with some truant mate
I lov’d to plunge, or ply the treach’rous bait;
The spacious harbour with its hundred coves, † [2]
And fairy islets — seals of savage loves,
Again beheld — restampt with deeper die
The fading visions of my infancy:
And shall I now, by Cam’s old classic stream,
Forbear to sing, and thou propos’d the theme?
Thy native bard, tho’ on a foreign strand,
Shall I be mute, and see a stranger’s hand
Attune the lyre, and prescient of thy fame
Foretell the glories that shall grace thy name?
Forbid it, all ye Nine! ’twere shame to thee,
My Austral parent; — greater shame to me.

Proud Queen of isles! Thou sittest vast, alone,
A host of vassals bending round thy throne:
Like some fair swan that skims the silver tide,
Her silken cygnets strew’d on every side,
So floatest thou, thy Polynesian brood
Dispers’d around thee on the Ocean flood,
While ev’ry surge, that doth thy bosom lave,
Salutes thee “Empress of the southern wave.”

Say, Muse, when first of Europe’s roving train
Burst on De Quiro’s sight this island-main,
What golden visions rose to fancy’s view,
The towns he plunder’d, and the hosts he slew;
How on all sides the argent tripods shone,
And temples richer than Peruvia’s sun;
Till av’rice glow’d, while busy thought unfurl’d
The imag’d treasures of the new-found world:
’Twas then, triumphant hope, thy pow’r confess’d,
Hush’d the rude tongue, and calm’d the murm’ring breast:
Then still’d sedition’s buzz, each contrite soul,
With awe and gladness hail’d a chief’s controul,
And ev’ry peril, ev’ry hardship past,
Seem’d to have found full recompence at last,
Say too, what terror fix’d the natives’ eye,
When first they saw emerging from the sky,
That stranger bark in sullen silence sweep
A wrathful spirit o’er the troubled deep,
Treading with giant stride the subject wave,
The wind his herald, and the tide his slave;—
While onward stalking in terrific state
He loom’d portentful of impending fate,
Yet vain the dream of those, the dread of these;—
For lo! at length arrived with fav’ring breeze
De Quiros ’self directs the straining oar,
And leaps the foremost on the untrod shore —
Follow his band; but dark on ev’ry side
Repulsive forests frown with path untried;
While from the hidden foe, the frequent spear
Sings through their ranks, and wakes unwonted fear;
Till struck with awe, they cease the hopeless chase,
And to the ship their sullen course retrace.

Ye primal tribes, lords of this old domain,
Swift-footed hunters of the pathless plain,
Unshackled wanderers, enthusiasts free,
Pure native sons of savage liberty,
Who hold all things in common, earth, sea, air,
Or only occupy the nightly lair,
Whereon each sleeps; who own no chieftain’s pow’r,
Save his, that’s mightiest of the passing hour;
Say — whence your ancient lineage, what your name,
And from what shores your rough forefathers came?
Untutor’d children, fresh from Nature’s mould,
No songs have ye to trace the time of old:—
No hidden themes, like these, employ your care,
For you enough the knowledge that ye are:—
Let Learning’s sons, who would this secret scan,
Unlock its mystic casket if they can, —
To your unletter’d tastes are sweeter far,
The dance of battle, and the song of war,
’Mid hostile ranks the deadly spear to throw;
Or see the foeman stagg’ring ’neath your blow:—
To you, ye sable hunters, sweeter too
To spy the track of bounding kangaroo,
Or long neck’d emu:— quick with eagle gaze
Her path you follow thro’ the tangled maze,
O’er boundless wilds your panting game pursue,
And come, like trusty hounds, at last in view;
Then creeping round her, soon the forest’s pride
Is hemm’d with bristly spears that pierce her side;
And now, the labours of the chase being o’er,
And Nature’s keen suggestions heard no more,
In uncouth numbers seated in a ring
Your ancient fathers’ warlike feats ye sing,
Or striking each his shield, with clatt’ring lance,
The early night exhaust in Pyrrhic dance.

Such, mountain sons of freedom, your delight,
Such your rude sport by day, your mirth by night;
Nor would you these few savage joys forego,
For all the comforts all the arts bestow.
What, if at times the barren chase deny
The scanty fare your niggard wilds supply!
What, if to-day ye miss your sylvan feast!
To-morrow’s meal shall thence derive a zest,
Unknown to those who live in slothful ease,
Child of the heath, the mountain, and the breeze.
What, if the wintry blast and pelting rain,
Howl through the woods, and inundate the plain!
To some near cave ye fly, which jutting o’er
Wards from your naked limbs the drenching show’r;
While kindled faggots soon with crackling sound
Dispel the gloom, and scatter warmth around,
And, nestling close each to his sable love,
Ye sleep regardless of the storm above.
Hadst thou, old Cynic, seen this unclad crew,
Stretch their bare bodies in the nightly dew,
Like hairy Satyrs, ’midst their Sylvan seats,
Endure both winter’s frosts, and summer’s’ heats;
Thy cloak and tub away thou wouldst have cast,
And tried, like them, to brave the piercing blast.

Illustrious Cook! Columbus of our shore,
To whom was left this unknown world t’ explore;
Its untrac’d bounds on faithful chart to mark,
And leave a light where all before was dark:—
And thou, the foremost in fair learning’s ranks,
Patron of ev’ry art, departed Banks!
Who wealth disdaining, and inglorious ease,
The rocks and quicksands dar’d of unknown seas;
Immortal Pair! when in yon spacious bay * [3]
Ye moor’d awhile its wonders to survey,
How little thought ye, that the name, from you
Its graceful shrubs, and beauteous wildflower drew,
Would serve, in after times, with lasting brand
To stamp the soil, and designate the land,
And to ungenial climes reluctant scare
Full many a hive, that else had settled there!

Ah why, Britannia’s pride, Britannia’s boast,
Searcher of ev’ry sea, and ev’ry coast,
Lamented Cook! thou bravest, gentlest heart,
Why didst thou fall beneath a savage dart?
Why were thy mangled reliques doom’d to grace
The midnight orgies of a barb’rous race?
Why couldst thou not, thy weary wand’rings past,
At home in honor’d ease recline at last,
And, like the happier partner of thy way,
In cloudless glory close life’s setting day?

And thou, fam’d Gallic Captain la Perouse!
When from this Bay thou led’st thy fated crews,
Did thy twin vessels sink beneath the shock
Of furious hurricane, or hidden rock?
Fell ye o’erpower’d on some barbarian strand,
As fell before Le Langles’ butcher’d band?
Linger’d the remnants of thy ship wreck’d host
On some parch’d coral is’le, some torrid coast, —
Where no green tree, no cooling brook is seen,
Nought living is, or e’er before had been,
Save some lone mew blown from her rocky nest
Had lit perchance her homeward wing to rest;—
Till gnaw’d by want with joy a comrade dead
They saw, and rav’nous on his body fed,
And soon his bones pick’d bare, with famished eye
Each glar’d around, then drew who first should die;
Till of thy ghastly band the most unblest
Surviv’d, — sad sepulchre of all the rest;
And now his last meal gorg’d, with phrenzy fir’d,
And raging thirst the last lorn wretch expir’d?

Whate’er thy fate, thou saw’st the floating arks,
That peopled this new world, the teeming barks,
That ardent Phillip † [4] led to this far shore,
And seeing them, alas! wert seen no more.
Ah! couldst thou now behold what man has done,
Tho’ sev’n revolving lustres scarce have run,
How wouldst thou joy to see the savage earth
The smiling parent of so fair a birth!
Lo! thickly planted o’er the glassy bay,
Where Sydney loves her beauties to survey,
And ev’ry morn delighted sees the gleam
Of some fresh pennant dancing in her stream,
A masty forest, stranger vessels moor,
Charg’d with the fruits of ev’ry foreign shore;
While, landward, — the throng’d quay, the creaking crane,
The noisy workman, and the loaded wain,
The lengthen’d street, wide square, and column’d front
Of stately mansion, and the gushing font,
The solemn church, the busy market throng,
And idle loungers saunt’ring slow among, —
The lofty windmills, that with outspread sail
Thick line the hills, and court the rising gale,
Shew that the mournful genius of the plain
Driv’n from his primal solitary reign
Has backward fled, and fix’d his drowsy throne
In untrod wiles, to muse and brood alone.

And thou, fair Port! whose triad ‡ [5] sister coves
Peninsulate these walls; whose ancient groves
High tow’ring southward, rear their giant form,
And break the fury of the polar storm;—
Fairest of Ocean’s daughters! who dost bend
Thy mournful steps to seek thy absent friend,
Whence she, — coy wild rose § [6] on her virgin couch
Fled loath from Parramatta’s am’rous touch;
Skirting thy wat’ry path, lo! frequent stand
The cheerful villas midst their well-cropp’d land;
Here lowing kine, there bounding coarsers graze,
Here waves the corn, and there the woody maize, ║ [7]
Here the tall peach puts forth its pinky bloom,
And there the orange scatters its perfume,
While, as the merry boatmen row along,
The woods are quicken’d with their lusty song. —

Nor here alone hath labor’s victor band
Subdued the glebe, and fertiliz’d the land;
For lo! from where at rocky Portland’s head,
Reluctant Hawkesbury quits his sluggard bed
Merging in Ocean, — to young Windsor’s tow’rs,
And Richmond’s high green hills, and native bow’rs, —
Thence far along Nepean’s pebbled way,
To those rich pastures where the wild herds stray, — ¶ [8]
The crowded farm-house lines the winding stream
On either side, and many a plodding team
With shining ploughshare turns the neighb’ring soil,
Which crowns with double crop the lab’rer’s toil.

Hail mighty ridge!** [9] that from thy azure brow
Survey’st these fertile plains, that stretch below,
And look’st with careless, unobservant eye,
As round thy waist the forked lightnings ply,
And the loud thunders spring with hoarse rebound
From peak to peak, and fill the welkin round
With deaf’ning voice, till with their boist’rous play
Fatigued in mutt’ring peals they stalk away;—
Parent of this deep stream, this awful flood,
That at thy feet its tributary mud,
Like the fam’d Indian, or Egyptian tide,
Doth pay, but direful scatters woe * [10] beside;—
Vast Austral Giant of these rugged steeps,
Within whose secret cells rich glitt’ring heaps
Thick pil’d are doom’d to sleep, till some one spy
The hidden key that opes thy treasury;
How mute, how desolate thy stunted woods,
How dread thy chasms, where many an eagle broods,
How dark thy caves, how lone thy torrents’ roar,
As down thy cliffs precipitous they pour,
Broke on our hearts, when first † [11] with vent’rous tread
We dared to rouse thee from thy mountain bed!
Till gain’d with toilsome step thy topmost heath,
We spied the cheering smokes ‡ [12] ascend beneath,
And, as a meteor shoots athwart the night,
The boundless champaign burst upon our sight,
Till nearer seen the beauteous landscape grew,
Op’ning like Canaan on rapt Israel’s view.

Ye tranquil scenes! too long to man unknown;
Your hills remain’d uncropp’d, your dales unsown:
Yet lo! al last upon yon distant stream
Increasing Bathurst’s § [13] straggling honors beam,
While thick o’erspreading the fresh-cultur’d glade
The ripen’d harvest bends its heavy blade,
And flocks and herds in thousands strewed around,
Awake the woodlands with their joyous sound.

Soon, Australasia, may thy inmost plains,
A new Arcadia, teem with simple swains;
Soon a Lycoris’ scorn again inspire
A Gallus’ song to moan his hopeless fire,
And, while he murmurs forth his plaintive tale,
The list’ning breezes waft it down the vale.

What, though no am’rous shepherd midst thy dells
E’er charm’d responsive Echo from her cells;
What, though nor liquid flute, nor shriller reed
E’er shot their wild notes o’er thy silent mead;
Thy blue eyed daughters, with the flaxen hair,
And taper ankle, do they bloom less fair
Than those of Europe? do thy primal groves
Ne’er warble forth their feather’d inmates’ loves?
Or, say, doth Ceres’, or Pomona’s reign
With scantier gifts repay thy lab’ring train?
Ah! no, ’tis slavery’s badge, the felon’s shame
That stills thy voice, and clouds thy op’ning fame;
’Tis this that makes thy sorrowing Judah weep,
Restrains her song, and hangs her harp to sleep.

Land of my hope! soon may this early blot,
Amid thy growing honors, be forgot:
Soon may a freeman’s soul, a freeman’s blade,
Nerve ev’ry arm, and gleam thro’ ev’ry glade;
Nor more the outcast convicts’ clanking chains
Deform thy wilds, and stigmatize thy plains:—
And tho’ the fathers — these — of thy new race,
From whom each glorious feat, each deathless grace,
Must yet proceed, by whom each radiant gem
Be won — to deck thy future diadem;—
Did not of old th’ Imperial Eagle rise,
Unfurl his pinions, and astound the skies?
Hatched in an aery fouler far than thine,
Did he not dart from Tiber to the Rhine?
From Dacia’s forests to fam’d Calpe’s height,
Fear’d not each cow’ring brood his circling flight?
From Libya’s sands to quiver’d Parthia’s shore
Mark’d not the scatter’d fowl his victor soar?
From swift Euphrates, to bleak Thule’s rock,
Did not opposing myriads feel the shock
Of his dread talons, and glad tribute pay,
To ’scape the havoc of his murd’rous way? ║ [14]

Yet ne’er, my country, roll thy battle-car
With deadly axle through the ranks of war;
Of foreign rule ne’er may the ceaseless thirst
Pollute thy sons, and render thee accurst
Amid the nations; ne’er may crouch before
Invading legions sallying from thy shore
A distant people, that shall not on thee
Have first disgorg’d his hostile chivalry.
In other climes, Bellona’s temples shine,
Ceres’, Pomona’s, Bacchus’, Pan’s be thine,
And chaste Minerva’s; from thy peaceful plains
May glory’s star ne’er charm thy restless swains;
Ne’er may the hope of plunder lure to roam
One Australasian from his happy home;
But rustic arts their tranquil hours employ,
Arts crown’d with plenty, and replete with joy:
Be their’s the task to lay with lusty blow
The ancient giants of the forest low,
With frequent fires the cumber’d plain to clear,
To tame the steed, and yoke the stubborn steer,
With cautious plough to rip the virgin earth,
And watch her first born harvest from its birth,
Till, ting’d with summer suns, the golden glade
Delight the hind, and claim the reaper’s blade:—
Their’s too the task, with skilful hand to rear
The varied fruits, that gild the ripen’d year;
Whether the melting peach, or juicy pear,
Or golden orange, most engage their care:—
Their’s too round stakes, or trellis’d bow’rs to twine
The pliant tendrils of the shooting vine;
And, when beneath their blushing burdens bow
The yielding stems, — the gen’rous juice to stow
In copious jar, which drain’d on festive day
May warm each heart, and chase its glooms away:—
Their’s too on flow’ry mead or thimy steep
To tend with watchful dog the timid sheep;
And, as their fleecy charge are lying round,
To wake the woodlands with their pipe’s soft sound,
While the charm’d Fauns, and Dryads skulking near,
Leave their lone haunts, and list with raptur’d ear.

Such be the labours of thy peaceful swains,
Thus may they till, and thus enrich thy plains;
Thus the full flow of population’s tide
Its swelling waters pour on ev’ry side:—
As, on the topmost boughs of some old wood,
When outcast rooks first hatch their infant brood,
The tufted nests, as buds each vernal year,
In growing groups, and thicker ranks appear,
Till soon the spacious grove with clam’rous strife
Resounds throughout, and teems with callow life;—
So, Australasia, may thy exil’d band
Spread their young myriads o’er thy lonely land,
Till village spires, and crowded cities rise
In thick succession to the trav’ller’s eyes,
And the grim wolf, chas’d from his secret hold,
No more with hungry howl alarm the fold.

Nor be the rustic arts alone thy pride,
The ambient ocean half thy care divide;
Whether thy roving sons on Tropic seas
Spread ev’ry sail, to woo the sportive breeze;—
Or with bare poles, and dauntless bosoms brave
The icy horrors of th’ Antarctic wave;
Till fruitful commerce in thy lap shall pour,
The gifts of ev’ry sea, and ev’ry shore.

And thou, fair Science! pure ethereal light
Beam on her hills, and chase her mental night;
Direct her sons to seek the perfect day,
Where Bacon trac’d, and Newton led the way;
Till bright Philosophy’s full orb arise,
To gild her noon, and cheer her ev’ning skies,
But, mid the future treasures of their lore,
Still foremost rank the Greek and Latin ore;
Still in the classic search the midnight oil
Be spent, nor deem’d that pleasing labour — toil,
Till to their sight reveal’d all glorious shine
The hidden riches of this ancient mine;
Whether they follow with admiring view
The fam’d retreat of Xenophon’s bold few;
Or in Calypso’s isle, * [15] or Ida’s grove,
And by Scamander’s boiling eddies rove; † [16]
Or see the pilf’rer of th’ empyrean fire
Chain’d to his rock endure the Thund’rer’s ire; ‡ [17]
Or hear the caverns of the Lemnian shore
Ring with the raving hero’s anguish’d roar; § [18]
Or on Troezene’s sands see Phaedra’s hate
Draw on Hippolytus a guiltless fate; ║ [19]
Or with the glory of th’ Augustan reign,
Enraptur’d drink the sweets of Maro’s strain;
Or borne along by Tully’s whelming flood
Feel all his anger kindling in their blood,
When to wide infamy, and deathless shame,
He dooms the plund’rer’s, or the traitor’s name.

Celestial poesy! whose genial sway
Earth’s furthest habitable shores obey;
Whose inspirations shed their sacred light,
Far as the regions of the Arctic night,
And to the Laplander his Boreal gleam
Endear not less, than Phoebus’ brighter beam —
Descend thou also on my native land,
And on some mountain summit take thy stand;
Thence issuing soon a purer fount be seen,
Than charm’d Castalia or fam’d Hippocrene;
And there a richer, nobler fane arise,
Than on Parnassus met th’ adoring eyes.
And tho’, bright Goddess, on those far blue hills,
That pour their thousand swift pellucid rills,
Where Warragumba’s ¶ [20] rage has rent in twain
Opposing mountains, — thund’ring to the plain,
No child of song has yet invok’d thy aid,
’Neath their primeval solitary shade, —
Still, gracious Pow’r, some kindling soul inspire,
To wake to life my country’s unknown lyre,
That from creation’s date has slumb’ring lain,
Or only breath’d some savage uncouth strain;—
And grant that yet an Austral Milton’s song
Pactolus-like flow deep and rich along;—
An Austral Shakespeare rise, whose living page
To Nature true may charm in ev’ry age;—
And, that an Austral Pindar daring soar,
Where not the Theban Eagle reach’d before.

And, oh Britannia! shouldst thou cease to ride
Despotic Empress of old Ocean’s tide;—
Should thy tam’d Lion — spent his former might —
No longer roar the terror of the fight;—
Should e’er arrive that dark disastrous hour,
When bow’d by luxury, thou yield’st to pow’r;
When thou, no longer freest of the free
To some proud victor bend’st the vanquish’d knee;—
May all thy glories in another sphere
Relume, and shine more brightly still than here;
May this, thy last-born INFANT — then arise,
To glad thy heart, and greet thy PARENT eyes;
And AUSTRALASIA float, with flag unfurl’d,
A new BRITANNIA in another world!

[1] * This sentiment may appear somewhat paradoxical, but there is more than its parallel in the following lines of Racine’s Titus:—
————— chaque jour je te vois,
Et te vois toujours pour la premiere fois.

[2] † Port Jackson, on the borders of which the Town of Sydney stands.

[3] * Botany Bay.

[4] † Governor Phillip, founder of the Colony of New South Wales.

[5] ‡ The Town of Sydney is built on a peninsula formed by three of the coves out of one hundred, which compose the harbour of Port Jackson.

[6] § The Town of Parramatta, which is built at the head of Port Jackson, at the distance of about 15 miles from Sydney, was formerly called Rose Hill, from the number of wild roses which grew where it stands; but, in consequence of the rapid extension of this town, and the contact of its population, these flowers have all disappeared, which will explain the allusion contained in these couplets.

[7] ║ The millet or Indian corn, which grows frequently upwards of 15 feet high, and then has more the appearance of a copse, than of a crop or grain, goes by this name.

[8] ¶ This is an historical reference. — Shortly after the foundation of the Colony, four cows and a bull, which then formed the greater part of the Colonial herd, strayed away from their keeper, and were not discovered till 15 years afterwards, when they had increased to several thousands. The tract of country, where they were found, and where they still continue, has ever since been called the Cow Pastures.

[9] ** The author here apostrophizes that chain of mountains which are called the Blue Mountains, and run from North to South, dividing the Eastern and well settled part or the Colony from the great Western Wilderness, which has lately been discovered beyond them, and of which but little is yet know.

[10] * This is as allusion to the terrific inundations which characterize the Rivers Hawkesbury and Nepean (which in fact are but different branches of one River); these inundations occasionally rise 80 or 90 feet above the level of those rivers, sweeping every thing before them.

[11] † The Author was one of the Party that first traversed this chain of mountains, and discovered the boundless country beyond them.

[12] ‡ The native-fires.

[13] § The Town of Bathurst, founded by Governor Macquarie in the year 1815, on Bathurst Plains, which are 180 miles distant from Sydney. Since then this town has made a rapid advance in extent and population. It is built on the Macquarie River.

[14] ║ In this and the four preceding couplets, the Author has attempted to give a delineation of the boundaries of the Roman Empire, when it was at the summit of its power.

[15] * The Odyssey.

[16] † The Iliad.

[17] ‡ The Prometheus of AEschylus.

[18] § The Philoctetes of Sophocles.

[19] ║ The Hippolytus of Euripides.

[20] ¶ The River Warragumba falls over a succession of cascades into the Nepean River, in conjunction with which it forms one of the grandest basins that can be conceived: the fissure, through which it issues from the Mountains, is little short of a thousand feet perpendicular, and has all the appearance of having been rent
asuuder by the force of its waters.



Source:
The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (Sydney NSW), Thursday 25 March 1824, page 4

Previously published as a booklet:
W. C. Wentworth, Australasia: A Poem Written for the Chancellor’s Medal at the Cambridge Commencement, July 1823, London: G. and W. B. Whittaker, 1823

Editor’s notes:
Regarding Wentworth’s footnotes, numbers in square brackets, [1] to [20], have been added, so as to make use of the references easier for readers.

As various words, phrases, or allusions used in this poem may be unfamiliar to a number of readers, some brief explanatory notes are given below. The notes are listed in alphabetical order; however, three names, De Quiro, La Perouse, and Le Langles, have been listed under their initial article.

Arcadia = a utopia (from the ancient region of Greece)

Augustan reign = the reign of Augustus Caesar (born Gaius Octavius Thurinus, later becoming Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus) (63 BC – 14 AD), Emperor of Rome; not to be confused with his grand-uncle and adoptive father, Julius Caesar (Gaius Julius Caesar) (100 BC – 44 BC) the Roman statesman and author

Bacchus = (also known as Dionysos) in Greek mythology, the god of wine and of the grape harvest

Bellona = in Roman mythology, the goddess of war

Boreal = of Boreas, who, in Greek mythology, was the god of the north wind

bow’r = bower; a shaded, leafy resting place or shelter, usually located within a garden or park and often made of latticework upon which plants (especially vines) are grown, or made out of intertwined tree boughs or vines (also known as an “arbor”) (“bower” may also refer to a country cottage or retreat, or to a woman’s bedroom or apartments in a medieval castle or mansion)

callow = immature or inexperienced

Calpe = the Latin name for the Rock of Gibraltar

Calypso’s isle = the Isle of Calypso (believed to be Gozo, an island of Malta) was the home of the nymph Calypso, according to the epic poem “Odyssey”, believed to have been written by the Greek poet Homer (ca. 8th century BC)

Cam’s old classic stream = the River Cam, in Cambridge

Castalia = in Greek mythology, a nymph who was transformed into a fountain at Delphi by the god Apollo

Ceres = in Roman mythology, the goddess of agriculture and fertility

champaign = a stretch of level and open country; a plain; or such a place suitable for a battlefield (related to campaign, from Old French champaigne); in this context a reference to the wide western plains on the other side of the Blue Mountains, as discovered by Wentworth (with Gregory Blaxland and William Lawson); the same stanza refers to “Hail mighty ridge! that from thy azure brow, Survey’st these fertile plains, that stretch below” which Wentworth notes is a reference to “that chain of mountains which are called the Blue Mountains . . . dividing the Eastern and well settled part or the Colony from the great Western Wilderness”, with a further notation mentioning that “The Author was one of the Party that first traversed this chain of mountains, and discovered the boundless country beyond them”

coarsers = fast horses (also spelt as coursers)

controul = an archaic spelling of “control”

cumber’d = cumbered; littered, burdened, weighed down (encumbered); in the context of land, a place covered or littered with trees, bushes, and/or other vegetation

cygnets = young swans

Dacia = a kingdom in Eastern Europe (located approximately in modern-day Romania)

De Quiro = Pedro Fernandes de Queirós (1565 – 1614), a Portugese explorer (working for the Spanish) who believed he had discovered the great southern land, which he named “Australia del Espiritu Santo”; however, it turned out that he had discovered the New Hebrides instead

diadem = a type of crown or royal ornamental headband

dryads = in Greek mythology, dryads were tree nymphs

Echo = in Greek mythology, a mountain nymph

empyrean = according to Greek mythology, Empyrean Heaven was in the highest heaven, a place which was composed of heavenly fire

faggots = sticks or bundles of sticks

fane = a church or temple

fauns = in Roman mythology, fauns were forest gods or place-spirits, depicted as half-man and half-goat (like the satyrs of Greek mythology)

Gallic = French (“Gallic” derives from Gaul, an archaic word for France)

Gallus = Gaius Cornelius Gallus (ca. 70 BC – 26 BC), a Roman poet and politician

gild = to cover something with a thin layer of gold, gold leaf, or a gold-coloured substance, or to make something look that way (an archaic meaning is to make something bloody or red)

Hippocrene = in Greek mythology, a fountain on Mount Helicon

Hippolytus = in Greek mythology, Hippolytus was a son of Theseus; Hippolytus was killed after being maliciously and unjustly accused of rape by his stepmother Phaedra after he had rejected her romantic advances

Ida’s grove = a grove on Mount Ida, a sacred mountain of Greek mythology; mentioned in “The Iliad”, the epic poem believed to have been written by the Greek poet Homer (ca. 8th century BC)

Judah = the Tribe of Judah, one of the twelve tribes of Israel; in this context (the following line refers to “her” and a preceding line refers to “slavery”) this appears to be a reference to the Tribe of Judah which was taken into slavery during the “Babylonian captivity”

kine = cattle

La Perouse = the French explorer Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse (1741 – 1788?), who met by chance with the First Fleet in Botany Bay in January 1788; after leaving Australia his expedition was never heard of again, presumed to have been lost at sea

Le Langles = Paul Antoine Fleuriot de Langle (1744 – 1787) was second in charge of the La Pérouse expedition to the Pacific; he was killed by Samoans in 1787, when he was unwilling to order his shore party to shoot to defend themselves

Lemnian shore = a reference to Lemnos, a Greek island

lorn = forlorn, bereft, desolate, forsaken, lonely, deserted, abandoned, pitiful, wretched

lowing = mooing (a sound characteristically made by the throats of cattle)

lustre = a period of five years

Lycoris = Volumnia Cytheris (ca. 70 BC – ? BC), the mistress of the Roman poet Gallus, who referred to her in his poetry as acting coldly towards him (however, this may have simply been in accordance with the poetic style of that era); as the poetic custom of the time was to refer to one’s beloved by a nickname or pseudonym, she was referred to by Gallus in his poetry as Lycoris [see “Lycoris the mime” by Giusto Traina; chapter four of Roman Women, edited by Augusto Fraschetti, 2001]

Maro = Publius Vergilius Maro (70 BC – 19 BC), also known in the English-speaking world as “Virgil”, was a Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus Caesar

mead = an abbreviation of meadow

mew = a mew gull (bird)

Milton = John Milton (1608 – 1674), English poet

Minerva = according to Roman mythology, Minerva was the goddess of poetry, medicine, and magic

Nepean’s pebbled way = the Nepean River, named after Sir Evan Nepean (1752 – 1822)

niggard wilds = stingy wilds; sparse or unproductive lands

Pactolus = a river of ancient Lydia (now Turkey), which historically was the source of much gold; in Greek mythology, it was where King Midas went to rid himself of his gold transmutation curse, washing the power of gold creation into the river itself

Pan = in Greek mythology, Pan was the god of shepherds, hunting, and music

Parnassus = (also known as Liakoura) a mountain in central Greece; in Greek mythology, Parnassus was associated with Apollo and was the home of the Muses, and was therefore regarded as the home of music and poetry; Parnassus is regarded as symbolic of poetry, and may refer to the world of poetry, or poets, in general, to any place of poetic or artistic activity, or to a collection of poems or distinguished literature

Parthia = a region of north-eastern Iran, home of the Parthian Empire

Peruvia = Peru (South America)

Phaedra’s hate = in Greek mythology, Phaedra was in love with Hippolytus, but he turned down her romantic advances, leading her to falsely accuse him of rape

Phoebus’ brighter beam = in Greek mythology, Phoebus was another name for the god Apollo, in his role as the god of light (Apollo fulfilled several functions as a god); the “brighter beam” of Phoebus is a references to sunlight

phrenzy = an archaic spelling of “frenzy”

pilf’rer of th’ empyrean fire = Prometheus; William Charles Wentworth, in his poem “Australasia” refers to Prometheus in the lines “or see the pilf’rer of th’ empyrean fire, chain’d to his rock endure the Thund’rer’s ire”, as, according to Greek mythology, Zeus was the god of sky and thunder (referred to here as the Thunderer), who had withheld fire from mankind; however, Prometheus (son of a Titan) then pilfered (stole) fire from the Empyrean Heaven (the highest heaven, a place which was composed of heavenly fire) and gave it to the people; but, as punishment for doing this, Zeus, in his anger (ire), chained Prometheus to a rock, where he would be tortured every day by the visitations of an eagle, who would eat his liver, only for it to grow back again each night, so that the eagle could eat it again the following day, until many years later Heracles (also known as Hercules) came and freed him

Pindar = a Greek poet (ca. 522 – 443 BC)

poesy = poetry or the art of poetic composition

Pomona = in Roman mythology, the goddess of fruit trees, gardens, and orchards, usually associated with fruitful abundance

Pyrrhic dance = an ancient Greek dance with weapons

relume = to re-illuminate or re-light

satyr = in Greek mythology, a class of forest deity who appeared as part-man and part-animal, often depicted with heads and bodies like men, and with legs and tails like horses (or like goats, in Roman mythology), known for their drunkenness, lasciviousness, and robust partying behavior; may also refer to a man who is lascivious, a lecher, or who has strong sexual desires

Scamander = in Greek mythology, Scamander was a river god, mentioned in “The Iliad”, the epic poem written by the Greek poet Homer (ca. 8th century BC), as fighting against the Greeks during the Trojan War; also viewed as the personification of the Scamander River (located in Turkey, now known as the Karamenderes River)

sepulchre = a repository for the dead; a burial place, grave, crypt, or tomb; also a receptacle for sacred relics, especially those placed in an altar (also spelt as sepulcher)

Shakespeare = William Shakespeare (1564-1616), English playwright and poet

shew = an archaic spelling of “show”

skiff = a small boat (of various types, whether powered by a motor, sail, or oars)

swains = peasant youth, country lads, or shepherds

sylvan = regarding a wood or forest (although often a reference to something living within a wood, referring to person, spirit, or tree)

Theban Eagle = a reference to the ancient Greek poet Pindar, as used by Thomas Gray (1716-1771), the English poet and professor

thimy = referring to an area covered with thyme (the plant) or heavy with the fragrance of thyme (also spelt as “thymy”)

Thund’rer = Zeus, who was, according to Greek mythology, the god of sky and thunder

Troezene = a town and municipality on the Greek coast; in Greek mythology, Troezene was where Hippolytus was killed

Tully’s whelming flood = Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC), also known in the English-speaking world as “Tully”, was a Roman philosopher and politician, and was the author of the largest body of Latin writings that have survived to modern times (an overwhelming “flood” of writing)

ungenial climes = unpleasant or disagreeable climate

vernal year = a year measured from the vernal equinox (i.e. the spring equinox, which normally occurs on the 20th or 21st of March); the vernal equinox is the day when night and day are nearly the same length, and the Sun crosses the equator moving northward; it is a tropical year (also known as a solar year), which basically is the length of time that the Sun takes to return to the same position in the cycle of seasons, in this case from vernal equinox to vernal equinox

Warragumba = the Warragamba River, in New South Wales

welkin = the sky

wonted = usual

Xenophon’s bold few = Xenophon (ca. 430 – 354 BC) was a Greek philosopher and soldier; the “bold few” were the Ten Thousand, an army of mercenaries, who had followed Cyrus the Younger to war against Artaxerxes II, the king of Persia; they elected Xenophon as one of their leaders after their original leaders were treacherously killed at a “peace conference”

[Editor: The closing quotation mark at the end of the word ear (raptur’d ear.”) has been removed, as it appears that this was a typological error (with no opening quotation mark), both from looking at the context within the poem and by comparing it with the poem as published in book form; “Pans” has been corrected to “Pan’s”.]

Speak Your Mind

*