Australia Federata [poem by James Lister Cuthbertson, 10 August 1889]

[Editor: A poem by James Lister Cuthbertson. Published in The Australasian, 10 August 1889.]

Australia Federata.

Dedicated to Brunton Stephens.

Australia — land of lonely lake
And serpent-haunted fen,
Load of the torrent and the fire
Of forest-sundered men —
Thou art not yet as thou shalt be
When the false invaders come,
In the hush before the hurricane,
The dread before drum.

A louder thunder shall be heard
Than echoes on thy shore,
When o’er the blackened basalt cliffs
The foreign cannon roar,
When the stand is made in the sheoak’s shade,
When heroes fall for thee,
And the creeks in gloomy gullies run
Dark crimson towards the sea.

When under honeysuckles grey
And wattles’ swaying gold,
The stalwart arm may strike no more,
The valiant heart is cold;
When thou shalt know the agony,
The fever, and the strife
Of those who wrestle against odds
For liberty and life.

Then, only then, when after war
Is Peace with Honour born,
When from the bosom of the night
Comes golden-sandalled morn,
When laurelled victory is thine
And the day of battle done,
Shall the heart of a mighty people stir,
And Australia be as one.

Then is the great Dominion born,
The Seven Sisters bound,
From Sydney’s greenly wooded port
To lone King George’s Sound;
Then shall the islands of South,
The Lands of Bloom and Snow,
Forth from their isolation come
To meet the common foe.

Australia — eucalyptus crowned —
Thou daughter of the free,
From the Golden Gate to Torres Strait
Thine empire yet shall be,
And the fragrant islands of the North
Within the Tropic Sea
Shall leave their Netherlandish lords
And cleave to only thee.

Like a wall of rock the Viking stock
All enemies shall face,
No weight of woe shall overthrow
The Anglo-Saxon race,
And the Cross of Red on the boltsprit head
Defiantly shall fly,
And bear unrolled on its glorious fold
The Cross of the Southern Sky.


The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic.), 10 August 1889, p. 308 (48th page of that issue)

Also published in:
Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (Newcastle, NSW), 17 August 1889, p. 1 of the “Second Sheet” section (9th page of that issue)
The Freeman’s Journal (Sydney, NSW), 20 October 1910, p. 37 [cites James Lister Cuthbertson as author of the poem]

Editor’s notes:
boltsprit = a large spar which projects forward from the bow (forward end) of a ship, to which the stays of the foremast are fastened

dark crimson = a reference to blood (in this instance, an intimation that the creeks will run red with the blood of the casualties of war)

King George’s Sound = King George Sound (named after King George III of Great Britain), a sound (a large sea or ocean inlet) on the south coast of Western Australia, located near to the city of Albany

Seven Sisters = the seven Australasian colonies: New South Wales, New Zealand, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia (New Zealand was involved in talks regarding the federation of the Australasian colonies, but decided not to join)

sheoaks = flowering shrubs and trees of the family Casuarinaceae; sheoaks (or she-oaks) are also known as casuarinas (“she-oak” was coined by combining “she”, a prefix used to indicate an inferior sense of timber, with “oak”, regarding an inferior comparison with English oak trees) [See: “She Oak, or Casuarina”, The Western Mail (Perth, WA), Friday 10 July 1914, page 4]

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