[Editor: This poem by Grant Hervey was published in Australians Yet and Other Verses, 1913.]
I saw a Track shine out across
The weariness and strife,
And on it marched a Band that was
The Vanguard of our Life.
A small but loyal troop of men,
With shining eyes and souls,
That left the western gaol-pen
For Freedom’s far, white goals.
They were our Nation’s pioneers —
The star-lift of our day ;
Within their straining hearts and ears
There rang the Call : “AWAY !”
“Away, beyond the shackling Laws ;
Beyond the empire-crest,
Away, away, AWAY — your Cause
Lies Eastward — curse the West !”
A small, great-hearted band it was
A troop of marching men ;
They bore the dear, gum-fashion’d Cross —
There were Australians then !
They were our country’s Pioneers,
The warriors in advance,
And were — by Faith’s own royal tears —
The first Australians !
West, where the sinking ships go down,
Like plummet-souls to sleep,
Their vanguard hearts refused to drown
Within the turgid deep.
Adown the track their spirits strode
Unto the gleaming East.
A turn . . . a bend within the road —
The stars, and Freedom’s feast !
They knelt before this god with lips
A-tremble in the light
Of suns that drowned in red eclipse
The dull grey moons of Night.
They knelt, as I who write shall kneel,
As ye who read shall, too,
One hand upon the blood-marked steel,
One filled with faded Rue.
One god there is in all the host
Worth bend of true man’s knee,
And East he holds his Pentecost —
My god of Liberty !
With pains and woes and many tears
Ye say the Road is set ? —
I see a track blazed down the Years,
We’ll be Australians yet !
Grant Hervey. Australians Yet and Other Verses, Thomas C. Lothian, Melbourne, 1913, pages 1-3
Previously published in:
Kilmore Free Press (Kilmore, Vic.), Thursday 22 May 1902, page 4 [which cites The Bulletin (Sydney, NSW), as its source]
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