[Editor: A poem by Percy Russell, an English author. This work has been included in several anthologies of poetry. The earliest known appearance of this verse was in 1885.]
The Birth of Australia
Not ’mid the thunder of the battle guns,
Not on the red field of an Empire’s wrath,
Rose to a nation Australasia’s sons;
Who tread to greatness Industry’s pure path!
Behold a people, thro’ whose annals runs
No damning stain of falsehood, force, or fraud,
Whose sceptre is the plough-share — not the sword —
Whose glory lives in harvest-ripening suns.
Where ’mid the records of old Rome or Greece,
Glows such a tale? Thou canst not answer, Time!
Her shield unsullied by a single crime,
With wealth of gold, and still more golden fleece,
Forth stands Australia, in her birth sublime —
The only nation from the womb of Peace!
Percy Russell, A Journey to Lake Taupo: And Australian and New Zealand Tales and Sketches, London: E. A. Petherick & Co., 1889, p. xi
Also published in:
1885: The West Australian (Perth, WA), 19 February 1885, p. 3 [untitled poem in the “News and Notes” column; refers to the poem’s previous publication in the European Mail]
1885: The Wallaroo Times (Port Wallaroo, SA), 21 February 1885, p. 1 of the supplement [untitled poem; article titled “The Australian Dominion”]
1885: The West Australian (Perth, WA), 21 February 1885, p. 3 [untitled poem, in “The Week” column]
1885: The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser (Mount Barker, SA), 2 October 1885, p. 4 [untitled poem; article titled “Peaceful Australia”]
1887?: Percy Russell, The Birth of Australia, ca. 1887-1890 [single sheet with no publication details; printed with the heading “Centennial International Exhibition, Melbourne, 1888”]
1887: The Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas.), 3 May 1887, p. 3 [poem entitled “The Birth of Australia”; this printing refers to “Australia’s sons” rather than “Australasia’s sons”]
1888: Douglas B. W. Sladen (editor), Australian Ballads and Rhymes: Poems Inspired by Life and Scenery in Australia and New Zealand, London: Walter Scott, 1888, p. 171
1888: Douglas B. W. Sladen (editor), A Century of Australian Song, London: Walter Scott, 1888, p. 385
1895: Edmund Clarence Stedman (editor), A Victorian Anthology 1837-1895: Selections Illustrating the Editor’s Critical Review of British Poetry in the Reign of Victoria, Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, c1895, p. 615
1901: Arthur Stanley (editor), Patriotic Song: A Book of English Verse: Being an Anthology of the Patriotic Poetry of the British Empire from the Defeat of the Spanish Armada till the Death of Queen Victoria, London: C. Arthur Pearson, 1901, pp. 299-300
In the version of this poem published in Patriotic Song (1901), the 6th to 9th lines were significantly different:
No damning stain of falsehood, force or wrong, —
A record clear as light, and sweet as song,
Without one page the patriot’s finger shuns!
Where ’mid the legends of old Rome, or Greece,
do you have any more information on the author? or somewhere i could find out more about percy russell?