The Tree of Liberty [poem by Charles Harpur]

[Editor: This poem by Charles Harpur was published in The Bushrangers; A Play in Five Acts, and Other Poems (1853).]

The Tree of Liberty.

We’ll plant a Tree of Liberty
In the centre of the land,
And round it ranged as guardians be,
A vowed and trusty band;
And sages bold and mighty soul’d
Shall dress it day by day:
But woe unto the traitor who
Would break one branch away.

Then sing the Tree of Liberty
For the vow that we have made;
May it so flourish that when we
Are buried in its shade,
Fair Womanhood and Love and Good,
All pilgrims pure shall go
Its growth to bless for happiness —
O may it flourish so!

Till felled by gold as bards have told,
In the Old World once it grew,
But there its fruits were ever sold
And only to the Few:
But here at last, uncurs’d by caste,
Each man at Nature’s call
Shall pluck as well what none may sell,
The fruit that blooms for All.

By gold ’twas felled as bards have held
In the Old World where it grew,
But here the power that there dispelled
Its life shall be its dew:
The evil bout of Time is out,
And gold no more a thrall,
Shall here but build for Truth and gild
The fruit that blooms for All.

Then sing the Tree of Liberty,
And the men who shall defend
Its glorious future righteously
For this all-glorious end —
That happiness all men to bless
Out with its growth may grow —
Our Southern Tree of Liberty
Shall flourish even so!

Charles Harpur, The Bushrangers; A Play in Five Acts, and Other Poems, Sydney: W. R. Piddington, 1853, pages 115-116

Editor’s notes:
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)

Old World = Europe, Asia, and Africa, i.e. the known world before the discovery of the Americas, the latter being known as the New World (may also refer to something dating from or associated with olden times, especially something which is reminiscent of the past in a charming or pleasant fashion; old-fashioned; traditional)

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