[Editor: A patriotic song. Published in The Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal, 3 September 1862.]
“A Song of Australia.”
Si canimus sylvas, sylvae, sint, consule dignae
Oh! the land of Australia the happy and free,
The land of Australia for ever for me:
When the sun shines so bright and the sides are so clear,
And the trees wear their liv’ry of green all the year.
What beautiful flowrets spring up in the soil,
Spontaneous their growth without trouble or toil;
While the odour of peppermint scents every grove,
Through whose mazes the herds of wild kangaroo rove:
While flocks of bright parrots their plumage display,
All glittering like gold in the blaze of the day!
Oh! sweet is the breath of the wattle’s perfume,
And golden its flowers in the pride’ of its bloom.
And pleasant its shade when at noon tide you seek,
A retreat from the sun by the cool shady creek;
Tho’ Europe may boast of its jessamine bowers,
Its lilies and roses and sweet smelling flowers,
Which are placed in the garden and grow in the field,
To care and to culture their fragrance they yield:
But the wattle is nature’s own beautiful child,
And it grows in the bush all luxuriant and wild,
Like an emblem of liberty graceful and free,
Is the wattle Australia’s own beautiful tree.
When the first glow of morn o’er the forest is shed,
And the eastern Heaven is resplendently red;
Then the note of the magpie is heard from the hill,
And the soldier bird’s whistle responsive and shrill,
And the sleepy opossum has gone to his nest,
In the old hollow gum tree the place he loves best!
For he feeds on its tender green leaves all the night,
And departs at the first breath of morn like a sprite:
Ere the sun beams have drank up the pure pearly dews,
Like snow flakes come flocking the white Cockatoos,
And though harsh is their screaming yet graceful their flight,
With their top knots of yellow and bosoms of white.
The shepherd goes forth from his bark covered cot,
And when noon in the blue sky is cloudless and hot,
He seats himself down on some old sheltered log,
And attended alone by his own faithful dog,
He thus shortens the hours of the long summer’s day,
With a smoke of his pipe and a pot of bush tea!
But the long summer’s day has now drawn to its close,
What shadows at parting the golden sun throws:
And the chorus of birds that was silent all day,
Begins from the hills and the valleys to play.
How sweet is the hour of the gentle twilight,
E’re it fades o’er the verge of the Heavens into night,
E’er the bright stars peep out of the firmament dark,
Or the fire fly discloses its luminous spark;
Oh! many an hour have I walked in the bush,
And have watched of the daylight the last dying blush,
And have felt on my cheek the soft sigh of the breeze.
As it rustled the leaves of the moss covered trees!
And have felt in my breast such a freedom from care,
Such repose of the spirit so calm and so rare,
As can only be felt when with nature we dwell
In the forest or mountain or rock crested dell,
Then give me the wild bush all boundless and free,
And Australia for ever the country for me.
August 29th, 1862.
The Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal (Bathurst, NSW), Wednesday 3 September 1862, page 2
Si canimus sylvas, sylvae, sint, consule dignae = (Latin) “if we sing about forests, let them be forests worthy of a consul”, or “if we sing of the woods, let them be woods worthy of a consul”; from Eclogue IV (line 3), by Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro, 70 BC – 19 BC)
See: 1) P. Virgilii Maronis opera: Interpretatione et notis, Philadelphia: H.C. Carey & I. Lea, 1823, page 21 [see the 3rd line]
2) Publius Papinius Statius. The Silvae of Statius (translated by Betty Rose Nagle), Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004, page 5
3) “Eclogues/Eclogue IV”, WikiSource (accessed 15 November 2011)
4) “P. Vergili Maronis Ecloga Qvarta”, The Latin Library (accessed 3 March 2013) [“si canimus silvas, silvae sint consule dignae”]
[Editor: Corrected “fragance” to “fragrance”.]