Australia’s Heroes [poem by Harry Stockdale, 14 March 1891]

[Editor: A poem about Australia’s explorers. Published in The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser, 14 March 1891.]

Australia’s Heroes

By Harry Stockdale.

The famous deeds of famous men
Are told in deathless story,
By peerless bards of older lands,
Enshrined in fadeless glory.
The heroes of the surging waves,
Our brave and jolly tars,
The pride of chivalry who fell
At Inkerman and Kars.

They show how British soldiers fought
At Lucknow and Redan,
How England, Ireland, Scotland sons
Best blood like water ran.
How countless hordes of Muscovite,
The chivalry of France,
Alike fell back ’fore British steel,
From bayonet and from lance.

Where Austral’s bloodless victories
Were gained no banners wave;
No pomp of war nor trumpet blare
That e’en makes cowards brave.
Her heroes toil’d o’er scorching sands,
Hungry and thirsty too.
Each morning braved a fiery sun,
A sky of cloudless blue.

Mile after mile, no friendly tree,
But seas of waving sand.
Food and water — both gone out,
All round a desert land.
Now on the distant horizon
A hopeful sight is seen,
The timber of a watercourse —
Big waving gum trees green.

Down sinks the sun, still on he drags
His aching fleshless bones,
His feet in horsehide bound, to save
From spinifex and stones.
The night has passed, ’tis breaking day,
He sleeps beside the stream,
And sees once more his father’s home,
His mother, in his dream.

He wakes to find ’tis but a dream.
No stately home is there,
No mother’s kiss upon his brow,
No sister passing fair;
Then thinks of the race he sprang from,
The annals of their fame.
And swears by the “God of his fathers”
If die he must — die game.

Let us sing to our new land’s heroes,
Be the paean proud and strong;
Let’s build them a monument worthy
The stout hearts mould’ring long.
Let us prove that we’ve not forgotten
The greatest our land has known,
Who bore the brunt of our battles,
Who conquered the great unknown.

I have read from old lords’ history
The stories of my race,
And have felt my blood course faster
Because of my birthplace;
But found no nobler names therein
Than Stuart, Eyre, and Grey,
Who conquered the silent wilderness,
Who lifted the clouds away.

The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (Sydney, NSW), 14 March 1891, p. 584

[Editor: Changed “his fathers’” to “his fathers”” (changed the single quotation mark to a double quotation mark).]

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