[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,