Australian Folk Songs
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The Emigrant's Song (1853)
No jolly young bushman e'er wept or repined
That his fatherland, Britain, he'd Left far behind ;
But often at eve, on his bush feaiher-bed,
Such fancies as these will arise in his head :
In old merrie England the swan and the drake
Are smoothing their wings in each stream and each lake;--
As sand on the shore, and as rays from the sun--
Go, visit the Reedbeds, we've thousands for one.
Where the scent is revealing old sly Reynard's track,
The huntsman is cheering his musical pack ;--
But wilder our daring, more glad our halloo,
As we chase, 'cross the wild scrub, the fleet kangaroo.
Colonel Hawker, at midnight, considers it fun
To bag twenty mallards, with punt and with gun ;
But by the bright moon, 'tis more joyous for me
To "down" the sly "possum" from hollow gum-tree.
'Tis a hold deed, and skilful, in silvery Tweed,
With a slight silken thread a huge salmon to lead,
Till at last the stream's monarch is stretched on the sod ;--
But from billagong 'tis better to drag Murray cod.
They have partridge and pheasant in ev'ry rich plain;
They've the lark and the nightingale's soft flowing strain ;--
But a rival for parrots or lories you'd seek
The wide world and not find, for the beauties can speak.
The flowers of England are lovely in hue,
The cowslip's faint tint, and the harebell's deep blue ;
But whatever can equal at fair Chiswick show
Those which spring in each gully, on every hill grow ?
Old England is famous for apple and pear,
And even for peaches, with hot walls and care ;--
But, sons of Australia, we revel in pine,
In orange, in melon, in loquat, in vine.
A thousand feet down their bold pit-miner goes,
To drag up King Coal from his fossil repose ;--
But we've fuel all ready, in ton-weights untold ;
And you can't plant a spade without turning up gold.
Old England may boast of its Thames, and its Tyne,
Where the ships of the world raise a forest of pine !--
But the Murray still deeper and wider does grow,
If twenty score leagues up its waters you go !
No "Spitalfields weaver," no "son of the soil,"
Can earn half-a crown in a summer day's toil ;--
But we'd ne'er lift a spade, yoke a bullock in dray,
Unless we got eight or ten shillings a day.
Our country is young, and our wealth is unknown,
Our mines are unopened, our crops are not grown ;
Still "Australia advance" be our rallying cry,
And like Barnaby's raven,* boys, " never say die."
North Adelaide, 17th Nov., 1853.
* Barnaby Rudge.
From the South Australian Newspaper the Adelaide Observer Saturday 26 November 1853 p. 7.
australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory