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The Blue Mountain Exile (1865)

We take the following verses from All The Year Round for October 29. There can be no difficulty
in identifying the "Blue Mountain" here referred to ; nor can we doubt who the "Exile" is, with
"His hair, once all waves, now wind-hackled flax." We are glad to see him make a sign, though we
regret to find him in such a disconsolate humor.

From his hut he strays forth, to gaze on the night,
The old starry story, with mists round the dome ;
And, below, 'tis a squalid and desolate sight ;
A hideous monotony--mud-gleams and gloom.

Beyond, sleeps the forest, all dark ; and, between,
Gold-diggings, deserted, like huge graveyards yawn
(The Last Day long, pass'd from poor earth's work'd-out scene),
From whose gaps both the soul and the body are gone.

Back-gazing, he broods on his lonely retreat ;
The blue-curtain'd lattice gleams faint o'er the swamp ;
No living thing waits there his footstep to greet,
He will find a void cell, and his time-waning lamp.

His arms are grown hard by the swing of the axe ;
His palms dry and grain'd by the sap of the wood ;
His hair, once all waves, now wind-hackled flax,
But he feeleth no change in his blood.

The winds are gone down, the night-hours are dead.
Yet silence so sad that it hints of no dawn ;
The Blue Mountain hurricanes rang round his head,
Then left him in statue-trance, firm though forlorn.

The black snake lies torpid beneath the dead logs.
Or creeps o'er the sludge to the mouldering dell,
Where luminous fungi, and leaden-grey frogs,
Each other confront--spell-bound, and a spell.

By the cold water-reptiles' humming quire
The silence is magnetised : hark ! the weird tune !
A charr'd trunk appears--the black ghost of fire ;
Bogs and frogs, and the mist, and the moon.

In this Hades of hopelessness, think not he grieves,
Or feels his strong soul-life one moment despond.
He believes in himself, because he believes
In the Voice of a Spirit beyond !


From the Victorian Newspaper the Leader 28 Jan 1865 p. 17.

"All the Year Round" was a British weekly literary magazine owned and edited by Charles Dickens, published between 1859 and 1895.

Trove searches reveal that many Australian newspapers regularly published poems and articles from this source.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory