Australian Folk Songs

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By the pale watchfire of Hope
Sits a nation worn with weeping,
O'er her years of woe have passed
As the avalanches vast
Scores the mountain in their keeping.

Fitful starts in wild war dreams,
Blade half-drawn and swiftly sheathed,
Drumbeats heard across the seas,
Where the ally's war-gear gleams,
With the three bright colours wreathed--
Then a pause of centuries.

Famine prowls where tyrants tread--
Breaks her aching heart asunder.
Woe ! the foodless, graveless dead,
Gaunt arms stretohed to God overhead--
Stretched and strained in voiceless wonder.

Lonely are her pleasant vales,
Lonely for their vanished ones ;
Westward set the rescue sails,
West the great Free Nation hails :
Home and life for Erin's sons.

Ruin rends thee more and more,
Mother sad and desolate,
Still is wrench'ed the roof and door,
Still thy children flee thy shore !
Tyrants drive them from the gate.

For a cause they brought thee low,
Soourged and crowned with platted thorn,
Hanging to a cross of woe,
As thy Lord hung long ago ;
But--He had His Easter Morn

By the pale watchfires of Hope
Sits a nation worn with weeping,
Peering in the coming years
Through a mist of spectral fours,
For the justice in God's keeping.

Ronald Stewart.


From the Sydney Newpaper the Catholic Press 9 March 1901, p. 10.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory