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The Aboriginal Mother-Songs of an Exile.--(No. 4.)(1838)
(From Myall's Creek.)

Oh! hush thee--hush my baby,
I may not tend thee yet
Our forest home is distant far,
And midnight's star is set.
Now, hush thee--or the pale-faced men
Will hear thy piercing wail,
And what would then thy mother's tears
Or feeble strength avail !

Oh, could'st thy little bosom
That mother's torture feel,
Or could'st thou know thy father lies
Struck down by English steel ;
Thy tender form would wither,
Like the kniven on the sand,
And the spirit of my perished tribe
Would vanish from our land.

For thy young life, my precious,
I fly the field of blood,
Else had, I for my chieftain's sake,
Defied them where they stood ;
But basely bound my woman arm,
No weapon might it wield :
I could but cling round him I loved,
To make my heart a shield.

I saw my firstborn treasure
Lie headless at my feet,
The gore on this hapless breast,
In his life-stream is wet !
And thou ! I snatch'd thee from their sword,
It harmless pass'd by thee !
But clave the binding cords--and gave,
Haply, the power to flee.

To flee ! my babe--but whither ?
Without my friend--my guide?
The blood that was our strength is shed !
He is not by my side !
Thy sire ! oh ! never, never,
Shall Toon Bakra hear our cry :
My bold and stately mountain-bird !
I thought not he could die.

Now who will teach thee, dearest,
To poise the shield, and spear,
To wield the koopin, or to throw
The boommerring, void of fear ;
To breast the river in its height ;
The mountain tracks to tread ?
The echoes of my homeless heart
Reply--the dead, the dead !

And ever must their murmur
Like an ocean torrent flow :
The parted voice comes never back,
To cheer our lonely woe ;
Even in the region of our tribe,
Beside our summer streams,
'Tis but a hollow symphony--
In the shadow-land of dreams.

Oh hush thee, dear--for weary
And faint I bear thee on--
His name is on thy gentle lips,
My child, my child, he's gone !
Gone o'er the golden fields that lie
Beyond the rolling cloud,
To bring thy people's murder cry
Before the Christian's God.

Yes ! o'er the stars that guide us,
He brings my slaughter'd boy :
To shew their God how treacherously
The stranger men destroy ;
To tell how hands in friendship pledged
Piled high the fatal pire ;
To tell--to tell of the gloomy ridge ;
And the stockmen's human fire.

E. H. D.


From the Sydney newspaper The Australian 13 Dec 1838 p. 4.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory