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The Convict's Dream at Botany Bay (1892)

'Twas in my cell at midnight,
I beheld a vision strange
Arrayed in varied colours,
Which over seemed to change.
In its many evolutions
Familar scenes I saw
And scenes wherein I figured
Since I transgressed the law,
Which caused me to be "banished" from
The place where I was born--
Worked like a boast of burden,
And looked upon with scorn."
I saw the cursed sandhills
Where many tears I shed
For the wrongs we had to bear,
And many comrades dead.
Where we lived a life of torture
A life of sin and shame--
Which impaired both soul and body,
And stigmatised the name.
I saw the ghastly prison
With the walls so damp and cold,
Thro' which in winter season
Grim Death in triumph rolled.
And ere this scene had faded.
Another came o view ;
We were all called together
As if for a review ;
Dressed in the garb of freemen--
The sight it was so grand !
My joy was quite unbounded--
I thought of Fatherland !
Of the chain that bound us, broken,
That hold us there as slaves,
Where many boon companions
Had filled untimely graves.
A stately ship lay anchored :
I felt her gently glide,
And saw the foaming billows
Before her bow divide.
"All bound for home and kinsmen"
Our jovial captain said,
And my mind did quickly wander
To the scenes of comrades dead,
I thought of loved ones waiting
To greet them on the shore,
And of our sad lot to toll them
"That they would meet no more,"
But surpassing all in grandeur,
Was the next that met my gaze :
I saw my native country
Dim, thro' the misty haze ;
And next my native village--
My native hills so green
And then my aged mother,
Appeared upon the scene,
I hurried forth to greet her,
And vainly tried to speak;
She noticed there my presence,
And gave a joyous shriek.

• •

And then the vision faded
A cloud came over all,
And I heard my burly gaolor
Repeat his morning call.

Shoalhaven News


From the NSW newspaper The Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser 28 Jun 1892 p. 4.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory