Archive for June 24th, 2013

Monday, 24 June 2013

The Aboriginal Mother by Eliza Hamilton Dunlop

“Only one female and her child got away from us.” – Evidence before the Supreme Court.

Oh, hush thee – hush, my baby, I may not tend thee yet,
Our forest land 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 tear or feeble strength avail.

Ah, could thy little bosom that mother’s anguish feel,
Or couldst 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 fields of blood,
Else I had, 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 his shield.

I saw my first-born treasure lie headless at my feet,
The gooroo on his mother’s breast with his life’s stream is wet;
And thou, I snatched thee from their sword, it harmless passed by thee,
But clave the binding cords, and gave the craved boon – to flee.

To flee, my babe! but whither, without our friend, our guide?
Thy 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, my 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 might, the mountain tracks to tread?
The echoes of my homeless heart reply, “the dead! the dead!”

For ever must their murmurs, like the ocean torrent flow –
The parted voice comes never back to cheer our lonely woe;
E’en. in the region of our tribe, beside our summer streams,
‘Tis as a hollow symphony from the shadow land of dreams.

Nay, 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 leads my slaughtered boy,
To show their God how treacherously these stranger men destroy;
To tell of hands – the cruel hands – that piled the fatal pyre;
To show our blood on Myall’s ridge; our bones on the stockman’s fire.


Date: 1838

By: Eliza Hamilton Dunlop (1796-1880)