Archive for ‘19th Century’

Thursday, 2 June 2022

Rouse Thee, Wes’tralia: Proclamation Song by Henry Ebenezer Clay

Rouse thee, Wes’tralia! Awake
From thy “Swan’s nest among the reeds;”
Cast thy broad shadow on the lake,
And strongly glide where Fortune leads!

Chorus: Onward! Onward, Wes’tralia!

Let eaglets o’er their quarry scream,—
The vulture’s brood may tear and slay,—
Thou wakest from prophetic dream
Of offspring goodlier than they!


Thy sturdy cygnets from thy side
With glancing feet scull fast and far;
They press their bosoms to the tide,
And stretch bold wings beyond the bar.


Their pennons with the breezes float
And follow fast where Fortune leads;
Till by green holms and bays remote
Are found new nests among the reeds.


Their song (for onset, not for dirge)
Shall flood the creeks of broader ways,
And, with the music of the surge,
Swell the full chant of better days.


Thy seas have pearls; from reef and mine
Flash jewels and the pride of gold:
But goodlier far those sons of thine,
Famous in story yet untold.


God and the Right thy watchword be;
Patient, yet strong to do and dare;
And thine assessors, brave and free,
Labour and Vigilance and Prayer!

Chorus: Onward! Onward, Wes’tralia!

From: H.E.C., Rouse Thee, Wes’tralia: Proclamation Song, 1890, Sands & McDougall: Perth.

Date: 1890

By: Henry Ebenezer Clay (1844-1896)

Friday, 27 May 2022

This Glittering Grief by Robert Liddell Lowe

This glittering grief is all I have
Of you who went before a wave
Would go. A frightened fox in flight
Were not so swift. This sorrow, bright
And shining, is my legacy.
You are a muted memory,
A testament inscribed in sand,
A syllable the lightning’s hand
Wrote transiently across the sky.
You are no more than these—and I
Must mimic now the minor note
Of grieving water’s silver throat.
O little grief, be great. O small
Diminished sorrow, tower tall—
Lest I forget this vanished one,
Too lovely for oblivion.

From: Lowe, Robert Liddell, “This Glittering Grief” in Poetry, Volume XXXIX, Number 1, October 1931, p. 14.

Date: 1931

By: Robert Liddell Lowe (1908-1988)

Sunday, 15 May 2022

The Pedant King, by Jones Inspir’d by John Strachan

The Pedant King, by Jones inspir’d,
To rival antient Greece desir’d.
True taste began to rear her head,
And Gothic grandeur sigh’d and fled.
When Newton banish’d mental night,
A Jones was there to spread the light.
A Jones the simple Indians mourn,
And round his tomb sweet incense burn,
For when he reach’d their fruitful shore,
Base ruthless rapine rag’d no more.
His power their vile oppressors crusht,
And rais’d them suppliant from the dust.
With grateful pleasure, I address
A living branch of such a race,
Who sickness’ baleful rage controls,
And calms with sweetest verse our souls.


Date: 1803

By: John Strachan (1778-1867)

Saturday, 14 May 2022

The Song of the Sirens by Alexander Stuart Strachan/Strahan

Come where the woods are wooing
With fragrant flowers and fair;
Come where the doves are cooing
Love notes on every air.

Come where the wave is strewing
With pink-lipped shells the shore;
Come where the tide is flowing
O’er golden-sanded floor.

Come where the sunlight straying
Mellows us as we swim;
Come where the waters playing
Dimple each rosy limb.

Come to us, come where never
North wind unkindly blows;
Come to us, come and ever
Here in our arms repose.

Come where no storms are breaking,
Come where  no tempests rend;
Come where love knows no waking,
Come where love knows no end.

From: Strachan, A., “The Song of the Sirens” in The Dark Blue, Volume 1, Issue 2, 1 April 1871, p. 189.

Date: 1871

By: Alexander Stuart Strachan/Strahan (1833-1918)

Monday, 2 May 2022

The Inquest by Francis Burdett Thomas Nevill Money Coutts

Not labour kills us; no, nor joy:
The incredulity and frown,
The interference and annoy,
The small attritions wear us down.

The little gnat-like buzzings shrill,
The hurdy-gurdies of the street,
The common curses of the will—
These wrap the cerements round our feet.

And more than all, the look askance
Of loving souls that cannot gauge
The numbing touch of circumstance,
The heavy toll of heritage.

It is not Death, but Life that slays:
The night less mountainously lies
Upon our lids than foolish day’s
Importunate futilities.

From: Money-Coutts, F.B., “The Inquest” in The Bulletin, Vol. 20, No. 1000 (15 April 1899), p. [The Red Page].

Date: 1894

By: Francis Burdett Thomas Nevill Money-Coutts (1852-1923)

Sunday, 1 May 2022

Our Terms or Go! by Venier Voldo

We are the bosses of labour, we,
And you are the sons of toil,
We tell you what your wages shall be,
And then what shall be our spoil;
You see if you have that which you earn,
It won’t give us any show,
And so we propose that you shall learn
To accept our terms or go!

What right have you who do the work,
To give it a price at our loss?
That is the right of us who shirk,
And who play the game of “boss”;
We allow that you may have enough
To keep up the struggle and strain,
But all above must support the bluff,
And go to your bosses’ gain.

We have you hard, for you see, good slaves,
We own all lands and all tools,
All metals and coals, us jolly knaves,
And can play you for our fools.
It’s nothing to us if you have naught,
While our piles forever grow;
You are the cattle our gold has bought,
And so take our terms or go!

From: Voldo, Venier, “Our Terms or Go!” in The Worker, Saturday, 4 August 1894, p. 2.

Date: 1894

By: Venier Voldo (fl. 1876-1894)

Saturday, 16 April 2022

An Easter Text by Anne Emilie Poulsson

Waiting so long in the earth-dark low,
Flower-seeds, do you but hope, or know,
The glory to which you shall some time grow?

Whether by hope or foreknowledge blest,
Upward and outward the plantlet pressed:
This is the text. Do we need the rest?

Is this your heaven, this world of ours,
Here where you bloom into lovely flowers
After your groping and toilsome hours?


Date: 1888

By: Anne Emilie Poulsson (1853-1939)

Friday, 15 April 2022

Barabbas Speaks by Edwin McNeill Poteat

I heard a man explaining
(they said his name was Paul)
how Jesus, on that fateful day,
had died to save us all.

I found it hard to follow
His fine-spun theory,
but I am very, very sure
He died that day for me.

From: Morrison, James Dalton (ed.), Masterpieces of Religious Verse, 1905, Harper & Brothers: New York and London, p. 184.

Date: 1892

By: Edwin McNeill Poteat (1861-1937)

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

To a Spider by Samuel Low

I like thee not; Arachne; thou art base;
Perfidious, merciless, and full of guile;
Cruel and false, like many of our rạce,
Voracious as the monster of the Nile:

Thou villain insect! well do I perceive
The treach’rous web thy murd’rous fangs have wrought,
And yet so fine and subtle dost thou weave,
That heedless innocence perceives it not:

Ev’n now I see thee sit, pretending sleep,
Yet dost thou eager watch the live-long day,
With squinting eyes, which never knew to weep;
Prepar’d to spring upon unguarded prey.

Ill fares it with th’ unwary little fly,
Or gnat, ensnar’d by thy insidious loom;
In thy envenom’d jaws the wretch must die;
To glut thy loathsome carcase is his doom!

Instinctive is my terror at thy sight;
Oft, ugly reptile, have I shun’d thy touch;
Nor do I wonder thou shouldst thus affright,
Since thou resemblest vicious man so much.

Like him, thy touch, thy very look can blight;
But not the Spider species dost thou kill;
While, spite of duty, ev’n in God’s despite,
“Man is to man the surest, sorest ill.”

From: Low, Samuel, Poems by Samuel Low in Two Volumes, Volume II, 1800, T & J Swords: New York, pp. 145-146.

Date: ?1800

By: Samuel Low (1765-????)

Monday, 11 April 2022

The Flowers by Stéphane Mallarmé

From golden showers of the ancient skies,
On the first day, and the eternal snow of stars,
You once unfastened giant calyxes
For the young earth still innocent of scars:

Young gladioli with the necks of swans,
Laurels divine, of exiled souls the dream,
Vermilion as the modesty of dawns
Trod by the footsteps of the seraphim;

The hyacinth, the myrtle gleaming bright,
And, like the flesh of woman, the cruel rose,
Hérodiade blooming in the garden light,
She that from wild and radiant blood arose!

And made the sobbing whiteness of the lily
That skims a sea of sighs, and as it wends
Through the blue incense of horizons, palely
Toward the weeping moon in dreams ascends!

Hosanna on the lute and in the censers,
Lady, and of our purgatorial groves!
Through heavenly evenings let the echoes answer,
Sparkling haloes, glances of rapturous love!

Mother, who in your strong and righteous bosom,
Formed calyxes balancing the future flask,
Capacious flowers with the deadly balsam
For the weary poet withering on the husk.


Date: 1887 (original in French); 1994 (translation in English)

By: Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898)

Translated by: Henry Weinfield (19??- )