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Swiftly it sped across that bitter lake
Whose waters numb all life ; around him now
The darkness warms to crimson, or sweeps back
Into its grim recesses, and the sullen flow
Of the drear sea in an unwonted glow
Discovers far and wide ; a skiff draws nigh
Bearing a torch fixed on its golden prow,

Steered by the power and the all-seeing eye
Of Him who points the track of doom and destiny.

The boat was all with rich-woofed purple lined,
Fit for repose, and wreaths of wild flowers sweet
The rainbow-tinctured hull with life did bind,
And the worn pilgrim's sense with joy did greet,
Like the young breath of Spring, when round our feet
She pours the earliest treasures of the year,
Answering the loving touch of Titan's heat,

And bringing joy to hearts made sad with care,
Or 'mured in mental toil, which gifted souls must bear.

Agenor sprang within the boat, which sped
In its return across the silent sea;
And gentle sleep embraced his weary head,
And pain-worn frame, the deep anxiety,
The courage, prudence, deathless constancy
In lap of sweet forgetfulness were still ;
The soul, released from her long agony,

Forgot her very being, drank her fill
Of that deep rest which God bestows on whom He will.

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The singing of a multitude of birds,
The rippling of a river as it played
Among its reeds, a melody of words
Rich with heart-healing happiness, now made

Him shake the spell of sleep, and half afraid
Lest it might prove a dream, he oped his eyes
On breadth of golden light, and rosy shade;

Mingled with flow'rets of a thousand dyes
Fed by the milk of earth and tinctured by the skies.

Pansies and violets made fair the sod,
With purple hyacinth and asphodel
Rising still lovelier where the foot had trod;
And tufted hillocks where the lark did dwell
The daisy mantled, and in every dell
The woodbine sweet embraced her friend the rose;
The wind blew softly o'er a lake, whose swell

Scarce broke the sense of infinite repose,
Of life whose effort calm nor stay nor impulse knows.

The river's banks, and every green hill-side
Around the lake, the fruits of God's own clime
Enriched, the clusters 'mid the leaves did hide
In dewy wealth with blessing at the prime,
As once ʼmid Judæan hills in autumn time
They cheered a prophet's heart, the boon long lost
With Eden's bliss, upreared its form sublime,

And shed its fragrance over all the coast,
And in its arms of life embraced a bright-winged host

Of birds, that filled the blithe air with their song,
Thrilling the heart with gladness; laughter loud
Where happy children raced the woods among,
Plying their games in many an eager crowd,
Told that the life immortal was endowed
With the sweet mirth of childhood; while around
Gathered the groups of older saints, who showed

The greatness of the joy their souls had found,
With eyes no tears could dim, and brows with rapture
Now gently! wrap his old blue blanket round him,


And lay him softly in the sheet of bark,
Won't it be very quiet here around him,

Here in the forest dark ! You know when Spring Creek diggings first were opened,

Down beside Beechworth, then called May Day Hill, I was a new chum just a few weeks landed,

And there I first knew Phil.
Beside his tent door he was sitting smoking,

When I came trudging slowly on the track.
I guess I was both worn and hungry-looking,

With swag upon my back. “Good evening, youngster, dirty travelling lately ;

Sit on this log and have a drink of tea ;" And I sat down beside him, wondering greatly

To find the man so free. “Hard up, and weary, lad, a bit down-hearted ?

Don't fret, and wish that thou hadst not been born; For when we think that luck and we have parted,

There comes a sudden turn.”
And then we talked about the dear old land,

And those I loved across the wide, wide sea ;
And as we talked the tears dropped on his hand,

Who would have looked for tears from such as he ? Upon our talk, between the gum-tree branches,

Shimmering and fitting o'er his face and mine,
Through the thick leaves, with rays like silver lances,

The moon began shine.
Then Phil went in and brought a tin slush lamp,

And with his knife began the wick to trim ; “My lad, the night is growing chill and damp,

I'd better light the glim.”

“And, youngster, now after this long inspection,

I tell you what, I like your physiog;
So let's be mates, and if you've no objection

We'll strike the bargain with a glass of grog."
So in we went, and from beneath the bunk

He drew a large black bottle filled with rum; And said, as in our cans the grog we drunk,

"Here's to the luck which may be yet to come!” Button his shirt there ! blue and livid yet,

Upon his breast I see that ugly scar, Got in a bayonet charge at Goojerat

In the tough wrestle of the last Sikh War. When the big rush broke out on Snowy River,

Among the first to go were Phil and I, And there I was laid up with typhus fever,

And almost like to die.

But poor old Phil watched o'er me day and night,

And hardly ever left the stretcher side, When all the diggers near us took a fright,

And but for him I surely would have died. It's just three days ago since he took bad,

I brought him all the help that could be got;
But, sir, you see, the help that's to be had

Is very little in this lonely spot.
Just before death his eyes grew very large,

And looking round he said “ It's almost night!
Here, Jim, good-bye, I've got my last discharge,

Give me your hand, my lad, all's right, all's right!” We'll bury him here beside this clump of wattle,

'Twill be a sort of mark to show his grave; He's come through tempest and the whirl of battle,

Here in the bush to find a lonely grave.




THESE two ballads were written when I first met with the 'Voyages' of Richard Hakluyt in my boyhood, twelve years ago. Kingsley had already interested me in Sir Richard Grenville, but from Hakluyt I learned the story of his valour, his stern and simple constancy, and death. In the solitude of the primeval forest the power of such deeds comes home to the soul more strongly than when one is moving among the littlenesses and conventionalities of ordinary life. The Titanic aspect of our nature looks in upon us through the silence, and mingles with the influence of “the ancient mountains, and the everlasting hills.” Swayed by the lion-hearted spirit of the past I wrote the two ballads with feelings which I would not have exchanged for all the gold of Australia.


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