Thomas Campbell

Thomas Campbell

July 27, 1777 - June 15, 1844


Lines On The Departure Of Emigrants For New South Wales

by Thomas Campbell

On England's shore I saw a pensive band,
With sails unfurl'd for earth's remotest strand,
Like children parting from a mother, shed
Tears for the home that could not yield them bread;
Grief mark'd each face receding from the view,
'Twas grief to nature honourably true.
And long, poor wanderers o'er the ecliptic deep,
The song that names but home shall make you weep:
Oft shall ye fold your flocks by stars above
In that far world, and miss the stars ye love;
Oft when its tuneless birds scream round forlorn,
Regret the lark that gladdens England's morn,1
And, giving England's names to distant scenes,
Lament that earth's extension intervenes.

But cloud not yet too long, industrious train,
Your solid good with sorrow nursed in vain:
For has the heart no interest yet as bland
As that which binds us to our native land?
The deep-drawn wish, when children crown our hearth,
To hear the cherub-chorus of their mirth,
Undamp'd by dread that want may e'er unhouse,
Or servile misery knit those smiling brows:
The pride to rear an independent shed,
And give the lips we love unborrow'd bread:
To see a world, from shadowy forests won,
In youthful beauty wedded to the sun;
To skirt our home with harvests widely sown,
And call the blooming landscape all our own,
Our children's heritage, in prospect long.
These are the hopes, high-minded hopes and strong,
That beckon England's wanderers o'er the brine,
To realms where foreign constellations shine;
Where streams from undiscover'd fountains roll,
And winds shall fan them from th' Antarctic pole.
And what though doom'd to shores so far apart
From England's home, that ev'n the homesick heart
Quails, thinking, ere that gulf can be recross'd,
How large a space of fleeting life is lost:
Yet there, by time, their bosoms shall be changed,
And strangers once shall cease to sigh estranged,
But jocund in the year's long sunshine roam,
That yields their sickle twice its harvest-home.

There, marking o'er his farm's expanding ring
New fleeces whiten and new fruits upspring,
The gray-hair'd swain, his grandchild sporting round,
Shall walk at eve his little empire's bound,
Emblazed with ruby vintage, ripening corn,
And verdant rampart of acacian thorn,
While, mingling with the scent his pipe exhales,
The orange grove's and fig-tree's breath prevails;
Survey with pride beyond a monarch's spoil,
His honest arm's own subjugated soil;
And, summing all the blessings God has given,
Put up his patriarchal prayer to Heaven,
That, when his bones shall here repose in peace,
The scions of his love may still increase,
And o'er a land where life has ample room,
In health and plenty innocently bloom.

Delightful land, in wildness ev'n benign,
The glorious past is ours, the future thine!
As in a cradled Hercules, we trace
The lines of empire in thine infant face.
What nations in thy wide horizon's span
Shall teem on tracts untrodden yet by man I
What spacious cities with their spires shall gleam,
Where now the panther laps a lonely stream,
And all but brute or reptile life is dumb!
Land of the free! thy kingdom is to come,
Of states, with laws from Gothic bondage burst,
And creeds by charter'd priesthoods unaccurst:
Of navies, hoisting their emblazon'd flags,
Where shipless seas now wash unbeacon'd crags
Of hosts review'd in dazzling files and squares,
Their pennon'd trumpets breathing native airs, --
For minstrels thou shalt have of native fire,
And maids to sing the songs themselves inspire: --
Our very speech, methinks, in after-time,
Shall catch th' Ionian blandness of thy clime;
And whilst the light and luxury of thy skies
Give brighter smiles to beauteous woman's eyes,
The Arts, whose soul is love, shall all spontaneous rise.

Untrack'd in deserts lies the marble mine,
Undug the ore that'midst thy roofs shall shine;
Unborn the hands -- but born they are to be --
Fair Australasia, that shall give to thee
Proud temple-domes, with galleries winding high,
So vast in space, so just in symmetry,
They widen to the contemplating eye,
With colonnaded aisles in long array,
And windows that enrich the flood of day
O'er tessellated pavements, pictures fair,
And niched statues breathing golden air.
Nor there, whilst all that's seen bids Fancy swell,
Shall Music's voice refuse to seal the spell;
But choral hymns shall wake enchantment round,
And organs yield their tempests of sweet sound.

Meanwhile, ere Arts triumphant reach their goal,
How blest the years of pastoral life shall roll!
Ev'n should some wayward hour the settler's mind
Brood sad on scenes for ever left behind,
Yet not a pang that England's name imparts
Shall touch a fibre of his children's hearts;
Bound to that native land by nature's bond,
Full little shall their wishes rove beyond
Its mountains blue, and melon-skirted streams,
Since childhood loved and dreamt of in their dreams.
How many a name, to us uncouthly wild,
Shall thrill that region's patriotic child,
And bring as sweet thoughts o'er his bosom's chords
As aught that's named in song to us affords!
Dear shall that river's margin be to him,
Where sportive first he bathed his boyish limb,
Or petted birds, still brighter than their bowers,
Or twined his tame young kangaroo with flowers.
But more magnetic yet to memory
Shall be the sacred spot, still blooming nigh,
The bower of love, where first his bosom burn'd,
And smiling passion saw its smile return'd.
Go forth and prosper then, emprising band:
May He, who in the hollow of his hand
The ocean holds, and rules the whirlwind's sweep,
Assuage its wrath, and guide you on the deep!


Notes to the poem:

1Mr. P. Cunningham, in his interesting work on New South Wales, gives the following account of its song-birds: -- We are not moved here with the deep mellow note of the blackbird, poured out from beneath some low stunted bush, nor thrilled with the wild warblings of the thrush perched on the top of some tall sapling, nor charmed with the blithe carol of the lark as we proceed early a-field; none of our birds rivalling those divine songsters in realizing the poetical idea of 'the music of the grove:' while 'parrots' chattering' must supply the place of 'nightingales' singing' in the future amorous lays of our sighing Celadons. We have our lark, certainly; but both his appearance and note are a most wretched parody upon the bird about which our English Poets have made so many fine similes. He will mount from the ground and rise, fluttering upwards in the same manner, and with a few of the starting notes of the English lark; but, on reaching the height of thirty feet or so, down he drops suddenly and mutely, diving into concealment among the long grass, as if ashamed of his pitiful attempt. For the pert frisky robin, pecking and pattering against the windows in the dull days of winter, we have the lively 'superb warbler,' with his blue shining plumage and his long tapering tail, picking up the crumbs at our doors; while the pretty red-bills, of the size and form of the goldfinch, constitute the sparrow of our clime, flying in flocks about our houses, and building their soft downy pigmy nests in the orange, peach, and lemon-trees surrounding them. -- Cunningham's Two Years in New South Wales, vol. ii. p. 216.


The Poetical Works Of Thomas Campbell
Copyright 1866
Little, Brown, And Company, Boston