Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AN ABORIGINAL MOTHER'S LAMENT, by CHARLES HARPUR



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AN ABORIGINAL MOTHER'S LAMENT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Still farther would I fly, my child
Last Line: Of water now for thee.
Subject(s): Aborigines, Australian


[About the year 1842 a party of stockmen, several of whom were afterwards hanged for the crime,
made a wholesale slaughter of a small tribe of defenceless blacks; one woman only, with her
infant, escaped from the murderers.]

Still farther would I fly, my child,
To make thee safer yet,
From the unsparing white man,
With his dread hand murder-wet!
I'll bear thee on as I have borne
With stealthy steps wind-fleet,
But the dark night shrouds the forest,
And thorns are in my feet.

O moan not! I would give this braid --
Thy father's gift to me --
But for a single palmful
Of water now for thee.

Ah! Spring not to his name -- no more
To glad us may he come! --
He is smouldering into ashes
Beneath the blasted gum!
All charred and blasted by the fire
The white man kindled there,
And fed with our slaughtered kindred
Till heaven-high went its glare!

O moan not! I would give this braid --
Thy father's gift to me --
But for a single palmful
Of water now for thee.

And but for thee, I would their fire
Had eaten me as fast!
Hark! Hark! I hear his death-cry
Yet lengthening up the blast!
But no -- when that we should fly,
On the roaring pyre flung bleeding -- I saw thy father die!

O moan not! I would give this braid --
Thy father's gift to me --
But for a single palmful
Of water now for thee.

No more shall his loud tomahawk
Be plied to win our cheer,
Or the shining fish-pools darken
Beneath his shadowing spear;
The fading tracks of his fleet foot
Shall guide not as before,
And the mountain-spirits mimic
His hunting call no more!

O moan not! I would give this braid --
Thy father's gift to me --
But for a single palmful
Of water now for thee.





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