Sonnet On Affixing A Tablet To The Memory Of Captain Cook And Sir Joseph Banks Against The Rock Of Their First Landing In Botany Bay
I have been musing what our Banks had said
And Cook, had they had second sight, that here
(Where fifty years ago the first they were
Of voyagers, whose feet did ever tread
These savage shores) — that here on this south head
Should stand an English farm-hut; and that there
On yon north shore, a barrack tow'r should peer;
Still more had they this simple Tablet read,
Erected by their own compatriots born,
Colonists here of a discordant state,
Yet big with virtues (though the flow'ry name
Which Science left it, has become a scorn
And hissing to the nations), if our Great
Be Wise and Good. So fairest Rome became!
On Visiting The Spot Where Captain Cook And Sir Joseph Banks First Landed In Botany Bay
Here fix the tablet. This must be the place
Where our Columbus of the South did land.
He saw the Indian village on that sand
And on this rock first met the simple race
Of Austral Indians who presumed to face
With lance and spear his musket. Close at hand
Is the clear stream from which his vent'rous band
Refreshed their ship; and thence a little space
Lies Sutherland, their shipmate; for the sound
Of Christian burial better did proclaim
Possession than the flag, in England's name.
These were the commelinae Banks first found;
But where's the tree, with the ship's wood-carved fame?
Fix, then, the Ephesian brass-'tis classic ground!
On Reading The Controversy Between Lord Byron And Mr Bowles
WHETHER a ship's poetic? -- Bowles would own,
If here he dwelt, where Nature is prosaic,
Unpicturesque, unmusical, and where
Nature-reflecting Art is not yet born; --
A land without antiquities, with one,
And only one, poor spot of classic ground,
(That on which Cook first landed) -- where, instead
Of heart-communings with ancestral relicks,
Which purge the pride while they exalt the mind,
We've nothing left us but anticipation,
Better (I grant) than utter selfishness,
Yet too o'erweening -- too American;
Where's no past tense, the ign'rant present's all;
Or only great by the All hail, hereafter!
One foot of Future's glass should rest on Past;
Where Hist'ry is not, Prophecy is guess --
If here he dwelt, Bowles (I repeat) would own
A ship's the only poetry we see.
For, first, she brings us "news of human kind,"
Of friends and kindred, whom perchance she held
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Thou Spirit of Australia,
That redeems from utter failure,
From perfect desolation,
And warrants the creation
Of this fifth part of the Earth,
Which would seem an after-birth,
Not conceiv'd in the Beginning
(For GOD bless'd His work at first,
And saw that it was good),
But emerg'd at the first sinning,
When the ground was therefore curst; --
And hence this barren wood!
Tho' at first sight we should say,
In thy nature that there may
Contradiction be involv'd,
Yet, like discord well resolv'd,
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GOD of this Planet! for the name best fits
The purblind view, which men of this "dim spot"
Can take of THEE, the GOD Of Suns and Spheres!
What desert forests, and what barren plains,
Lie unexplor'd by European eye,
In what our Fathers call'd the Great South Land!
Ev'n in those tracts, which we have visited,
Tho' thousands of thy vegetable works
Have, by the hand of Science (as 'tis call'd)
Been gather'd and dissected, press'd and dried,
Till all their blood and beauty are extinct;
And nam'd in barb'rous Latin, men's surnames,
With terminations of the Roman tongue;
Yet tens of thousands have escap'd the search,
The decimation, the alive-impaling,
Nick-naming of GOD'S creatures -- 'scap'd it all.
Still fewer (perhaps none) of all these Flowers
Have been by Poet sung. Poets are few.
And Botanists are many, and good cheap.
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