It turns out there’s a history of poetry in my family as I have unearthed a poem written by my second great grandfather in 1887. It was the year of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee and the Empire was in the mood for a party. None were more enthusiastic than the City of Adelaide who planned a new exhibition hall to mark the event. Inspired by London’s highly successful Great Exhibition of 1851 funds were raised and doubters were dispatched. The event was a great success, as was the Jubilee Exhibition Hall which has long since been demolished; a vestige of which remains is a fountain which now resides outside of Adelaide Arcade in Rundle Mall.
To add some context, this was prior to WWI and indeed the Boer war.
I looked up ‘Cojamana’ and couldn’t find anything but assume that it’s some kind of plant. A ‘roundelay’ is a short, simple song with a refrain.
Born of the foam like the Goddess of Love,
With a coral rock for a throne,
Where the Austral waves kiss the glittering sand
Of Australia’s bright happy glorious land,
A maiden she slept all alone,
And the stealthy blacks, with their panther-like tread,
Ever let her sleep on e’en as though she were dead.
Yet the waves with their musical air,
The winds in her soft golden hair,
The seagulls, and sunshine,
Cojamana, and woodbine,
Sang sweetly this gentle refrain-
“Awake from thy slumbers, sweet maiden,
Shake the fetters of sleep from thine eyes;
With silver and gold you are laden,
O, awaken and learn to be wise.
The nations have heard of your beauty,
Of your river, your mountain, and dell,
Creation’s great God seeks your duty,
O, awake from your slumberous spell.”
Britannia looked forth from her sea-girt isle,
And she loved this maiden so lone;
She stretched out her arms with a mother’s sweet care,
And commanded her stalwart sons to prepare
O’er the seas to this shore to be borne.
They have stepped on the strand where the lov’d maiden lay;
With a true British cheer they have chased sleep away.
The flower-spangled hills re-echo
The shouts of the brave and the free.
Rosella and skylark,
Silver-wattle and string-bark,
Thus hopefully sang then to thee.
“Awake from thy slumbers, sweet maiden,
Ope thine eyes to the good and the great,
See thy sisters around thee all laden,
Winged steeds speed thy glorious fate,
For the Saxon, the Celt, and the Teuton,
Will guide thee glory and fame,
And give thee amidst all the nations,
A great and a glorious name.”
Erect ‘neath the shade of an aged gumtree
She stood mid that little brave hand,
Homage then swore to their God and the Crown,
And then bowed that nor care nor dark gloomy frown
Should light on her fair, beauteous land.
Forth they sped to the forests, the gullies and dells,
Hopeful hearts full of joy as the old marriage bells,
Mid perfume of newly-trod flowers,
The chatter of laughing Ha-ha,
Rosella and love-bird,
Gum-blossom and Lyre-bird,
Thus proudly of her sand then.
“On her throne sits the Austral maiden;
Sits the still never slumbering queen;
They come to her palace all laden,
Neér a care has she ever T ween-
Virgin earth has entwined the ploughshare,
Shining metals have gazed on the sun,
And the nations have learned to love her,
For the honor by industry won.”
Clothed in bright verdure the mountain slopes shine
And the kine in contentment lie,
The white lambkin sports with the limpid dew,
And the proud Austral steed so fleet and so true
Lifts his beautiful head on high,
The strong patient oxen o’er mountain and plain
Drag the fleecy wool in the loaded wain,
The sinewy stockman gallops apace,
Must’ring young steers for the market-place,
And he sings as he flies
Tween the earth and bright skies
This joyous roundelay –
“Thanks, oh thanks, sweet Austral maiden;
A thousand thanks sweet Princess mine,
For your sunny hills with verdure laden,
For your juice of the luscious vine;
And bless thee for blue skies and sunshine,
And your showers of generous rain,
And the rigour of freedom that fills me
With love for my own fellow men”
Arranged in fine raiment the fair maiden dwelt
In her city just over the sea;
The busy throng eager for wealth and for rest,
Pace northward and southward and east and west,
Yet then toil right merrily.
In loving wefts bound to her own mother land,
Australia and Britain forward go on hand in hand,
Her sons and her daughters ever revere
Our Queen and old England of memory dear.
And then sing as they go
On their cheerful may
Unto thee this roundelay-
“Years fifty have gone since this maiden
Shook the fetters of sleep from her eyes,
Ships go forth from her granaries laden,
She has waken’d and learned to be wise.
The iron steed pants through her cities,
The great river brings down her store,
And our kind Austral maid ever pities
God’s own children- the needy and poor.”
Crowned and bedecked at her wide palace gate
In her city just over the sea,
With ourstretched arms to the nations that come
She bids them good welcome to this her fair home,
And the bells then ring out merrily.
Around her all glit’ring with gems and with gold,
Stand her fine lovely sisters of whom it is told,
That they love this sweet maiden
With fruit and corn laden,
And she sings as they come
To her warm sunny home
This noble roundelay-
“Lo, waving grain gilds all the meadows,
Hark! the bleating of flocks in the hills,
See the tall chimneys cast their shadows
Where my artisans toil in their mills,
My cellars with mine are o’erflowing,
Of learning my schools have full store,
And the spires of my temples are glowing,
Where my people Jehovah adore.
“My armour is shining and ready
Hearths and homes, and my honour, to shield,
Brave gunners and riflemen steady,
Ane prepared to die brave on the field.
Rifts the ambient air the light football,
Shouts the throng with heartiest praise,
Flies the batsman with nimblest footfall
In the Englishman’s game of old days.
“At my portals, a proud Austral maiden,
I hold forth my welcome to all.
Come nations with untold wealth laden,
Come feast in my Jubilee Hall.
Tell the tale to our dear ones in Britain,
How, with fifty years heavenly aid,
From an idle sleep softly awakened,
I’ve become a rich South Austral maid.”