Lament of the Last Tasmanian Aborigine single work   poetry   "Land of my birth - my childhood's home!"
Composed: Newtown, Marrickville - Camperdown area, Sydney Southern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales, 5 Feb 1859
Issue Details: First known date: 1859 1859
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Notes

  • Although Truganini is not named in this poem, by the time of its publication, 19 years before her death, she was acknowledged as the last living 'full-blooded' Tasmanian Aborigine.
  • LAMENT OF THE LAST TASMANIAN ABORIGINE.

    The chapter which relates the fate of the aboriginal inhabitants of Tasmania is one of the most melancholy in history. That island was first settled in 1803. The number of the aborigines at the time is unknown. In 1815, however, after more than a dozen years of un-ceasing butchery, they were believed to amount to about 5000. It is stated in the Herald of February 2nd, 1859, that in five years from that time they were reduced to 340 souls. Three years ago only 16 were left ; and it is added, "It is therefore more than probable that in a few years the race will be utterly extinct."

    " Cain, where is thy brother ? . . . . The voice of

    thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground."

    " Vengeance is mine, and I will repay, saith the Lord."

    Land of my birth - my childhood's home !

    Land where my free-born sires did roam !

    Land of a blighted race !

    Adieu - adieu, each well-known scene -

    Each wood and hill - that valley green,

    My tribe's last resting-place.

    There oft, beneath the forest shade,

    By murmuring stream, in grassy glade,

    We've joined in mimic war ;

    Or danced the wild corrobboree,

    Or speared the bounding wallaby,

    Or led the chase afar.

    Changed by the stranger's axe and plough,

    My home ! I scarcely know it now !

    The fall of every tree

    Is but another link destroyed -

    A widening of that gaping void

    Between the past and me.

    Each forest haunt - each tangled dell -

    The spots where friends or kindred fell

    Before the ruthless white -

    The place where mother, child, and sire

    Were murdered round their camping fire -

    All fading from my sight.

    My fathers' shades, with outstretched arms,

    Bend from the clouds their dusky forms,

    And beckon me away.

    And voices from the forest deep,

    I hear when wild winds wailing sweep,

    Which urge me not to stay.

    My sight grows dim - my senses swim -

    I come ! I yield my breath to Him,

    That great Almighty Power.

    Last of my race - not one is left

    To close my eyes - of all bereft,

    In this my dying hour.

    The white man's God, who reigns on high,

    Looks down, with his all-seeing eye,

    On all who dwelt below.

    Vengeance, they say, to him belongs -

    Then may he right the black man's wrongs -

    To him I leave the blow.

    Newtown, February 5,1859, BETA.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Last amended 6 Mar 2014 13:47:44
Subjects:
  • Tasmania,
  • Tasmania,
  • Tasmania,
  • 1803-1859
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