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4 corrections, most recently by JonathanAuld - Show corrections

Original Poetry. THE GUNDAGAI CALAMITY. By JAMES RILEY "Tis well to find our last retreat 'Neath the Churchyard's sacred sod ;   But those who sleep in the desert or deep Are watched by the selfsame God." ELISA COOK. O, mourn, Australia, weep and mourn ! For yonder floats as sad a wail As e'er on tempest wing was borne, Along the Murrumbidgee's vale. Great God! /what battlings were for breath, What gurgling sounds of agony ! What contests with the monster, Death, His loathed, abhorred embrace to flee ! On, on, the waters madly rush O'er highest bank at wildest will And many a cherished hope they crush, And many a piercing cry they still.   The old. the young, the strong, the weak, The bold, the timid, and the brave, Their voices lend to that loud shriek,   Then struggling, fill a watery grave. Again, Australia's sable sons With vigour ply their frail canoe; Right well hast thou already done, But much, O much, is still to do. To yonder tree quick passage urge, Whence cries for help ring shrill and wild— Too late ! — O, grief, the boiling surge Ingulphs the mother and the child.   Turn, turn, and aid yon drowning pair, Whose outstretched hands would grasp at life — Alas ! they clutch but empty air —   Down sink the husband and the wife ! See how that noble saddled steed, Who felt a master's kindest care, Now with the current tries his speed ; But where's that master ? — where ?— O, where ?     Vainly plunging in yon tree, A horse is by the neck held fast ; The sinking stream will surely see His carcase dangling in the- blast. Insatiate Death ! what sights were bared To those who stared with looks aghast,   When the receding flood declared The secrets of thy dread repast ! While desolation, far and wide,     The water's raging course betrayed, And fierce destruction's reckless stride Disclosed the wreck his hands had made. On that sad scene 'twere vain to dwell. Where gathered corpses strewed the ground, And many a tear of anguish fell In bitter memory of the drown'd. O, Mighty One! whose lightest scan Unnumbered worlds can comprehend, To whose high will man's best laid plan, Like reed before the wind, will bend ! Tis not for us— mere food for worms — To ask why thy unerring hand Sends forth those dreadful floods and storms That scourge or desolate a land.   But let us trust (as mortal may) That them in mercy heardst the cry, Which, thrilling, winged its heavenward way From doomed, ill fated Gundagai. Castlesteads, August 19th, 1852.

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