Erasmus Darwin “Visit of Hope to Sydney Cove, near Botany Bay”

Among the books I borrowed from Surry Hills Library yesterday is Harbour City Poems: Sydney in Verse 1788 – 2008 ed Martin Langford (2009): “The first collection of Sydney-specific poems for twenty years, this book includes not only such classics as Kenneth Slessor’s ‘Five Bells’ and favourites like ‘Clancy of the Overflow’, but also generous selections of the surprisingly strong contemporary poetry as well as older verse tracing back to the town’s birth.”

I had never before taken much notice of Erasmus Darwin’s (grandfather of Charles) “Visit of Hope to Sydney Cove, near Botany Bay” which was composed in 1789 to accompany this Wedgewood medallion.


So I thought I would share it with you today.

    Visit of Hope to Sydney Cove, near Botany Bay

      WHERE Sydney Cove her lucid bosom swells,
      And with wide arms the indignant storm repels;
      High on a rock amid the troubled air
      Hope stood sublime, and waved her golden hair;
      Calmed with her rosy smile the tossing deep,
      And with sweet accents charmed the winds to sleep;
      To each wild plain she stretched her snowy hand,
      High-waving wood, and sea-encircled strand.
      "Hear me," she cried, "ye rising realms! record
      Time’s opening scenes, and Truth’s prophetic word.
      There shall broad streets their stately walls extend,
      The circus widen, and the crescent bend;
      There, rayed from cities o’er the cultured land,
      Shall bright canals, and solid roads expand.
      There the proud arch, colossus-like, bestride
      Yon glittering streams, and bound the chasing tide;
      Embellished villas crown the landscape-scene,
      Farms wave with gold, and orchards blush between.
      There shall tall spires, and dome-capped towers ascend,
      And piers and quays their massy structures blend;
      While with each breeze approaching vessels glide,
      And northern treasures dance on every tide!"
      Then ceased the nymph — tumultuous echoes roar,
      And Joy’s loud voice was heard from shore to shore —
      Her graceful steps descending pressed the plain,
      And Peace, and Art, and Labour, joined her train.
      Erasmus Darwin
  • Review of Harbour City Poems.

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