The Old Convict Church, Port Arthur

A grey reminder of God’s grace
By a blue winking sea,
The church stands in a green place,
Green as Calvary.

The convicts built it, stone by stone –
Wall, window, tower, arch.
‘Build or we break you, flesh and bone,’
And so they built the church.

Irons clank, the lashes crash and skim; They quarried, hewed, and hauled. Straightly they built the church to Him Who made their crooked world.

They built and spilt their hate, a flood
Their hearts might not disburse;
For every beam, a drop of blood,
For every stone, a curse.

They built a church, the living praise
Of mercy from on high:
Their blistered hands they dared not raise
To curse the cruel sky.

The sweat they poured, the blood they spilt
Earth drank long since, and gone
Long since the guards and they that built:
Only the church stands on.

Built by the convicts’ hating hands,
Still by the quiet cove
In gracious dignity it stands,
Praising the God of Love.

Poems of the Spirit

Poems of Australia