Works in the Bulletin 1915
THE NEW ICONOCLAST
Brothers, in my peaceful study, all dispassionate and thoughtful,
Wrapped in pensive contemplation, furnished with an eager pen,
I would fashion thoughtful verses; but the air is filled with curses,
And the night is rent asunder by the shrieks of futile men.
From the ARGUS on my table comes the shrill, incessant chatter
Of a scared virago scolding, mingled with the voice of one
Wheezing platitudes all hoary. Brothers, 'tis the startled Tory
Crying impotent to Heaven that "we must get something done!"
[SIR, - What is the Labor Government doing? In this time of national
peril every British statesman worthy of the name has set aside party
politics and devoted his energy to the cause of the Empire. The Liberal
statesmen of Australia are only too eager and willing, as we all know,
Oh, my brothers, it would pain me, only that I see a glimmer
Of a truer understanding dawning in the Tory mind;
One by one his josses vanish, one by one he seeks to banish
Fetiches and shibboleths that through long years have served his kind.
Party Government, his idol, he has cast in anger from him -
Anger, tinged with trembling terror lest reform shall come too late.
Yesterday, reform he hated. Now with eagerness belated
He would cleave with fierce affection to the object of his hate.
[SIR, - If, as has been stated on several occasions, private firms are
not capable of producing what is urgently needed by the nation, it behoves
the Government to step in, and, by careful and efficient organisation,
to see that the needs of the people are supplied. The British Government
is adopting Socialistic methods, etc., etc.]
Brothers is it not amazing? But a few short months have vanished
Since we fought for just such measures while the Tory blocked the way -
Strove and schemed and battled vainly that we might be governed sanely;
But reforms he fought with fury - now he wants them in a day.
"Private Enterprise has failed us!" In the days well-nigh forgotten,
Shiftless days of peace and plenty, he who strove to "muddle through,"
Glorying in ancient blunders, calls for miracles and wonders.
Scorning all his olden idols - "Precedent" and "Party" too.
[SIR, - Let registration be begun at once of every individual, man and
woman, in Australia, and a record be kept of their special qualifications
to serve the State. It would be a revelation of the power, etc.]
What? Conscription! Hearken, brothers! Yester-year it was "un-British."
Yester-year a proud old Tory left our shores in angry haste;
For it made his proud flesh tingle to suggest his sons should mingle
With the sons of vulgar persons, lacking wealth and finer taste.
Yester-year, my friends, we slumbered, fatuous and feebly striving
To build up a sturdy nation in our island continent,
Now, behold, we are awaking! E'en the Tory is forsaking
Ancient ways and olden idols, and his cherished "Precedent."
Brothers, through the gloom that shrouds us, through the fearsome smoke of battle,
I can glimpse a bright star shining, I can see a hope for men;
For he wakes who long has slumbered, and the nation's march encumbered.
It has taken war to wake him - do no let him sleep again.
The Bulletin, 24 June 1915, p7