Works in the Herald 1937

"I have never seen anything like the sallow faces and poor physique of the navy and army men who took part in the Jubilee display at Manly. We were all sickened by the sight," said Genereal H.W. Lloyd last week. It was a disgrace, he added, referring to "those weedy specimens," and Australians could not sneer at dictators who did so much for the youth of their various countries.

Here's a state of things,
   Memory still clings
      To the picture of a Digger,
      Hallowed and heroic figure
Facing death in fields afar --
That unequalled avatar
      He of whom it had been said:
      "The bravest thing God ever made."
Long and lean and loose of shoulder
Graying now and growing older.

Do these tall, tough men
   Vanish from our ken?
      Must they disappear for ever,
      Fighters all, if "soldiers" never?
Gathered up from farm and city,
Certainly they were not pretty --
      Faces, rugged as a rock,
      Carven, from a red-gum block --
Anzaca who, unblooded still, 
Faced the hell of that first hill.

Has this sturdy seed
   Given but a weed?
      Do frail forms and sallow faces
      Fill these big, bronzed warrior's places,
So that generals are stricken
At the sight of them, and silken?
      Has a pioneering nation
      Wilted in one generation,
Needing a dictator's hand
To uphold a weakening land?

Moderate your grief.
   Might is not all beef.
      Fat and force may go together;
      So do strength and green-hide leather,
And all heores are not made
From the pick of the parade.
      Yet the warning must be heeded:
      Health is vital, training needed,
That a nation's weal increase
Be the issue war or peace. 

Herald, 22 March 1937, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2008