Poem: A Song of Southern Writers by Henry Lawson (Part 2)

Southern men of letters, seeking kinder fields across the waves,
Tell a shameful tale entitled "Deniehy's Forgotten Grave".
Ask the South of Charles Harpur! Seek the bitter truth, and tell
Of the life of Henry Kendall, in the land he loved so well!
Sing the songs he wrote in vain! Touch the South with bitter things;
Take the harp he touched so gently; show the blood upon the strings!

It was kind of Southern critics; it was very brave to mouth
At the volume of his boyhood, that was published in the South.
Kendall knew it all -- he knew it; and the tears were very near
When he spoke about the sorrows of "the man of letters here".
(And his wail of "O, My Brother!" came again to one who went
To his grave before "his brothers" mocked him with a monument.)

Banish envy, Southern writer! Strike with no uncertain hand,
For the sound of Gordon's rifle still is ringing through the land!
Ah! the niggard recognition! Ah! the "fame" that came in vain
To the poor dead poet lying with a bullet though his brain!
"Gone, my friends!" (he thought it better to be gone away from here),
Gone, my friends, with "last year's dead leaves ... at the falling of the year".

Pleasant land for one who proses, pleasant land for one who rhymes
With the terrible advantage of a knowledge of hard times:
To be patronised, "encouraged", praised for his contempt of "pelf",
To be told of greater writers who were paupers, like himself;
To be buried as a pauper; to be shoved beneath the sod --
While the brainless man of muscle has the burial of a god.

We have learned the rights of labour. Let the Southern writers start
Agitating, too, for letters and for music and for art,
Till Australian scenes on canvas shall repay the artist's hand,
And the songs of Southern poets shall be ringing thro' the land,
Till the galleries of Europe have a place for Southern scenes,
And our journals crawl no longer to the Northern magazines.

First published in The Bulletin, 28 May 1892
[The first part of this poem was published last week.]

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on November 25, 2006 9:33 AM.

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