Bush Memorial by C.J. Dennis

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It has been disclosed that one of the last requests of the late Mr "Jack" Barnes, senator-elect for Victoria and for many years president of the A.W.U., was that, for his only memorial, friends should plant beside his resting place an Australian wattle-tree.

He sought no glory in posthumous fame,
This well-loved leader with his rugged frame.
   "When I am finished," I can hear him say,
   "Then put what's left of this poor flesh away
Here on Australian soil, and over me
For my memorial plant a wattle-tree.
   Old mates will tend that living monument;
   And, if it thrive, then shall I be content."

I knew him in the olden, battling days,
Saw him greet friends from out the lonely ways,
   Bush workers, tall, tanned shearers, old-time mates
   Content to leave to him their earthly fates.
I saw them take his hand, and in that grip
Lay all of trust and hearty fellowship;
   For well they knew, as only plain men can,
   The measure of a loyal, earnest man.

The best of England brought to this new land
Was in the honest grasp of the great hand
   Of a straight simple man whose forthright ways
   Inspired the trust of comrades all his days.
I saw him 'mid opponents whose whole life
Was planned against him in the social strife;
   But, one by one, they fell to swapping yarns
   And flawless friendship with big, bluff "Jack" Barnes.

Now all he asks, to mark his resting place
Is one glad evergreen of simple grace
   And golden bloom and string, straight, rugged stem
   Where bush birds come to chant his requiem.
No worthier memorial could be planned
Than such bright symbol of his well-loved land
   For this staunch mate whose frank simplicity
   Asks but the boon of one green wattle-tree.

First published in The Herald, 3 February 1938

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on February 3, 2013 3:04 PM.

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