Recently in War Category

Prisoner of War by Myra Morris

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Now of a night when rain is on the roof          
Beside the fire, we sit,  
My son's young wife and I.
I watch her face, flat-cheeked inscrutable    
As the face of a Chinese mandarin;  
Our talk comes fitfully
Like wind blowing in quick, uneasy rushes
Out of space. And there are silences
Between us, deep, unbridgable
As Winter-flooded streams. I know
Her thoughts and she knows mine.

She bows her head remote and inaccessible,
Locked in her lonely grief.
Locked in her love for him the absent one.
But I sit sullen-mouthed, steeling my heart
Against her pain.
"Mine is the grief." I cry.  
"Your love with him  
Was but the lightning of a Summer afternoon.  
While mine lit his first hour and pointed him the way!"    

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 September 1945

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Things That Matter by Mabel Forrest

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Tho' fingers strain in torture of good-byes,
And the vain  glance of sad, prophetic eyes
Falls where the waiting transport grimly lies,
And life grows sick with sense of something lost --
Oh! There are not the things that matter most.

The things that matter are that men shall go
With steel, stern eyes and lips to meet the foe,
Lest burning homes along Our skyline grow --
That battles should be won -- nor freedom lost --
These are the things to-day that matter most!

First published in The Sydney Mail, 13 September 1916

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also

The Letter by Mabel Forrest

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A victory! We hear across the seas
How they press on, our brave Australian boys,
Pitted against the reivers of the world.
Pitted against the flower of the Huns,
These lads, yet green in battle, make a name
To stand forth in the ranks of Caesar's Guard
And grim battalions of old conquerors!
Did they not right nobly on the Somme?
At Pozieres they lifted high their flag --
Bapaume and Vimy! Off-shoots of the tough
Old British Stock. This mother shears her son
Has gained his D.S.O., and this a bar,
And that a special mention. I the while,
Who am no mother -- and for ever maid --
Have this much to my hand of victory --
My last unopened letter to my love. 

The little silly words I cooed to him,
Through the cold medium of a pen and ink,
Small chronicles of that calm life he knew,
A snapshot of myself in my new gown,
My hand upon the head of his pet dog,
Showing the ring he gave me. I can trace
The merry words I wrote when life was fair,
With budding promise -- for my dear yet lived.
"when you come back" -- I wrote, and then I paused
To let him fill the blank, perhaps with whiff
Of orange blossom blowing down the years,
And the soft rustle of a wedding gown.

The newsboys shriek of "Victory" in the street;
The quick trams grate towards Victoria bridge;
A girl is poring o'er a pencilled page
Thumb-marked with Flanders mud, scrawled from a trench;
But I have only my own letter back,
And stamped upon the flap the word "Deceased."

First published in The Sydney Mail, 11 July 1917

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also

The Moon Path by Mabel Forrest

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The moon has found the path between the trees;
   The moon has peopled it with silver dreams,
   And those who wake at night to see in its gleams
The fragile wraiths of vanished destinies --
   High destinies that Time has diced away,
   And then dissolved upon the board of Day.

Between the dusky wavering of the pines,
   Between the subtle tenderness of leaves,
   The queen who lost her heritage believes
That on her brow the vanished circlet shines,
   And bears right proudly in that moonlit dell
   The small white neck that met the axe so well.

Or the great Corsican, with hand inthrust,
   Rules the still world with condescending smile
   That keeps no shadow of a lonely isle,
Or broken battlefields where snapped swords rust,
   As, hurrying, when friendly branches lean,
   He holds a passionate tryst with Josephine.

But there is one no silver path shall greet,
   Nor whispering pines protect. Where he would come
   There stands a woman, and her mouth is dumb.
But she points always at the Bloody Feet
   That led the legions in a devil's dance
   Across the fields of Belgium and of France!

First published in The Bulletin, 15 May 1919

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Soldier's Wife by Myra Morris

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Home he has come from battles far away  
   Where he has heard Death breathing at his side,   
And out-paced Fear like some swift runner who,
   Labouring at first, speeds on with easy stride.
Home he has come with coloured tales to tell,
   But they remain untold; fencing, he parries   
Questions that fall like empty-sounding rain.
   "We did our job, no more," he says, and carries 
   Pride in his careful voice that outlaws pain. 

He is a stranger now -- a new dark man
   Entrenched behind the knowledge in his eyes. 
Dangers are thick between us that I could
   Not share -- hot, tropic seas, relentless skies. 
Rivers divide us. Look! I see him walk
   Down jungle-depths where writhing roof-trees fashion 
Macabre twilights starred with poisonous bloom.
   Here was a lad knowing joy and hope and passion -- 
Now a lost thing stalking and stalked by doom! 

Something is there that, was not there before.
   He is transmuted by experience   
Into a different clay: soft-edged is he  
   As yet, and vulnerable, without defence. 
I speak to him -- one moment he is there
   Then gone away (his haunted eyes all hollow, 
His memory linked with old, remembered, pain)
   Into some, fastness where I cannot follow. 
   He will not be entirely mine again.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 May 1943

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Prisoner of War... by Kathleen Dalziel

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He longs to see the spring this year,
   And how the wattles foam
In yellow waves round the austere
   And quiet hills of home.
Bush birds in dawning's breaking dim,  
   At evening's twilit door;
In vain, in vain they call to him,
   Poor prisoner of war.

And what can springtime mean to her
   Behind the factory wall?
The loud machines' alternate whirr,
   The hammer's rise and fall.
Day after day she holds the fort,
   Gives service swift and sure
At bench and wheel, another sort
   Of prisoner of war.

Oh, spring winds, borne from bush and sea,  
   Waft her a promise plain
Of that dear time that is-to-be
   When they shall meet again.
And pray kind Fate it may befall
   That peace will soon restore
Freedom and home to each and all
   Poor prisoners of war.

First published in The Australian Women's Weekly, 22 April 1944

Author reference site: Austlit

See also

One of Our Bushmen by Mabel Forrest

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Upon the pages of our time
   Fate wrote with iron pen --     
"The waiting for the women
   And the battle for the men."   

From a lone backblock selection
   Where the gray plain meets the sky,   
A woman sent her only son
   To battle or to die.

He had never seen great cities,
   He had only thought of ships,
But he heard the far-off challenge,  
   And he answered, heart and lips. 

He left the lucerne acre,
   And he left the patch of corn, 
And the creek among the willows
   Where the cattle drink at morn.   

He left the range of mountains,
   And the green scrub's mighty hush   
For the glory of Australia
   And the honour of the bush. 

He marched to martial music
   In a city by the sea,
And he heard the distant echo
   Of the conqueror's melody.

He remembered still the homestead,
   And the yellow sun-dried plain,
And the mother and the sweetheart
   He might never see again.

But the memory of his fathers
   Stirred the fighting blood -- and then 
There was waiting for the women
   And fierce battle for the men!

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 17 March 1900

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Australia Undefended by Mabel Forrest

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I. 

The blue sea skirts her slim, sun-ambered feet.  
   Upon her mighty brow red gold is bound, 
Upon her breast mimosa flowers press sweet, 
   And hills and forests lap her beauty round. 

All day she lies and dreams; from sun to sun, 
   From moon to moon, she couches soft, secure, 
And, as to catch grey eve the gold hours run, 
   She thinks her slumber can for aye endure --

Full happy dreams are hers, of prosp'rous days, 
   Fleece-heavy flocks upon a green-fed land, 
Of settlers' homes that lie in golden haze, 
   Of brother toilers moving hand in hand. 

Of scented nights, when by the wattle grove 
   The mopoke breaks the silence with his call, 
And, o'er the slip-rail, love lilts low to love, 
   And Peace has spread her white wings over all. 

So, filleted with matrix, opal, pearl, 
   And zoned with shimm'ring belt of ocean green, 
Where (true love gift to many a sun-browned girl), 
   Hangs, link on link, a chain of olivine, 

She sleeps, and winds come up and fan her hair, 
   Between her fingers springs the waratah, 
Her coverlet is twined with musk-buds rare, 
   And threaded leaves of redwood and belah. 

All day the breeze sings to her maiden ears 
   A lullaby, like croon of scrub-hid doves, 
And, rustling in the brig'low boughs she hears 
   The lusty bronze-wing boasting of his loves. 

She sleeps -- and shall we leave her to her dream? 
   The sun is very bright on hill and dale, 
O'er vine-hung rocks the silver waters gleam, 
   And moss lies all untrodden in the vale.   

II. 

They left her, where the purple mountains loom 
   Untenanted, above the Northern seas,   
Rimmed round by palm, or fir of tufted gloom, 
   Or the stiff shoots of dry pandanus trees, 
Left her to rest in woodlands green and still.   
   The winds died down, and Nature seemed to wait, 
And there was never watcher on the hill, 
   No guarding cannon at the Northern gate. 

Only the silence of the great scrub heart, 
   Only the hush upon the great grey plain,     
Where buttercups in sun-caught splendor start 
   Thro' the fine veil of February rain. 
There came a muffled stirring in the East, 
   From rock to rock a stealthy creature stept, 
Red war unleashed-- a sullen, sateless beast, 
   To prey upon her beauty while she slept!       

III.   

Australians, will you leave your dear land, Maid of the sun, and Queen of the blue seas, 
To cringe 'neath an alien master's hand, to hug his feet, or fawn about his knees?    
And will you let his savage, relving touch mar the white beauty, of your Southern maid, 
For she has trusted long and overmuch, to rise up shudd'ring, rifled, and afraid?                

They murmur round the gates to East and West; their footsteps echo in the halls of Strife, 
With hov'ring hand above her perfect breast, with sear of bullet, or red, sudden knife!   
The smoke will rise o'er quiet settlers' homes, but not the smoke of peaceful hearths afar, 
But that which, smiting heaven's blueness comes, the horrid following of a bloody war. 

Shattered before the screaming shell will lie the city buildings that you builded well, 
And, lifting ever to the arching sky, will float the echoes of the man-made Hell, 
Clotted in the shrinking hearts of flowers, where, thro' cool aisles the tender North wind grieves, 
And hoya its honey sweetness showers, men's blood will filigree along the leaves. 

IV.   

Do you think that you could thole it, Australian born and free,   
Where the call of many rivers finds an echo in the sea?   
Do you think that you could bear to feel the chain that girds you round, 
'Midst the chitter of the bell-birds in your happy hunting ground, 
Will you die -- or live to learn it, when the crucial moment comes, 
And the crook'd and yellow fingers curve on undefended homes? 

You might have the strength of Samson, be an Anak in the field, 
Be a reckless 'Death or Glory' boy, and scorn to pause or yield, 
But the stag before the hunter's spear -- he either sinks or runs, 
And what help are brawny hands and bare -- the other has the guns! 
Let every unit find his place, a part of one great plan -- 
Australians must remember 'tis the boy that makes the man. 
Take the brown-faced laddies as they play along the street, 
Let them listen to the rhythm of the steady marching feet, 
Teach the keen young eye to sight the gun, the keen young hand to thrust. 
Do not let the young glance waver or the good steel barrel rust; 
Let them play the game like soldiers, let them scout the lucerne field, 
With the rifle at the shoulder and their honor for their shield; 
Let the lassies bind a token in the sun-kissed mountain glades, 
For the bravery of laddies and the purity of maids!   
Arm the empty North that drowses by its tide-washed sandy slopes; 
There is iron in the ranges, there is silver in the stopes, 
There is wealth undreamed -- your birthright -- in your country's scattered parts,     
There is grit and honest courage in your people's loyal hearts.   
Rouse them with your martial music, with your call 'To Arms! To Arms!' 
From New England's cherry blossoms, to North Queensland's feather palms, 
Would the man who swings a leg across the sweating outlaw's back 
Swerve aside before the Maxim that is mouthing in the track?   
The stuff is there -- then train it -- put the means within the hand,   
Fate has given you a treasure to be guarded in your land! 

Oh! the fair-maid country calls you, as she couches in the sun,         
That you keep her honor stainless with the power of your gun!  

First published in The Sunday Times, 7 March 1909

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Our Answer by Mabel Forrest

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You can see it in the city, when the crowds go slowly by,
You can read it in the stern-set mouth, the calm, defiant eye;  
O'er half a world has come to us a message from the foe --  
"Oh! not to Victory, but Death your gallant sons shall go."
Do we fear? We who have wrestled with the drought and flood so long,
No! We answer with defiance, and this is our battle song
"We are fighting with the Heart, and not only with the Hand;  
We are fighting for the glory of our dear old motherland.
   Do you think there's one among you,
      One among your stubborn Dutch,
   Who has gauged the strength of Britain
      When you doubt the power of such? 
   Oh! laugh among your stony hills,
      And triumph while you may,
   We can hear you call for mercy,  
      At the closing of the day!"
Australian women send to you, this answer o'er the sea
"From the dark page where you write 'Death' we still spell 'Victory'!"

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 17 February 1900

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

A Song of Mother Love by Zora Cross

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[After reading Lissauer's "Song of German Hate," "Brisbane Courier." February 1.]  

German and Turk, you matter not, 
Not a blow for a blow, not a shot for a shot, 
We love you now, we hate you not,
We hold the land and the seaward gate.   
We love as one, we fight as one, 
We have one mother -- one alone.

She is known to you all, she is known to you all,
She watches behind the storm and the flood, 
Full of pity and power and might, of all     
Compassionate love in bone and blood.     
Go! Stupid ye at the Judgment place,     
We'll meet you surely face to face.
Your oath of bronze we will not shake. 
Why! Keep it for your Kaiser's sake!      
But hear this word ! We shout the word!   
Through all the Empire is it heard, 
We will never stoop to hate,  
We love as one, we fight as one, 
We have one mother -- one alone,
      ENGLAND.

In town and city, field or hall,
Wherever the lilt of a breeze can fall.  
Like a leaf of prayer-like the song of a sail,   
The children lift their hands and hail,
Close clipped like the clash of a trumpet's play,     
And shut, "Welcome! " thro' the livelong day.      

Whose be the Fate ?
They have not a single hate. 
Who is thus known ?  
They have one mother -- one alone,
      ENGLAND.

We want not the folk of the earth to pay.  
We want not gold where the ramparts lay.     
We ride the ocean with bow on bow,
We reckon well -- for we reckon you now.   
German and Turk, you matter not,    
Not a blow for a blow, not a shot for a shot. 
We fight the battle with love for weal, 
As you will know when Peace we seal,     
For we can love without lasting hate. 
Love can forego the fiercest hate, 
Love of water and love of land, 
Love of head and love of hand,
Love of hammer and love of crown,
Love of a myriad millions marching down,   
We love as one we fight as one.
We have one mother -- one alone,
      ENGLAND.

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 4 February 1915;
and later in
A Song of Mother Love by Zora Cross, 1916.

Note: you can read Lissauer's original poem here, and the article that Cross read in The Brisbane Courier here.

The Peace Society by C.J. Dennis

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Now, in the town of Tooralee
They formed a Peace Society;
   And they were noted near and far
   From Hitemup to Nastijar,
The folk of this Society,
For piety - true piety.
   They met and talked from time to time,
   And held all fighting was a crime,
A sin of dark variety
   In ev'ry age and clime.

They scoffed and sneered at War's alarms,
And said that folk who carried arms
   Were to be pitied and despised
   As savage and uncivilised,
Devoid of all humanity
Or sanity - true sanity:
   Seduced from happy, peaceful life
   By bloody hates of gun and knife,
And led by martial vanity
   To savag'ry and strife.

And they declared with ve-he-mence
Against all measures for defence,
   Maintaining that a peaceful pose
   Was quite embarrassing to foes,
And gained for the community
Immunity - immunity.
   They said no foe would ever harm
   The nation that refused to arm,
Nor seize the opportunity
   To raise the dread alarm.

Said they, if nations A and B
Sail battleships upon the sea,
   The day will come when some excuse
   They'll coin to let the War Dogs loose,
And shock with their brutality
Morality - morality.
   While nations, D and E who keep
   No fighting ships upon the deep,
Preserve a strict neutrality,
   And all the blessings reap.

'Twas such a very simple plan.
Quite plain to any thinking man:
   For A and B, you understand,
   Would never seek, by sea or land,
To tackle nations D or E
(In theory - good theory).
   Though A and B might rend the skies
   With cannon shot and battle cries,
With nation D, you see, or E
   No trouble could arise.

The Peace Society soon grew
Quite popular, as such things do,
   Its logic was so clear, you see,
   And Michael Slattery, J.P.,
A well respected resident,
Was president - High President,
   And Mr. Obadiah Lee
   Was Treasurer and Secret'ry -
Another noted resident,
   As peaceful as could be.

But in the town of Tooralee
And in full many towns there be
   A certain rowdy element
   Which causes strife and discontent,
And often falls to bickering
When liquoring - wet liquoring.
   Tim Monagin was such a one;
   When sober he was full of fun,
But when he started shickering
   He fairly took the bun.

Pat Lonagin, another lad
In whom the beer brought out the bad,
   Had long with Monagin a feud
   Which, when in liquor, he pursued.
And folk would cry, "There's Lonagin!
He's on agin - he's on agin!
   For all the day an' half the night
   He's scoured the town in search iv fight.
Shure, if he meets wid Monagin
   'Twill be a dandy sight!"

The Peace Society was pained
To see this wicked feud maintained;
   And Michael Slattery, J.P.,
   Suggested unto Mr. Lee
That they might, with impunity,
In unity - sweet unity -
   Approach the ever-warring pair,
   And reconcile them then and there.
They longed for opportunity,
   Their theories to air.

The opportunity came soon:
For on one summer afternoon
   The President and Secret'ry,
   The Peaceful Slattery and Lee,
Came suddenly on Monagin
And Lonagin - wild Lonagin -
   Engaged in sanguinary war;
   And, as they punched and kicked and tore,
Cried Monagin, "Come on agin!"
   While Lonagin he swore.

The President said just one word,
'Twas all the few spectators heard;
   Then Lonagin he turned from Tim
   To Slattery, and went for him
With fierce assault and battery.
On Slattery - mild Slattery -
   Came Lonagin with all his might
   And landed him with left and right.
'Twould be employing flattery
   To call the thing a fight.

And as for Monagin - well, he
Was busily employed with Lee,
   Who wished, and with a wish immense,
   He'd learnt the art of self-defence.
Blind rage and animosity,
Ferocity - ferocity -
   Beseiged the soul of Mr. Lee.
   He longed to slay his enemy,
Who, 'spite his ebriosity,
   Was fighting mighty free.

They say the Peace Society
Is dead in distant Tooralee.
   When next day they met, the President
   Confined his speech to one comment.
"Takes two to make a fight?" says he.
"Quite right," says he - "quite right," says he.
   "But Peace Societies won't do
   Unless the other chap jines too!
I bid you all good night," says he,
   "As President I'm through."

And as for Mr. Lee, he sought
A rude, uncultured man who taught
   The useful art of self-defence.
   He vaguely hopes that some day hence
He'll get a battle on again
With Monagin, mad Monagin,
   And then - but it were wise to state
   That they that learn the art too late
Are apt to find they're gone again.
   It isn't wise to wait.

The lesson is a simple one;
If you refuse to buy a gun
   You'll meet you Monagin some day
   And cut no figure in the fray,
Despite your notoriety
For piety - deep piety.
   A foe's a foe, howe'er you view
   The matter; and it doesn't do
To join a Peace Society
   Unless he joins it too.

First published in The Bulletin, 25 December 1913

The Singing Soldiers by C.J. Dennis

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"When I'm sittin' in me dug-out wiv me rifle on me knees,
An' a yowlin', 'owlin' chorus comes a-floatin' up the breeze -
   Jist a bit o' 'Bonnie Mary' or 'Long Way to Tipperary' -
Then I know I'm in Australia, took an' planted overseas.
   They've bin up agin it solid since we crossed the flamin' foam;
   But they're singin' - alwiz singin' - since we left the wharf at 'ome.

"O, it's 'On the Mississippi' or 'Me Grey 'Ome in the West.'
If it's death an' 'ell nex' minute they must git it orf their chest.
   'Ere's a snatch o' 'When yer Roamin' - When yer Roamin' in the Gloamin'.'
'Struth!  The first time that I 'eard it, wiv me 'ead on Rosie's breast,
   We wus comin' frum a picnic in a Ferntree Gully train . . .
   But the shrapnel made the music when I 'eard it sung again."

So I gits it straight frum Ginger in 'is letter 'ome to me,
On a dirty scrap o' paper wiv the writin' 'ard to see.
   "Strike!" sez 'e.  "It sounds like skitin'; but they're singin' while they're fightin';
An' they socks it into Abdul to the toon o' 'Nancy Lee'.
   An' I seen a bloke this mornin' wiv 'is arm blown to a rag,
   'Ummin' 'Break the Noos to Mother', w'ile 'e sucked a soothin' fag.

"Now, the British Tommy curses, an' the French does fancy stunts,
An' the Turk 'e 'owls to Aller, an' the Gurkha grins an' grunts;
   But our boys is singin', singin', while the blinded shells is flingin'
Mud an' death inter the trenches in them 'eavens called the Fronts.
   An' I guess their souls keep singin' when they gits the tip to go . . ."
   So I gits it, straight frum Ginger; an', Gawstruth!  'e ort to know.

An' 'is letter gits me thinkin' when I read sich tales as these,
An' I takes a look around me at the paddicks an' the trees;
   When I 'ears the thrushes trillin', when I 'ear the magpies fillin'
All the air frum earth to 'eaven wiv their careless melerdies -
   It's the sunshine uv the country, caught an' turned to bonzer notes;
   It's the sunbeams changed to music pourin' frum a thousand throats.

Can a soljer 'elp 'is singin' when 'e's born in sich a land?
Wiv the sunshine an' the music pourin' out on ev'ry 'and;
   Where the very air is singin', an' each breeze that blows is bringin'
'Armony an' mirth an' music fit to beat the 'blazin' band.
   On the march, an' in the trenches, when a swingin' chorus starts,
   They are pourin' bottled sunshine of their 'Omeland frum their 'earts.

O I've 'eard it, Lord, I've 'eard it since the days when I wus young,
On the beach an' in the bar-room, in the bush I've 'eard it sung;
   "Belle Mahone" an' "Annie Laurie," "Sweet Marie" to "Tobermory,"
Common toons and common voices, but I've 'eard 'em when they rung
   Wiv full, 'appy 'earts be'ind 'em, careless as a thrush's song -
   Wiv me arm around me cliner, an' me notions fur frum wrong.

So they growed wiv 'earts a-singin' since the days uv careless kids;
Beefin' out an 'appy chorus jist when Mother Nacher bids;
   Singin', wiv their notes a-quiver, "Down upon the Swanee River,"
Them's sich times I'd not be sellin' fer a stack uv golden quids.
   An' they're singin', still they're singin', to the sound uv guns an' drums,
   As they sung one golden Springtime underneath the wavin' gums.

When they socked it to the Southland wiv our sunny boys aboard -
Them that stopped a dam torpeder, an' a knock-out punch wus scored;
   Tho' their 'ope o' life grew murky, wiv the ship 'ead over turkey,
Dread o' death an' fear o' drownin' wus jist trifles they ignored.
   They spat out the blarsted ocean, an' they filled 'emselves wiv air,
   An' they passed along the chorus of "Australia will be There".

Yes, they sung it in the water; an' a bloke aboard a ship
Sez 'e knoo they wus Australians be the way they give it lip -
   Sung it to the soothin' motion of the dam devourin' ocean
Like a crowd o' seaside trippers in to 'ave a little dip.
   When I 'card that tale, I tell yeh, straight, I sort o' felt a choke;
   Fer I seemed to 'ear 'em singin', an' I know that sort o' bloke.

Yes, I know 'im; so I seen 'im, barrackin' Eternity.
An' the land that 'e wus born in is the land that mothered me.
   Strike!  I ain't no sniv'lin' blighter; but I own me eyes git brighter
When I see 'em pokin' mullock at the everlastin' sea:
   When I 'ear 'em mockin' terror wiv a merry slab o' mirth,
   'Ell!  I'm proud I bin to gaol in sich a land as give 'em birth!

     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

"When I'm sittin' in me dug-out wiv the bullets droppin' near,"
Writes ole Ginger; "an' a chorus smacks me in the flamin' ear:
   P'raps a song that Rickards billed, or p'raps a line o' Waltz Matilder,
Then I feel I'm in Australia, took an' shifted over 'ere.
   Till the music sort o' gits me, an' I lets me top notes roam
   While I treats the gentle foeman to a chunk uv "Ome, Sweet 'Ome'."

They wus singin' on the troopship, they wus singin' in the train;
When they left their land be'ind 'em they wus shoutin' a refrain,
   An' I'll bet they 'ave a chorus, gay an' glad in greetin' for us,
When their bit uv scappin's over, an' they lob back 'ome again. . .
   An' the blokes that ain't returnin' - blokes that's paid the biggest price,
   They go singin', singin', singin' to the Gates uv Paradise.

First published in The Bulletin, 23 December 1915;
and later in
The Moods of Ginger Mick by C.J. Dennis, 1916; 
More Than a Sentimental Bloke, 1990; and
Bugger the Music: Give Us a Poem edited by Keith McKenry, 1998.

In Spadger's Lane by C.J. Dennis

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Ole Mother Moon 'oo yanks 'er beamin' dile
   Acrost the sky when we've grown sick o' day,
She's like some fat ole Jane 'oo loves to smile
   On all concerned, an' smooth our faults away;
An', like a woman, tries to 'ide again
The sores an' scars crool day 'as made too plain.

To all the earth she gives the soft glad-eye;
   She picks no fav'rits in this world o' men;
She peeps in nooks, where 'appy lovers sigh,
   To make their job more bonzer still; an' then,
O'er Spadger's Lane she waves a podgy 'and,
An' turns the scowlin' slums to Fairyland.

Aw, strike!  I'm gettin' soft in my ole age!
   I'm growin' mushy wiv the passin' years.
Me! that 'as called it weakness to ingage
   In sloppy thorts that coax the pearly tears.
But say, me state o' mind I can't ixplain
When I seen Rose lars' night in Spadger's Lane.

'Twas Spadger's Lane where Ginger Mick 'ung out
   Before 'e took to follerin' the Flag;
The Lane that echoed to 'is drunken shout
   When 'e lobbed 'omeward on a gaudy jag.
Now Spadger's Lane knows Ginger Mick no more,
Fer 'e's become an 'ero at the War.

A flamin' 'ero at the War, that's Mick.
   An' Rose - 'is Rose, is waitin' in the Lane,
Nursin' 'er achin' 'eart, an' lookin' sick
   As she crawls out to work an' 'ome again,
Givin' the bird to blokes 'oo'd be 'er "friend,"
An' prayin', wiv the rest, fer wars to end.

Quite right; I'm growin' sloppy fer a cert;
   But I must git it orf me chest or bust.
So 'ere's a song about a grievin' skirt,
   An' love, an' Ginger Mick, an' maiden trust!
The choky sort o' song that fetches tears
When blokes is full o' sentiment-or beers.

Lars' night, when I sneaks down to taste again
   The sights an' sounds I used to know so well,
The moon wus shinin' over Spadger's Lane,
   Sof'nin' the sorrer where 'er kind light fell:
Sof'nin' an' soothin', like it wus 'er plan
To make ixcuses fer the sins uv man.

Frum shadder inter shadder, up the street,
   A prowlin' moll sneaks by, wiv eyes all 'ate,
Dodgin' some unseen John, 'oo's sure, slow feet
   Comes tappin' after, certin as 'er fate;
In some back crib, a shicker's loud 'owled verse
Stops sudden, wiv a crash, an' then a curse.

Low down, a splotch o' red, where 'angs a blind
   Before the winder uv a Chow caboose,
Shines in the dead black wall, an' frum be'ind,
   Like all the cats o' Chinertown broke loose,
A mad Chow fiddle wails a two-note toon ...
An' then I seen 'er, underneath the moon.

Rosie the Rip they calls 'er int he Lane;
   Fer she wus alwus willin' wiv 'er 'an's,
An' uses 'em to make 'er meanin' plain
   In ways theat Spadger's beauties understan's.
But when ole Ginger played to snare 'er 'eart,
Rosie the Rip wus jist the soft, weak tart.

'Igh in 'er winder she wus leanin' out,
   Swappin' remarks wiv fat ole Mother Moon.
The things around I clean Fergot about -
   Fergot the fiddle an' its crook Chow toon;
I only seen one woman in the light
Achin' to learn 'er forchin frum the night.

Ole Ginger's Rose!  To see 'er sittin' there,
   The moonlight shinin' fair into 'er face,
An' sort o' touchin' gentle on 'er 'air,
   It made me fair fergit the time an' place.
I feels I'm peepin' where I never ought,
An' tries 'arf not to 'ear the words I caught.

One soljer's sweetheart, that wus wot I seen:
   One out o' thousands grievin' thro' the land.
A tart frum Spadger's or a weepin' queen -
   Wot's there between 'em, when yeh understand
She 'olds fer Mick, wiv all 'is ugly chiv,
The best a lovin' woman 'as to give.

The best a woman 'as to give - Aw, 'Struth!
   When war, an' grief, an' trouble's on the land
Sometimes a bloke gits glimpses uv the truth
   An' sweats 'is soul to try an' understand . . .
An' then the World, like some offishus John,
Shoves out a beefy 'and, an' moves 'im on.

So I seen Rose; an' so, on that same night
   I seen a million women grievin' there.
Ole Mother Moon she showed to me a sight
   She sees around the World, most everyw'ere -
Sneakin' beneath the shadder uv the wall
I seen, an' learned, an' understood it all.

An' as I looks at Rosie, dreamin' there,
   'Er 'ead drops on 'er arms . . . I seems to wake;
I sees the moonlight streamin' on 'er 'air;
   I 'ears 'er sobbin' like 'er 'eart ud break.
An' me there, pryin' on 'er misery.
"Gawstruth!" I sez, "This ain't no place fer me!"

On my tip-toes I sneaks the way I came -
   (The crook Chow fiddle ain't done yowlin' yet) -
An' tho' I tells it to me bitter shame -
   I'm gittin' soft as 'ell - me eyes wus wet.
An' that stern John, as I go moochin' by
Serloots me wiv a cold, unfeelin' eye.

The fat ole Mother Moon she's got a 'eart.
   An' so I like to think, when she looks down
Wiv 'er soft gaze upon some weepin tart
   In bonzer gardens or the slums o' town;
She soothes 'em, mother-like, wiv podgy 'ands,
An' makes 'em dream agen uv peaceful lands.

First published in The Bulletin, 11 December 1915;
and later in
The Moods of Ginger Mick by C.J. Dennis, 1916; and
Selected Works of C.J. Dennis, 1988.

The Austra-laise by C.J. Dennis

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A Marching Song
Air - Onward Christian Soldiers 

Fellers of Australier,
   Blokes an' coves an' coots,
Shift yer --- carcases,
   Move yer --- boots.
Gird yer --- loins up,
   Get yer --- gun,
Set the --- enermy
   An' watch the blighters run.
 
CHORUS:
   Get a --- move on,
      Have some --- sense.
   Learn the --- art of
      Self de- --- -fence.
 
Have some --- brains be-
   Neath yer --- lids.
An' swing a --- sabre
   Fer the missus an' the kids.
Chuck supportin' --- posts,
   An' strikin' --- lights,
Support a ---- fam'ly an'
   Strike fer yer --- rights.
 
CHORUS:
   Get a --- move on, etc.
 
Joy is --- fleetin',
   Life is --- short.
Wot's the use uv wastin' it
   All on --- sport?
Hitch yer --- tip-dray
   To a --- star.
Let yer --- watchword be
   "Australi- --- -ar!"
 
CHORUS:
   Get a --- move on, etc.
 
'Ow's the --- nation
   Goin' to ixpand
'Lest us --- blokes an' coves
   Lend a --- 'and?
'Eave yer --- apathy
   Down a --- chasm;
'Ump yer --- burden with
   Enthusi- --- -asm.
 
CHORUS:
   Get a --- move on, etc.
 
W'en old mother Britain
   Calls yer native land
Take a --- rifle
   In yer --- 'and
Keep yer --- upper lip
   Stiff as stiff kin be,
An' speed a --- bullet for
   Post- --- -ity.
 
CHORUS:
   Get a --- move on, etc.
 
W'en the --- bugle
   Sounds "Ad- --- -vance"
Don't be like a flock er sheep
   In a --- trance
Biff the --- Kaiser
   Where it don't agree
Spifler- --- -cate him
   To Eternity.
 
CHORUS:
   Get a --- move on, etc.
 
Fellers of Australier,
   Cobbers, chaps an' mates,
Hear the --- German
   Kickin' at the gates!
Blow the --- bugle,
   Beat the --- drum,
Upper-cut an' out the cow
   To kingdom- --- -come!
 
CHORUS:
   Get a --- move on,
      Have some --- sense.
   Learn the --- art of
      Self de- --- -fence.

(With some acknowledgements to W.T. Goodge.)

First published in The Bulletin, 12 November 1908, and again in the same magazine on 18 March 1942;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Later Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1918;
The Australian Soldiers Magazine, September 1918;
Selected Verse of C.J. Dennis chosen and introduced by Alec H. Chisholm, 1950;
An Anthology of Australian Verse edited by George Mackaness, 1952;
Complete Book of Australian Folklore compiled by Bill Scott, 1976;
The Penguin Book of Australian Humorous Verse compiled by Bill Scott, 1984;
The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse compiled by Beatrice Davis, 1984;
Selected Works of C.J. Dennis introduced by Barry Watts, 1988; and
Favourite Poems of C.J. Dennis, 1989.

Footnote to 1915 reissue - Where a dash (---) replaces a missing word, the adjective "blessed" may be interpolated.  In cases demanding great emphasis, the use of the word "blooming" is permissible.  However, any other word may be used that suggests itself as suitable.

Note:
Dennis acknowledges W.T. Goodge at the end of this poem.  The piece he was referring to was

A Message: Armistice Day 1936 by C.J. Dennis

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I got dreamin' that a message came in some mysterious way
From one ole pal of mine, gone West this many an' many a day,
   A bloke the name of Ginger Mick, a fightin' cove I knoo.
   (But he's Digger Corporal Mick Esquire, late A.I.F., to you).
'E got 'is on Gallipoli, an' sleeps there with the best,
Not leavin' very much be'ind, excep' one small request.
   "Look after things," was all 'e said, when 'e was mortal 'urt
   Dead sure 'is mates -- that's me an' you -- would never do 'im dirt.

Think of it in Silence, with yer 'eads bowed low
Do we keep the unspoke compact with the men we used to know?)

For I dreams it in the silence of a dark Remembrance Eve,
An' the message seems to tell me it is gettin' late to grieve.
   "But if you seem to miss us still, then get the sob-stuff o'er
   An' think about the things wot we went an' fought a war.
Send us a pray'r an' drop a tear an' bend a reverent knee,
(Says Digger Corporal Ginger Mick, A.I.F., says 'e).
   But is the things we fought for still the things most dear to you,
   The honor an' the glory an' the mateship that we knew?"

(Think of it in Silence, when the Last Post plays
The splendid glimpse of truth we 'ad, once, in the bitter days.)

"Grief is a passin' compliment," the message seems to say;
But tears don't carry on the job for men that drift away.
   We 'ad small time or taste for such where guns was raisin' 'ell,
   When we got busy plantin' blokes an' wishin' 'em farewell.
We blowed sad music over 'em -- plain Digs, or Brass 'at Knuts --
But we played a quick-step comin' back, to show we 'ad the guts.
   Our speech was rough, our ways was tough -- tough as our bloody game.
   Are the rough, tough, lads still honored, like when the Terror came?"

(Think of it in the Silence, when their spirits hover near;
The vision and the vows that held while still the land knew fear.)

'E's sleepin' on Gallipoli.  At least, 'is bones is there:
Bones worth a ton of livin' flesh that won't play fair --
   Not till the Terror comes again.  "An' when it does," says 'e,
   "If gods worshipped let you down, well, don't blame me."
'E's seen a lot, an' learned a lot most like, where 'e 'as gone;
An' 'eaven 'elp us when we meet if we ain't carried on.
   A vulgar person, Ginger Mick, a fightin' cove I knoo --
   (But Digger Corporal Ginger Mick, if you please, to you.)

(Think of it in the Silence; an', if you pray, pray deep
That all we 'ave an' all we are old loyalties shall keep.)

First published in The Herald, 11 November 1936

A Letter to the Front by C.J Dennis

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I suppose you sometimes dream, Bill, in between the scraps out there,
Of the land you left behind you when you sailed to do your share:
Of Collins-street, or Rundle-street, or Pitt, or George, or Hay,
Of the land beyond the Murray, or "along the Castlereagh."
And I guess you dream of old days and the things you used to do,
And you wonder how 'twill strike you when you've seen this business through,
And you try to count your chances when you've finished with the Turk,
And swap the gaudy war game for a spell of plain, drab work.

Well, Bill, you know just how it is these early days of Spring,
When the gilding of the wattle throws a glow on everything.
The olden days, the golden days that you remember well,
In spite o' war and worry, Bill, are with us for a spell.
For the green is on the paddocks, and the sap is in the trees.
And the bush birds in the gullies sing the ole, sweet melodies;
And we're hoping, as we hearken, that when next the Springtime comes
You'll be with us here to listen to that bird-talk in the gums.

It's much the same old Springtime, Bill, you recollect of yore;
Boronia and daffodils and wattle blooms once more
Sling sweetness over city streets, and seem to put to shame
The cult of greed and butchery that got you on this game.
The same old,sweet September days, and much the same old place;
Yet, there's a subtle something, Bill, upon each passing face:
A thing that cannot be defined; a look that you put there
The day you lobbed upon the beach and charged at Sari Bair.

It isn't that we're boasting, lad; we've done with most of that -
The froth, the cheers, the flapping flags, the wildly waving hat.
Such things are childish memories; we blush to have them told;
For we have seen our wounded, Bill, and it has made us old.
Nor with a weary child's regret, not with a braggard's pride,
But with a grown youth's calm resolve we've laid our toys aside.
And it wus you that taught us, Bill, upon that fateful day,
That we at last had grown too old for everlasting play.

And, as a grown man dreams at times of boyhood days gone by,
So shall we, when the mood is here, for carefree childhood sigh.
But, as a clean youth looks out on life, clear-visioned and serene,
So may we gaze, and ever strive to make our manhood clean.
When all the strife is over, Bill, there yet is work to do;
And in the bloodless fights to come we shall be needing you.
We will be needing you the more for what you've seen and done,
For you were born a Builder, lad, and we have just begun.

There's been a deal of talk, old mate, of what we owe to you,
of what you've braved and done for us, and what we mean to do.
We've hailed you as a hero, Bill, and talked Of just reward,
When you have done the job you're at, and laid aside the sword.
I guess it makes you think a bit, and weigh this gaudy praise;
For even heroes have to eat, and - there are other days:
The days to come when we no more need stalwart sons to fight,
When the wild excitement's over, and the Leeuwin looms in sight.

Then there's another fight to fight, and you will find it tough
To doff the khaki for a suit of plain civilian stuff.
When all the cheering dies away and hero-worship wanes,
You'll have to face the old drab life and fight for other gains;
For still your land will need you, as she needs each sturdy son.
To fight the fight that never knows the firing of a gun -
The quiet fight, the steady fight, when you shall prove your worth,
And milk a cow on Yarra Flats or drive a quill in Perth.

The gold is on the wattle, Bill; the sap is on the trees,
And the bush-birds in the gullies sing the old, sweet melodies;
There's a good, green land awaiting you when you come home again
To swing a pick at Broken Hill or ride Yarrowie Plain.
The streets are gay with daffodils, but, haggard in the sun.
A wounded soldier passes; and we know old days are done.
For down, deep down inside our hearts, is something you put there
The day you landed on the beach and charged at Sari Bair.

First published in The Bulletin, 23 September 1915;
and later in
The Moods of Ginger Mick by C.J. Dennis, 1916.

Note: This poem was later published in The Moods of Ginger Mick with the same title but a different emphasis - basically this version shows the letter as being written by
Ginger Mick, whereas the book version has it written to Ginger Mick by Bill (the Sentimental Bloke).  In addition an entirely new first verse has been added in the book version.

The Little Homes by C.J. Dennis

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We have heard the cheering, brothers,
   We have heard the martial peal;
We have seen the soldiers marching
   And the glint of sun and steel.
We have heard the songs, the shouting;
   But, while forth the soldier roams, 
Who has heard the weeping, brothers,
            In the Little Homes?

We have seen the gay processions
   And the careless, laughing crowds.;
We have seen the banners waving
   Out against the peaceful clouds;
Yet, while colors proudly flutter
   Over noble spires and domes,
Who has seen the mourning, brothers,
            In the Little Homes?

From the Little Homes that nestle
   Where the smiling fields sweep wide,
From the Little Homes that huddle
   In the city, side by side,
They have called the eager fighters --
   Men who went with smiles and cheers;
Pride of wives and pride of mothers,
            Choking back the tears!

Women of the little homesteads,
   Women of the city slums,
They are waiting, ever waiting;
   And the sound of muffled drums
In some stricken Home is echoed,
   Where grey Grief is guest to-day.
And to-morrow?  Nay, the others
            Still must wait -- and pray.

What the Little Homes shall suffer,
   What the Little Homes shall pay
Must be more than sturdy fighters,
   More than women's grief to-day.
In the years that follow after,
   Be our battles won or lost,
In the Little Homes, my brothers,
            They shall pay the cost.

They shall pay the cost of glory,
   They shall pay the price of peace,
Years and many long years after
   All the sounds of battle cease.
When the sword is sheathed -- or broken --
   When the battle flag is furled,
Still the Little Homes must suffer
            Over all the World.

Have you seen the old grey mothers
   Smiling to the ringing cheers?
Have you seen the young wives striving
   Bravely to hold back the tears?
Have you seen the young girl marching
By her soldier-lover's side?
Have you, seen our country's women
            All aglow with pride?

Then, shall we think shame, my brothers,
   To give thanks upon our knees
That the land we love should hold them --
   Wives and mothers such as these?  
Women who still hide their sorrow 
   As their soldiers march away, 
Turning brave and steadfast faces
            To the light of day?

Oh, the Little Homes are Cheerful --
   Little Homes that know no pride
But the pride of sacrificing
   Loved ones to the battle tide!
They are many, many brothers,
   And their sacrifice is great.
Shrines are they and sacred places,
            Where the women wait.

Aye, the Little Homes are holy
   At the closing of the day,
When young wives must face their sorrow,
   When grey mothers kneel to pray,
Facing, all alone, dread visions
   Of the land the soldier roams,
Then God heed the sobbing, brothers,
            In the Little Homes.

First published in The Bulletin, 26 August 1915;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Later Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1918.

No Sport! by C.J. Dennis

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In the days of old, when a foeman bold
   Came on with a rush and a roar,
Gallant and dashing, his bright steel flashing,
   And honestly eager for gore;
We studied to slay him while ready to pay him
   Respect in a high degree;
For a fiercely frolicking, roaring, rollicking,
   Generous foe was he.

But the foe to-day has a sneaking way;
   He lurks in a secret lair;
He crawls on his belly, and chemicals smelly 
   He wafts on the good clean air.
He's furtive and slimy, and ghoulish and grimy;
   He froths at the mouth with hate; 
He murders and ravages, shaming the savages -- 
   Simian up-to-date!

When the legions of France they led us a dance,
   In the days when a fight was clean,
They slew and they fought as a gentleman ought,
   And they never did anything mean.
With rifles and sabres they went for their neighbors,
   Ferocious, but ever polite.
Vanquished, victorious, e'er were they glorious,
   Foes it was honor to fight.

But the Blutwurst breed it holds to the creed
   Of the vulture, the snake and the skunk,
And it loves to go sneaking with chemicals reeking
   And methods that savor of funk.
While prating of Culture, it soars like a vulture,
   And drops a foul death from the sky.
It mauls us and mangles us; poisons and strangles us:
   Gloats when our children die.

When we fought a foe with a blow for a blow,
   And the chance of a good clean death,
We could honor him well when one of us fell,
   Or both of us paused for breath.
Though we jeered him and curst him, and battled to worst him,
   At least, when we finished the fray,
Quits we could stand to him, giving our hand to him --
   That was the gentleman's way.

But the bounder who slinks with his gases and stinks --
   The slimy, unclassified squid,
Who lurks 'neath the water all eager to slaughter
   The innocent woman and kid --
The world is against him, and when we have fenced him
   And herded him close in his lair,
If his God can endure him, we'll kill or we'll cure him,
   And cleanse once again the good air.

First published in The Bulletin, 24 June 1915

Victory by C.J. Dennis

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"Peace hath her victories" .... Not where the reek --
   Of battle rises and, in blind, brute hate,    
Men for the lives of men insanely seek: 
   Not here do nations earn an honored fate;         
But where men, striving with a mightier foe,                  
   Win on to nobler, mightier victories, 
Blessing the nations that in peace may know  
   Such sons as these.  

Peace hath her victories; yet knows defeat    
   When, fat with ease and drugged by tranquil days,  
Australia's sons stray upon errant feet
   Led by false prophets into devious ways.
Then the heart sickens and the nation quails
   To learn the measure of man's vanities;  
Till hope again glows to the glorious tales    
   Of men like these.

Now come the conquerors! Not in the guise      
   Of slayers but life-givers to the earth; 
For in their valiant battles with the skies                
   Has man's ambition come to newer birth,     
To wider vision till he understands --
   Forgetting petty spites and jealousies --     
Australia's greatness lies there in the hands             
   Of men like these.

They come in triumph wheeling from on high,    
   Kings of the air and conquerors of space          
Who found, twixt angry sea and angrier sky,          
   A vision and an ideal for their race;
Until, inspired, a wakened nation feels
   New vigor; and a contrite nation sees 
Folly and sloth bound to the chariot wheels
   Of men like these.  

Peace may not last; clear skies may yet grow grey.   
   Anzacs and seed of Anzacs! Carry on!          
Who be there else to guard against the day               
   We, or our children, yet may look upon --
That fateful day when, stricken to the sod,    
   Yet rising still unconquered to her knees       
Australia shall know cause to thank her God
   For men like these.    

First published in The Herald, 13 June 1928;
and later in
The Cairns Post, 6 July 1928.

I sent a white feather to George to-night --
   The coward who stays behind!
Was ever a maiden in such a plight?
My lover is sailing away to fight!
   And -- why is a man so blind?

Ah, me! but my lover has gone from sight,
   I shall never see him more!
Alone must I mourn for my absent knight.
But George got a feather -- and serves him right!
   I pray it hurts him sore!

I hope he will write when he sees the thing,
   I hope he will guess 'twas I!
I want him to squirm at the scorn I fling;
I'd love to be near him and see it sting,
   And -- I wonder if he'll reply?

I sent a white feather to George.  Ah, me!
   To Gus I have waved farewell --
Dear Gus, who is faring across the sea
To fight for his country, his flag -- and me!
   And the other -- how can I tell?

Oh, how can I tell of the awful mess
   I've made of the whole affair?
Yet how was a poor little girl to guess
The end of it all would be dire distress,
   When I played with that spoony pair?

Yes, Gussie and George they were courting me,
   And both of them seemed quite nice;
For George is as handsome as he can be,
And Gussie is little, but jolly and free;
   And neither was prone to vice.

Now, wasn't I luck with two such swains?
   And how could a maiden choose?
For Gussie was witty and blest with brains;
But George offered dresses and sundry gains
   That prudence should not refuse.

I think, on the whole, it was George that led.
   He had - oh, such splendid eyes!
But darling old Gus, with the things he said,
Would easily turn any poor maid's head
   Of she wasn't extremely wise.

So I played with them both, as a maiden will,
   And smiled at their fret and fuss.
Dear George was my choice; but I flirted till
The war came upon us. Then, prudent still,
   I said: "Well, it must be Gus!"

For George seemed so handsome, so strong and brave,
   I thought he was sure to go.
One boy of the two for myself to save
Was just: so my answer I sweetly gave,
   And sent him away with "No."

Ah, me!  I accepted poor Gus next day.
   I had it worked out so grand!
Dear George, broken-hearted, would sail away
To bury his sorrow; while Gus would stay.
   Now, wasn't that nicely planned?

Oh I dreamed of it all as I sat alone.
   If each had but played his part!
Poor George was to die with a love-lorn moan,
And then, ever after, would Gus atone
   To my bruised, remorseful heart.

But -- I sent a white feather to George to-night;
   And my lover I've kissed good-bye.
Brave Gus, who is sailing away to fight!
And what holds the other?  Mere craven fright!
   Oh -- I wonder if he'll reply?

First published in The Bulletin, 29 April 1915

The Call by C.J. Dennis

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Don't yeh hear them callin, to yeh, callin' to yeh, lad?
   Where the skyline's smeared an' grey with cannon smoke,
There's a crowd o' chaps that knew yeh;
Don't yeh hear them callin' to yeh -
   Mates o' yours with 'oom yeh used to drink an' joke?
An' they trust yeh, lad; they trust yeh for the friendship that yeh had.
   Don't yeh hear them callin',
Callin' to yeh, lad?

Can't you see them beck'nin' to yeh, beck'nin' to yeh, boy?
   There's a pal o' yours that fell at Sari Bair;
An' yeh cheered 'im when yeh parted,
An' yeh felt a bit down-'earted;
   Now 'e's passed the game to you, to do yer share.
Oh, the job is reel dead earnest, an' a gun is not a toy;
   Can't yeh see them beck'nin',
Beck'nin' to yeh, boy?

Don't yeh know they're waitin' for yeh, waitin' for yeh, mate,
   Hopin', prayin' that their countrymen are game;
All that brave an' battlin' crowd of
Men that in yer 'eart yer proud of --
   Mates o' yours that 'elped to make yer country's name?
Do yeh mean to dodge the trouble till the foe is at the gate?
   "Oh, it's weary waitin',
Waitin' for yeh, mate!"

Can't yeh see them lookin' at yeh, lookin' at yeh, lad --
   Women-folk of mates o' yours that fought and fell?
Are yeh grumblin' an' protestin'?
Will yer mateship stand the testin'?
   Have yeh read the message that those wide eyes tell?
Have yeh heard grey mothers weepin'?  Have yeh seen young wives grow sad?....
   Won't yeh have them prayin',
Prayin' for yeh, lad?

As by "In Hospital. GINGER MICK"

First published in The Bulletin, 30 March 1916

A War March by C.J. Dennis

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Oscar Straus, the well-known Austrian composer, has been commissioned by the Kaiser to write a new imperial march inspired by the war.  It is to begin with a funeral note, and to end with one of triumph.  Straus has been promised the Order of the Red Eagle on completion of the work. - Cable.

Ow! Wow! Wow!
(Funeral note sustained by flutes, suggesting a long-bodied, short-legged, large-headed dog in anguish.)
Ow! Wow!
We are the people who make the row;
We are the nation that skites and brags;
Marching the goose-step; waving the flags.
Hoch!
We talk too much, and we lose our block,
We scheme and spy; we plot, we lie
To blow the whole world into the sky.
The Kaiser spouts, and the Junkers rave.
Hoch! for the Superman, strong and brave!
But what is the use of a Superman,
With "frightfulness" for his darling plan,
If he has no cities to burn and loot,
No women to ravish, no babies to shoot?
Shall treaties bind us against our wish?
Rip! Swish!
(Violins: Tearing noise as of scraps of paper being destroyed.)
Now at last shall the whole world learn
Of the cult of the Teuton, strong and stern!
Ho! for the Superman running amok!
Hoch!

Um - ta, um - ta, tiddeley - um - tum!
(Uncertain note, as of a German band that has been told to move on.)
Pompety - pom pom - tiddeley - um - tum!
Way for the "blond beasts!" Here they come!
While big guns thunder the nations' doom.
Boom!
Room! Room!
Room for the German! A place in the sun!
He'll play the Devil now he's begun!
Ker-r-r-rump!....Bump!...
(Drums: Noise of an exploding cathedral.)
Ho, the gaping wound and the bleeding stump!
Watch the little ones how they jump!
While we shoot and stab, and plunder and grab,
Spurred by a Kaiser's arrogant gab;
While the Glorious Junker
Grows drunker,
And drunker, on blood.
Blood! Blood!
Sword or cannon or fire or flood,
Never shall stay our conquering feet -
On through city and village street -
Feet that savagely, madly tread,
Over the living; over the dead.
Shoot! Shoot!
Burn and pillage and slay and loot!
To the sound of our guns shall the whole world rock!
Hoch!

Shrieks!
(Flutes, piccolos and trombones render, respectively, the cries of children, shrieks of women and groans of tortured non-combatants.  Violins wail mournfully.)
Shrieks! Shrieks!
Hoch der Kaiser! The whole land reeks
With tales of torture and savage rape,
Of fiends and satyrs in human shape;
Fat hands grabbing where white flesh shrinks;
And murdered age to the red earth sinks.
Kill! Kill!
Now at length shall we gorge our fill,
And all shall bow to the German will!
By the maids we ravish our lust to slake,
By the smoking ruin that mark our wake,
By the blood we spill,and the hearths we blast....
This is The Day! The Day at last!....
Praise to God! On our bended knees,
We render thanks for boons like these.
For God and the Kaiser our cohorts flock!
Hoch!
(Scrap of German hymn-tune interpolated here.)

Ach! Donnerwelter! Himmel! Ach!
(Medley of indescribable noises rendered by full orchestra, symbolic, partly of a German band that is being severely kicked by an irate householder, and partly innumerable blutwursts suddenly arrested in mid-career.)
Ach! Ach!
"Dot vos not fair to shoot in der back!"
Who is this that as dared to face
Our hosts unconquered, and, pace by pace,
Presses us backward, and ever back.
Over the blasted, desolate rack?
What of the plans we planned so well?
We looked for victory - this is Hell!
Hold! Hold!
Mark the heaps of our comrades bold;
Look on the corpses of Culture's sons -
Martyrs slain by a savage's guns.
Respite now, in this feast of death!
Time! An Armistice! Give us breath!
Nay? Then we cry to the whole wide world,
Shame on our foe for a plea denied!
Savages! Brutes! Barbarians all!
Here shall we fight with our backs to the wall!

Boom! Boom! Boom!
(Ten more thousands gone to their doom.)
Boom!
(Bass drums only, for 679,358 bars, symbolising a prolonged artillery war. Into this there breaks suddenly the frenzied howl of the long-bodied, short-legged, large-headed dog already mentioned.)
Hate! Hate! Hate! Hate!
We spit on the British here at our gate!
Foe of humanity! Curst of the world!
On him alone let our hate be hurled!
For his smiling sneers at the Junkers' creed,
For his cold rebuke to a Kaiser's greed;
For his calm disdain of our noble race,
We fling our spite in his scornful face.
Under the sea and high in the air,
Death shall seek for him everywhere;
The lurking death in the submarine,
The swooping death in the air machine,
Alone of them all he had sealed our fate!
Hate! Hate! HATE!
(Prolonged discord, followed by deep, mysterious silence - imposed by censor - for 793 bars.)

Bang!
(Deep staccato note as of a bursting blutwurst.)
Ow! Wow! Wow!
(Dying howl of a stricken hound.  Silence again for an indefinite number of bars.  Then, in countless bars, saloons, tea-shops, coffee-houses, cafes and restaurants throughout the British Empire and most of Europe, a sudden, loud, triumphant chorus, toned by a note of relief, and dominated by "The Marseillaise" and "Tipperary."  A somewhat uncertain but distinctly nasal cheer is heard from the direction of New York.)

Peace! Peace!
At last the sounds of the big guns cease;
At last the beast is chased to his lair,
And we breathe again of the good, clean air.
The gates have fallen! The Allies win!
And the boys are marching about Berlin!
The Kaiser's down; and the story goes
A British Tommy has pulled his nose.
The German eagle has got the pip:
Vive les Allies!...Hooroo!...Hip! Hip!...

[Note to the Kaiser: As the author has a prejudice against Red Eagles, a plain, 
brown Kookaburra would be more acceptable - Den.]

First published in The Bulletin, 25 March 1915

To the Boys Who Took the Count by C.J. Dennis

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See, I'm writin' to Mick as a bloke to a bloke --
   To a cobber o' mine at the front --
An' I'm gittin' full up uv the mullock they poke
   At the cove that is bearin' the brunt.
Fer 'e mus'n't do this an' 'e shouldn't do that,
   An' 'e's crook if 'e looks a bit shick,
An' 'e's gittin' too uppish, an' don't touch 'is 'at --
   But 'ere's 'ow I puts it to Mick.

Now it's dickin to style if yer playin' the game.
   If it's marbles, or shinty, or war;
I've seen 'em lob 'ome 'ere, the 'alt an' the lame,
   That wus fine 'efty fellers before.
They wus toughs, they wus crooks, they wus ev'ry bad thing,
   But they mixed it as gentlemen should.
So 'ere's to the coot wiv 'is eye in a sling,
   An' a smile in the one that is good.

It wus playin' the game in the oval an' ring --
   An' playin' fer orl it wus worth --
That give 'em the knack uv a punch wiv a sting
   When they fought fer the land uv their birth.
They wus pebs, they wus narks, they wus reel naughty boys,
   But they didn't need no second 'int,
So ere's to the bloke wiv 'is swearin' an' noise,
   An' 'is foot in a fathom uv lint.

There wus fellers I knoo in the soft days uv peace;
   An' I didn't know much to their good;
An' they give more 'ard graft to the overworked p'leece
   Than a reel puffick gentleman should.
They wus lookin' fer lash long before it wus doo;
   When it come, they wus into it, straight.
So 'ere's to the bloke wiv 'is shoulder shot thro'
   'Oo is cursin' the days 'e's to wait.

Ar, dickin to swank! when it comes to a mill,
   It's the bloke wiv a punch 'oo's yer friend.
An' a coarse, narsty man wiv the moniker Bill
   Earns the thanks uv the crowd in the end.
(An' when I sez "earns" I am 'opin' no stint
   Will be charged agin us by-an'-bye.)
So 'ere's to the boy wiv 'is arm in a splint
   An' a "don't-care-a-dam" in 'is eye.

'Cos the fightin's too far fer to give us a grip
   Of the 'ell full uv slaughter an' noise,
There's a breed that gives me the particular pip
   Be the way that they torks uv the boys.
O, they're coarse, an' they're rude, an' it's awful to liv
   Wiv their cursin' an' shoutin' an' fuss.
Dam it!  'Ere's to the bloke wiv the bad-lookin' chiv
   That 'e poked inter trouble fer us!

O, it's dead agin etikit, dead agin style
   Fer to swear an' to swagger an' skite;
But a battle ain't won wiv a drorin'-room smile,
   An' yeh 'ave to be rude in a fight.
An' it's bein' reel rude to enemy blokes
   That'll earn yeh that 'ero-like touch,
So 'ere's to the boy wiv 'is curses an' jokes
   'Oo is 'oppin' about on a crutch.

Now, the Turk is a gent, an' they greets 'im as such,
   An' they gives doo respect to 'is Nibs;
But 'e never 'eld orf to apolergise much
   When 'e slid 'is cold steel in their ribs.
An' our boys won the name that they give 'em of late
   'Cos they fought like a jugful uv crooks,
So 'ere's to the bloke wiv the swaggerin' gait
   An' a bullet mark spoilin' 'is looks.

So, the bloke wiv the scoff, an' the bloke wiv the sneer,
   An' the coot wiv the sensitive soul,
'E 'as got to sit back, an' jist change 'is idear
   Uv the stuffin' that makes a man whole.
Fer the polish an' gilt that's a win wiv the skirts
   It wears thin wiv the friction uv war.
So 'ere's to the cove 'oo is nursin' 'is 'urts
   Wiv an oath in the set uv 'is jor.

When yeh've stripped a cove clean an' got down to the buff
   Yeh come to the meat that's the man.
If yeh want to find grit an' sich similar  stuff,
   Yeh've to strip on a similar plan.
Fer there's nothin' like scrappin' to bare a man's soul,
   If it's Billo, or Percy, or Gus.
So 'ere's to the bloke 'oo 'ops round on a pole
   An' 'owls songs goin' 'ome on the bus.

Spare me days!  When a bloke takes the count in a scrap
   That 'e's fightin' fer you an' fer me,
Is it fair that a snob 'as the nerve fer to snout
   Any swad 'cos 'is manners is free?
They're deservin' our thanks, frum the best to the worst --
   An' there's some is reel rorty, I own --
But 'ere's to the coot wiv the 'ang-over thirst
   'Oo sprags a stray toff fer a loan.

So I'm writin' to Mick; an' I'm feelin' reel wet
   Wiv the sort o' superior nark,
'Oo tilts up 'is conk an' gits orl the boys set,
   'Oo are out fer a bit uv a lark.
So I puts it to Mick, as I sez when I starts,
   An' I ends wiv the solemest toast:
'Ere's to 'im - (raise yer glass) - 'oo left pride in our 'earts
   An' 'is bones on Gallipoli coast.

First published in The Bulletin, 23 March 1916;
and later in
The Moods of Ginger Mick by C.J. Dennis, 1916.

By Your Right! by C.J. Dennis

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"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 General 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 --
Anzacs 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 heroes 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. 

First published in The Herald, 22 March 1937

To a Son of Peace by C.J. Dennis

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The State Secretary of the Returned Soldiers' League (Mr. C. W. Joyce) has lately stated that there is an anti-soldier feeling among the younger generation, much of it open and flagrant.  The country's population today holds 55 per cent. of young people who were either not born or were too young to understand its meaning when the war was being fought.

Bland youth, to whom the War is but a story
   Told by the elders round the winter fire,
A tale of ancient fear and tarnished glory
   And quaint heroes of some grey-bearded sire,
Are you so safe that you can laugh at battle?
   Are you so sure your world today is sane?
Are you so deaf that, tho' the sabres rattle
   Even today, you count all portents vain?
 
So were we safe, and deemed our generations
   Secure in sanity; so were we sure,
A score of years ago, no war-mad nation
   Could rouse a whole world's anger, and endure.
So were we young, with all youth's scornful laughter.
   Now we are old; not too old to forget
Unheeded beacon fires and and what came after ...
   And still grim Armageddon is not yet.
 
If you have gods, thank them, with thanks o'erflowing,
   First, that your path thus far has known no thorn;
Then pray.  Pray you may never come to knowing
   The bloody baptism that men you scorn
Have known, and lived -- lived on to bear the stricture
   Of beardless youth.  Pray that this world you deem
So sane, so sure, may shape war to your picture --
   The phantasy of some spent grey-beard's dream.

First published in The Herald, 27 February 1933

Armistice Day, 1933 by C.J. Dennis

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This we have said: "We shall remember them."
   And deep our sorrow while the deed was young.
Even as David mourned for Absolem
   Mourned we, with aching heart and grievous tongue.
Yet, what man grieves for long? Time hastens by
  And ageing memory, clutching at its hem,
Harks back, as silence falls, to gaze and sigh;
   For we have said, "We shall remember them."
 
"Age shall not wither..." So the world runs on.
   We grieve, and sleep, and wake to laugh again;
And babes, untouched by pain of days long gone,
   Untaught by sacrifice, grow into men.
What should these know of darkness and despair,
   Of glory, now seen dimly, like a gem
Glowing thro' dust, that we let gather there?-
  We who have said, "We shall remember them."
 
Grey men go marching down this street today:
   Grave men, whose ranks grow pitifully spare.
Into the West each year they drift away
   From silence into silence over there.
Unsung, unnoticed, quietly they go,
   Mayhap to rest; mayhap a diadem
To claim, that was denied them here below
   By those who vowed, "We shall remember them."
 
"We shall remember them."  This have we said.
   Nor sighs, nor silences devoutly planned
Alone shall satisfy the proud young dead;
   But all things that we do to this their land --
Aye, theirs; not ours; of this be very sure;
   Theirs, too, the right to credit or condemn.
And, if the soul they gave it shall endure,
   Well may we say, "We have remembered them."

First published
in The Herald, 11 November 1933

Author reference sites: C.J. Dennis, Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Volunteer Rhymes by Henry Halloran

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Come, boys! come, -- let us fairly use the present,
And plant for our children the gallant oak tree;
The pride in old Britain, of peer and of peasant;
The king of the forest, the ark of the free!

Come, boys! come, -- let us put away the distaff,
And take for the future, the rifle or sword;
Let every man, here, say, that one of those is his staff,
Let him fairly pledge his fellows, and be true to his word.

Are we of Britain the true sons, or bastards?
Shall we look to others our homes to defend?
Have we no scorn for palterers and dastards?   
Can we not be faithful and manly to the end!  

Hear we not the murmur of peoples now arming?
Read we not the storm in the sky mute and calm?
Tho' signs such as these be to dastards alarming;
They bid every true man to gather and arm.     

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 September 1860

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Ginger Mick's Straight Griffen by C. J. Dennis

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"'Eroes? Orright. You 'ave it 'ow yeh like.
   Throw up yer little 'at an' come the glad;
But not too much 'Three-'Earty-Cheers' fer Mike;
   There's other things that 'e'll be wantin' bad.
The boys won't 'ave them kid-stakes on their mind
Wivout there's somethin' solider be'ind."

Now that's the dinkum oil frum Ginger Mick,
   In 'orspital, somew'ere be'ind the front;
Plugged in the neck, an' lately pretty sick,
   But now right on the converlescent stunt.
"I'm on the mend," 'e writes, "an' nearly doo
To come the 'ero act agen - Scene two."

I'd sent some papers, knowin' 'ow time drags
   Wiv blokes in blankits, waitin' fer a cure.
"An' 'Struth!" Mick writes, "the way they et them rags
   Yeh'd think that they'd bin weaned on litrachure.
They wrestled thro' frum 'Births' to 'Lost and Found';
They even give the Leaders 'arf a round."

Mick spent a bonzer day propped up in bed,
   Soothin' 'is soul wiv ev'ry sportin' page;
But in the football noos the things 'e read
   Near sent 'im orf 'is top wiv 'oly rage;
The way 'is team 'as mucked it earned 'is curse;
But 'e jist swallered it - becos uv nurse.

An' then this 'eadline 'it 'im wiv bokays;
   "Australian Heroes!" is the song it makes.
Mick reads the boys them ringin' words o' praise;
   But they jist grins a bit an' sez "Kid stakes!"
Sez Mick to nurse, "You tumble wot I am?
A bloomin' little 'ero.  Pass the jam!"

Mick don't say much uv nurse; but 'tween the lines -
   ('Im bein' not too strong on gushin' speech) -
I seem to see some tell-tale sort o' signs.
   Sez 'e, "Me nurse-girl is a bonzer peach,"
An' then 'e 'as a line: "'Er sad, sweet look."
'Struth!  Ginger must 'a' got it frum a book.

Say, I can see ole Ginger, plain as plain,
   Purrin' to feel the touch u'v 'er cool 'and,
Grinnin' a bit to kid 'is wound don't pain,
   An' yappin' tork she don't 'arf understand,
That makes 'er wonder if, back where she lives,
They're all reel men be'ind them ugly chivs.

But that's orright.  Ole Ginger ain't no flirt.
   "You tell my Rose," 'e writes, "she's still the sweet.
An' if Long Jim gits rnessin' round that skirt,
   When I come back I'll do 'im up a treat.
Tell 'im, if all me arms an' legs is lame
I'll bite the blighter if 'e comes that game!"

There's jealousy!  But Ginger needn't fret.
   Rose is fer 'im, an' Jim ain't on 'er card;
An' since she spragged 'im last time that they met -
   Jim ain't inlisted - but 'e's thinkin' 'ard.
Mick wus 'er 'ero long before the war,
An' now 'e's sort o' chalked a double score.

That's all Sir Garneo.  But Mick, 'e's vowed
   This "'Ail the 'Ero" stunt gits on 'is nerves,
An' makes 'im peevish; tho' 'e owns 'is crowd
   Can mop up all the praises they deserves.
"But don't yeh spread the 'ero on too thick
If it's exhaustin' yeh," sez Ginger Mick.

"We ain't got no objections to the cheers;
   We're good an' tough, an' we can stand the noise,
But three 'oorays and five or six long beers
   An' loud remarks about 'Our Gallant Boys'
Sounds kind o' weak - if you'll ixcuse the word
Beside the fightin' sounds we've lately 'eard.

"If you'll fergive our blushes, we can stand
   The 'earty cheerin' an' the songs o' praise.
The loud 'Osannas uv our native land
   Makes us feel good an' glad in many ways.
An' later, when we land back in a mob,
Per'aps we might be arstin' fer a job.

"I'd 'ate," sez Mick, "to 'ave you think us rude,
   Or take these few remarks as reel bad taste;
'Twould 'urt to 'ave it seem ingratichude,
   Wiv all them 'earty praises gone to waste.
We'll take yer word fer it, an' jist remark
This 'ero racket is a reel good lark.

"Once, when they caught me toppin' off a John,
   The Bench wus stern, an' torked uv dirty work;
But, 'Struth! it's bonzer 'ow me fame's come on
   Since when I took to toppin' off the Turk.
So, if it pleases, shout yer loud 'Bravoes,'
An' later - don't fergit there's me, an' Rose."

So Ginger writes.  I gives it word fer word;
   An' if it ain't the nice perlite reply
That nice, perlite old gents would like to've 'eard
   '0o've been 'ip-'ippin' 'im up to the sky -
Well, I dunno, I s'pose 'e's gotter learn
It's rude fer 'im to speak out uv 'is turn.

'Eroes. It sounds a bit uv reel orl-right -
   "Our Gallant 'Eroes uv Gallipoli."
But Ginger, when 'e's thinkin' there at night,
   Uv Rose, an' wot their luck is like to bbe
After the echo dies uv all this praise,
Well - 'e ain't dazzled wiv three loud 'oorays.

First published in The Bulletin, 2 September 1915;
and later in
The Moods of Ginger Mick by C. J. Dennis, 1916.

Note: this poem is also known by the title The Straight Griffin.

Author reference sites: C.J. Dennis, Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Eland's River by George Essex Evans

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4th to 16th August, 1900.

This engagement has been described by English officers as the most gallant fight of the whole war, and has been specially recommended by Conan Doyle as the finest subject that an Australian balladist could wish for.


It was on the fourth of August, as five hundred of us lay
In the camp at Eland's River, came a shell from De La Rey ---
         We were dreaming of home faces,
         Of the old familiar places,
And the gum-trees and the sunny plains five thousand miles away ---
         But the challenge woke and found us
         With four thousand rifles round us;
And Death stood laughing at us at the breaking of the day.

Hell belched upon our borders, and the battle had begun.
Our Maxims jammed: We faced them with one muzzle-loading gun.
         East, south, and west, and nor'ward
         Their shells came screaming forward    
As we threw the sconces round us in the first light of the sun.
         The thin air shook with thunder    
         As they raked us fore and under,
And the cordon closed around us, and they held us --- eight to one.

We got the Maxims going, and the field-gun into place   
(She stilled the growling of a Krupp upon our southern face);
         Round the crimson ring of battle
         Swiftly ran the deadly rattle
As our rifles searched their fore-lines with a desperate menace;
         Who would wish himself away
         Fighting in our ranks that day
For the glory of Australia and the honour of the race?

But our horse-lines soon were shambles, and our cattle lying dead
(When twelve guns rake two acres there is little room to tread),
         All day long we heard the drumming
         Of the Mauser bullets humming,
And at night their guns, day-sighted, rained fierce havoc overhead.
         Twelve long days and nights together,
         Through the cold and bitter weather,  
We lay grim behind the sconces, and returned them lead for lead.  

They called us to surrender, and they let their cannon lag;
They offered us our freedom for the striking of the flag ---
         Army stores were there in mounds,
         Worth a hundred thousand pounds,
And we lay battered round them behind trench and sconce and crag.
         But we sent the answer in,
         They could take what they could win ---
We hadn't come five thousand miles to fly the coward's rag.  

We saw the guns of Carrington come on and fall away;
We saw the ranks of Kitchener across the kopje grey ---
         For the sun was shining then
         Upon twenty thousand men ---
And we laughed, because we knew, in spite of hell-fire and delay,
         On Australia's page for ever
         We had written Eland's River ---
We had written it for ever and a day!

First published
in The Argus, 3 August 1901;
and later in
The Brisbane Courier, 10 August 1901;
The Queenslander, 17 August 1901;
The Secret Key and Other Verses by George Essex Evans, 1906;
The Collected Verse of G. Essex Evans by George Essex Evans, 1928; and
Fighting Words: Australian War Writing edited by Carl Harrison-Ford, 1986.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also

Our Heroes: Who, Being Dead, Yet Speak by S. Elliott Napier

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"O lov'd and honor'd dead!" we cry,
"O honor'd dead!" -- and where they lie,
Beneath the blue but alien sky,
The dead men whisper their reply:

Ten years ago the storm-clouds broke
And Armageddon's thunders woke  
   A wounded, wond'ring world to know
   That at the gates there stood the foe,
Thrusting at Faith with wanton stroke.
We -- we who heard the raven-croak
Of death beneath his shadowy cloak,
   And watch'd his dreadful harvest grow,
                     Ten years ago,
Heard, too, from out the battle-smoke,
A voice that rang: "Take up the yoke,
   This is thine hour; through fear and woe
   And bitterness fight on!" and, lo!
Thus did we, for 'twas honour spoke,
                     Ten years ago.

Ten years ago we shared the jest
With you and knew with you the zest
   Of life -- now lie we here. You say
   You honour our great dying -- stay!
How hath your honour stood the test?
That which we gain'd have you possess'd?
That which we strove for have you stress'd?
   Where are the things we won that day,
                     Ten years ago?
Your honour is dishonour dress'd
In huckster's garments at the best.
   We showed -- can you not keep? -- the way;
   We paid the price -- can you not pay?
We rest not; yet we earn'd our rest
                     Ten years ago.  

Ten years ago we strove for naught
But peace and liberty; we fought
   To conquer tyranny and pride,
   And in our dying gladly cried
That we had found what we had sought.
It seems we err'd in deed and thought;
Although we clutch'd, we never caught
   The gracious things for which we died,
                     Those years ago.
Is this the peace the years have brought,
The liberty we learn'd and taught?
   The truth for which hell's gates we pried --
   This wanton one that virgin bride?
Ah, no! 'Twas not those things we sought
                     Ten years ago!

The whisp'ring voices sink and cease,
But we who hear -- shall we increase
The shame; or, healing, bring release
By some now nobler Armistice,
And win the world to lasting peace?

This is our debt with those who laid
Their lives down gladly, unafraid,
That wrong's red torrent might be stayed.
This is the debt that we have made;
Ah, brothers, shall it not be paid?

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 August 1924

Author reference sites: Austlit

See also.

The Battle of the Wazzir by C.J. Dennis

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If ole Pharaoh, King of Egyp', 'ad been gazin' on the scene
   'E'd' ave give the A.I.F. a narsty name
When they done their little best to scrub 'is dirty Kingdom clean,
   An' to shift 'is ancient 'eap uv sin an' shame.
An' I'm tippin' they'd 'ave phenyled 'im, an' rubbed it in 'is 'ead.
But old Pharaoh, King uv Egyp', 'e is dead.

So yeh don't 'ear much about it; an' it isn't meant yeh should,
   Since 'is Kingship wasn't there to go orf pop;
An' this mishunery effort fer to make the 'eathen good
   Wus a contract that the fellers 'ad to drop.
There wus other pressin' matters, so they 'ad to chuck the fun,
But the Battle uv the Wazzir took the bun.

Now, Ginger Mick 'e writes to me a long, ixcited note,
   An' 'e writes it in a whisper, so to speak;
Fer I guess the Censor's shadder wus across 'im as 'e wrote,
   An' 'e 'ad to bottle things that musn't leak.
So I ain't got orl the strength uv it; but sich as Ginger sends
I rejooce to decent English fer me friends.

It wus part their native carelessness, an' part their native skite;
   Fer they kids themselves they know the Devil well,
'Avin' met 'im, kind uv casu'l, on some wild Australian night-
   Wine an' women at a secon'-rate 'otel.
But the Devil uv Australia 'e's a little woolly sheep
To the devils wot the desert children keep.

So they mooches round the drink-shop's, an' the Wazzir took their eye,
   An' they found old Pharoah's daughters pleasin' Janes;
An' they wouldn't be Australian 'less they give the game a fly ...
   An' Egyp' smiled an' totted up 'is gains.
'E doped their drinks, an' breathed on them 'is aged evil breath ...
An' more than one woke up to long fer death.

When they wandered frum the newest an' the cleanest land on earth,
   An' the filth uv ages met 'em, it wus 'ard.
Fer there may be sin an' sorrer in the country uv their birth;
   But the dirt uv cenchuries ain't in the yard.
They wus children, playin' wiv an asp, an' never fearin' it,
An' they took it very sore when they wus bit.

First, they took the tales fer furphies.. when they got around the camp,
   Uv a cove done in fer life wiv one night's jag,
But when the yarns grew 'ot an' strong an' bore the 'all-mark stamp
   Uv dinkum oil, they waved the danger flag.
An' the shudder that a clean man feels when 'e's su'prized wiv dirt
Gripped orl the camp reel solid; an' it 'urt.

There wus Bill from up the Billabong, 'oo's dearest love wus cow,
   An' 'oo lived an' thought an' fought an' acted clean.
'E wus lately frum 'is mother wiv 'er kiss wet on 'is brow;
   But they snared 'im in, an' did 'im up reel mean.
Fer young Bill, wus gone a million, an' 'e never guessed the game...
For 'e's down in livin' 'ell, an' marked fer sbame.

An' Bill wus only one uv 'em to fall to Eastern sin
   Ev'ry comp'ny 'ad a rotten tale to tell,
An' there must be somethin' doin' when the strength uv it sunk in
   To a crowd that ain't afraid to clean up 'ell.
They wus game to take a gamble; but this dirt dealt to a mate --
Well, it riled 'em; an' they didn't 'esitate.

'Ave 'yeh seen a crowd uv fellers takin' chances 'on a game,
   Crackin' 'ard while they thought it on the square?
'Ave yeh 'eard their owl uv anguish when they tumbled to the same,
   'Avin' found they wus the victums uv a snare?
It wus jist that sort uv anger when they fell to Egyp's stunt;
An', remember, they wus trainin' fer the front.

I 'ave notions uv the Wazzir.  It's as old as Pharaoh's tomb;
   It's as cunnin' as the oldest imp in 'ell;
An' the game it plays uv lurin' blokes, wiv love-songs, to their doom
   Wus begun when first a tart 'ad smiles to sell.
An' it stood there thro' the ages; an' it might be standin' still
If it 'adn't bumped a clean cove, name o' Bill.

An' they done it like they done it when a word went to the push
   That a nark 'oo'd crooled a pal wus run to ground.
They done it like they done it when the blokes out in the bush
   Passed a telegraft that cops wus nosin' round.
There wus no one rung a fire-bell, but the tip wus passed about;
An' they fixed a night to clean the Wazzir out.

Yes, I've notions uv the Wazzir.  It's been pilin' up its dirt
   Since it mated wiv the Devil in year One,
An' spawned a brood uv evil things to do a man a 'urt
   Since the lurk uv snarin' innercents begun.
But it's sweeter an' it's cleaner since one wild an' woolly night
When the little A.I.F. put up a fight.

Now, it started wiv some 'orseplay.  If the 'eads 'ad seen the look,
   Dead in earnest, that wus underneath the fun,
They'd 'ave tumbled there wus somethin' that wus more than commin crook,
   An' 'ave stopped the game before it 'arf begun.
But the fellers larfed like school-boys, tbo' they orl wus more than narked,
An' they 'ad the 'ouses well an' truly marked.

Frum a little crazy balkiney that clawed agin a wall
   A chair come crasbin' down into the street;
Then a woman's frightened screamin' give the sign to bounce the ball,
   An' there came a sudden rush uv soljers' feet.
There's a glimpse uv frightened faces as a door caved in an' fell;
An' the Wazzir wus a 'owlin' screamin' 'ell.

Frum a winder 'igh above 'em there's a bloke near seven feet,
   Waves a bit uv naked Egyp' in the air.
An' there's squealin' an' there's shriekin' as they chased 'em down the street,
   When they dug 'em out like rabbits frum their lair.
Then down into the roadway gaudy 'ouse'old gods comes fast,
An' the Wazzir's Great Spring Cleanin' starts at last.

Frum the winders came pianners an' some giddy duchess pairs;
   An' they piled 'em on the roadway in the mire,
An' 'eaped 'em 'igh wiv fal-de-rals an' pretty parlor chairs,
   Which they started in to purify wiv fire.
Then the Redcaps come to argue, but they jist amused the mob;
Fer the scavengers wus warmin' to their job.

When the fire-reels come to quell 'em-'struth! they 'ad no bloomin' 'ope;
   Fer they cut the 'ose to ribbons in a jiff;
An' they called u'pon tbe drink-shops an' poured out their rotten dope,
   While the nigs 'oo didn't run wus frightened stiff.
An' when orb wus done an' over, an' they wearied uv the strife,
That old Wazzir'd 'ad the scourin' uv its life.

Now, old Gin er ain't quite candid; 'e don't say where 'e came in;
   But 'e mentions that'e don't get no C.B.,
An' 'e's 'ad some pretty practice dodgin' punishment fer sin
   Down in Spadger's since 'is early infancy.
So I guess, if they went after 'im, they found 'im snug in bed.
Fer old Ginger 'as a reel tactician's 'ead.

An' 'e sez that when 'e wandered down the Wazzir later on
   It wus like a 'ome where 'oliness reposed;
Fer its sinfulness wus 'idden, an' its brazenness wus gone,
   An' its doors, wiv proper modesty, wus closed.
If a 'ead looked out a winder, as they passed, it quick drew in;
Fer the Wazzir wus a wowser, scared from sin.

If old Pharaoh, King uv Egyp', 'e 'ad lived to see the day
   When they tidied up 'is 'eap uv shame an' sin,
Well, 'e mighter took it narsty, fer our fellers 'ave a way
   Uv completin' any job that they begin.
An' they might 'ave left 'is Kingship nursin' gravel-rash in bed...
But old Pharaoh, King uv Egyp', 'e is dead.

First published in The Bulletin, 18 July 1918;
and later in
The Making of a Sentimental Bloke: A Sketch of the Remarkable Career of C.J. Dennis by Alec H. Chisholm, 1963.

Author reference sites: C.J. Dennis, Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Voices of the Brave by Randolph Bedford

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Australian Nurse and Soldier; whose voices through the gloom
Of night, black on the ocean, make landfall in my room;
Where the lucent disc of wireless marks the Stations of the Air,
In this northern night so quiet, as the day has been so fair.
And the voices borne by magic, from our brothers in the stress ---
From our sisters' loving services to comfort and to bless ---
Are as nigh unto my senses as if their hands of flesh
Touched my hands across the ocean wastes that rise and fall and thresh.

They have fought and made retreat between the scattered Cyclades,
From Greece and Crete and Delos, through the torn Aegean Seas;
With horror sated, nurse and soldier, wiser than their years,
Their strength, the soul of duty, that has risen above their fears.
Made commonplace is death, that swoops from out the crazy sky ---
Their finest thrill when bombing Huns crash down to earth to die.

They fought the rearguard actions in a wide Thermopylae ---
Heroic flesh opposed to steel, and weakened day by day;
From olive groves and vineyards, over leagues of hell-swept sea,
To Bethlehem, and north to Nazareth and Galilee;
The land where the child Jesus grew; the land wherein He died,
Because He loved the world, and hatred would not be denied;
The Holy Land, whose guard and keep are in the Middle Sea,
Where the men Australia mothered fight to keep Australia free.

Across the seas of half the world the soldiers' voices come;
Their hardy voices fail to hide their hunger for their home;
The Mitchell grass with cattle --- the mulga and the wool;
Our openhanded land that yields in measure more than full.
At Bondi or at Brisbane --- at Studley Park or Perth ---
They're yearning for the sight and touch of good Australian earth.
In that ancient land of sorrow past two thousand years of hate,
Fighting lust that murders beauty; keeping fast the splintered gate,
They force the walls of Sidon, and they claim the halls of Tyre,
But ever with the longing for the cheerful homeland fire.

And ever with the yearning, from the woods of Lebanon,
To see the grey gums in the creek and the thickets of the Don;
Their stride of resolution firm on the Assyrian loam,
Their faces to the enemy --- their thoughts turned back to home.

The years we wasted hoping --- the complaisant years of trust ---
The vanity that dallied while the Hun perfected lust ---
The men who planned on error, and the sloth that took a chance,
That now our soldiers pay for in that desert devils' dance.
And the little nurse who wonders how the station horses fare,
And longs for gallops down the creek in the clean homeland air.

The beast respects the gravid dam: not so the gangster breed
That bombs the nursing mothers and exults in craven deed;
These are the enemies of life; opposed Australians stand
To stem the martyrdom of man in that once-Holy land.
They fight to salvage beauty unto the world of man;
To kill the wolf-packs of the Hun and raze the wolf-pack's den;
No inch to yield of foreign field --- if strength endure the while;
They know a hard-held inch becomes, on homeward roads, a mile.

Oh! My brothers! Labour soldiers in the mine, and forge, and mill,
With yet another turning of the lathe, and of the drill;
Each precious minute salvaged from the avid sink of time
May save another soldier and avert another crime.
No faint heart can be here, if but we steel the soul and will;
No laggard here to help the foe of all the world to kill.

To every good Australian house those brave young voices come,
Their arms and hearts defending us while yet they yearn for home;
And single-hearted toil must be our word sent oversea
To our mates who fight for freedom, west and north of Galilee.

First published in The Courier-Mail, 28 June 1941;
and later in
The Cairns Post, 21 July 1941.

Author: George Randolph Bedford (1868-1941) was born in Camperdown, New South Wales,  and started work as an office boy for a firm of Sydney solicitors. He left there after two years and worked his way across New South Wales, ending up as a reporter for the Broken Hill Argus. He then worked in Adelaide on The Advertiser and in Melbourne on The Age, before starting The Clarion with Lionel Lindsay. He made a fortune speculating on gold mining in Western Australia, traveled to Europe between 1901-04.  He found himself in Queensland in 1915 and successfully stood for the State Parliament in 1923.  He published 7 novels and 2 collections of poetry during his lifetime.  He died in Brisbane in 1941.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

To the Fallen Heroes by Zora Cross

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No little victory we praise
   This mellow day in June,  
As down the way the chanting comes  
   Of many a martial tune.  

No petty, passing sigh is ours,
   No merely human prayer,  
The news of every fresh-cut trench
   Brings heartache everywhere.

For blue, blue eyes that smiled in ours,
   And hearts that linked our own,  
Wait wearied, longing for the charge,
   Or maybe die --- alone.

Dear hands, dear fingers that we pressed,
   No little niche is thine,
Where hero meets with hero on
   The hills and plains divine.

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 16 June 1915

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of BiographyOld Qld Poetry

See also.

"Ginger Mick" by C. J. Dennis

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Wot price ole Ginger Mick?  'E's done a break --
   Gone to the flamin' war to stoush the foe.
Wus it fer glory, or a woman's sake?
   Ar, arst me somethin' easy! I dunno.
'Is Kharki clobber set 'im off a treat,
That's all I know; 'is motive's got me beat.

Ole Mick 'e's trainin' up in Cairo now;
   An' all the cops in Spadger's Lane is sad.
They miss 'is music in the midnight row
   Wot time the pushes mix it good an' glad.
Fer 'e wus one o' them, you understand,
Wot "soils the soshul life uv this fair land."

A peb wus Mick; a leery bloke wus 'e,
   Low down, an' given to the brinnin' cup;
The sort o' chap that coves like you an' me
   Don't mix wiv, 'cos of our strick bringin's-up.
An' 'e wus sich becos unseein' Fate
Lobbed 'im in life a 'undred years too late.

'E wus a man uv vierlence, wus Mick,
   Coarse wiv 'is speech an' in 'is manner low,
Slick wiv 'is 'ands, an' 'andy wiv a brick
   When bricks wus needful to defeat a foe.
An' now 'e's gone an' mizzled to the war,
An' some blokes 'as the nerve to arst "Wot for?"

Wot for? gawstruth! 'E wus no patriot
   That sits an' brays advice in days uv strife;
'E never flapped no flags nor sich like rot;
   'E never sung "Gawsave" in all 'is life.
'E wus dispised be them that make sich noise:
But now - O strike! - 'e's "one uv our brave boys."

'E's one uv our brave boys, all right, all right.
   'Is early trainin' down in Spadgers Lane
Done 'im no 'arm fer this 'ere orl-in fight:
   'Is loss o' culcher is 'is country's gain.
'Im wiv 'is carst-ir'n chiv an' leery ways -
An' swell tarts 'eavin' 'im sweet words o' praise.

Why did 'e go?  'E 'ad a decent job,
   'Is tart an' 'im they could 'a' made it right.
Why does a wild bull fight to guard the mob?
   Why does a bloomin' bull-ant look fer fight?
Why does a rooster scrap an' flap an' crow?
'E went becos 'e dam well <i>'ad</i> to go.

'E never spouted no 'igh-soundin' stuff
   About stern jooty an' 'is country's call;
But, in 'is way, 'e 'eard it right enough
   A-callin' like the shout uv "On the Ball!"
Wot time the footer brings the clicks great joy,
An' Saints or Carlton roughs it up wiv 'Roy.

The call wot came to cave-men in the days
   When rocks wus stylish in the scrappin' line;
The call wot knights 'eard in the minstrel's lays,
   That sent 'em in tin soots to Palerstine;
The call wot draws all fighters to the fray
It come to Mick, an' Mick 'e must obey.

The Call uv Stoush! ... It's older than the 'ills.
   Lovin' an' fightin' - there's no more to tell
Concernin' men.  an' when that feelin' thrills
   The blood uv them 'oo's fathers mixed it well,
They 'ave to 'eed it - bein' 'ow they're built -
As traders 'ave to 'eed the clink uv gilt.

An' them whose gilt 'as stuffed 'em stiff wiv pride
   An' 'aughty scorn uv blokes like Ginger Mick -
I sez to them, put sich crook thorts aside,
   An' don't lay on the patronage too think.
Orl men is brothers when it comes to lash
An' 'aughty scorn an' Culcher does their lash.

War ain't no giddy garden feete - it's war:
   A game that calls up love an' 'atred both.
An' them that shudders at the sight o' gore,
   An' shrinks to 'ear a drunken soljer's oath,
Must 'ide be'ind the man wot 'eaves the bricks,
An' thank their Gawd for all their Ginger Micks.
<
Becos 'e never 'ad the chance to find
   The glory o' the world by land an' sea,
Becos the beauty 'idin' in 'is mind
   Wus not writ plain fer blokes like you an' me,
They calls 'im crook; but in 'im I 'ave found
Wot makes a man a man the world around.

Be'ind that dile uv 'is, as 'ard as sin,
   Wus strange, soft thorts that never yet showed out;
An' down in Spadger's Lane, in dirt an' din,
   'E dreamed sich dreams as poits sing about.
'E's 'ad 'is visions uv the Bonzer Tart;
An' stoushed some coot to ease 'is swellin' 'eart.

Lovin' an' fightin' . . . when the tale is told,
   That's all there is to it; an' in their way
Them brave an' noble 'ero blokes uv old
   Wus Ginger Micks - the crook 'uns uv their day.
Jist let the Call uv Stoush give 'im 'is chance
An' Ginger Mick's the 'ero of Romance.

So Ginger Mick 'e's mizzled to the war;
   Joy in 'is 'eart, an' wild dreams in 'is brain;
Gawd 'elp the foe that 'e goes gunnin' for
   If tales is true they tell in Spadger's Lane -
Tales that ud fairly freeze the gentle 'earts
Uv them 'oo knits 'is socks - the Culchered Tarts.

First published in The Bulletin, 10 June 1915;
and later in
The Moods of Ginger Mick by C.J. Dennis, 1916;
The Australian Experience of War: Illustrated Stories and Verse edited by J.T. Laird, 1988;
Selected Works of C.J. Dennis by C.J. Dennis, 1988;
Favorite Poems of C.J. Dennis by C.J. Dennis, 1989; and
Our Country: Classic Australian Poetry: From the Colonial Ballads to Paterson & Lawson edited by Michael Cook, 2004.

Note: this poem is also known by the title "The Call of Stoush".

Author reference sites: C.J. Dennis, Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Sari Bair by C. J. Dennis

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So, they've struck their streak o' trouble, an' they got it in the neck,
An' there's more than one ole pal o' mine 'as 'anded in 'is check;
But Ginger still takes nourishment; 'e's well, but breathin' 'ard.
An' so 'e sends the strength uv it scrawled on a chunk uv card.

"On the day we 'it the transport there wus cheerin' on the pier,
An' the girls wus wavin' hankies as they dropped a partin' tear,
An' we felt like little 'eroes as we watched the crowd recede,
Fer we sailed to prove Australia, an' our boastin' uv the breed.

"There wus Trent, ex-toff, uv England; there wus Green, ex-pug, uv 'Loo;
There wus me, an' Craig uv Queensland, wiv 'is 'ulkin' six-foot-two:
An' little Smith uv Collin'wood, 'oo 'owled a rag-time air.
On the day we left the Leeuwin, bound nor'-west for Gawd-knows-where.

"On the day we come to Cairo wiv its niggers an' its din,
To fill our eyes wiv desert sand, our souls wiv Eastern sin,
There wus cursin' an' complainin'; we wus 'ungerin' fer fight -
Little imertation soljers full uv vanity an' skite.

"Then they worked us - Gawd! they worked us, till we knoo wot drillin' meant;
Till men begun to feel like men, an' wasters to repent,
Till we grew to 'ate all Egyp', an' its desert, an' its stinks:
On the days we drilled at Mena in the shadder uv the Sphinx.

"Then Green uv Sydney swore an oath they meant to 'old us tight,
A crowd uv flamin' ornaments wivout a chance to fight;
But little Smith uv Collin'wood, he whistled 'im a toon,
An' sez, 'Aw, take a pull, lad, there'll be whips o' stoushin' soon.'

"Then the waitin', weary waitin', while we itched to meet the foe!
But we'd done wiv fancy skitin' an' the comic op'ra show.
We wus soljers - finished soljers, an' we felt it in our veins
On the day we trod the desert on ole Egyp's sandy plains.

"An' Trent 'e said it wus a bore, an' all uv us wus blue,
An' Craig, the giant, never joked the way 'e used to do.
But little Smith uv Collin'wood 'e 'ummed a little song,
An' said, 'You leave it to the 'eads. O now we sha'n't be long!'

"Then Sari Bair, O Sari Bair, 'twus you wot seen it done,
The day the transports rode yer bay beneath a smilin' sun.
We boasted much, an' toasted much; but where yer tide line creeps,
'Twus you, me dainty Sari Bair, that seen us play fer keeps.

"We wus full uv savage skitin' while they kep' us on the shelf -
(Now I tell yeh, square an' 'onest, I wus doubtin' us meself);
But we proved it, good an' plenty, that our lads can do an' dare,
On the day we walloped Abdul o'er the sands o' Sari Bair.

"Luck wus out wiv Green uv Sydney, where 'e stood at my right 'and,
Fer they plunked 'im on the transport 'fore 'e got a chance to land.
Then I saw 'em kill a feller wot I knoo in Camberwell,
Somethin' sort o' went inside me - an' the rest wus bloody 'ell.

"Thro' the smoke I seen 'im strivin', Craig uv Queensland, tall an' strong,
Like an 'arvester at 'ay-time singin', swingin' to the song.
An' little Smith uv Collin'wood, 'e 'owled a fightin' tune,
On the day we chased Mahomet over Sari's sandy dune.

"An' Sari Bair, O Sari Bair, you seen 'ow it wus done,
The transports dancin' in yer bay beneath the bonzer sun;
An' speckled o'er yer gleamin' shore the little 'uddled 'eaps
That showed at last the Southern breed could play the game fer keeps.

"We found 'im, Craig uv Queensland, stark, 'is 'and still on 'is gun.
We found too many more besides, when that fierce scrap wus done.
An' little Smith uv Collin'wood, he crooned a mournful air,
The night we planted 'em beneath the sands uv Sari Bair.

"On the day we took the transport there wus cheerin' on the pier,
An' we wus little chiner gawds; an' now we're sittin' 'ere,
Wiv the taste uv blood an' battle on the lips uv ev'ry man
An' ev'ry man jist 'opin' fer to end as we began.

"Fer Green is gone, an' Craig is gone, an' Gawd! 'ow many more!
Who sleep the sleep at Sari Bair beside that sunny shore!
An' little Smith uv Collin'wood, a bandage 'round 'is 'ead,
He 'ums a savage song an' vows quick vengeance fer the dead.

"But Sari Bair, me Sari Bair, the secrets that you 'old
Will shake the 'earts uv Southern men when all the tale is told;
An' when they git the strength uv it, there'll never be the need
To call too loud fer fightin' men among the Southern breed."

First published in The Bulletin, 20 May 1915;
and later in
The Moods of Ginger Mick by C.J. Dennis, 1916.

Author reference sites: C.J. Dennis, Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

War by George Essex Evans

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Imperious Goddess! proud Bellona! stay,
So I may strive to read thy secret heart;
Tear from thy cruel face the mask away;
Come --- let men see thee as thou really art.
That lofty air, that brave yet scornful smile,
But hides the pitiless stern features 'neath
The mask by which thou dost men's hearts beguile
To risk their lives to win thy laurel-wreath.
Thy gorgeous pageantry, thy nodding plumes,
The martial music's glorious stirring swell,
Are but the shrouds for twice a thousand tombs ---
For twice a thousand but Death's solemn knell.
Two hostile hosts ablaze with glittering steel;
The thunder of artillery; the shock
Of charging squadrons; the proud bugle-peal ---
Clear, loud, yet silvery, as tho' to mock
Some dying soldier's agonised appeal
To Heaven for mercy; then the tiny square,
Lost in the dense gray haze of battle-cloud
While charging hordes press round it everywhere,
Still sternly stubborn--and us sternly proud,
Defiant, and immovable--and like the rock
O'er which old Ocean's mountain billows tear,
Break, burst in thunder, yet can not
Move from its native fastnesses one jot.
And men --- with quickened senses as they hear
The bugle-call, the clash as steel meets steel,   
And see their native banner's crest uprear
High o'er them--then can only feel,
As the battalions of the foe appear
In columned grandeur nearer and more near.
Their pulses throb, and the warm life-blood glow,
And care for nought save victory, and the foe.
Thus ever, Goddess! when with naked sword
Thou standest crying "Glory --- onward go!"   
Men have been ready to obey thy word,
Nor count the odds, nor heed that blood must flow.
And so it is, has been, will be thy plan
So long as earth is earth and man is man.

That is one side the picture; but I would ---
If so be that I can a landscape draw --
Depict both light and shade, as artist should,
And paint the shades of awful glorious war.
I see the moonlight on the battle-field
When all is silent and the fight is o'er.
And there Death's harvest! Tis a mighty yield;
Yet hath he reaped such yields full oft before.
And there they lie --- not singly, but in heaps;
In ghastly heaps; the dying with the dead
All intermingled--while the cold wind sweeps
Across and moans their requiem overhead.
And this is War! Great, glorious, awful War! --
Whose praises poets still are wont to sing ---
With all its pomp, and majesty, and awe!   
Yet, to my mind, it seems a gruesome thing
To think that for each wretch maimed, wounded, torn
By shot, and left stark dead upon the plain
Some loving hearts (tho' far away) must mourn --
Must weep in bitterness --= must weep in vain. "
He dies with honour who doth fall in war,"
They say, and count the heroes of the strife.
Can this the loved one to his home restore,
Or fill his nostrils with the breath of life?
A warrior's grave they deck with laurel leaf,
And honour him whose honour knew no stain,
But to his nearest (in their hopeless grief)
The laurel fades-the cypress will remain.
Imperious Goddess! when it is thy plan   
With martial majesty to set the task
For man to battle with his brother man,
Show each thy countenance - without the mask.

First published in The Queenslander, 9 May 1885

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Swinging the Lead by A. B. "Banjo" Paterson

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Said the soldier to the Surgeon, "I've got noises in me head
And a kind o' filled up feeling after every time I'm fed;
I can sleep all night on picket, but I can't sleep in my bed".
   And the Surgeon said,
   "That's Lead!"

Said the soldier to the Surgeon, "Do you think they'll send me back?
For I really ain't adapted to be carrying a pack
Though I've humped a case of whisky half a mile upon my back".
   And the Surgeon said,
   "That's Lead!"

"And my legs have swelled up cruel, I can hardly walk at all,
But when the Taubes come over you should see me start to crawl;
When we're sprinting for the dugout, I can easy beat 'em all".
  And the Surgeon said,
   "That's Lead!"

So they sent him to the trenches where he landed safe and sound,
And he drew his ammunition, just about two fifty round:
"Oh Sergeant, what's this heavy stuff I've got to hump around?"
   And the Sergeant said,
   "That's Lead!"

First published in The Kia-Ora Coo-ee, 15 April 1918;
and later in
Song of the Pen, A.B. (Banjo) Paterson: Complete Works 1901-1941 compiled by Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie, 1983;
A Vision Splendid: The Complete Poetry of A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1990;
A. B. "Banjo" Paterson: Bush Ballads, Poems, Stories and Journalism edited by Clement Semmler, 1992;
The Collected Verse of Bamjo Paterson by edited by Clement Semmler, 1993; and
From Gallipoli to Gaza: The Desert Poets of World War One by Jill Hamilton, 2003.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Note: "swinging the lead" is an Australian term for malingering.

The Lion's Whelps by George Essex Evans

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                     There is scarlet on his forehead,
                     There are scars across his face
'Tis the bloody dew of battle dripping down, dripping down,
                     But the war-heart of the Lion
                     Turns to iron in its place
When he halts to face disaster, when he turns to meet disgrace,
Stung and keen and mettled with the life-blood of his own
                     Let the hunters 'ware who flout him  
                     When he calls his whelps about him
When he sets the goal before him and he settles to the pace.

                     Tricked and wounded! Are we beaten
                     Though they hold our strength at play?
Ww have faced these things aforetimes, long ago, long ago.
                     From sunlit Sydney Harbour
                     And ten thousand, miles away,  
From the far Canadian forests to the Sounds of Milford Bay,
They have answered, they have answered, and we know the answer now.
                     From the Britains such as these
                     Strewn across the world-wide seas
Comes the rally and the bugle-note that makes us one to-day.

                     Beaten! Let them come against us.
                     We can meet them one and all.
We have faced the World aforetimes, not in vain, not in vain.
                     Twice ten thousand hearths be widowed
                     Twice ten thousand hearts may fall.  
But a million-voices answer: "We are ready for the call
And the sword we draw for Justice shall not see its sheath again,
                     Nor our cannon cease to thunder  
                     Till we break their strength asunder,
And the Lion's whelps are round him and the Old Flag over all."

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 20 December 1899;
and later in
The Queenslander, 23 December, 1899;
The North Queensand Register, 8 January 1900;
The Secret Key and Other Verses by George Essex Evans, 1906; and
The Central Queensland Herald, 23 January 1941.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.
I'm sittin' 'ere, Mick -- sittin' 'ere today,
   Feelin' arf glum, 'arf sorter -- reverent.
   Thinkin' strange, crooked thorts of 'ow they say:
   "The 'eads is bowed thro' all a continent";
An' wond'rin' -- wond'rin' in a kind of doubt
   If other coves is feelin' like I do,
Tryin' to figure wot it's all about,
   An' -- if it's meanin' anythin' to you.

Silence ....... The hour strikes soon thro' all the land
An' 'eads bend low.  Old, mate, give me your 'and.
      Silence -- for you, Mick, an' for blokes like you
      To mark the Day -- the Day you never knoo.


The Day you never knoo, nor we forget ....
   I can't tell why I'm sittin' 'ere this way,
Scrawlin' a message that you'll never get --
   Or will you?  I dunno.  It's 'ard to say.
P'raps you'll know all about it, where you are,
   An' think, "Ah well, they ain't too bad a lot."
An' tell them other digs, up on your star
   That now, or nevermore, they ain't fergot.

Silence ....... Not 'ere alone, Mick -- everywhere --
In city an' country 'eads are bare.
      An', in this room, it seems as if I knoo
      Some friend 'oo came -- Old cobber!  Is it you?


My 'eart is full, Mick ..... 'Struth! I ain't the bloke
   As well you know, to go all soft an' wet.
Fair's fair, lad.  Times I've known when you 'ave spoke
   Like you was tough an' 'ard as 'ell -- an' yet
Somethin' behind your bluff an' swagger bold
   Showed all them narsty sentiments was kid.
It was that thing inside yeh, lad, wot told.
   It made you go an' do the thing you did.

Silence ...... There's mothers, Mick, you never knoo
No mother.  But they're prayin' for you too.
      In every 'eart -- The Boys! The Boys are there,
      The Boys ...... That very name, lad, is a pray'r.


The Boys!  Old cobber, I can see 'em still:
   The drums are rollin' an' the sunlight gleams
On bay'nits.  Men are marchin' with a will
   On to the glory of their boy'ood's dreams.
Glory?  You never found it that, too much.
   But, lad, you stuck it -- stuck it with the rest,
An' if your bearin' 'ad no soulful touch,
   'Twas for OUR souls that you went marchin' -- West.

Silence ...... The children too, Mick -- little kids,
Are standin'.  Not becos their teacher bids:
      They've knoo no war; but they 'ave stopped their play
      Becos they know, they feel it is The Day.


So may it be thro' all the comin' years.
  But sorrow's gone, lad.  It's not that we know.
The sobbin's passed, 'ole cobber, an' the tears.
   An' well we un'erstand you'd 'ave it so.
But somethin's deeper far than that 'as come,
   Somethin' a mind can't get within its bounds,
Somethin' I can't explain.  A man is dumb
   When 'e thinks .... Listen!  'Ear the bugles sound!

Silence!
      *                    *
      *                    *
      *                    *


Well, Mick, ole cock, I dunno why I've wrote,
   It's just to ease a thing inside wot says
"Sit down, you sloppy coot, an' write a note
   To that old cobber of the olden days.
'E'll know -- for sure 'e'll know."  So lad, it's done,
   Work's waitin', an' a man can't get in wrong;
Our goal is still ahead.  But yours is won:
   That's the one thing we know, lad, so -- So long!

Silence ...... It's over, Mick; so there you are.
I know you're 'appy up there on yer star,
      Believe us lad, that star shall never fall
      While one is left to say "Gawd keep 'em all!"


First published
in The Herald, 11 November 1927

Author reference sites: C.J. Dennis, Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

The Winnowing by Will M. Fleming

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The new-crowned Queen looked out across the seas,
Her tresses fanned by springtime scented breeze,
Her shell-pink feet upon her golden sands,
A rainbow-tinted hour-glass in her hands.

A whisper creeping midst the listening throng,
Like some false measure breathing through a song,
Catches her ear and tarnishes her pride,
"The breath of doubt! My people will divide.

"Those who hate England with such bitter hate
As blurs all judgment; those who fear their fate;
Those who would creep as menials through life
Rather than win as men their way through strife.

"Who, petulant, beside the highways lie
And watch the busy stream of life go by;
To whose glazed eyes a dragon fly anear
Is greater than an eagle high and clear.

"Those, for such be, I call not. These I call:
Who for my honour would lay down their all,
Who see their duty, in whose hearts there lives
Something of thanks for all that England gives.

"Who, now, will keep my shores inviolate
And stay the murderer ere it be too late?
Life, treasure, all I claim, swiftly decide.
Who hesitates? My people will divide."

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 October 1916

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Moving On by A. B. "Banjo" Paterson

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In this war we're always moving,
   Moving on;
When we make a friend another friend has gone;
Should a woman's kindly face
Make us welcome for a space,
Then it's boot and saddle, boys, we're
   Moving on.

In the hospitals they're moving,
   Moving on;
They're here today, tomorrow they are gone;
When the bravest and the best
Of the boys you know "go west",
Then you're choking down your tears and
   Moving on.

First published in The Kia-ora Coo-ee, 15 May 1918;
and later in
Aussie: The Australian Soldiers Magazine, 15 April 1920;
Song of the Pen, A.B. (Banjo) Paterson: Complete Works 1901-1941 edited by Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie, 1983;
A Vision Splendid: The Complete Poetry of A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1990;
An Australian Treasury of Popular Verse edited by Jim Haynes, 2002;
From Gallipoli to Gaza: The Desert Poets of World War One edited by Jill Hamilton, 2003;
The Bush Poems of A.B. (Banjo) Paterson by A. B. Paterson, 2008; and
The Battlefield Poems of A.B. (Banjo) Paterson by A. B. Paterson, 2010.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.
In prison cell I sadly sit,
   A d__d crest-fallen chappie!
And own to you I feel a bit --
   A little bit -- unhappy!

It really ain't the place nor time
   To reel off rhyming diction -
But yet we'll write a final rhyme
   Whilst waiting cru-ci-fixion!

No matter what "end" they decide --
   Quick-lime or "b'iling ile," sir?
We'll do our best when crucified
   To finish off in style, sir!

But we bequeath a parting tip
   For sound advice of such men,
Who come across in transport ship
   To polish off the Dutchmen!

If you encounter any Boers
   You really must not loot 'em!
And if you wish to leave these shores,
   For pity's sake, DON'T SHOOT 'EM!!

And if you'd earn a D.S.O.,
   Why every British sinner
Should know the proper way to go
   Is: "ASK THE BOER TO DINNER!"

Let's toss a bumper down our throat, -
   Before we pass to Heaven,
And toast: "The trim-set petticoat
   We leave behind in Devon."

First published in The Bulletin, 19 April 1902, and again in the same magazine on 9 June 1973;
and later in
Bushman and Buccaneer: Harry Morant : His 'Ventures and Verses edited by Frank Renar, 1902;
Breaker Morant: A Play in Two Acts by Kenneth Ross, 1979;
The Poetry of 'Breaker' Morant: from "The Bulletin" 1891-1903 with original illustrations by Breaker Morant, 1980;
Clubbing of the Gunfire: 101 Australian War Poems edited by Chris Wallace-Crabb and peter Pierce, 1984;
Fighting Words: Australian War Writing edited by Carl Harrison-Ford, 1986;
The Penguin Book of Australian Satirical Verse edited by Philip Neilsen, 1986;
The Sting in the Wattle: Australian Satirical Verse edited by Philip Neilsen, 1993;
Sunlines: An Anthology of Poetry to Celebrate Australia's Harmony in Diversity edited by Anne Fairbarin, 2002; and
Our Country: Classic Australian Poetry: From the Colonial Ballads to Paterson & Lawson edited by Michael Cook, 2004.

Note: At its end the manuscript is described - The Last Rhyme and Testament of Tony Lumpkin

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Australia by Mabel Forrest

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"Look not at the stains on my robe," she said, "But bare my heart to your eyes,
"For only my heart is loyal, and so weary of Statesmen's lies,"
"Look not on my robe," she whispered. "Where is evil for all to see,
"But think of my dead sons lying on the shores of Gallipoli."

"Look not at my branded brow," she said, "For this is what ill men did;
"But look in my soul," she whispered, "and see what my soul has hid:   
"A jewel of love for England, a jewel of faiths to keep,
"Look not at my robe, oh brothers, but probe where my blood runs deep."

"For it is the blood of men," she said, "of the pioneers of the past
"Who fought for a nation's progress, and who made its honour fast,       
"Look not at my poor stained garments, but look in my heart," she cried;
"And then fold your flag about me, the flag for which heroes died!"  

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 March 1931

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

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