The One At Home
Don told me that he loved me dear
Where down the range Whioola pours;
And when I laughed and would not hear
He flung away to fight the wars.
He flung away—how should he know
My foolish heart was dancin' so?
How should he know that at his word
My soul was trillin' like a bird?
He went out in the cannon smoke.
He did not seek to ask me why.
Again each day my poor heart broke
To see the careless post go by.
I cared not for their Emperors—
For me there was this in the wars;
My brown boy in the shell-clouds dim,
And savage devils killin' him!
They told me on the field he fell,
And far they bore him from the fight,
But he is whole—he will be well
Now in a ward by day and night
A fair, tall nurse with slim, neat hands
By his white bedside smilin' stands;
His brow with trailin fingertips
She soothes, and damps his fevered lips!
I know her not, but I can see
How blue her great eyes are, and hear
The cooin' of her voice as she
Speaks gentle comfort to my dear;
With love as sweet as mother's care
She heals his wounds, she strokes his hair…
O God, could I but let him see
The hate of her consumin' me!
Out Of Khaki
I slung me khaki suit to-day.
Civilian now front heel to chin
I 'op round on a single shin;
At home in peace I'm bound to stay.
'N' so they've took me duds away.
It 'urt like strippin' off me skin!
I put it on three years ago,
The ole brown rig. There wasn't then
A prouder chicken in the pen.
Jist twenty turned, me nibs you'd know
For how I give me chest a throw,
A man among the best of men.
Me little no the touch I give,
Me chin's ez solid ez a rock,
'N' level with the Town 'All clock,
A five-inch grin across me chiv.
“Lor' love us, this is how to live,”
Sez I, 'n' felt I owned the Block.
Glad eyes was ever on the lurk,
'N' little 'earts was thumpin' warm
For nippers trainin' with the swarm
To swat ole Kaiser Bill, or work
A toe-hold on the heathen Turk.
Fair dink, I loved the uniform!
I soused mine in the brine that day
When Tophet spilt, 'n' in the roar
Of shells that split the sea 'n' tore
Our boats to chips, we broke any
Up through the pelt of leaden spray,
'N' got our first real taste of war.
They shot me tunic all to rags;
Then in the perpendic'lar spree
Me trousers wore off to the knee.
The right-abouts of many bags
Was ground off in the dust 'n' crags
A-sittin' in Gallipoli.
I wore the khaki on the Somme-
Most time 'twas jist a coat of mud;
I once come through the battle scud
Stripped mother-naked by a bomb;
'N' once it' took its color from
Me own 'n' one good cobber's blood.
They cheered the khaki through the street
When we come home with pipers gay,
But now I'm jist a bloke in grey.
Harf-lost, lob-sided, incomplete,
It's nothin' but me spook you'll meet,
Ghost-walkin' in the light o' day.
Men Of Australia
Men of all the lands Australian from the Gulf to Derwent River,
From the Heads of Sydney Harbour to the waters of the West,
There’s a spirit loudly calling where the saplings dip and quiver,
Where the city crowds are thronging, and the range uplifts its crest!
Do ye feel the holy fervour of a new-born exultation?
For the task the Lord has set us is a trust of noblest pride—
We are named to march unblooded to the winning of a nation,
And to crown her with a glory that may evermore abide.
Have ye looked to great old nations, have ye wondered at their making,
Seen their fair and gracious cities, gemmed with palaces of light,
Felt the pulse of mighty engines beating ever, never slaking,
Like the sandalled feet of Progress moving onward in the night?
Can ye stand on some high headland when the drowsy day is fading,
And in dreamlike fancy see a merchant fleet upon the seas,
See the pinioned ships majestic ’gainst the purple even sailing
And the busy steamers racing down to half a thousand quays?
Have ye dreamed of this or seen of this, and feel ye no elation
O’er the most heroic duty that a free-born people knows?
To the chain of kindred nations ours to link another nation,
Ours to stay and build and bless her for a future great as those!
Cold and sordid hearts may linger still to bargain over trifles,
But the big-souled men have only hate for huckstering and sloth;
These would batter down division, tear away the bonds that stifle,
And would free our dear Australia for the larger, nobler growth.
Bushmen, roaming on the ridges, tracking “colours” to their sources,
Swinging axes by the rivers where the millsaws rend and shriek
Smoking thoughtful pipes, or dreaming on your slow, untroubled horses,
While the lazy cattle feed along the track or ford the creek,
Ye have known our country’s moods in all her wild and desert places,
Ye have felt the sweet, strange promptings that her solitudes inspire;
To have breathed the spirit of her is to love her—turn your faces,
Ride like lovers when the day dawns, ride to serve her, son and sire!
Miners in the dripping workings, farmers, pioneers who settle
On the bush lands, city workers of the benches and the marts,
Swart mechanics at the forges, beating out the glowing metal,
Thinkers, planners, if ye feel the love of country stir your hearts,
Help to write the bravest chapter of a fair young nation’s story
Great she’ll be as Europe’s greatest, more magnificent in truth!
That our children’s children standing in the rose light of her glory
May all honour us who loved her, and who crowned her in her youth!
How Herman Won The Cross
Once in a blue eternity they gave us
dabs of rum
To close the seams 'n' keep the flume in
But, soft 'n' sentimental, when the long, cold
I'd dream me nibs was dronking' to the height
of his ambition,
With rights of suction over all the breweries
Where barrels squat, like Brahma gods, in
Mother Hardy's bar.
I had me fit of longin' on the night the Ger-
All breathin' lioke a gas attack. The air
We smelt 'em in the darkness, 'n' our rage
went up in flame.
It was envy, squealin' envy, put the ginger
in the frolic.
We shot 'em full of spelter, then went over it
The swines what drunk the liquor that was
ours by common right.
“If this ain't stopped, 'n' quick,” sez we,
“there won't be left a drop
To celebrate the vict'ry when we capture
I'm prowlin' blind, when sharp there comes a
fond, familiar plop-
Swung round a post, a German in a pitiful
Looms over me. He's sprung a cork, and
shales a flask on high,
'N' sings of beer that touchin' it would make
a butcher cry.
Sez he: “Berloffed kamarid, you haf some
drinks mit you.”
I meant to spike him where he waved,
but altered me intention.
'N' “If you put it thus,” sez I, “I don't
care if I do.”
We had a drink together. There's a tem-
Of hostilities to sample contraband 'n' other
In the enemy's possession. Which I think
he's had enough.
That Hun had thirty pockets, 'n' he'd stowed
a flask in each,
'N' presently I'm thinkin' I could love him
like a brother.
He's talkin' fond 'n' friendly in outlandish
parts of speech.
“You're prisoner of war,” I sez; 'n' then
we had another.
Ten flasks he pours into his hat, 'n' fills it
to the brim,
'N' weeps 'n' sez his frau she will be waitin'
up for him.
We drink each other's health, 'n' know no
henmity nor fear.
I see I've got to pinch him, but he's out to
do his div. in,
'N' don't care if he don't go home till day-
light doth appear.
Sez he: “I pud you home to bed upside dot
'ouse you live in.”
He shakes his finger in me eye: “Mein friendt,
you're preddy trunk!”
Then arm in arm through No Man's land we
does a social bunk.
There's Fear afoot. Comes more than once
the glug of sudden death.
We're rockin' fine 'n' careless where the
rifle fire is breakin',
'N' singin' most uproar'ous, in the bomb's
Of girls, 'n' drink, 'n' cheerful sprees, 'n'
'Herman thinks he's takin'
A cobber home to somewhere in an subbub
damp 'n' dim,
Whereas I know fer certain it is me is takin'
Somehow, sometime, I lands him where he's
safely put to bed.
I wake nex' day, 'n' holy smoke! I'm pri-
soner with the German.
Me mouth is like an ashpan, there's hot fish-
bolts in me head,
'N' through the barb-wire peerin' is me
foreigh cobber 'Erman.
“Ve capdure each lasd nighd,” sez he “you
home haf bring me, boss.”
For bravery in takin' me, he got the Iron
WHEN the white sun scorches the fair, green land in the rage of his fierce desires,
Or looms blood red on the Western hills, through the smoke of their waning fires;
When the winds at war strew the mountain side with limbs of the mangled trees,
Or the flood tides wheel in the valleys low, or sweep to the distant seas,
We are leading back, and the faintest track that we leave in the desert wild
Or we blaze for fear through the forest drear will be tramped by the settler’s child.
We have turned our backs on the City’s joys, on the glare of its myriad lights,
On the measured peace of its bloodless days, and the strife of its shining nights;
We have fled the pubs in the dull bush towns and the furthermost shanty bars,
And have camped away at the edge of space, or aloft by the brooding stars.
We have stirred the world as our dishes swirled and we drummed on the matted gold,
And from East and West we beguile their best with a wonderful tale oft-told.
We go pushing on when the mirage glints o’er the rim of the voiceless plain,
And we leave our bones to be finger posts for the seekers who come again.
At the jealous heart of the secret bush, we have battered with clamour loud
And have made a way for the squatter bold, or a path for the busy crowd.
We have gone before through the shadowy door of the Never, the Great Unknown,
And have journeyed back with a golden pack, or as dust in the wild winds blown.
In the chilling breath of the ice-bound range, we have laboured and lost and won;
On the blazing hills we have striven long in the face of the angry sun.
We have fallen spitted with niggers’ spears in the graves ourselves have dug,
And have bitten grass, with a cloven skull, and the turf in our arms to hug.
From our rifled dead have the natives fled, blood-drunk, to their camping place,
Whilst the crows enthroned on a limb intoned to the devil a measured grace.
We have butchered too when the camp ran wild, with a mad, malignant hate,
For the lust of gold, or the hope we had, or the love of a murdered mate.
We have shocked the night with our ribald songs in the sullen, savage lands,
And have died the death that the lone man dies in the grip of the reeling sands,
Or have lived to die in a city sty, with the help of a charity prayer,
Or to do the swell at a grand hotel on our thousands of pounds a year.
We are moving still, and not love, nor fear, nor a wife’s nor mother’s grief,
Can distract the longing that drives us forth on the track of the hidden reef.
Some will face the heathen in lands afar by rivers and looming peaks,
Some will stay to ravage their own home bills, or to dig by the sluggish creeks,
Some go pushing West on the old, old quest, and wherever their tents abide
Will the world flow in and its swift tide spin till it scatter them far and wide.
Is it greed alone that impels our ranks? Is it only the lust of gold
Drives them past where the sentinel ranges stand where the plains to the sky unfold;
Is there nothing more in this dull unrest that remains in the hearts of man,
’Till the swag is rolled, or the pack-horse strapped, or the ship sails out again?
Is it this alone, or in blood and bone does the venturous spirit glow
That was noble pride when the world was wide and the tracks were all Westward Ho?
We are common men, with the faults of most, and a few that ourselves have grown,
With the good traits too of the common herd, and some more that are all our own;
We have drunk like beasts, and have fought like brutes, and have stolen, and lied, and slain,
And have paid the score in the way of men—in remorse and fear and pain.
We have done great deeds in our direst needs in the horrors of burning drought,
And at mateship’s call have been true through all to the death with the Furthest Out.
As the soft breeze stirs all the tender green of the bush that is newly born,
And the wattles blaze on the flats and gladden the hills with the glow of morn.
We are trenching high in the stony slopes, or turning the creeks below,
Or the gorge re-echoes the thud of picks and the songs that the miners know.
When the lode strips clean with a yellow sheen our fortunes are fairly won;
When the dish pans bare, up with tents and ware, and hurrah! for the outward run.