For Australia

Australia’s Peril

The Warning

Henry Lawson

NOT from the God of Nations direct shall the bolt be hurled,
But for the crimes of mankind the world shall punish the world,
From the East comes the dreadful storm-cloud of darkness shot with fire,
Not sent to the West, but permitted by the great God in his ire.

We must suffer, husband and father, we must suffer, daughter and son,
For the wrong we have taken part in and the wrong that we have seen done.
Let the bride of frivolous fashion, and of ease, be ashamed and dumb,
For I tell you the nations shall rule us who have let their children come!

How shall Australia escape it—we in the South and alone
Who have taken the sword for no right of England and none of our own?
(Can we bring back the husbands and fathers, can we bring the lovers and sons?
From the Dead to the homes we have ruined with the fire of our murdering guns?)

With the Jews we belied the farmers; with the cowardly Jingoes we yelped;
We have earned the scorn of brave men—the contempt of the men we helped.
The curse of the widows and orphans, the debt for the ruin we wrought,
We were punished by drought and famine, we must fight as the Boers fought.

Who shall aid and protect us when the blood-streaked dawn we meet?
Will England, the hated of nations, whose existence depends on her fleet?
Who, because of the deer-parks and game-runs where her wheat-fields and pastures should be,
Must bring food for her herded thousands and shepherd it over the sea?

The beak of the British Octopus, or the Bosses within our reach
Who spend the hot days on the Mountains or summer at Manly Beach!
The thousands of paltry swindlers who are fathoms beneath our scorn—
Or the army of brave sons grown from the children who should have been born!

What avail us the Wriggler, the Bully, or the she-politician who kicks
Like a hen in the rubbish and cackles in our backyard politics?
What was done by our Federation—our brotherhood covenants?
What was done by our Governors seven and our thirteen Parliaments?

Listen through Houses and Senate—listen from east to west
For the voice of one Australian who will stand above the rest;
Who will lead in his country’s dawning, who will lead in his manhood’s noon—
The man will come with the hour—but the hour may come too soon.

The wealth you have won has been wasted on trips to the English Rome,
On costly costumes from Paris, and titles and gewgaws from “home”.
Shall a knighthood frighten Asia when she comes with the hate of hell?
Will the motor-launch race the torpedo, or the motor-car outspeed the shell?

You who fought through the blinding dust-storm—you who toiled in the blazing noons—
Are you “Hayseeds” and “Hodges” and “Bushies” the butt of the comic cartoons?
Field-labourers, paupers, and peasants—slaves in your later years,
With the motor-car dust in your faces and the giggle and laugh in your ears?

Keep the wealth you have won from the cities, spend the wealth you have won on the land,
Save the floods that run into the ocean—save the floods that sink into the sand!
Make farms fit to live on, build workshops and technical schools for your sons;
Keep the wealth of the land in Australia—make your own cloth, machines, and guns!

Clear out the Calico Jimmy, the nigger, the Chow, and his pals;
Be your foreword for years: Irrigation! Make a network of lakes and canals!
See that your daughters have children, and see that Australia is home,
And so be prepared, a strong nation, for the storm that most surely must come.

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