For Australia

Cypher Seven


Henry Lawson

THE nearer camp fires lighted,
    The distant beacons bright—
The horsemen on the skyline
    Are closing in to-night!
My brothers, Oh my brothers!
    Lie down and rest at last—
The Years of Reparation
    Have rushed upon us fast.

Oh, ride and ride, you riders,
    Who rode ere I was born,
While blink-and-blink the star-dust
    That blinks before the morn.
And glow and glow you camp fires,
    And flash, you beacons bright!
They’re riding round the wronged ones
    And riding round the right!

My brothers, Oh my brothers!
    With dried and haggard eyes,
In gaol for just blows stricken—
    In gaol for women’s lies!
Lie down and pace no longer
    But bathe your eyes in tears
For Years of Retribution
    That shall be seven years!

Their lovers and believers!
    Their sweethearts, sisters, wives,
Their daughters, sons and mothers,
    The true friends of their lives!
Hold up your heads and firmly
    Look down the Crooked Seers
For Years of Justifying
    That shall be seven years.

Inventors, artists, poets—
    Exiled or driven mad,
Sweated, sneered at, slandered,
    And driven to the bad—
Take up the tools of genius,
    Freed from all paltry fears,
For Seasons of Repayment
    That shall be seven years.

Oh, ride and ride, you riders,
    That rode when I was born
Against a ghastly skyline
    Beneath a storm-cloud torn!
I watched you through my childhood,
    I saw the whip and spur,
No spy’s glass could detect you
    But I knew what you were!

Oh, ride and ride, my riders,
    And flash my birth star bright!
The youth I never dreamed of
    Is with me here to-night!
The hearing, strength and vision,
    The will to do and dare,
The love I ever longed for
    Is round me everywhere.

Dead Friendship—ah! Dead Friendship,
    Rise up and breathe again—
I ride my rounds re-honoured
    Along the ranks of men.
My old mates, Oh! my old mates,
    Who fought the cur and brute—
My horsemen from the skyline
    Are drawn up to salute!

My Dead Love, Oh! my Dead Love,
    Who died for love of me—
Who sleeps amongst the poets
    Since five years sobbed the sea.
Since five years blackened honour
    And cramped and warped the pen—
There’s glory to your spirit
    The laurel leafs again.

My enemies, the causeless
    Of vicious mysteries,
Or mad with jealous madness—
    Or for the crawler’s fees—
Fear ye my Cypher Seven!
    For seven years to run—
The number set by Heaven
    When Heaven’s will is done.

So ride and ride, my riders,
    And ride for men and me,
Ride close round madness yonder
    And blackest treachery!
Oh! ride round little children
    That sleep through all and smile!—
At daybreak I will lead you—
    Now I must rest awhile.

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