Skyline Riders and Other Verses


Henry Lawson

THEY took dead Cromwell from his grave,
    And stuck his head on high;
The Merry Monarch and his men,
    They laughed as they passed by
The common people cheered and jeered,
    To England’s deep disgrace—
The crowds who’d ne’er have dared to look
    Live Cromwell in the face.

He came in England’s direst need
    With law and fire and sword,
He thrashed her enemies at home
    And crushed her foes abroad;
He kept his word by sea and land,
    His parliament he schooled,
He made the nations understand
    A Man in England ruled!

Van Tromp, with twice the English ships,
    And flushed by victory—
A great broom to his masthead bound—
    Set sail to sweep the sea.
But England’s ruler was a man
    Who needed lots of room—
So Blake soon lowered the Dutchman’s tone,
    And smashed the Dutchman’s broom.

He sent a bill to Tuscany
    For sixty thousand pounds,
For wrong done to his subjects there,
    And merchants in her bounds.
He sent by Debt Collector Blake,
    And—you need but be told
That, by the Duke of Tuscany
    That bill was paid in gold.

To pirate ports in Africa
    He sent a message grim
To have each captured Englishman
    Delivered up to him;
And every ship and cargo’s worth,
    And every boat and gun—
And this—all this, as Dickens says—
    “Was gloriously done.”

They’d tortured English prisoners
    Who’d sailed the Spanish Main;
So Cromwell sent a little bill
    By Admiral Blake to Spain.
To keep his hand in, by the way.
    He whipped the Portuguese;
And he made it safe for English ships
    To sail the Spanish seas.

The Protestants in Southern lands
    Had long been sore oppressed;
They sent their earnest prayers to Noll
    To have their wrongs redressed.
He sent a message to the Powers,
    In which he told them flat,
All men must praise God as they chose,
    Or he would see to that.

And, when he’d hanged the fools at home
    And settled foreign rows,
He found the time to potter round
    Amongst his pigs and cows.
Of private rows he never spoke,
    That grand old Ironsides.
They said a father’s strong heart broke
    When Cromwell’s daughter died.

(They dragged his body from its grave,
    His head stuck on a pole,
They threw his wife’s and daughter’s bones
    Into a rubbish hole
To rot with those of two who’d lived
    And fought for England’s sake,
And each one in his own brave way—
    Great Pym, and Admiral Blake.)

From Charles to Charles, throughout the world
    Old England’s name was high,
And that’s a thing no Royalist
    Could ever yet deny.
Long shameful years have passed since then,
    In spite of England’s boast—
But Englishmen were Englishmen,
    While Cromwell carved the roast.

And, in my country’s hour of need—
    For it shall surely come,
While run by fools who’ll never heed
    The beating of the drum.
While baffled by the fools at home,
    And threatened from the sea—
Lord! send a man like Oliver—
    And let me live to see.

Back    |    Words Home    |    Lawson Home    |    Site Info.    |    Feedback