Henry Lawson

(17 June 1867 – 2 September 1922 / Grenfell, New South Wales)

A Mixed Battle Song


Lo! the Boar’s tail is salted, and the Kangaroo’s exalted,
And his right eye is extinguished by a man-o’-warsman’s cap;
He is flying round the fences where the Southern Sea commences,
And he’s very much excited for a quiet sort of chap.
For his ships have had a scrap and they’ve marked it on the map
Where the H.M.A.S. Sydney dropped across a German trap.
So the Kangaroo’s a-chasing of his Blessed Self, and racing
From Cape York right round to Leeuwin, from the coast to Nevertire;
And of him need be no more said, save that to the tail aforesaid
Is the Blue Australian Ensign firmly fixed with copper wire.
(When he’s filled the map with white men there’ll be little to desire.)
I was sulky, I was moody (I’m inclined to being broody)
When the news appeared in Sydney, bringing joy and bringing tears,
(There’s an undertone of sorrow that you’ll understand to-morrow)
And I felt a something in me that had not been there for years.
Though I lean in the direction of most absolute Protection
(And of wheat on the selection)
And, considering Congestion and the hopeless unemployed,
I’d a notion (but I hid it) that, the way the Emden did it,
’Twould be better for Australia if her “commerce” was destroyed.

You may say that war’s a curse, but the peace curse may be worse,
When it’s lasted till it’s rotten—rotten from the inmost core,
To the mouldy skin which we are, in the land we call the freer—
And I almost feel inclined to call for “Three Cheers for the War!”
For I think, when all is over, from Magellan’s Straits to Dover,
Things will be a great deal better than they ever were before.
But, since “Peace” and “Right” are squalling, I’ll content myself with calling
For three rousers—like the ringing cheers we used to give of yore—
For the Emden!
For the Sydney!
And their gallant crews and captains—both of whom we’ve met before!
And, for Kaiser William’s nevvy, we shall venture three cheers more!
Cheers that go to end a war.

Submitted: Friday, March 26, 2010

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