Come Jack, our place is with the ruck
On the open road today,
Not with the tepid "footpath sneak"
Or with the wise who stop away.
A straggling, tame procession, perhaps,
A butt for burgess scorn;
Its flags are ragged sentiments,
And its music's still unborn.
Though none respectable are here,
And trim officials ban,
Our duty, Jack, is not with them,
But here with Hope and Man.
Nor have we cause for shame, who see,
In the glory-lighted street,
The Old Brigade of Liberty
The partial ranks complete.
There's Shelley, Byron, arm in arm,
With Schiller, Uhland, near:
While cheek by jowl with anarch "crank"
See young Camille appear.
Marat keeps line with Spartacus,
Lone Dantes grimly stalk;
The meagre Knights of Labour "push"
With the Twelve Apostles walk.
Bakunin, Marx, Lassalle are there,
Grey Whitman's with the Greeks,
Dutch "Beggar" chums with Ironside,
Or to Bastille hero speaks.
Valliant and Brutus, Vane, Kossuth,
Find here a fitting tryst;
That Yarra-banker far ahead
Is keeping step with Christ.
Before, behind, around, surge on
Those unknown Great, whose yeast,
Impermeant, ensures result,
Tho' Hope's own song had ceased.
With flowers today the sky's festooned;
To yearning hosts a-sigh
On winds perfumed with memories
May's fair-winged forecasts fly.
No longer prostitute to Wealth,
amoung the aery show
The Lyric Muse accompanies
The Marseillaise below.
And how the gales of Freedom move,
Like wildfire's leap and fall,
Or north wind's through autumnal grass,
The red flags over all.
Yes! Ther's our place, whatever flames
Those nearing clouds display,
Tho' much they mean to footpath sneaks
And the wise who stop away.
Bernard O'Dowd's Other Poems
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