Treasure Island

John Le Gay Brereton

(2 September 1871 – 2 February 1933 / Australia)

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The Wounded


Stupidity and Selfishness and Fear,
Who hold enslaved the intellect of Man,
Have found their victims here.

We saw them go, alert to seek the van
Where phantom Glory showered her withering leaves;
Now they return who can.

Slowly, full-fraught with pain, the vessel heaves
From labouring seas, and creeps along the bay
To where the city grieves.

Happy are those who limp the dusty way;
And those whose eyes can meet the loving glance,
Happy indeed are they.

But mock them not with babble of romance:
They have glared at death across the orient rocks
Or in the mire of France.

O welcome to your land of herds and flocks
And fields that pray toward a fairy sky
That promises and mocks.

Welcome! our eyes are strained and sorrow-dry,
Watching for peace and you, and every heart
Would fain, but cannot, cry.

For you who, led by love, have borne your part
Where war's black ploughshare turns the bloody sand
And crops of hatred start

For you and by your help, heroic band,
We swear by love and labour to make this
A lovelier, worthier land.

Nor shall we let the home-bred serpent hiss
Unscotched upon our hearth, if ever here
Our hope and fortune kiss.

The workers of the battered world draw near,
Scorning a foeman's name. The heart of Man
In every land is dear.

Submitted: Saturday, February 27, 2010

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  • Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (7/15/2014 10:15:00 AM)

    Wonderfully done it a beautiful poem with wisdom, love and sympathy and the real thing of the humanity that is the heart of man in every land is dear....... The poem itself starts stupidity and selfishness and fear.....who hold enslaved the man very meaningful and socially relevant poem and is against the war which kills people without thinking that the heart of every human being is important and worthy and to permit it to live. (Report) Reply

  • Terence George Craddock (7/15/2012 5:53:00 AM)

    I really like the beauty and wisdom of this poem. From the beginning lines 'Stupidity and Selfishness and Fear, / Who hold enslaved the intellect of Man, ' which is a wonderful opening insight. The anti-war themes are conveyed with simple yet poignant lines in the next tercet stanza, 'We saw them go, alert to seek the van/ Where phantom Glory showered her withering leaves/ Now they return who can; ' emphasizing the vain folly of phantom glory. Immediately we are reminded that many will not return, showered upon the ground like 'withering leaves'.
    The suffering, both physical and mental, carried endured by these returning soldiers, is personified into the returning passage of the ship, 'Slowly, full-fraught with pain, the vessel heaves'. The lines 'creeps along the bay/ To where the city grieves' contrasts with the celebration and joy the troops sailed away with. The loss of those who will not return is suggested with, 'Happy are those who limp the dusty way; / And those whose eyes can meet the loving glance, ' because sad are hearts who shall never see their beloved fathers, uncles, sons again.
    The speakers states 'But mock them not with babble of romance: ' because there was little or no romance in the conditions of their fighting. Any familiar with World War One battlefields will immediately recognize 'They have glared at death across the orient rocks (Anzac Cove) / Or in the mire of France (the trenches on the western front) . What led these soldiers to battle and what did they learn? They learned the personally hell of war and lessons of death and hate. Brereton hammers these points home with 'For you who, led by love, have borne your part/ Where war's black ploughshare turns the bloody sand/ And crops of hatred start'.
    Is there any ultimate lesson learned, advice given? Yes the final stanza spells out a radical new solution beginning with 'The workers of the battered world draw near'. The speaker draws us in with the workers who fought this war declaring 'Scorning a foeman's name. The heart of Man/ In every land is dear.' The message is all workers share a common brotherhood of similar conditions and oppression, thus they should scorn the bosses, let the rich fight their own profit wars. A universal truth is stated in conclusion, all men in all lands are precious and thus all human life, all humanity in all lands, are to be honoured as sacred life. Who is wounded? Humanity is wounded by wars. (Report) Reply

    Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (7/15/2014 10:16:00 AM)

    Together with this valuable and noteworthy comment tried to understand the poem well and it is so much useful that I felt.

    Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (7/15/2014 10:16:00 AM)

    Together with this valuable and noteworthy comment tried to understand the poem well and it is so much useful that I felt.

    Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (7/15/2014 10:16:00 AM)

    Together with this valuable and noteworthy comment tried to understand the poem well and it is so much useful that I felt.

Read all 3 comments »

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