Sydney Town In ’91

A poem by Henry Lawson

Let us sing a song as not a
Solitary poet sings,
For our seething brain has got a
Mighty grip on earthly things;
We can feel the strength within us,
And our soul is bounding high,
And our hissing pen shall win us
Wealth and Beauty by-and-bye.

Listen to the thunder swelling
Till the mighty west vibrates!
’Tis the horny-handed yelling
For the Labour candidates!
Hear the language of the frisky
“Push” assisting at the fun:
Liberty, and rum and whisky!
Sydney town in ’91.

Whack the poor and cut a caper,
Turn the taps and shout wharroo!
For each Sydney leading paper
Has a candidate or two.
Every new one is an ember,
Lighting up this land of sin,
Clever little B, , k is member
For the Sydney Bulletin.

Wherefore hang our curls in sloppy
Mats of ink upon our brow?
Hark! the devil yells for copy,
And the comps are swearing now.
Put in Parkes and Dan O’Connor
While the nation swears and laughs,
They are good, upon my honour
They are good for paragraphs!

Stone them, egg them, flour-bag them,
Pelt and whelt them black and blue!
Swear at them, and bully-rag them,
Vote for them, and put them through!
What is fame, and what is money
While the sky is still o’erhead?
I would vote for Garden Honey,
Only Garden Honey’s dead.

“Every man’s as good’s his neighbour,”
“We will lead the nations’ van.”
(If he’d swear to fight for Labour
We’d return a Chinaman.)
Squash the hills and shout “Hosanna!”
Wake the nations! New South Wales!
Nail the shining Southern Banner
To the Pole with two-inch nails!

Renegades! our hearts grow lighter
As the roving seasons flow.
Time will teach, for e’en the writer
Yelled for Freedom long ago;
Yelled unto the hungry toiler,
Fought to break the tyrant’s power,
Till his over-heated boiler
Needed wetting ev’ry hour!

What care we for Federation?
And the loan may float or drown;
Will a brother in the nation
Only lend us half-a-crown?
Heavens! but our heads are aching,
There’s a throbbing in our brows;
Let us go to gaol for taking
Part in federated rows.

Ah! the land without elections
Is a lonely land indeed;
We must take our joy in sections,
While our flaming countries bleed!
Glorious harvest for reporters,
Load your pens and fire away,
While the railway guards and porters
Get a jolly holiday.

Let us think and rave and borrow
Yards from poets who are dead,
Bards who died of ruin and sorrow
In the gutter and the shed.
Federate the hanged creation!
(Snake that’s born of rum! what’s that?)
Lo! the throes of inspiration
Scare the mangy office cat!

Though the scythe of Time is brittle,
Taking every sweep a year,
We shall jog his arm a little
In the Southern Hemisphere.
Let the northern nations squabble,
We will row another boat;
Lord, we’ll make the planet wobble
When we get “One Man One Vote”.

We will hold this Eldorado
Island of the evergreen;
Let the soldiers and Recardo
Go to hell, or Argentine!
We’ve the power, and we are waiting;
Why the day of deeds defer
While our sons are emigrating
To the planet Jupiter?

Brightest spot upon the planet
Is the land where I was born,
And the lunatics who man it
Are the rising sons of morn.
Take the song and sing it gaily,
For the times are very ripe;
Let the “crawling, lying daily”
Set it up in mortgaged type.

The muse was forcibly ejected at this point.

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