The Drums Of Battersea

A poem by Henry Lawson

They can’t hear in West o’ London, where the worst dine with the best,
Deaf to all save lies and laughter, they can’t hear in London West,
Tailored brutes and splendid harlots, and the parasites that be,
They can’t hear the warning thunder of the Drums of Battersea.
More drums! War drums!
Drums of Misery,
Beating from the hearts of men, the Drums of Battersea.

Where the hearses hurry ever, and where man lives like a beast,
They can feel the war-drums beating, men of Hell! and London East.
And the far-off foreign farmers, fighting fiercely to be free,
Found new courage in the echo of the Drums of Battersea.
More drums! War drums!
Beating for the free,
Beating on the hearts of men, the Drums of Battersea.

And the drummers! Ah! the drummers!, stern and haggard men are those
Standing grimly at their meetings; and their washed and mended clothes
Speak of worn-out wives behind them and of grinding poverty,
But the English of the English beat the Drums of Battersea!
More drums! War drums!
Drums of agony,
The big bruised heart of England’s in the Drums of Battersea.

Where in fields slave Englishwomen, Oh! the sound of drums is there:
I have heard it in the laughter of the nights of Leicester Square,
Sailing southward with the summer, London but a dream to me,
Still I feel the distant thunder of the Drums of Battersea!
More drums! War drums!
Drums of Liberty,
Rolling round the English world, the Drums of Battersea.

Oh! I heard them in the Queen’s Hall, aye! and London heard that night,
While we formed up round the leaders while they struck one blow for right!
And the old strength, that old fire, that I thought was dead in me,
Blazed up fiercely at the beating of the Drums of Battersea!
More drums! War drums!
They beat for victory,
When above the roar of Jingoes rolled the Drums of Battersea.

And where’er my feet may wander, and howe’er I lay my head,
I shall hear them while I’m dreaming, I shall hear them when I’m dead!
For they beat for men and women, beat for Christ, and you and me:
There is hope and there is terror in the Drums of Battersea!
More drums! War drums!
Drums of destiny,
There’s hope!, there’s hope for England in the Drums of Battersea.

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