The Vanguard

A poem by Henry Lawson

While the crippled cruisers stagger where the blind horizon dips,
And the ocean ooze is rising round the sunken battle-ships,
While the battered wrecks, unnoticed, with their mangled crews drift past,
Let me fire one gun for Russia, though that gun should be the last.

’Tis a struggle of the Ages, and the White Man’s star is dim,
There is little jubilation, for the game has got too grim;
But though Russia’s hope seems shattered, and the Russian star seems set,
It may mean the Dawn for Russia, and my hope’s in IVAN yet!

Let the Jingo in his blindness cant and cackle as he will;
But across the path from Asia run the Russian trenches still!
And the sahib in his rickshaw may loll back and smoke at ease,
While the haggard, ragged heroes man the battered batteries.

’Tis the first round of the struggle of the East against the West,
Of the fearful war of races, for the White Man could not rest.
Hold them, IVAN! staggering bravely underneath your gloomy sky;
Hold them, IVAN! we shall want you pretty badly by-and-bye!

Fighting for the Indian empire, when the British pay their debt;
Never Britain watched for BLUCHER as he’ll watch for IVAN yet!
It means all to young Australia, it means life or death to us,
For the vanguard of the White Man is the vanguard of the Russ!

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