Who’ll Wear The Beaten Colours?

A poem by Henry Lawson

Who’ll wear the beaten colours, and cheer the beaten men?
Who’ll wear the beaten colours, till our time comes again?
Where sullen crowds are densest, and fickle as the sea,
Who’ll wear the beaten colours, and wear them home with me?

We closed the bars and gambling dens and voted straight and clean,
Our women walked while motor cars were whirling round the scene,
The Potts Point Vote was one for Greed and Ease and Luxury
With all to hold, and coward gold, and beaten folk are we.

Who’ll wear the beaten colours, with hands and pockets clean?
(I wore the beaten colours since I was seventeen)
I wore them up, and wore them down, Outback and across the sea,
Who’ll wear the beaten colours, and wear them home with me?

We wore them back from Ladysmith to where the peace was signed,
And wore them through the London streets where Jingoes howled behind.
We wore them to the Queen’s Hall, while England yelled “Pro-Boers!”
And sat them over victory while London banged the doors.1

We wore them from Port Arthur round till all sunk in the sea,
(Who’ll wear the white man’s colours, and wear them home with me?)
I’ve worn them through with gentlemen, with work-slaves and alone,
Who’ll wear the beaten colours, boys, and wear them on his own?

There’s one would look with startled eyes and shrink while I caressed,
Came I not with the colours of the conquered on my breast.
And twenty thousand Bushmen would stand with hands behind
And scorn in all their faces for the coward of his kind.

Who’ll wear the beaten colours and raise the voice they drowned,
It may be when we march again, they’ll bear some other sound,
Who’ll pin the beaten colours on and drive the beaten pen,
It may be other steel and ink when we march out again.

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