A Song For The Sydney Poor or, The Australian Marseillaise

A poem by Henry Lawson

Sing the strong, proud song of Labour,
Toss the ringing music high;
Liberty’s a nearer neighbour
Than she was in days gone by.
Workmen’s weary wives and daughters
Sing the songs of liberty;
Men hail men across the waters,
Men reply across the sea.

We are marching on and onward
To the silver-streak of dawn,
To the dynasty of mankind
We are marching on.

Long the rich have been protected
By the walls that can’t endure;
By the walls that they erected
To divide them from the poor.
Crumbling now, they should not trust them,
For their end is drawing near;
Walls of Cant and walls of Custom,
Walls of Ignorance and Fear.

Tyrants, grip your weapons firmer,
Grip them firmly by the helves;
For the poor begin to murmur
Loudly now among themselves.
Hear us dare to say that Heaven
Gave us equal rights with you,
Dare to say the world was given
Unto all and not the few.

Tell us that the law has risen,
Make us bend beneath its sway,
Throw our leaders into prison,
Wrong us in the light of day.
Drive us to our dens, forgetting
All our woe as greed forgets,
While our weapons we are whetting
On your levelled bayonets.

Treat us like the beasts you’d make us,
Pen us close in wretched sties.
’Til our patience shall forsake us,
And like wolves we will arise.
Louder still for this shall rattle
Rifle shots, and sword blades ring
On the blood-wet fields of battle
In the days of reckoning.

We shall rise to prove us human,
Worthy of a human life,
When our starved and maddened women
Lead our armies on to strife.
When our war hymns wake the valleys,
And the rushing missiles shriek
From your barricaded alleys,
’Til your cannon cease to speak.

Then when Mammon Castle crashes
To the earth and trampled lies,
Then from out the blood and ashes
True Republics shall arise.
Then the world shall rest a season
(First since first the world began)
In the reign of right and reason
And the dynasty of man.

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