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Title:  Four Censored Poems
Author: Henry Lawson
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 2001131h.html
Language: English
Date first posted:  October 2020
Most recent update: October 2020

This eBook was produced by: Walter Moore

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Four Censored Poems

Henry Lawson

Published 1952


Sons of the South
The Men Who Made Australia
Freedom on the Wallaby
I'm Too Old to Rat


Henry Lawson was born at Grenfell, N.S.W.
June, 17, 1867. Died, Sydney, Sept,’ 2 nd. 1922.


His poems and stories will be forever treasured among the finest traditions of the working people. He wrote of the lives of the city and bush workers and small farmers in the days when AUSTRALIA was still young, but he also told the workers how to correct the injustices of Capitalism in such a way, as to make much of his work as true to-day as when he wrote it.

The four poems presented have been censored from all published versions of LAWSON’S works by those that “own” them. WE consider that these poems belong to the people so we present them here.

The dreams of HENRY LAWSON of an AUSTRALIA owned by the AUSTRALIAN PEOPLE, are carried forward in the program of the

“Australia’s Path to Socialism.”

Like LAWSON the program calls on the workers to lead the way in ending forever wars misery and unemployment, in “THIS LAND THAT BELONGS TO YOU.”

We remember LAWSON by pledging ourselves to fight for his ideals.

This year is the 85th. anniversary of his birth and the 30th. of his death.

Communists of Bunnerong Power House.


Sons of the South

Sons of the South! Awake! Arise!
Sons of the South, and do!
Banish from under your sunny skies
Those old world errors and wrongs and lies
Making a hell in a paradise,
That belongs to your sons and you.

Sons of the South, make choice between,
Sons of the South, choose true
The Land of Morn and the Land of Even!
The old dead tree and the young tree green,
The land that belongs to the lords and the Queen,
And the land that belongs to you.

Sons of the South! Your time will come,
Sons of the South! 'Tis near!
The signs of the times, in their language dumb,
Foretell it, and ominous whispers hum
Like the sullen sound of a distant drum,
In the pregnant atmosphere.

Sons of the South! Aroused at last,
Sons of the South are few,
But your ranks grow longer and deeper fast,
And ye shall swell to an army vast,
And free from the wrongs of the north and past
The land, that belongs to you.


The Men Who Made Australia

(Written on the Occasion of the Royal Visit to Australia, 1901)

There’ll be royal times in Sydney for the Cuff and Collar Push,
       There’ll be lots of dreary drivel and clap-trap
From the men who own Australia, but who never knew the Bush,
       And who could not point their runs out on the map.
Oh, the daily Press will grovel as it never did before,
       There’ll be many flags of welcome in the air,
And the Civil Service poet, he shall write odes by the score —
       But the men who made the land will not be there.

You shall meet the awful Lady of the latest Birthday Knight —
       (She is trying to be English, don’t-cher-know?)
You shall hear the empty mouthing of the Champion blatherskite,
       You shall hear the boss of local drapers blow.
There’ll be “majahs” from the counter, tailors’ dummies from the fleet,
       And to represent Australia here to-day,
There’s the toady with his card-case and his cab in Downing-street;
       But the men who made Australia — where are they?

Call across the blazing sand wastes of the Never-Never Land!
       There are some who will not answer yet awhile,
Some whose bones rot in the mulga or lie bleaching on the sand,
       Died of thirst to win the land another mile.
Thrown from horses, ripped by cattle, lost on deserts; and the weak,
       Mad through loneliness or drink (no matter which),
Drowned in floods or dead of fever by the sluggish slimy creek—
       These are men who died to make the Wool-Kings rich.

Call across the scrubby ridges where they clear the barren soil,
       And the gaunt Bush-women share the work of men—
Toil and loneliness for ever — hardship, loneliness and toil—
       Where the brave drought-ruined farmer starts again!
Call across the boundless sheep-runs of a country cursed for sheep—
       Call across the awful scrublands west of Bourke!
But they have no time to listen — they have scarcely time to sleep—
       For the men who conquer deserts have to work.

Dragged behind the crawling sheep-flock on the hot and dusty plain,
       They must make a cheque to feed the wife and kids —
Riding night-watch round the cattle in the pelting, freezing rain,
       While world-weariness is pressing down the lids.
And away on far out-stations, seldom touched by Heaven’s breath,
       In a loneliness that smothers love and hate —
Where they never take white women — there they live the living death
       With a half-caste or a black-gin for a mate.

They must toil to save the gaunt stock in the blazing months of drought,
       When the stinging, blinding blight is in men’s eyes —
On the wretched, burnt selections, on the big runs further out
       Where the sand-storm rises lurid to the skies.
Not to profit when the grass is waving waist high after rain,
       And the mighty clip of wool comes rolling in —
For the Wool-King goes to Paris with his family again
       And the gold that souls are sacrificed to win.

There are carriages in waiting for the swells from over-sea,
       There are banquets in the latest London style,
While the men who made Australia live on damper, junk and tea —
       But the quiet voices whisper, “Wait a while!”
For the sons of all Australia, they were born to conquer fate —
       And, where charity and friendship are sincere,
Where a sinner is a brother and a stranger is a mate,
       There the future of a nation’s written clear.

Aye, the cities claim the triumphs of a land they do not know,
       But all empty is the day they celebrate!
For the men who made Australia federated long ago,
       And the men to rule Australia — they can wait.
Though the bed may be the rough bunk or the gum leaves or the sand,
       And the roof for half the year may be the sky —
There are men amongst the Bushmen who were born to save the land!
       And they’ll take their places sternly by-and-by.

There’s a whisper on the desert though the sunset breeze hath died
       In the scrubs, though not a breath to stir a bough,
There’s a murmur, not of waters, down the Lachlan River side,
       ’Tis the spirit of Australia waking now!
There’s the weird hymn of the drought-night on the western water-shed,
       Where the beds of unlocked rivers crack and parch;
’Tis the dead that we have buried, and our great unburied dead,
       Who are calling now on living men to march!

Round the camp fire of the fencers by the furthest panel west,
       In the men’s hut by the muddy billabong,
On the Great North-Western Stock-routes where the drovers never rest,
       They are sorting out the right things from the wrong.
In the shearers’ hut the slush lamp shows a haggard, stern-faced man
       Preaching war against the Wool-King to his mates;
And wherever go the billy, water-bag and frying-pan,
       They are drafting future histories of states!


Freedom on the Wallaby

Australia’s a big country
    An’ Freedom’s humpin’ bluey—
An’ Freedom’s on the wallaby—
    Oh, don’t you hear ’er cooey?
She’s just begun to boomerang,
    She’ll knock the tyrants silly—
She’s going to light another fire
    And boil another billy.

Our fathers toiled for bitter bread
    While loafers thrived beside ’em—
But food to eat and clothes to wear,
    Their native land denied ’em.
An’ so they left their native land
    In spite of their devotion—
And so they came, (or if they stole,
    Were sent) across the ocean.

Then Freedom couldn’t stand the glare
    Of Royalty’s regalia—
She left the loafers where they were,
    An’ came out to Australia.
But now across the mighty main
    The chains have come to bind her –
She little thought to see again
    The wrongs she left behind her.

Our parents toiled to make a home –
    Hard grubbin’ ’twas and clearin’,
They wasn’t troubled much with lords
    When they was pioneerin’.
But now that we have made the land
    A garden full of promise—
Old greed must crook his dirty hand
    And come and take it from us.

So we must fly a rebel flag,
    As others did before us—
And we must sing a rebel song
    And join in rebel chorus.
We’ll make the tyrants feel the sting
    Of those that they would throttle—
They needn’t say the fault is ours
    If blood should stain the wattle!

I’m Too Old to Rat

I don’t care if the cause be wrong,
    Or if the cause be right;
I’ve had my day and sung my song
    And fought the bitter fight.
In truth, at times I can’t even tell
    What men are driving at,
But I’ve been Union 30 years,
    And I’m too old to Rat.

Maybe, at times in bygone days
    Remembered now by few,
We did bite off in various ways
    Much more than we could chew.
We paid—in bitter strikers’ camps
    Across the Blacksoil flat,
We paid—in long and hungry tramps
    And I’m too old to Rat.

The Queensland strike in ’89
    And 90’s gloomy days,
The day the Opera Company sang
    For us—“the Marseillaise”,
The sea of faces stern and set,
    The waiting bitter cup,
The hopeless hearts, unbeaten yet
    The storm clouds rushing up.

The fighting, dying “Boomerang”
    Against the “Daily Press.”
The infant “Worker” holding out
    The families in distress.
The sudden tears of beaten men
    Oh, you remember that.
And memories that make my pen
    Not worth its while to Rat.

I’ve wept with them in Strikers’ Camps
    Where shivered man and beast;
I’ve worn since then the badge
    Of men of Hell—and London East.
White faces in the flaring torch!
    Wraith wives—the slaves of fat!
And ragged children in the rain,
    Yes—I’m too old to Rat.


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