Henry Lawson ( )

To Be Amused

You ask me to be gay and glad 
While lurid clouds of danger loom, 
And vain and bad and gambling mad, 
Australia races to her doom. 
You bid me sing the light and fair, 
The dance, the glance on pleasures wings  
While you have wives who will not bear, 
And beer to drown the fear of things. 

A war with reason you would wage 
To be amused for your short span, 
Until your childrens heritage 
Is claimed for China by Japan. 
The football match, the cricket score, 
The scraps, the tote, the madning Cup  
You drunken fools that evermore 
To-morrow morning sober up! 

I see again with haggard eyes, 
The thirsty land, the wasted flood; 
Unpeopled plains beyond the skies, 
And precious streams that run to mud; 
The ruined health, the wasted wealth, 
In our mad cities by the seas, 
The black race suicide by stealth, 
The starved and murdered industries! 

You bid me make a farce of day, 
And make a mockery of death; 
While not five thousand miles away 
The yellow millions pant for breath! 
But heed me now, nor ask me this  
Lest you too late should wake to find 
That hopeless patriotism is 
The strongest passion in mankind! 

Youd think the seer sees, perhaps, 
While staring on from days like these, 
Politeness in the conquering Japs, 
Or mercy in the banned Chinese! 
I mind the days when parents stood, 
And spake no word, while children ran 
From Christian lanes and deemed it good 
To stone a helpless Chinaman. 

I see the stricken city fall, 
The fathers murdered at their doors, 
The sack, the massacre of all 
Save healthy slaves and paramours  
The wounded hero at the stake, 
The pure girl to the lepers kiss  
God, give us faith, for Christs own sake 
To kill our womankind ere this. 

I see the Bushman from Out Back, 
From mountain range and rolling downs, 
And carts race on each rough bush track 
With food and rifles from the towns; 
I see my Bushmen fight and die 
Amongst the torn blood-spattered trees, 
And hear all night the wounded cry 
For men! More men and batteries! 

I see the brown and yellow rule 
The southern lands and southern waves, 
White children in the heathen school, 
And black and white together slaves; 
I see the colour-line so drawn 
(I see it plain and speak I must), 
That our brown masters of the dawn 
Might, aye, have fair girls for their lusts! 

With land and life and race at stake  
No matter which race wronged, or how  
Let all and one Australia make 
A superhuman effort now. 
Clear out the blasting parasites, 
The paid-for-one-thing manifold, 
And curb the goggled social-lights 
That scorch to nowhere with our gold. 

Store guns and ammunition first, 
Build forts and warlike factories, 
Sink bores and tanks where drought is worst, 
Give over time to industries. 
The outpost of the white mans race, 
Where next his flag shall be unfurled, 
Make clean the place! Make strong the place! 
Call white men in from all the world!

Henry Lawson's other poems:
  1. The Heart of Australia
  2. Mount Bukaroo
  3. The Fire at Rosss Farm
  4. To an Old Mate
  5. Camerons Heart

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