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Frank Wilmot

Progress

THEY’VE builded wooden timber tracks,
And a trolly with screaming brakes
Noses into the secret bush,
Into the birdless brooding bush,
And the tall old gums it takes.
And down in the sunny valley,
The snorting saw screams slow;
O bush that nursed my people,
O bush that cursed my people,
That flayed and made my people,
I weep to watch you go

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The Last Port

I WROUGHT and battled and wept, near and afar
I scanned the secret of the bud and star.

Hill-road and desert, and the hurrying street
Know well the impress of my restless feet!

Then some one came with soft, caressing glance,
Slow, like a woman out of all romance.

Love closed around me these warm, folded wings—
That was the end of all my wanderings.

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Edelweiss

THERE grows a white, white flower
By the wild Alps of romance;
And who would reach its dainty leaves
Takes life and death in chance.

There is a dark, dark cavern
Where a woman goes alone,
Takes hope and peril in her hand
And fights Death on his throne.

To our heart’s breathless calling
She comes from the cavern wild,
Holding in her exhausted arms
A small, white, blossoming child.

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Nursery Rhyme

One year, two year, three year, four,
Comes a khaki gentleman knocking at the door.
'Any little boys at home, send them out to me
To train them and brain them in battles yet to be.'

When a little boy is born feed him, train him so.
Put him in a cattle pen and wait for him to grow.
When he's nice and plump and dear, and sensible and sweet,
Throw him in the trenches for the great grey rats to eat.
Toss him in the cannon's mouth, cannons fancy best
Tender little boys' flesh that's easy to digest.

Mother rears her family on two pounds ten a week.
Teaches them to wash themselves, teaches them to speak.
Rears them with a heart's love, rears them to be men.
Grinds her fingers to the bone, and then... what then?

But parents who must rear the boys the cannons love to slay,
Also pay for cannons that blow other boys away.
Parsons tell them that their sons have just been blown to bits.

[...] Read more

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Echoes

I have returned into my land of day,
And lo! it is not light!
And she who claims my homage is betrayed.
I went to furious fighting in far lands
To slay the beast that followed her with leering eyes,
But surely he sailed past me on the night wave
And piled my land in silent ruin cunningly.

Australia, speak!
Surely you have not died in such a little while?
Why will you taunt me with your silences
That make all sacrifice seem in vain?

Speak in a voice of your own.
I do not understand what things you tell me
With these strange lips and foreign tones;
Is it not enough
That your wharves are piled with alien merchandise -
Must your young soul be flooded with foreign despairs?

[...] Read more

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