voices from the past


Australian War Song

by Henry Kendall (1839-1882)

Australian writer

Men have said that ye were sleeping –
Hurl, Australians, back the lie;
Whet the swords you have in keeping,
    Forward stand to do or die!
Hear ye not, across the ocean,
    Echoes of the distant fray,
Sounds of loud and fierce commotion,
    Swiftly sweeping on the way?
Hearts have woke from sluggish trances,
    Woke to know their native worth;
Freedom with her train advances –
    Freedom newly sprung to birth.
Despots start from thrones affrighted –
    Tyrants hear the angry tread;
Where the slaves, whose prayers were slighted,
    Marching – draw the sword instead.

If the men of other nations
    Dash their fetters to the ground;
When the foeman seeks your stations,
    Will you willing slaves be found?
You the sons of hero fathers –
    Sires that bled at Waterloo!
No! Your indignation gathers –
    To your old traditions true;
Should the cannon’s iron rattle
    Sound between your harbour doors,
You will rise to wage the battle
    In a just and righteous cause.
Patriot fires will scorch Oppression
    Should it dare to draw too near;
And the tide of bold Aggression
    Must be stayed from coming here.

Look upon familiar places,
    Mountain, river, hill and glade;
Look upon those beauteous faces,
    Turning up to you for aid.
Think ye, in the time of danger,
    When that threatening moment comes –
Will ye let the heartless stranger
    Drive your kindred from their homes?
By the prayers which rise above you,
    When you face him on the shore,
By the forms of those that love you –
    Greet him with the rifle’s roar!
While an arm can wield a sabre,
    While you yet can lift a hand,
Strike and teach your hostile neighbour,
    This is Freedom’s chosen land.

About the Author

See our page on Henry Kendall. Includes a linked list of all his writing available on our website.

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