The Poetry Corner

Song Of The Federation

By Banjo Paterson (Andrew Barton)

As the nations sat together, grimly waiting, The fierce and ancient nations battle-scarred, Grown grey in their lusting and their hating, Ever armed and ever ready keeping guard, Through the tumult of their warlike preparation And the half-stilled clamour of the drums Came a voice crying, "Lo, a new-made Nation, To her place in the sisterhood she comes!" And she came. She was beautiful as morning, With the bloom of the roses on her mouth, Like a young queen lavishly adorning Her claims with the splendours of the South. And the fierce old nations, looking on her, Said, "Nay, surely she were quickly overthrown; Hath she strength for the burden laid upon her, Hath she power to protect and guard her own?" Then she spoke, and her voice was clear and ringing In the ears of the nations old and grey, Saying, "Hark, and ye shall hear my children singing Their war-song in countries far away. They are strangers to the tumult of the battle, They are few, but their hearts are very strong, 'Twas but yesterday they called unto the cattle, But they now sing Australia's marching song." SONG OF THE AUSTRALIANS IN ACTION For the honour of Australia, our Mother, Side by side with our kin from over sea, We have fought and we have tested one another, And enrolled among the brotherhood are we. There was never post of danger but we sought it In the fighting through the fire, and through the flood There was never prize so costly but we bought it, Though we paid for its purchase with our blood. Was there any road too rough for us to travel? Was there any path too far for us to tread? You can track us by the blood drops on the gravel On the roads that we milestoned with our dead! And for you. O our young and anxious mother, O'er your great gains keeping watch and ward, Neither fearing nor despising any other, We will hold your possessions with the sword. * * * * * * * Then they passed to the place of world-long sleeping, The grey-clad figures with their dead, To the sound of their women softly weeping And the Dead March moaning at their head: And the Nations, as the grim procession ended, Whispered, "Child, thou has seen the price we pay; From War may we ever be defended, Kneel thee down, new-made Sister, Let us Pray!"