Saturday, 25 April 2015

Lest We Forget - a pacifist's remembrance of the centenary of ANZAC Day - Part 2

"Fat" was a recurring figure in working class literature
of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
He was included in the work of Henry Lawson.
The Bulletin Reciter 
A Collection of Verses for Recitation 
from 'The Bulletin' Sydney 
The Bulletin Newspaper Company, Limited, Publishers

Glory of Women
You love us when we’re heroes, home on leave,
Or wounded in a mentionable place.
You worship decorations; you believe
That chivalry redeems the war’s disgrace.
You make us shells. You listen with delight,
By tales of dirt and danger fondly thrilled.
You crown our distant ardours while we fight,
And mourn our laurelled memories when we’re killed.
You can’t believe that British troops ‘retire’
When hell’s last horror breaks them, and they run,
Trampling the terrible corpses-blind with blood.
O German mother dreaming by the fire,
While you are knitting socks to send your son
His face is trodden deeper in the mud.


The Fat Man and The War
They sing of the pride of battle,
They sing of the Dogs of War,
Of the men that are slain like cattle
On African soil afar.

They sing of the gallant legions
A-bearin’ the battle’s brung
Out in them torrid regions
A-fightin’ the foe in front.

They sing of Mauser and Maxim,
And their doin’s across the foam,
But I hear none sit of the Fat Man
Who sits at his ease at home,

Contrivin’ another measure
For scoopin’ a lump o’ tin,
New coffers to hoard the treasure
That his brothers’ blood sweeps in;

Chock-full o’ zeal for speedin’
The sword of his Queen’s behest,
But other men’s legs to bear it
Is the notion that suits him best.

Nothin’ he knows of fightin’;
He was never built that way;
But the game of War is excitin’
When the stake’s worth more than the play.

An’ a fat little man in comin’,
When the turmoil has settled down,
An’ the dogs of war are silent,
An’ the veldt is bare and brown.

When the sun has licked the blood up
An’ the brown earth hid the bones,
His miners will go out seekin’
For gold and precious stones.

Like a ghoul from the reekin’ shambles
He grubs out his filthy pelf,
Reapin’ a cursed harvest
Where he dursn’t have sown himself.

Now, this is one man’s opinion,
An’ I think it is fair an’ right:
If he wants the land of the Dutchman
Let him go like a man an’ fight.

If the African mines have treasure,
An’ the Fat Man wants a bone,
Let him go by himself an’ find it,
Let him trek for the Front alone. 
By Magnet (a pseudonym)


Inscription for a War
Stranger, go tell the Spartans
We died here obedient to their commands
               Inscription at Thermopylae

Linger not, stranger; shed no tear;
Go back to those who sent us here.

We are the young they drafted out
To wars their folly brought about.

Go tell those old men, safe in bed,
We took their orders and are dead.

Perhaps some day the sun will shine again,
And I shall see that still the skies are blue,
And feel once more I do not live in vain,
Although beret of You.

Perhaps the golden meadows at my feet
Will make the sunny hours of spring seem gay,
And I shall find the white May-blossoms sweet,
Though You have passed away.

Perhaps the summer wood s will shimmer bright,
And crimson roses once again be fair,
And autumn harvest fields a rich delight,
Although you are not there.

Perhaps some day I shall not shrink in pain
To see the passing of the dying year,
And listen to Christmas songs again,
Although you cannot hear.

But though kind Time may many joys renew,
There is one greatest joy I shall no know
Again, because my heart for loss of You
Was broken, long ago.

The Country Women's Association even printed a card, to be left on a seat, that not only called for peace but also recognised the common humanity of the 'enemy':
But other hearts in other lands are beating
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine
O hear my song, O God of all the nations,
A song of peace for their land and for mine.
A song of peace , South Australian CWA, Dowlingville Branch
Taken from this site 
The site linked above contains an Australian treasure trove
of poetry and song
some relating to protest against war.

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