Saturday, December 1, 2007
In byways of duty that led me through danger,
By valleys and slopes that were tinted with blood
In crackle of Maxims and roar of shrapnel
When death in its coming rolled up to the flood
In heat, dust, and vermin and stench of the fallen
In sweat and in sorrow, in struggle and toil,
In waiting and watching, in nerve-racking vigil,
In sap and in traverse entrenched in the soil,
In dreams of Australia and hours of remembrance,
In longing and sighing, in hope and regret,
In vision of bushlands and homes of my fathers,
In myriad scenes that a man can't forget,
In pride in our army the men of Australia,
The living, the broken, the maimed and the dead,
In sympathy keen for the loved ones who sorrow,
In pride for the cause that we've fought for and bled.
In brilliant transcendence of sunrise and splendor,
In colours of grandeur the sunsets have worn,
In shade, shine and shower, and days of forebodings,
In mirth and grey sorrow these verses were born.
ANZAC, April 25 to Oct 8, 1915
No doubt is was Destiny forced me to go,
I hasd dashed little knowledge of national things
Pertaining to treaties and statutes and kings;
A hazy idea that a ‘ell of a scrap
Was twisting and changing the tints on a map;
Grim tellings of slaughter and terrible shame,
And capping them all was Germany’s name;
Of fates worse than death for a mother and maid,
Perhaps throughtit all I was somewhat afraid
When remembering those who are\ dearer to me
Than my life. And yes, there may be
In the thoughts of their honour an impelling spur
To make things quite sure for my mother and Her.
Perhaps ‘twas some writer or speaker I’d heard,
Yhe blood of my ancestors wakened and stirred,
And flung to my brain an appeal to my breed.
Mayhap I followed some other chaps lead.
Or was the natural love of a scrap
Some sort of dare devil wakes in a chap,
That challenges death for a jest or a taunt,
The sheer joy of living that nothing will daunt,
I dunno but I’ve fought and I’ve been through the mill.
What made me a soldier’s a mystery still;
But home’s not a home if it’s not wortha fight –
All things puttogether I know I’ve done right.
Through danger and dark days and death I am here,
I’m not learned or clever, but one thing is clear,
I’ve a lot to be lost and dern little to gain,
Bit if things were reversed I’d just do it again;
For I know (for I’ve seen) that war is just hell,
Where death lurks with vermnin and noise and foul smell,
But all things considered I’d go out once more,
Though I’ll nevber know rightly what takes me to war.
Lord, wouldn’t he swank it in Leicester Square,
Or strolling along the Strand,
His glass a goggle in one glad eye
And his gold-tipped cane in hand.
“Bai Jove, what! what!” I can hear him say,
This swaddy remittance man;
In Cairo we heckled him right and left
As only our soldiers can.
I heard his “damn” as the bullets sang
And the hillsides flashed with flame,
In April days where history framed
With laurels Australia’s name.
His bayonet flashed in the misty dawn
And his blue blood blazed to flame,
He was up in the van where the best men go
In our first red dash to fame.
There was never a sortie or risky stunt
(There were always enough to spare),
When death lurked grinning in every bush,
That “Percival” was not there..
Theres a wooden cross on the Anzac slopes,
On his grave in the red-drown clay,
Where a brave man sleeps his long last sleep
Or I wouldn’t be here to-day.
What wouldn’t I forfeit to have him here
With his monocle swank and cane,
To hear the words that we loved to mock
Fall pat from his lips again.
He was a fellow we loved to bait,
The knut with a capital “K,”
But I’d give the best that I own and more
To have him with me to-day.
For he proved his breed when the bolts were loosed
Out there frm the gates of hell,
And he died as game as a soldier may,
This Percy, the soldier swell.
I’m standing lonely up Whitehall way
With a measure of ice at my feet,
I’ve an English wheeze and an English sneeze,
I’m soaked with the driving sleet.
The best that Blighty can give to us
Is ours and w can’t forget,
But all the same (and who will blame)
My heart’s in Australia yet.
I’m standing watching the traffic pass,
I’m dreaming of southern heat,
The noise of the brakes as the car wheel takes
The crossings at Flinders Street.
Or Sydney side where the south winds swoon
To die in the harbour’s bays,
The lilting splash as the breakers dash
On Coogee on surfing days.
The soft-ringed blue of the circling hills,
The keepers of Adelaide,
My memory gleans from a thousand scenes,
Out there where my feet ave strayed.
Of wattle trees in a flame of bloom,
The ‘roos in the Mitchell grass,
The fields of grain and the salt bush plain,
The creeks that the drovers pass.
I break the spell, but I pause to smile;
I’m glad at my heart I’m here;
I’ve done my share for my own out there,
The land that we hold so dear.
So I stand and watch as the drifting snow
The city in white wraps fold,
I’ve a snuffling wheeze, a shattering sneeze,
And a shivering English cold.
Evacuation of Gallipoli, 1915
It has come to the last and its good-bye, Bill,
I’m sick at heart and sad
To leave you sleeping, old cobber, the best
That ever a swaddy had.
Somebody’s bungled the job, it is said,
Who, it isn’t for me to know,
But leaving the place where you fought and died,
Is stabbing my heart to go.
The lanes of mounds on the beach and hills,
In the spots that we fought to win,
The pledges of victories tardily won,
The graves of an Empires kin.
We’re going, but over Australia way
They will speak with a welling pride
Of sons who answered the call to arms
From the ciry and countryside.
And whether we leaving or whether we stay
It is much in the way the same,
For deep in the side of the green tree –Fame –
Is bitten Australia’s name.
I’m going, but hoping to meet again
On the level the wily Turk,
For fighting and crouching intraverse and tench
Is a sordid kind of work.
But war is war, and it’s little to say
That our enemy played the game;
He fought us as clean as a soldier may,
But I hate him just the same.
For I cn’t forget whenyou took the count
In a stunt to the left of Quinn’s,
A night as black as the ace of spades
Or a fallen Satyr’s sins.
Soft sentiment isn’t for soldier men,
But I swear when it’s steel to steel
The point of my bayonet dripping red
Will prove of the things I feel.
So good-bye, Bill, if the fates are kind
When the wattle trees burst to flame,
I will twine a wreath at my saddle bow
To honour my comrade’s name.
Or dozing on the old stock horse,
In the wake of the straying sheep,
Little doubt that I’ll dream of this shell-torn spot
Where I left you here to sleep.
Asleep with honour I leave you now,
You died as you wished to die.
The days will be longer without you,Bill;
Good-bye, old fellow, good-bye
Sunbeams on the roses playing,
Making jewels of the dew;
Morning zephyrs softly saying,
Roses everywhere for you.
Tears are on the lovely roses,
These are mine for thoughts of you,
And the sunshine but discloses
Beauty dearer for the dew.
Bend over me, O dearest heart of mine,
Little love of the rosebud lips;
Let your eyes with love divine
Light my way as my life’s sun dips.
If I awake I want but this, that I
Can feel you near when I unclose my eyes,
To keep your kiss upon my lips for aye—
Tis is for me a perfect paradise.
I meet with the boys and the gay toasts pass,
The sparkling wine and the cheerfull glass,
The long grey nights and the blazing log;
The clinging folds of the misty fog,
The comforts of homeland everywhere—
I think of the boys who are still out there.
Out there knee-deep in the slush and mud,
Splashed and mingled with comrades’ blood,
Bearing the burden of those who lag
And fear to follow the dear old flag.
Sunset’s grey with the tint of care,
For millions are thinking of those out there.
On earth goodwill and peace to men.
It sounds like a hollow mockery when
I mark the horrors my eyes have seen
(They can never know who have never been)
War striped of its glittering glamour bare—
They see it naked, the boys out there.
They are fighting a sordid war, where trench
And traverse is full of noisome stench;
Theres ittle of berserk warrior lust,
It’s wait and suffer while bayonets rust.
It’s easy to dream in an easy chair;
But I dream and I pray for the boys out there.
Out there wherever “out there” may be,
From Belgiums’s ruins to farthest sea,
Wherever the Union Jack still flies,
Flaunting its pride to the shot-torn skies.
For them our tenderest loving care—
God prosper the boys who are still out there.
Epsom, Xmas 1915
The hand of grey December flaunting every-where,
The tragedies of yellow leaves and brown,
Sad leafless trees so stark and grim and bare,
The soft snow drifting gently,slowly down.
You come! A burst of sunshine floods the dewy grass;
I watch the merry sunbeams playing pass,
Glad harbingers of brighter days of spring
My ears are full of sweet hopes whispering.
The clouds will come. Leaves fall, again the snow
(when you are gone) will cover all the flowers,
It will but play its part and serve to show
The brightness of our friendship’s sunny hours.
Epsom, December 19, 1915
A tender thought for the days that have been,
A recreant sigh,
Tipped with the gold dust of romance, I wean,
Now evening wakes to bless
With starry night’s caress,
My memories softly press
Tears to my eye.
A brighter thought for the dsyd yet to be
As yet unborn,
A lilting song for my meeting with thee,
Dear love forlorn.
Peace all my longing fills,
I dry my tears. Now thrills
Soft O’er the distant hills
First rays of morn.
December 6, 1915
Australia, my Australia, should e’er it be my lot
To live in distant exile in lands that love thee not,
Through all the days that follow the dreary yearning years
The music of thy medodies will echo in my ears,
The voice of bushlands whispering, the glipse of moss-strewn dell,
The flowers on thy mountain side, more dear than asphodel,
The bowers of fern and heather by which the springtime waits
And sets her myriad gems ashine within thy wave-washed gates,
The flashing fire of wattle trees in league-long rows will rise,
The glory of thy hill and plain will spring tp cheer my eyes,
Their rosaries of blossom, the insense of its fire,
The perfume of its yellow beads, the breath of my desire.
September o’er your kindly face will strew the gifts of spring
With sweet boronia scent and flower and wild clematis fling
With lavish hand. On sunlit slopes the trembling dew-kissed leves
Will steal the tints from sunset clouds and red gold from the sheaves;
Will fill your ears with melodies and twittering songs of birds,
Soft rippling of the water pools where drink the milking herds.
Ah, I will see thee forever, September at its best,
Thy songs and melodies of spring in flowery verdure drest,
O keep thy kiss, my country, thy smiling mother face,
For those who love and leave thee and find no better place,
For those in distant exile who dare the hand of Fate,
To keep thy well-loved honour and homes inviolate.
I ask no more, Australia, my dear loved native isle,
Than this my longing hallows, the welcoming of thy smile.
Lemnos, October 1915
Oh, two brown eyes where love-lit shadows swim,
Like pool asleep and lulled by evening’s hymn.
How can such two brown lustrous eyes
Disurb my dreams withdreams of warmer skies,
Of singing birds and scented flowers of spring,
And sound of Austral’s bushlands whispering?
Ah, iforget the miles of heaving sea
That distance flings ‘twixt love and me
And two brown eyes.
Two roses bloomed, o wondrous fair,
And cast their fragrance everywhere;
Love culled one rose and twined it in your hair,
A perfect rose beyond a flower’s compare.
The other rose that blossoms in the are
Of duty, I its fragrance share
To-day. For sundered far, there
Are the blooms that love and duty wear—
Your flower and mine.
In soft winds Southern Lullaby,
The night is full of radiant dreams of thee,
Though sundered far, sweetheart and I,
In absence drear.
I see your eyes in night’s gay lamps ashine,
My sad heart sings of brighter days to be,
I hear you whispering “ I am Thine,”
I know you long for me
In absence, dear.
What is fame ?
A flash from the darkness of oblivion
Of forgetfulness and prejudices.
The sounds of recognition after silence,
The apex of ambition and attainment
What is fame ?
The remembrance of deeds and misdeeds
The names of heroes and knaves of great
On the lips of the populace and orators
With intent for good purposes or evil
I hold no brief for wrong-doers
But for the fame of our fair island,
Her gallant sons and nobler mothers,
In whose ears are sounds of sacrifice
And in whose nostrils is the incense of burnt
In their hair, cypress and rue.
What is fame ?
A sound mingled with beating of wings,
The dark-moving wing of the Angel Death,
Deathless, immortal,yet born of death and
Singing above our fallen brave and living heroes.
Fame was born on the height of Gaba Tepe,
On the wave-bitten stretch of its beaches,
On the battle-scarred sides or its slopes,
In the breast of the gallant living,
In the bier of the honoured dead.
In the great heart of the nobler mothers
Fame revealed to the wondering world
The wondrous fighting gallantry of our men.
Until the last stars are crashing into oblivion
And darkness is thrust about us,
The lasttrump echoes o’er chaotic void
Shall fame die not from the heart of mankind
WHEN earthward came God’s ministering angels three,
Love, Mercy, Hope, out of the abyss cast
Of human passion, from their chaos vast
They bore a blossom tenderly.
Its petals all the blazoned emblems bore
Of blessed spirit trinity who drew
The flower from the deep, its being bore
The kiss of love and mercy’s blessed dew
And hope in all her singing symphony
Its blooms are twined in duty’s flowing hair
And in the cypress wreath and rue they bear.
They flourish’neath the ministering angels’ care.
Men know the bloom and call it – Sympathy.
Pine position prior to the never-to-be-forgotten
Charge of the gallant Anzacs)
CRASH, Oh grey guns in your fury,
Roar while earth’s bosom lies mute,
For yea are the judge and the jury,
The voice of the nation’s dispute.
Crash and your missiles go screeming
Forth on their mission of death,
The blaze of your fire-flashes streaming
Foeward in red fashioned breath.
Speak of our steadfast reliance,
Shout in your breathing of fire
The paens of hate and defiance
And weight of our militant ire.
Crackle, O rifles, and sputter
In fire-flashing lines in the night,
Your voices in incessant mutter
The deep undertone of the fight.
Shout as your bayonets reden
And gleam in the play of the thrust,
Sing of a glory that shed in
The light of a murder-mad lust.
Crash, Oh grey guns, in your chorus,
Sputter, ye rifles, in flame,
Fling to the foe out before us
The might of the mothland’s name.
Vistory with deft subtle fingers
Weaves bay for earth’s struggling sons,
With laurel she hovers and lingers
For those of the mightiest guns.
So crash, O grey guns, in your fury,
Roar while earth’s bosom lies mute,
For ye are the judge and the jury,
The voice of the nation’ dispute
ANZAC, August 6, 1915.
The brazen bugles’ blaring notes,
The rhythmic tread of marching feet,
And rousing drums impassioned beat,
The cheering from a thousand throats,
The lordly pomp of martial pride,The roaring flames of murder, lust,
And flashing play of sabre thrust,
The crash of cannon far and wide,
The echoes of the victors cries,
And anguished call of fallen men,
The silence of the slain, and then
I hear the song that underlies
The chorus born of death and hate
That croons and plays and softly sings
Of vanished peace and sweeter things
That chant above a tyrant Fate:
The cll of love in subtle part,
The yearning of a sister’s breast,
The sad sweet rune of fame’s bequest,
The sorrow of the mother-heart.
SAD seething sea, the sea-gulls’ eerie cry,
Last gleams of day from rocky ledges wane,
The winds sob out the dying day’s good-bye,
Grey clouds hang low with mists of driving Rain.
Gay songs of birds and fragant blooming Flowers,
Sweet sunlight on the shimmering, glimmering Sea,
Bright drops of rain from lately fallen showers
Bejewelled by the sunlight o’er the dewy lea.
In sunshine, rain, grey clouds, and drifting shade,
Tears, smiles, and joys out little lives are run.
Hopes, meetings, partings, and our part is played,
Shine, shower, and shade, and then the setting sun.
O, friend of mine, y dearest wich is this,
That shadow, cloud and tear, and fleeting Smile
But serve to prove to you the dearer bliss
Of things that make our living worth the While
When nightfall flings her shadows everywhere
Her hallowed forms in soft reliefs appear,
The flowers in her hair the more endear
The ypress wreath the chaplet that I wear,
Lo, I her hands the light of other days,
Of star-lit skies and singingbirds and flowers,
Where beauty lent her romance to the hours
As roses lend their fragrance to the air.
And in ther eyes the tender wistful gleams,
Of love and home, the jewels that I keep
Stored in my heart set all their rays astream,
When memory drooping turns aside t weep,
Flees just away as broken morning dreams,
I gaze and lo, grey duty’s form is there.
From Bill-Jim in the trenches to plain Bill at home
When you’ve shouted “Tipperary” till yer
Thoats’s as dry as chips
And you’ve chorused “save the King” to
Beat the band
When yer’ve raised yer brimming’ bumper in yer
Toastin’ to yer lips
And downed yer glass with no uncertain
‘As if ever dawned upon yer that it’s deeds not
words we want,
And its nearly time yer took yer fighting
For we’re out for keeps for freedom, and it ain’t
No pleasure jaunt,
And its nearly time yer did yer little bit.
When yer fling yer adulation to the players “on
Who are battlin’ for the small elusive sphere,
When yer laud yer fancy player in a wild
And the roar come from the grand-stand tier
Do you know the game we’re playing is the
Sternest ever played,
And our side in sweat and blood and tears are knit,
And our ranks are thinned out daily by the
Repaers sharpened blade—
Cbber Bill, its time yer did yer little bit.
You who play in comfort round a petti-
And sparkling eyes that hold yer from the front,
Work it out as what might ‘appen to the old
Folk and to them
If the boys had ever borne the battle’s
Yes it’s worse than death or murder is the
Methods of the Hun,
On his Kultur all the world has paused t
If yer love yer girl and old folks, stir yer stumps
And get a gun
And come out here and do yer little bit
Can yer revel in the freedom that our blood is
Flowin’ for ?
It’s like a patch of ‘ell when there’s a scrap
Can yer stick it out forgettin’ all yer cobbers at
And never think you ought to fill a gap ?
Say, its nearly time yer chucked it, roused yer
Sleepin’ manhood’s flame,
Got yer military pack and shouldered it ;
Got en route for france (or elsewhee), thus in doing play the game,
And once out here we know you’ll do your bit.
We’r not growlin’ or complainin’, though it’s
Dreary, weary work,
And death lurks in the sea and sky and air ;
We ‘ave a good ‘alf Nelson on the stubborn
And we’re needin’ you to help us keep it there,
For it takes us all to hold him in strangulation
The moral is we want more men to wit—
He’s a mighty slippy josser, and before our
Come out here, old son, and do your little bit
ANZAC, August 1915
What can we say? The kindest phrases mar
The heartfelt sympathy we feel
For those who in thir sorrow kneel
To mourn their loss. Our word but jar
In trite expressions. To his dear afar
In clinging strands of bonds of human grief
We twine for him and them the ru and laurel leaf
Call him not dead. For without stain
His name all-glorious purged of earthly stain
We cherish lovingly; not all in vain
The sacrifice. Sleep on, brave heart, our loss
Is softened by our pride; though freedoms gain
For thee and thine is shadowed by a cross.
ANZAC, July 20, 1915
Shroud all the gold of dying day
The last spear-shafts of ruddy light
In purpling shadows melt away
Come regally, O night, and crown
With blazing stars their common grave
The new-turned earth mounld sere and brown
Where sleep the brave.
Shed soft oblivion o’er their rest,
Thy maiden’s rey their pillows smooth,
Lay sweet nepenthe on each breast,
Their dreaming roothe
O south wind, lavishly oh fling,
Soft incense as you passing high
Of wattle fire, and crooning sing
Of tall trees soughing lullaby.
Of silver notes of gurgling streams
That prattle o’er their pebbly bed,
Such scenes as these and sunset’s gleams
With rest are wed.
O lapping waves, break soft and croon
A benison from the deep
In your soft singing, soothing rune
For these our dead
Awake, the slender hands of fame
Are clasping banners of the day,
The silver flash of glory’s flame
Shines on the laurel wreath and bay;
Triumphant still, freedom and truth,
Our lode-star and their oriflamme,
The jewel of Australia’s youth
Is still aflame.
These brave, who died tat silver bands
Of Austral’s honour might not break,
We leave within their Maker’s hands
For Austral’s sake.
GALLIPOLI, July 1915
Here where the goddess of peace and quiet
And muses all from the place have fled
Men distraught in their hate run riot,
And gibbering death is crowned head,
Nightfall gathers her armies sable
Her screed has little but hate to show
There comes to my mind like an oft told fable
My castle a dwelling by Lindenow
When night is full of the red deaths screaming
Maddend by slaughter a fiend accurst
His altar fires in the shell-burst’s gleaming
Paeans of lust in the shrapnel-burst
Above the roar and the smoke of battle
I can see the Mitcell, and sweet and low
I can hear the call of the roaming cattle
In the homestead paddocks by Lindenow
Where the sun’s las rays in their dying quiver
Gild the fronds of the drifting sedge
Spear-shafts hurled to the silver river
Through willow trees at the water’s edge,
Shadows deep on the waters swinging
To and fro in the Mitchells flow
Soft the breeze through the gaunt trees singing
Over the clearing to Lindenow
Water link from the Baw Baw’s falling
Winding down to the ocean’s breast
By fer-decked bowers where bell-birds calling
Sing good-nght to the tinted west
Clear through the blffs and rocky ledges
Or flats as rich as the Mitchell know
Of springing maize in its soft green wedges
Riverward pointing by Lindenow
Here where the virgin-clad spring weather
Kindled the wattle tree’ lambent fire,
Songs of birds and the flashing feather,
Life the end of the path desire.
And now to-night I can sit and listen
And hear the song of the Mitchell’s flow,
Catch the glint as the moonbeams glisten
On her smooth broad bosom by Lindenow
See the smoke from the homestead lifting,
The blinking eyesof its lamps ashine,
Hear the rune of the horse-bells drifting,
The low soft call of the browsing kine,
The clingiing scent of the La france roses
Drifting down on the night wind sough-
I hearken and gaze and my heart reposes
While memory lingers by Lindenow.
If the clinging folds of the ancient Reaper
Cover me close to the Earh’s warm breast,
Then shall nonour be my souls keeper,
Duty contented will bless my rest.
If freedom of flight to my soul be given,
I know of a surety I must go
To the nearest approach that I know to Heaven,
Home Australia, and Lindenow
ANZAC, June 1915
Theres a cry coming up from the traverse and trench
From shell-shattered craters where bravest hearts blench
They are fighting and dying out there in the stench
Of the dead
From shot-riddled pits they are calling you,
There’s work for you there with your bayonet and gun
To finish the work they’ve so grimly begun
And battled and bled
Can you, while they bleed, still cling to your creed,
Your self-loving creed, in the hour of their need?
An appeal to your manhood-Remember your breed!
Enlist. Do it now !
Theres a call from the ranks of a ghostly parade,
A beckoning hand with a blood spattered blade—
They whose last part in the struggle is played
The gaps must be filled of the valiant slain.
Listen ! you’ll hear them. Aye listen again !
They say, “Have we died for a shibboleth vain ?
Do you care ?”
All you have and hold dear, your truest and
Are hung in the balance. Your duty is clear !
Weigh these against dallying, halting, and fear
Enlist. Do it now !
And the guns are booming everywhere around,
In the raucous voices shouting proud defiance to the night,
We can feel a store of comfort in their sound
In their smashing crashing rattle we are fighting freedoms battle
And we are out to win as empires loyal sons
In their belching fiery breath there is red and sudden death
To her enemies out there before our guns.
When the slopes and hills are gleaming in the flares from trench to trench
When rifles crackle like a wood alight
The clouds of fumes come rolling with burning powders stench
And the flashes show in lines across the night
Every shot that goes a- flashing through the lead-torn night a-crashing
Is an effort to an ultimate result
Every cartridge we expend is one less toward the end
Of the menace of the vile Teutonic Kult
Of the foul man-killing terrors and the ripping shot and shell
Cannot break the moral spirit of the ranks
For amid the awful chaos when they loose the bars of hell
They're as calm as if the foe were firing blanks.
All the hail of high explosive and the awful gas corrosive
Any terror that the Teuton can invent
Cannot daunt us in the fight; through the curtain of the hight
We can hear out guns, and hearing rest content.
There is a music in their booming when they're sending blow for blow
In the whistling of the shells upon the way
That will burst in flame and fury on the hidden distant foe,
and we glory in their firing night and day.
And if I must pass in battle, let it be amid their rattle,
One of Austral's humble freedom-loving sons,
Happy, thus thrice happy I, quite content if need be die
In the rhythmic music of Australia's guns.
The plash of the salt waves awash phosphorescent,
The outlines of hills grim and mystic grey,
The hush of the dawn ere the night curtain vanish
And morn brings the light of the flame-laden day.
The wave-bitten stretch of the grey sandy beaches,
The beaches of Anzac the foreshores of death,
The blood of a thousand of braves soon to bleach them,
The foretaste of hell in the shells fiery breath
Dark looming hills whether death lurks behind them,
or whether life waits me with garlands of fame;
How can I banish the scenes of remembrance,
The dear tender thoughts of a much-cherished name?
Duty and danger call me from the darkness
the hour of my baptism fiery draws nigh;
I wonder and dream whether destiny waits me
With kisses of welcome or one brief good-bye.
memory sings saftly and croons of Australia,
Songs of my home in the Southern sea set,
Home and remembrance, the land of my fathers,
Scenes loved and lost to me can I forget?
Flame of the watlle , the fire of the forest,
The scent of the woodbine and songs of the birds,
Incense of blossom from trees all a-flower,
The tinkle of bells from the wandering herds.
Carols of Magpies when dawn is a-quiver,
The outlines of trees gaunt and ring-barked and dead,
Flash of the waratah blooming in glory,
The click of the parakeets' flight overhead.
Glipse of the waterfowl feeding and playing
Over the face of the sleeping lagoon,
Glint of the beams opalescent and gleaming,
Silver shafts hurled from the young crescent moon.
One little home in the midst of the fallow,
the grass stringing green to the wooing of spring,
The green of the lucerne, the fruit trees in blossom,
My home way down under how memories cling.
Ah, whether I perish or whether I follow
The scenes of the chapter of blood to the last,
My soul will dwell eager to time without ending
On dearly loved days that are banished and past.
And now I make ready for death or his master,
This though as the moments in flight hurry by,
If I live, 'tis my privilege all for my country,
For Australia to live, for Australia to die.
Off Anzac, April 1915
When the streets are bright and gay,
The mantles hiding the lights are down
And the apint is scraped away.
When the balls ring out in London town,
When the boys come home to stay,
And khaki stained to an earthy brown
Is folded and packed away,
Hearts will sadden in London town
For those who will come no more,
Though peace is the gem of our vistoy's crown,
Some hearts will be sad and sore.
When the lights flash up in London town,
There are some who will never know;
Brave sons that are welding our land's renown
"Out there" where the best men go.
When the lights flash up in London town,
In the blaze of wild delight,
When the pride of Attila tumbles down
In the dust of his humbled might.
When the lights flash up in London town,
her sons from lands afar
Will weave Mother England a martial crown
From the leaves they plucked from war.
When sorrow and duty and pain have kissed,
And fame in her tear-pearled gown
leads Victory bright from the war-red mist
To us through the lights in town.
Sohere's to the hour when the lights will blaze,
When the mantles and shades are down,
Love counts her rosary beads in days
Till the lights will blaze in town.
London April 24, 1916
The walls and their height and grime;
The pattering beat of the hustling feet
Seem running a race with time.
I'm sick of the jostle of bustling crowds,
The wooden set London stare,
The frozen face in the public place
Where the crowds swarm everywhere.
I'm Southern born, and a touch of sun
Has kindled a fierce desire
For a real sun-bake where the beaches take
From sunshine a Southern fire.
I'm wearied to death of the roaring wheels,
Of the traffic a-hustling by;
I long for the plains where distance wanes
To a blend of the earth and sky.
For a breath of the wattle aflame in fire,
for the blue of a sun-bathed sky,
For the carolling sweet when magpies greet
The dawn when the night-stars die.
I' lonely at heart in the worlds great hub,
There's an ache in my heart-strings sore
for the glimpse of a face that my thoughts will
That will come to my side no more
For the khaki form of a soldier lad
At rest on the Anzac slopes,
Sad honour keeps where his body sleeps,
The wreck of a mothers hopes.
I'm lonely and lonelier still for the sweet,
Brief touch of soft finger-tips,
For homelier ways and the Southerners phrase
From Australian sun-kissed lips.
I'm tired of the hum of the city street,
Of the walls, the fog, and the grime;
The pattering beat of the hustling feet
seem running a race with time.
days of shadow, strew, and shine;
Times of warfares fitful flaring,
hours of toil in mound and mine.
Times of toil in trench and traverse
Sad as sin in toil and sap
Hours of horrors grim that have us
haunted in our every nap.
stench of stricken soldiers lying
Dead and frightful out in front,
Long, long lanes of brave men dying
After some successful stunt.
After these, sweet scenes of beauty,
Homeland, Mother England's breast;
After death adn danger, duty,
Sweeter are the hours of rest.
Warm hearts, kind friends, winsome smiling
Steal the frownings from my face,
All the trace of wars defiling
Gentle kindly hands efface.
When the hands of time have stricken
War and sorrow from my path,
memory's song my pulse will quicken
In a dulcet aftermath.
Sweet tones deeadening sounds of sorrow,
Sadness, wounds, and death and hate;
All the hours of life's to-morrow
Will keep the song inviolate.
face the beak at four;
Days are freely handed out--
Seems he has a little store.
Ten for you, and more for me,
The Adjutant's commands;
Seems to me to indicate
Time hangs heavy on his hands.
In hotel de Clink the days
(Billy Khaki understands),
How the long hours crawl away,
Time hangs heavier on my hands.
As a recreant shadow flits over a lake,
tremulous soft as the zephyrs arise
And leaves from an over-blown rose-blossom
love mingled the shade of a poignent regret
With the light of delight and a radiant joy,
The precious gold glittered and shone till it met
The deadening touch of a darker alloy.
her dear and mine, a brave brother who died
In a fight for grim Chunuk Bahr's shell-
War mingled for us a sad sorrow and pride,
A sad mutual throb of regret in each breast.
Oh, sympathy dear, the sweet healer of hearts,
To whom love swings open her rose-coloured
Shall cheer me in visions ere memory departs
In days when I go forth again to the wars
April 19, 1916
When my dear love is near me,
And life is full of fragrant flowers,
When she is near to cheer me.
I breathe my passion all unknown;
My secret is my treasure;
My heart, when I am left alone,
Beats true to fancy's measure.
her winsome smiling rends my breast,
My passion's flame inspiring;
I build with eager, tender zest
Dreams of my soul's desiring.
The patter of her passing feet
Like silver bells deride me,
My pulses tune to their dear beat
And peace is all denied me.
last night as on my couch I lay
The hours dragged slow and weary,
reluctant so to bring the day
That gave to me my dearie.
Ah I would singf the virtues rare
her lovely form embraces,
But were she fifty times less fair
I'd love her for her graces.
And thus my peace she charms away,
This sweet seductive syren;
I can but live from day to day
Th greet and meet my Irene.
Epsom, January 1916
The hours I spent on lemnos bare
Are as a string of bones to me,
I rattle them and pause to swear
Oh, bones of vanished rest and peace,
A pledge of long lost L.S.D.,
I count them o'er and pay to Greece
My fervent B...,
Oh, bully beef and biscuit hard,
Oh, black and milkless Army tea,
No more for me, poor war-torn bard
No, not for me.
Who are waiting behind their guns,
The guns that are keeping in hiding meek
The fleet of the "frightful"Huns.
Love for the soldiers in Khaki brown,
in traverse and sap and trench.
braving the horrors of shot and shell
And weight of the "dead-man" stench.
pride for the workers who toil at the lathes,
The men at the bench and wheel,
Moulding the lash that will tame the foe
And summon the Hun "to heel."
For flyers and fighters, and women who toil
In the place of the men who fight,
our love and our pride to them every one
Who are welding an Empires might.
people who finance and people who save,
Ranks them whatever you liie,
Pride in them all who are doing their bit--
But ! What of the men who strike!
Who would barter the blood of a thousand braves
For a measure of time or gold,
Loosing our grip on the monster's throat
(It's this when the truth is told)
"Another place !" In a muddy tench,
An inferno of shot and shell,
When the power was held by a strikers act
The enemy guns to quell.
This is the place for the ones who slack,
Strikers and all of their clan,
They'll do their bit when it's steel on steel
And death for the weakest man.
What for them? Ask of the men "out there"
(This form them all and one)
A firing party, an open grave,
The traitor against the wall.
So for the ones who are selling our best
And helping the guns to spike;
A cry from the traverse and trench and decks,
"Short shrift for the men who strike"
Oh the sea is wise and the sea is old,
Its arms are greedy and strong its hands,
The strength of the sea is seldom told,
And few disobey what the sea commands
If you would go down to the sea in ships,
The hungry sea with its arms outspread -
Turn from the sea where the shoreline dips
And look to the quiet hills instead.
For once have known how the mad sea goads,
With the plunge of water the tilting keel;
Followed the sun down the ocean's roads
And watched the gulls in the fairway wheel:
Heard the whistling winds rush by to scour
The sea-washed sides of a battling ship,
The hiss of a spray-flung salty shower
And felt your hands in the oceans grip.
Once you have known the lash of the spume
That over the lunging bowsprit spills,
And the sea's white horses fret and fume,
You may never return to those quiet hills
As a craft made fast to a shore-held quay,
(You'll know the urge, when the darkness falls,)
For sight and sound of the restless sea,
The salt sea breeze, - when the ocean calls.
So when you have given the sea your heart-
Or the sea has taken your heart-: oh then
You are sealed a lover – a soul apart -
You cannot reamins with the hills again.
Oh the sea is wise and the sea is old,
Its arms are greedy, and strong its hands;
The strength of the sea is seldom told
and few disobey what the sea commands
Frank E. Westbrook (undated)
Francis Edmund Westbrook was born in 1889 at South Yarra in Victoria Australia and died in 1976 aged 87 years in Hawthorn, Victoria.
On enlisting, Frank described his civilian occupation as a cook but in the army he held the rank of Trumpeter in 2 FAB [Field Artillery Brigade. He shipped out on the HMAT Shropshire on 20/10/1914.
Before Gallipoli, Frank (and his regiment) were in Egypt. His records indicate that after months of front line action he was evacuated from Gallipoli with "severe Diarrhoea", this was actually a euphemism for Dysentry. Many soldiers at Gallipoli died from Dysentry and medical staff were under pressure not to report it as such. Frank initially recovered on the Greek island of Lemnos before being returned to England in early 1916.
Frank met, and fell in love with Winifred Eggleton. They were married on 21st June 1918. In fact Franks Army record sports a number of AWOL's during his time in England, obviously love was more important obeying petty deadlines!
With his new wife he returned to his beloved Australia, and as far as I can ascertain lived a normal life back in his homeland. I do not believe he produced another book of poems or prose.
Frank was very much a "working class" hero. While his poems may lack some of the finesse of Sassoon or Auden they are ( at least to me ) deeply moving, especially when he relates to his fallen comrades in poems such as Percy or Good-bye
Occasionally some of the propaganda of the era shows through, but surely this can be forgiven. Frank was a brave ordinary soldier "doing his bit". The world is in short supply of people like Frank and his fallen comrades, we should remember their sacrifice and celebrate their courage.
Bill Rees 4/03/2008
Many of Frank Westbrooks poems are signed off with a date and the simple location of ANZAC. I have reproduced these as in the original after each poem, where found.
The Gallipoli campaign of April-December 1915 stands as one of the most incompetently managed military operations of WW1. In many cases the landing forces were without maps and knew little of the terrain. The Turkish forces were well dug in and covering the landing grounds with machine guns. The initial concept of taking Istanbul and knocking Turkey out of the war soon evaporated and Allied troops were withdrawn in December and early January. Casualties on both side were appalling (approximately 140,000 Allied and 250,000 Turkish)
This was the first major campaign for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) and is widely regarded as the anvil which molded and established their independant National Identities.
More information on the Gallipoli campaign, ANZAC day and ANZAC cove can be found at the following Wikipedia pages.
Battle of Gallipoli
Please Note: The index is now in the correct order as found in the book, however if you read the poems as a sequential blog I have yet to try and sort them out. All poems have now been transcribed as of 4th March 2008, 92 years after they were written by Frank Westbrook.
email me at the following address (Please put Westbrook as the first word in the subject field then hopefully I'll avoid spam!) I may take some time to reply as I only check this email address weekly.
Address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks and I hope you find the word of Frank Westbrook as thought provoking as I do.