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The Rebel

Henry Lawson 1867 (Grenfell) – 1922 (Sydney)

Call me traitor to my country and a rebel to my God.
And the foe of “law and order”, well deserving of the rod,
But I scorn the biassed sentence from the temples of the creed
That was fouled and mutilated by the ministers of greed,
For the strength that I inherit is the strength of Truth and Right;
Lords of earth! I am immortal in the battles cf the night!

My religion is the oldest; it was born upon the earth
When to curse mankind for ages pride and tyranny had birth.
’Tis the offspring of oppression, born to suffering and strife,
Born to hate, above all other hate, the things that gave it life;
And ’twill live through all the ages, while a son of man is blind,
In the everlasting rhythm of the story of mankind!

From the Maker’s battered image, where the bloody helmet gleams,
From the graves of beaten armies rise the heroes of my dreams.
I am ever with the weaker in the battles for the right.
And I fight on vessels sinking ’neath the cruel blows of might;
But I hear of coming triumph in the tramp of flying feet
And the wild, despairing music of the army in retreat.

I am plunged in bitter sorrow at the sinking of a star,
For I mourn among the murdered where the broken lances are;
Souls of earth who rule with iron, raining death on farm and town,
Sacrificing lives uncounted, putting just rebellions down,
Ye shall answer for the murders of the slaves compelled to bleed
For the commonwealth of idlers and the common cause of greed.

I have come for common justice to the castles of the great,
And the people who have sent me crave assistance at the gate;
They obeyed the Maker’s sentence—whey have ploughed and tilled the soil.
Yet they go in rags and hunger in the harvest of their toil.
I demand the rights of Labour in the law of God defined;
Pause and weigh the pregnant answer!—where is peace or war behind.
Are we slaves beneath the power that our industry hath given?
Are we fuel to feed the engines of your artificial heaven?

I am come to warn the idlers at the castles of the great,
For the army that has sent me grows impatient at the gate:
They have gathered now in thousands from the alley and the den,
And the words of fire are breaking from the lips of quiet men!
Yield, and save the lives of thousands! for the rebels’ eyes are bright,
And the god of revolution is abroad on earth to-night.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:12 min read

Henry Lawson

Henry Lawson 17 June 1867 - 2 September 1922 was an Australian writer and poet Along with his contemporary Banjo Paterson Lawson is among the best-known Australian poets and fiction writers of the colonial period more…

All Henry Lawson poems | Henry Lawson Books

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