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Western Camps

Roderic Quinn 1867 (Surry Hills, New South Wales) – 1949 (Darlinghurst, New South Wales)

THREE men stood with their glasses lifted,
Night was around them and flaring lamps:
'Here's to the tried and true and sifted;
Here's to the flotsam tossed and drifted;
Here's to the men in the Outcast-camps,
'Stars that fall are their lot for ever;
Lights that perish and stars that fall;
Fighting Fate with a brave heart ever —
Drifting leaves on a wayward river —
Men for ever in spite of all.
'Here's to the gallant souls defeated;
Here's to the strong souls under-trod,
Hope-abandoned and mirage-cheated —
And yet, by right of their failure, seated
Somewhere close to the feet of God.
'Here's to the heart that braves undaunted
Toil and trouble for home and wife;
Here's to the spirit mocked and taunted;
Here's to the memory, sorrow-haunted;
Here's to the soul grown sick of life.
'Drink to the man at the camp-fire sitting;
Drink to his mistress of long ago;
Well — 'twere well — and the time were fitting,
If, in the shades of the firelight flitting,
She should come with her eyes aglow.
'Drink to the purpose, iron, oaken,
Brought to nought by a wanton's guile;
Drink to men with an old love-token
Somewhere close to their brave hearts broken;
Drink to the martyred souls that smile.
'Drink to courage and all fine daring
Spirit trampling the flesh beneath;
Drink to the reckless heart uncaring;
Drink to mates at the last pinch sharing
Their little all in the face of death.
'Last toast this . . . may their hearts discover,
On every track that the outcast tramps,
A friend in need, and at need a lover,
Green grass around them and kind stars over,
And dreams of peace in their Western Camps.'

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:29 min read
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Roderic Quinn

Roderic Joseph Quinn was an Australian poet. more…

All Roderic Quinn poems | Roderic Quinn Books

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