Singapore

Dame Mary Gilmore 1865 (Crookwell, New South Wales) – 1962 (Sydney, New South Wales)



They grouped together about the chief
And each one looked at his mate,
Ashamed to think that Australian men
Should meet such bitter fate!
And black was the wrath in each hot heart
And savage oaths they swore
As they thought of how they had all been ditched
By "Impregnable" Singapore.

In her vaunted place she squatted the sea
On a base that was Maginot bred
Her startled face looked up at the skies
To the enemy planes o'erhead.
Enemy planes; while ours were - where?
That cry we had heard before
Our hearts were wrung as it rose this time
From beleaguered Singapore.

She brought forth death as her eldest child
With defeat as her second son.
Then she hung a white flag out on a staff
To show that her task was done.
And sick with rage the Australians stood,
And God! how those Anzacs swore -
Bennett and all his men alike -
At the fall of Singapore.

Whose was the fault she betrayed our troops?
Whose was the fault she failed!?
Ask it of those who lowered the flag
At once to the mast was nailed,
Tell them we'll raise it on Anzac soil
With hearts that are steeled to the core
We swear by our dead and captive sons
REVENGE FOR SINGAPORE!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on April 08, 2023

1:06 min read
207

Quick analysis:

Scheme XAXAXBXB XXXAXBXB XCXCXBXB XDXDXBXB
Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 1,116
Words 219
Stanzas 4
Stanza Lengths 8, 8, 8, 8

Dame Mary Gilmore

Dame Mary Jean Gilmore (née Cameron) was an Australian writer and journalist known for her prolific contributions to Australian literature and the broader national discourse. She wrote both prose and poetry. Gilmore was born in rural New South Wales, and spent her childhood in and around the Riverina, living both in small bush settlements and in larger country towns like Wagga Wagga. Gilmore qualified as a schoolteacher at the age of 16, and after a period in the country was posted to Sydney. She involved herself with the burgeoning labour movement, and also became a devotee of the utopian socialism views of William Lane. In 1893, Gilmore and 200 others followed Lane to Paraguay, where they formed the New Australia Colony. She started a family there, but the colony did not live up to expectations and they returned to Australia in 1902. Drawing on her connections in Sydney, Gilmore found work with The Australian Worker as the editor of its women's section, a position she held from 1908 to 1931. She also wrote for a variety of other publications, including The Bulletin and The Sydney Morning Herald, becoming known as a campaigner for the welfare of the disadvantaged. Gilmore's first volume of poetry was brought out in 1910; she published prolifically for the rest of her life, mainly poetry but also memoirs and collections of essays. She wrote on a variety of themes, although the public imagination was particularly captured by her evocative views of country life. Her best known work is "No Foe Shall Gather Our Harvest", which served as a morale booster during World War II. Gilmore's greatest recognition came in later life. She was the doyenne of the Sydney literary world, and became something of a national icon, making frequent appearances in the new media of radio and television. Gilmore maintained her prodigious output into old age, publishing her last book of verse in 1954, aged 89. Two years earlier she had begun writing a new column for the Tribune (the official newspaper of the Communist Party), which she continued for almost a decade. Gilmore died at the age of 97 and was accorded a state funeral, a rare honour for a writer. She has featured on the reverse of the Australian ten-dollar note since 1993. more…

All Dame Mary Gilmore poems | Dame Mary Gilmore Books

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