[Editor: This poem by “Dryblower” Murphy was published in Dryblower’s Verses (1926).]
I have given you unto the Empire,
You will follow its battle flag;
You will hear the sound of slaughter,
In valley, on plain and crag.
I have taken you out of the playground,
From many a merry mate;
To send you — a stripling soldier —
Into the field of fate.
But when the good work is over,
And your share of the task is done,
I shall be proud of the lad I lent,
I shall be proud to say I sent
They have gone in their thousands lusty,
But the gaps still cry for more,
They have come from the bush-land lonely,
From the scrub and the sounding shore;
From out of the desert dreaming,
From out of the rolling range;
From the distant placid pastures,
From the hills that never change;
And out of the alleys squalid,
Where the days are drear and dun,
With pride I heard their footsteps ring
And so I have sent to serve my King
They have gone in the crowded transports,
They have fought the fight — and fell;
They have felt on their fevered faces
Draughts from the deeps of hell.
Thinned by the hidden horror,
Drowned in the shot-swept blue,
They have closed up the gaps of glory,
Steadied, and thundered through:
And into that mounded country
Where the work of war was done,
Where the blood-red trenches blur and blend,
With no wav’ring, weak’ning sigh I send
Did I fail in a father’s duty?
Did I keep him with mine and me?
How could he face the question
In the days of peace to be?
Could he walk in the public places?
Could he do what all good men do,
When the patriot women shunned him,
When it came to his time to woo?
If he took not to-day his bayonet,
His khaki brave and gun,
I would see his brothers in shame abide,
I would see them pass on the other side
God of our destined duty,
Of our Country, Flag and King,
Keep him in courage lofty
When the hell-made missiles swing.
And if he must prove an Abel
Killed by another Cain,
Give him, O Lord, at parting,
No portion of Calvary’s pain.
Let us write over his slumbers
The glorious words “Well done!”
For whether our Flag shall wilt or wave,
Let us remember He also gave
Edwin Greenslade Murphy, Dryblower’s Verses, Perth, W.A.: E. G. Murphy, 1926, pages 3-4
Previously published (with some differences) in:
The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 12 September 1915, p. 8
Abel = the youngest of the two sons of Adam and Eve (according to the Bible, in the Book of Genesis, Abel was murdered by Cain, his older brother)
Cain = the oldest of the two sons of Adam and Eve (according to the Bible, in the Book of Genesis, Cain murdered Abel, and thus the word Cain became associated with murder)
Calvary = the place where Jesus was crucified (according to tradition, it was a hill located outside of the walled city of Jerusalem)
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