No Foe Shall Gather Our Harvest [poem by Mary Gilmore, 29 June 1940]

[Editor: A poem by Mary Gilmore, written during the Second World War. Published in The Australian Women’s Weekly, 29 June 1940.]

No foe shall gather our harvest

Sons of the mountains of Scotland,
Clansmen from correi and kyle,
Bred of the moors of England,
Children of Erin’s green isle,
We stand four-square to the tempest,
Whatever the battering hail —
No foe shall gather our harvest,
Or sit on our stockyard rail
.

Our women shall walk in honor,
Our children shall know no chain,
This land that is ours forever
The invader shall strike at in vain.
Anzac! . . . Bapaume! . . . and the Marne! . . .
Could ever the old blood fail?
No foe shall gather our harvest,
Or sit on our stockyard rail
.

So hail-fellow-met we muster,
And hail-fellow-met fall in,
Wherever the guns may thunder,
Or the rocketing “air mail” spin!
Born of the soil and the whirlwind,
Though death itself be the gale —
No foe shall gather our harvest,
Or sit on our stockyard rail
.

We are the sons of Australia,
Of the men who fashioned the land,
We are the sons of the women
Who walked with them, hand in hand;
And we swear by the dead who bore us,
By the heroes who blazed the trail,
No foe shall gather our harvest,
Or sit on our stockyard rail
.

— MARY GILMORE.

At 75, Australian poet and writer Mary Gilmore, Dame of the British Empire, has written one of the finest Australian songs of the war. It appears above. “I’m too old to do many of the things I would like to do to win the war,” she said, “but I can still write. Here is a song for the men and women of Australia.” The inspiring note in the song is so vividly Australian that The Women’s Weekly is proud to present it to readers.



Source:
The Australian Women’s Weekly (Sydney, NSW), 29 June 1940, p. 5

Editor’s notes:
Anzac = Anzac Cove, a cove on the western coast of the Gallipoli peninsula (part of the section of Eastern Europe held by Turkey), located on the European side of the Dardanelles strait; where the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) landed and fought against the Turkish army in 1915

Bapaume = a town in northern France, which was captured by the German army, and regained by Allied forces (including Australians) in March 1917; it was recaptured by the Germans a week later, and subsequently regained by the Allies in September 1918

correi = a steep-sided hollow on a hillside or mountainside, especially referring to one in the mountains of Scotland (also spelt as “corrie”; also called a “cirque” or “cwm”)

Erin = Ireland

kyle = (Scottish) a narrow sea channel or strait (from the Gaelic “caol”, meaning “narrow”)

Marne = the Marne River in France, around which the Second Battle of the Marne was fought in 1918, between the Allied forces (including Australians) and the German army

Comments

  1. Keen to discover when the words of this poem were changed (V1 L2 changed to “Welshmen of coomb and defile” and V2 L5 changed to “Anzac, Tobruk and Kokoda”) and whether Mary Gilmore made the changes or someone else (George Mackaness?), would really appreciate any info, thanks Mel and Susie

    • According to the The Australian Women’s Weekly of 22 April 1953 (p. 24) it was Mary Gilmore who made the changes.
      “Dame Mary has altered the original version slightly. Here is the amended song:”
      http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article41408379
      [The new version included the lines “Welshmen from crag and defile” and “Anzac! . . . Tobruk! . . . and Kokoda! . . .”.]

      The new version had appeared three months earlier, in The Catholic Weekly (Sydney, NSW), 22 January 1953 (p. 7).
      http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article147086647

      When the poem was set to music (see the NLA catalogue entry for the 1952 song: http://trove.nla.gov.au/version/7788633), that would have provided a good opportunity for changes to be made (but the song was not necessarily the impetus for any changes; unless evidence can be provided to the contrary). Unfortunately, a copy of the sheet music is not online.

      It is interesting to note that a 1945 printing of the poem included the line “Anzac! . . . Tobruk, and Kokoda”, but without changing the line “Clansmen from corrie and kyle”.
      See: The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate (NSW), 18 August 1945, p. 1
      http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article133033379

  2. Peter W Harris says:

    Why is there no mention of Dr Percy Jones , Dr of music, who wrote the music for this sterling poem?

    • You are quite correct, Percy Jones wrote the music for the song of “No Foe Shall Gather Our Harvest”, which is on the National Library website at http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/6764868.
      However, Percy Jones wasn’t mentioned in the above article, as it is a republication of an item from The Australian Women’s Weekly (29 June 1940), rather than being a research article about the work itself.

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