To Australians [poem by Arthur Bayldon, 1905]

[Editor: A poem by Arthur Bayldon.]

To Australians

The nations take their places
Upon the board of Fate,
With stern, determined faces
And spirits hot with hate.
The battle-drums are rattling,
War’s shining blades are bared ;
My countrymen ! cease prattling —
Get ready ! Be prepared!
Be lions free and fearless, not rats within a trap,
To hold aloof with weaponed paw the Muscovite and Jap.

Equip, and have reliance
Within yourselves to stand
On bulwarks of defiance
Should foes approach your land.
Did Britain, her base shaken,
Go down, how would ye fare —
Untrained, unarmed, forsaken,
Checkmated everywhere ?
Fear not, but, oh ! be ready ; sit not and idly wait,
Lest palsy seize you should a foe come thundering at your gate.

This is no time to palter,
Your ordeal has begun,
Prepare then, lest you falter
When you should grasp the gun.
By all that you hold holy !
By all you claim to be !
For your own welfare solely
Play not with Destiny.
Be ready, oh ! be ready, and cease to idly boast,
Lest your own banner flutter down should foes pounce on your coast.

Hush ! each discordant faction ;
Each bickering party, cease !
Strike up the drums for action,
But keep your pledge with Peace.
Now by the flag above you !
For every dear one’s sake
Wives, children — all that love you
And all you have at stake,
Be ready, oh ! be ready, with hand on your sword hilt
To battle for Australia till life’s last drop be spilt.

Arthur A. D. [Albert Dawson] Bayldon. The Western Track and Other Verses, H.T. Dunn, Sydney, 1905, pages 45-46

Editor’s notes:
palsy = paralysis; or a muscular condition characterized by uncontrollable tremors of the arms, hands, legs, or even the entire body

palter = to act or talk deceitfully or insincerely (may also refer to haggling)

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