When a Fellow Does His Damnedest [poem by Grant Hervey]

[Editor: This poem by Grant Hervey was published in Australians Yet and Other Verses, 1913.]

When a Fellow Does His Damnedest

I Heard a Voice all-potent, singing deep within my soul —
“Be a Strong Man, be a Smiter — keep thy Manhood sure and whole !
I have gathered up the splendour of the earth and sea and sky,
And to thee I give the glory when the proud storm pennons fly !
Be thou worthy of the kingdom thou who sittest on this throne,
Be a Fighter strong and valiant, not a weakling slack and prone !
Be a Captain, be a Leader — lo, when Wisdom’s door unbars,
Thou shalt climb with Me triumphant up the staircase of the stars !”

I heard Jehovah singing in a proud, exultant key —
“When a Fellow Does His Damnedest, it is homage unto Me !
For I am a God of Battle, not a Lord of humble tears ;
Dear to Me the scabbard’s rattle and the thrust of stubborn spears !
Who are these that vainly murmur, with a sad and strengthless moan ?
Who are these that weep and falter, while the Strong Man Goes Alone ?
For My heart is towards the Smiters, towards the Leaders in the van —
Be a King, Oh ! be a Master, be a Soldier and a Man !”

I heard the Voice puissant rolling like a trumpet-call —
“Beat the steel and bend the iron — be a Captain over all !
Be a Builder, be a Maker — where the savage lolls at ease,
Hidden strength beneath the breaker lifts the isle ’midst tropic seas !
’Tis the Insect Climbing Upward from the bed of ocean slime —
Climbing Lightward, climbing starward, through the years of Silent Time !
When a Creature Does Its Damnedest anthems peal beyond the stars,
For the strength that Lifts and Labours breaks the spirit’s prison-bars !”

I heard the God-Head singing, and the Message from the Throne
Stirred my soul with strength puissant when the Seed of Faith was sown !
“Be a Soldier of the Legion, be a Captain if you can” —
Rang the anthem trumpet-pealing : “Be a Smiter, be a Man !
Be a Climber, groping upwards from the gulfs and from the slime —
Do thy Damnedest, do it ever and thy soul shall conquer Time !
For the atoll is an altar raised from far depths of the sea —
I am God, I love the Fighters and the Strong Souls Serving Me !”

Who has heard the Voice Triumphant, ringing bell-like in his soul ? —
Chanting proudly, “Be a Lifter, be a Strong Man sure and whole !”
He has gathered up the splendour of the sky and earth and sea,
Who has heard Jehovah singing as the God-Head sings to me !
He is worthy of the glory, of the Kingdom and the Throne,
Who is strong, and battle-visaged — not a weakling slack and prone !
He is Captain, he is Leader — do your Damnedest ere you go ;
God who hails the Fighting Insect Hails the Strong Man’s Hammer-Blow !




Source:
Grant Hervey. Australians Yet and Other Verses, Thomas C. Lothian, Melbourne, 1913, pages 239-242

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