A Song of Work [poem by Grant Hervey]

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

A Song of Work

We sing too much of sports and such — too little of toil and deeds ;
Too much of love and stars above, and winds in the whispering reeds.
Let’s sing new songs of the toiling throngs — let’s chant of hammer and saw ;
Let’s chant of life and steam and strife and the foundry’s blazing maw !
Sing ho for work — for the smoke-stack’s murk — for the crash of iron and steel ;
Huzza for the war where the pistons soar and crank-shafts thrust and reel !
For the world’s great heart is beating here, ’midst clamour of steel and steam ;
Man rules the earth with his strength and skill — aye, man is a god supreme !

Aha for the crash where the forges flash, and the anvils clank and clang ;
Huzza for the beat of the iron feet where the Nasmyths bounce and bang !
For the whirring drills and the roaring mills — for the shafting’s rolling song —
Huzza for the gods and the piston-rods and the workers stern and strong !
For I love the night where the Titans fight, and the gloom is blotched with flame ;
Aye, I feel a king when the crossheads swing and growl in their iron game ;
Fit kingdom this, where the forges hiss, and the red slag drops like blood ;
O, I love grim Graft, and I love each shaft, and I love Work’s mighty thud !

Let’s whine no more — Let us smelt black ore — let’s grapple at last with Fate ;
Let’s march like men in the ranks again — let’s tramp with a swinging gait !
Let’s take our stand with the nations grand — let us show that we’re not played out ;
Let’s live, let’s act — let us deal with fact have done with drivel and doubt !
Have done with dreams and the misty themes have done with the dread of death ;
Let’s work like Hell for an age-long spell — let’s laugh with our parting breath !
Nor prate nor preach, but rise and reach for the nearest task at hand ;
Let’s toil, let’s sweat — let’s fight on yet for the sake of our own dear land !

For we sing too much of sport and such — too little of toil and deeds ;
Too much of love and stars above, and winds in the whispering reeds.
Let’s sing new songs of the toiling throngs — let’s chant of hammer and saw ;
Aye, chant of life with its steam and strife and the foundry’s blazing maw !
Sing ho for Work — for the smoke-stack’s murk — for the crash of iron and steel ;
Huzza for the war where the pistons soar and crankshafts thrust and reel !
Set the world’s great heart a-beating here, ’midst clamour of steel and steam ;
Let’s shake the hills with our iron wills — for Man is a god supreme !




Source:
Grant Hervey. Australians Yet and Other Verses, Thomas C. Lothian, Melbourne, 1913, pages 102-104

Editor’s notes:
Nasmyths = steam hammers; James Nasmyth (1808-1890) was a British engineer who invented the steam hammer in 1839

Titans = in this context, great big machinery; from the giants of Greek mythology

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