[Editor: This poem by L. E. Homfray was published in The Robertson Advocate (Robertson, NSW), 11 November 1921. It was written as a call for adequate and just compensation for Australia’s returned servicemen. This poem is written in a vernacular style.]
To the honor of the men who returned, and to the memory of those who died for our Country.
Ah! well, this war ’as ended, the praise or blame is past,
The sword of Truth and Justice, ’as brought us peace at last;
But, can we speaking truly, declare this world to be
One bloomin’ jot the better, for ought that we can see?
Unrest, suspicion, envy, their ’ateful work ’as done
An’ class from class ’as severed, an’ into battle run.
Sectarian strife is ragin’, its evil lies abound
While politics ’as shown us no justice can be found.
I ask yer good an’ honest, if yer could truly say
The Digger gets the treatment what’s due to ’im to-day?
’Tis only common justice, ’e’s lookin’ round to get,
Some liftin’ of the burden, what ’angs about ’im yet.
They talk of compensation, to help us through our life,
I mean repatriation for them who bore the strife,
“We bloomin’ well ’ave spoilt yer,” some scoffin’ folks ’ave said,
“Wot ails yer now, is suffering from swelling of yer ’ead.”
Swelled ’ead ain’t arf so common, as folks would ’ave us think,
There’s other kinds of feelings, what makes yer courage sink,
That feelin’ of indifference, the cold or scornful glance
For them who once was ’eroes, in Gallipoli or France.
’Tis easy work to blame us, when all is said an’ done,
Because some drunken devil ’is downward tracks ’as run.
’Tis easy work to judge ’im, for them who ’ad no part,
Nor ever felt the burden what broke that fellers ’eart.
If only for a minute you’d seen what ’e went through
You’d ’ave no need to wonder at something ’e might do.
Maybe a touch of fever, still ’ung about ’is brain,
Some memories of that anguish of ’ell’s infernal pain.
If only you ’ad seen him, as scores of times I’ve done
Go marchin’ on an’ marchin’ beneath some blazin’ sun.
Yes, marchin’ tired an’ footsore, an’ sick nigh unto death,
Yet allus game an’ plucky, to ’is last dyin’ breath.
’Twas us who bore those horrors, to keep this country free,
But little thanks we’re gettin’, you take it straight from me.
’Twas us who fought an’ suffered through all them crool ’ard days,
Yet seldom do we ’ear now one bloomin’ word of praise.
This talk of compensation may sound to you alright
Some sort of consolation, for them who bore the fight.
But could the maimed, the wounded, the nerve racked or the blind,
In ought that you might offer, a compensation find?
Could all that earth could give ’im, a compensation be
To one pore blinded devil who never more may see
The glories of ’is country, the sights ’e loved so well,
The land for which he suffered the fears an’ pains of ’ell.
Could wealth, or fame, or honor, a compensation give
The ’earts that mourn them fellers, who died that you might live?
Could all the gold of Empires, or all the power of Kings
Atone for ’arf the anguish a war of Nations brings?
L. E. Homfray.
Bowral, Nov. 11, 1921.
The Robertson Advocate (Robertson, NSW), 11 November 1921, p. 2
Also published in:
The Southern Mail (Bowral, NSW), 11 November 1921, p. 2
’ad = (vernacular) had
ain’t = (vernacular) is not, isn’t (“ain’t” can be a contraction of: am not; are not, aren’t; has not, hasn’t; have not, haven’t; is not, isn’t)
allus = (vernacular) always
an’ = (vernacular) and
’ang = (vernacular) hang
’ard = (vernacular) hard
arf = (vernacular) half
’as = (vernacular) has
’ateful = (vernacular) hateful
’ave = (vernacular) have
blazin’ = (vernacular) blazing
bloomin’ = (vernacular) blooming (an exclamatory oath)
crool = (vernacular spelling of “cruel”) impair, spoil; especially to spoil someone’s opportunity or spoil someone’s chances (used in the phrase “cruel the pitch”, or similar, meaning to spoil someone’s chances)
Digger = an Australian soldier (a slang word which originated during World War One); in later usage, may also refer to a friend or mate
dyin’ = (vernacular) dying
’e = (vernacular) he
’ead = (vernacular) head
’ear = (vernacular) hear
’eart = (vernacular) heart
’ell = (vernacular) hell
’eroes = (vernacular) heroes
’e’s = (vernacular) he is
feelin’ = (vernacular) feeling
feller = (vernacular) fellow (man, bloke, chap)
gettin’ = (vernacular) getting
’im = (vernacular) him
’is = (vernacular) his
I’ve = a contraction of “I have”
liftin’ = (vernacular) lifting
lookin’ = (vernacular) looking
marchin’ = (vernacular) marching
ought = (an alternative spelling of “aught”) anything
pore = (vernacular) poor
ragin’ = (vernacular) raging
scoffin’ = (vernacular) scoffing
’tis = (archaic) a contraction of “it is”
’twas = (archaic) a contraction of “it was”
’ung = (vernacular) hung
wot = (vernacular) what
yer = (vernacular) you