Karma [poem by Marie E. J. Pitt, 7 October 1905]

[Editor: A poem by Marie E. J. Pitt. Published in The Clipper, 7 October 1905.]

Karma

Up! comrades, up! the night has flown,
The dawn breaks dim and grey!
The bugle call of strife has blown!
Arm! arm you for the fray!
O’er hills which man’s injustice smote,
The Peoples’ hymn we’ll raise,
Shout! every throat, a major note,
Australia’s Marseillaise!

They call our creed a rebel creed,
Our flag a rebel flag,
Who scrawl the autograph of greed
On every waveworn crag.
Who sow in furrows of their greed
A heritage of scorn,
And found strife’s black anarchic creed
For peoples yet unborn.

Who ruthless weave the fateful coil
That binds in bonds of hate
Lean helotry of hopeless toil,
Fat harlotry of State.
Unholy germs of canting creed,
Devoid of moral health,
The leprosies of life that breed
In fetid ways of wealth.

Who sow in furrows of their greed
That men may glean with tears
From thorny growths of bitter weed,
Grim harvest of the years.
Who sow in furrows of their hate
Twin thorns that never fail,
The gilded thieves in Church and State,
The squalid thieves in gaol.

And in between a gaunt bowed band,
Like brutes, toil-yoked alway,
Rack-stiffened back and horny hand
That things like those may play,
Until the hour when that dim shape
Of power on which they lean,
Shall struggle vainly to escape
The wheels of the “machine.”

They call our flag a rebel flag,
Our creed a rebel creed,
Who scrawl on every waveworn crag
The autograph of greed.
O’er hills which man’s injustice smote
The Peoples’ hymn we’ll raise,
Shout! every throat, a major note,
Australia’s Marseillaise!

M. E. J. Pitt.



Source:
The Clipper (Hobart, Tas.), Saturday 7 October 1905, page 1

Editor’s notes:
A shortened version of the poem “Karma” was published, under the title of “Reveille”, in The Horses of the Hills and Other Verses (1911), a book of poetry by Marie E.J. Pitt.
The primary differences between the two versions are:
1) In the second stanza of “Karma”, the line “And found strife’s black anarchic creed” is replaced in “Reveille” with “And bind the bonds of bitter need”.
2) The 3rd stanza in “Reveille” is comprised of the first half of the 3rd stanza and the second half of the 4th stanza from “Karma”.
3) The fifth stanza of Karma does not appear in Reveille.

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