Teach ’Em To Shoot.
When you’ve done with your frivol and fooling,
Your parlor diversions and games;
When your stripling has come from his schooling,
Swell-headed with figures and names.
Before he’s enrolled ’neath the banner
Of calling, profession or trade,
Before he’s been given his spanner,
His typing machine or his spade;
Before he grips trowel or level
Or handles a throttle-valve hot;
Before he plays dice with the devil
Or coaxes the red from the spot,
Take him out where no city fumes stifle,
Take him out as his country’s recruit;
In his hand put a citizen’s rifle
And — teach him to shoot!
Take him out in the paddock and lone-land,
With never a mark for a guide;
Teach his heart that to die for his own land
Is a patriot’s herited pride.
Set him up such a mark as a foeman,
And teach him to centre hot lead,
Guide his hand that this warrior yeoman
Shall help his brave heart with his head.
For the Gun is the gospel to cling to
When facing fanatical Shem,
The Trench is the alter to spring to,
The Bullet, your savior pro. tem.
Till they’ve shot or evicted the vermin,
Invaders, half-human, half-brute,
Our sons can dispense with a sermon,
But — teach them to shoot!
Wean them from gambles and guzzles
To a post where each patriot should be,
In the fort where the turreted muzzles
Frown out on the shuddering sea.
Teach them to snipe and to slaughter
The ravishers swarming ashore
To the mother, the sister, the daughter,
And the wife who your sweet babies bore.
Teach them to fight while retreating,
As the bush-brumby springs to the spur,
And the ambush gun belches a greeting
Where the range is a smoke-blotted blur.
And so no invader shall revel
By your batteries useless and mute;
When your youngster a rifle can level,
Teach him to shoot!
Too long have we worshipped the jockey,
And swarmed the arena of Horse,
And watched the women play hockey,
Lost stamina, lustre and force.
Too long have we golfed at the bunker,
While the enemy, vengeful and vain,
Stares out from the land of the junker,
With a hatred persistent and plain.
We cheer the imported sky rocket,
We holiday under the gums,
While the foe with our plan in his pocket
Beats war on invisible drums.
And the heart of that armed hurly-burly
Is longing Australia to loot,
So catch ye the Kangaroo early —
And teach him to shoot!
Teach him to stand in the trenches,
And bullet the rabble that comes
With savage and slaughtering stenches,
Concealed in its chemical drums;
Show them the sons of the Old Land,
From Canada cold to the Cape,
While the men from the wool and the gold land
Have a destiny splendid to shape;
Where our scrub-men their axes are swinging
Where the bullock-team tinkles its bells,
The brothers of braves they are bringing
Who died at the far Dardanelles.
But whether they’re marching or mounted,
Whether they’re saddle or boot,
When the brawny out-backers are counted,
Teach them to shoot!
Edwin Greenslade Murphy, Dryblower’s Verses, Perth, W.A.: E. G. Murphy, 1926, pages 111-112
Previously published (with some differences) in:
The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 14 September 1913, p. 8 (the version published in The Sunday Times, 14 September 1913, does not include the two last stanzas placed at the end of the poem as published in Dryblower’s Verses)
The Sydney Stock and Station Journal (Sydney, NSW), 14 July 1914, p. 4
The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 11 July 1915, p. 17
herited = inherited
land of the junker = Prussia (in a wider context, could be used to refer to Germany as a whole); Junkers were the landed nobility of Prussia, which was the dominant kingdom of the German Empire, before and during World War One
pro tem = for the time being, temporarily; from the Latin phrase “pro tempore”
Shem = in the Old Testament of the Bible, Shem was a son of Noah (see Genesis 5:32, 10:21); according to tradition, Shem is regarded as the ancestor of the Semites, and therefore, in a context of war, a reference to “Shem” may refer to the Arabic nations