The Old “Blues” [poem by Grant Hervey]

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

The Old “Blues”

There’s an Army unhymned and unheeded — no trumpets its glories proclaim ;
It has conquered, has fought and succeeded, but it knows not the garlands of fame !
’Tis an Army that marches undaunted with a courage thrice-splendid and true :
And its banners defiant are flaunted — smoke-pennons from boiler and flue !
’Tis an Army of stokers and drivers, of toilers with resolute hands ;
For the Foot-plate Brigade are the strivers who fashion new nations and lands !
They are heroes unhailed and uncared for — since none lifteth anthem for these,
Lo, a psalm of good cheer is prepared for the Army in Blue Dungarees !

Old “blues” ! with the slide-valve and spanner, with the rhythmical thunder of wheels ;
With the smoke-jet and steam for your banner, ye are treading on Destiny’s heels !
Ye have marched in your grease and your glory — ye are marching in splendour to-day
Where the steam-startled scream of the lory trails Bushward proclaiming your sway !
Ye are Captains and Leaders — reliant by the thunder of wheels on the grade ;
By the blast of shrill warnings defiant, hear the tramp of the Foot-plate Brigade !
’Tis the tramp of an Army titanic — attention ! ye peoples at ease ;
Hats off to the sweat-stained Mechanic, to the Army in Blue Dungarees !

There are armies of carnage and plunder all honour and glory is theirs ;
When the guns spit their venom and thunder, then the bards grip their pens in their lairs !
There are legions unleashed like a terror — for these are the laurels and praise ;
Will this world from its madness and error never win in these ultimate days ?
Shall the earth never wake to the splendour of Armies unspattered with gore ;
To the worth of these legions who render loyal service where steam-pennons soar ?
Lift a cheer for the ranks of the loyal, for our soldiers and ships on the seas ;
But remember this legion right-royal — ’Tis the Army in Blue Dungarees !

They are serving Australia with iron, they are fighting with weapons of steel ;
But each blast of the steam-jetting syren is a psalm for this land’s common weal !
They are stretching Australia’s dominion, winning empire with coal-smoke and steam ;
Yea, no vulture with death-flapping pinion seeks the fields where their fires flash and gleam !
They are binding the nation together, joining shore unto far-distant shore ;
They are tying this land with a tether inter-traced with no blood-stains of war !
They are fighting a conflict unending hail the Kings on their thrones if ye please —
But I’d fashion One Psalm tribute-blending for our Army in Blue Dungarees !

Grant Hervey. Australians Yet and Other Verses, Thomas C. Lothian, Melbourne, 1913, pages 192-194

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