The Warriors’ Sons Who Walked
Over two hundred boys, sons of soldiers who fell in the Great War, marched last week at the head of the Anzacs.
Knickered and trousered and stockinged and socked,
Proud with an orphan’s pride,
From many a fatherless home they flocked
Where lonely hearts abide.
By sad-eyed, sorrowful mothers drest,
Sons of diggers and tars;
Ribbons of war on the right-side breast,
Medals and crosses and bars.
And O, it was good to see them go
To the drumsticks’ rolling din;
And a soothing came to the widow’s woe
As they answered the loud “Fall in!”
There were men and horse in the meeting square,
Saddle and spur and boot;
The sergeant’s shout and the bugle blare,
Dressing and smart salute.
There were prancing prads in the line of march,
Where the barrier bounds were chalked,
But amid the cheers
There were tender tears
For the nation’s wards of the yester-years —
The Warriors’ Sons Who Walked!
In ranks of four with a break between
They marched with a boyish pride,
With a step alert and a spirit clean —
Boys of the Braves who died.
Shoulder to shoulder they swung along,
Through flagged and pennanted poles,
Humming the lilt of a haunting song,
Singing within their souls.
Steady as men grown old in war,
Steady as veterans grey;
Steady as those who have gone before,
For whom posterities pray.
Steady the tramp of their youthful feet,
Steady with pardoned pride,
Whose growing hearts shall never greet
Their soldier dads who died.
Steady as those who died at Dawn,
Where Anzac beach-guns baulked;
But though they died
Far over the tide,
Be sure their spirits were marching beside
Their Warrior Sons Who Walked!
It was good to see them step and swing
To the beat of the brazen band;
To hear the loud hurrahing din,
The streets in splendor spanned.
It was good for the soul and good for the heart
To see each face aflame,
As they marched by mansion, cot and mart,
By trade-street trite and tame.
It was good to know the lads who lie
Afar on the fields of France,
Who asked not how or when or why
When called to the Great Advance,
Should have left their lads to a Nation’s care,
To a Nation’s trustees true;
Whose strength should ever the burden bear
As a grateful land should do.
Never by want must they be wolved,
Or by savage famine stalked,
And year by year
May citizens here
Never forget to cherish and cheer
The Warrior Sons Who Walked!
The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 28 April 1929, p. 6 (First Section)
baulk = (also spelt “balk”) to obstruct, thwart, foil, prevent (the more common usage is to hesitate or recoil from something, to stop short, to refuse to undertake an action)
cot = a cottage or a small house; can also refer to a crib or a portable bed
din = a loud noise which continues for a significant amount of time, especially an unpleasant noise
drest = an archaic form of the word “dressed”
mart = market
prad = (slang) horse (from the Dutch “paard”, meaning “horse”)
tar = (slang) sailor; from the slang term “Jack Tar”; “Jack”, being a slang term for a British sailor, later became “Jack Tar” (also spelt “Jacktar” and “Jack-tar”), the addition of “Tar” was possibly derived from the sailors’ widespread usage of tar to waterproof their clothes, to grease their long ponytails (to avoid them being caught in equipment), and to soak ropes and cables (to prevent rot)
trite = lacking originality or freshness; dull or boring due to its overuse; something which is an often-repeated theme, having been used or reproduced in a similar style or fashion many times
wolved = placed under threat or put at danger of disaster, ruin, or starvation (possibly derived from the phrase “wolf at the door”, also rendered as “wolves at the door”; perhaps also related to the phrase “throw him to the wolves”)
[Editor: A minor change/correction to the title has been made, regarding the placement of the apostrophe, from “The Warrior’s Sons Who Walked” to “The Warriors’ Sons Who Walked”, as the placement of the apostrophe in the poem’s title in the newspaper appears to be a typographical error, which is substantiated by the usage in the last line of the first stanza (“The Warriors’ Sons Who Walked!”) and by the reference to this poem by that title in the brief article “An Anzac poem”, The West Australian (Perth, WA), 28 April 1932, p. 15.]