Australian Folk Songs
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The Worker (1876)
[By Gerald Massey.]
I care not a curse, though from birth he inherit
The tear-bitter bread, and the stinging of scorn,
If the man be but one of God's nobles in spirit,
Though penniless, wealthy-souled ! heartsome, though worn !
If he will not for golden bribe lout it or flatter,
But clings to the right, aye, as steel to the pole,--
He may sweat at the plough, loom, or anvil--no matter !
I'll own him the man that is dear to my soul.
What though hard is his hand, though his raiment be tattered--
Though on straw-pallet nightly his weary limbs rest,
If his brew wear the stamp of spirit unfettered,
I'll go mining at once for the gems in his breast.
Give me the true man who will shrink not nor falter,
Though want be his guerdon, the workhouse his goal,
Till his heart has burned out upon true freedom's altar.
For this is the man I hold dear to my soul.
True toil is Creation's crown ! God-like is duly !
And greater than god, in old days, is the worker !
True hearts in this brave world of blessings and beauty,
Aye scorn either bravery of losel and lurker.
For us ! the wealth-ladcn world laboreth ever !
For us ! harvests ripen, winds blow, waters roll
And he who gives back in his might of endeavor
I'll cherish--a man ever dear to my soul.
From the Victorian Newspaper the Leader Saturday 11 March 1876 p. 3.A perhaps surprising number of Gerald Massey's poems were published in Australian newspapers from 1851 onwards. Read about his life and works in Wikipedia
australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory