Australian Folk Songs
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(By C. R. E. Grainger)
We can see the sweeping changes
That Old Time has brought about,
Capital and toil were strangers
But I'll let you think it out.
Don't forget you had no learning,
You were but a chattel slave.
If for knowledge had a yearning,
You were rogue or thief or knave.
They robbed you of your inheritance
To give to paltry few,
If any gave objecting glance,
That man they quickly slew,
Or chained him in a dungeon deep,
To let him contemplate,
'Twere better far to lick their boots,
Than live in such a state.
They were a fierce maurauding band
And brigands of the best,
They plundered people of their land--
I think you know the rest.
Till one arose and cried aloud
I am the life and way,
They quickly wove for him a shroud
And put him right away.
But not before indignities
Were plastered on his head,
Is one of us not such as these
To take the truth instead ?
'Tw'ere better far that one should die,
Than multitudes forsooth,
They killed, upholding too, a lie,
They did not want the truth.
They tried to buy--it came to nought,
He showed the way to live,
Will one of us give him a thought,
Who gave what he could give.
The Jews were mean, it was their creed,
On water made him walk,
He knew and understood the breed--
The tariff made him baulk.
Will we get "molo" Christmas time
And gorge at our sweet will,
And think the world is just sublime.
And try the truth to kill?
I've been a Knight--a belted Earl,
With twelve across my chest
I've never been a lousy churl,
But you may guess the rest.
I never gave a passing thought
But thought it just escape,
A wind-tossed barque that any port
Of any size or shape.
I am no smooging hypocrite
Who to their knees will bend,
Insurance against the soot and grit--
By promising to mend.
When blowing froth from Xmas cup,
I felt as any king.
It was a change to dine and sup,
And laugh at anything.
Just like the rest I welcomed it,
To gambol, sport and booze,
A sudden change to lounge and sit
Until I got the blues.
I dearly liked a holiday,
It came but once a year.
To tell the truth--well, this I'll say,
It was a day of beer.
They whisper when I pass along,
Are glad to see me stagger,
They whistle now, it shan't be long--
I once walked with a swagger.
I gave it out and round about
I'll live another score.
I did not shout--without a doubt,
I should have made it more.
To see the disappointment float
Across their features grim,
And see the disappearing gloat
That lit the face of him.
In mind they had me in a box
Plus halo and the wings,
They made of me a giddy ox,
And many other things.
They even made of me a Saint,
Forgive the knowing sneer,
Something apart without a taint--
They hate me while I'm here.
For all the while I stick to truth,
I have no qualms of fear,
I'll stick to it with nail and tooth
While still remaining here.
If any creed should flash a sword,
Or draw it from its sheath,
I'll cut the flimsy binding cord,
The lie throw in their teeth.
I've read of Abe the Knifer,
The Royal Entire too.
The thieving Jake the Lifer
For things he shouldn't do.
Yet I am but a juror,
The evidence to sift,
It left their case the poorer--
Their guilt was hard to shift.
I believe in the Commandments,
They number only ten.
We were given the Commandments
To guide the lives of men--
To judge the other fellow
And not to make a song,
Nor yet to bleat or bellow
I find I'm never wrong.
From the NSW Newspaper the The Cessnock Eagle and South Maitland Recorder Tuesday 27 January 1953 p. 4.
australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory