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When Your Back's Against the Wall (1939)

(By C. R. E. Grainger)

Labour leaders all assemble,
Grim old warriors of the Past,
Profiteers are all atremble
Nemesis has struck at last,
Struck the knell of exploitation
Tolled the doom of slavery;
Gifted men with strong oration
Heralds death of knavery.

Leaders in the southern land,
Though their number is but few,
Have the gift to understand
Nothing in this world is true,
Christians screech of world salvation
Of the body and the soul,
But the worst form of damnation
Is to live upon the dole.

Hark to "Bass and Cant" you mothers
Listen to Youll and Bill McBlane
Fighting for the rights of others;
Theirs the loss and yours the gain.
Hear the war drums constant rattle
At some workers anguished call;
Fighting still the long drown battle
With their backs against the wall.

Booth and Saxton, Easton--others.
Social ills and cancer bares;
Come along down trodden brothers,
Know ye not that someone cares.
Do not look for shammy glitter
Join this honest workers band;
Life will not be half so bitter
When you grip an honest hand.

Battle on ye noble brothers--
take from them who will not give;
Battle for the rights of others;
Battle for the right to live.
Time will tell each hero's story,
Man against the nower of pelf.
Battle till you're old and hoary,
Grizzled as I am myself.

Bass, we thank you for assistance:
Cant, we welcome your support
In this battle for existence
When our ammunition's short.
When you hear the snarls and yelping
Many words that are unkind.
Just beware some cur that's helping
Does not stab you from behind.

Do not heed the mode or manner,
Nor the men of traitor blood,
Who have trampled our social banner
Deep beneath the slush and mud.
Never mind the traitrous lying,
Do not mourn the social slain,
You will see the old flag flying
It is rising once again.

Grizzled warriors, old and hoary,
Don your armour for this war,
Though the field he red and gory
Rally 'round the flag once more;
Listen to our stalwarts pleading,
Let our forces be comibined;
Once our social laws were leading,
Now we're twenty years behind.

Do not bow your heads in sorrow,
Wither hope with vain regret,
You will win again to-morrow;
Win your light to justice yet.


From the NSW Newspaper the The Cessnock Eagle and South Maitland Recorder Friday 26 August 1938 p. 2.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory