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A Rebel's Song (1916)

I come with a song from the gates of Hell
To sing at the gate of Dives,
The man-made Hell ye have fashioned well
From wreckage of broken lives;
I sing of the men with the features gaunt,
All scared with the brand of care,
I sing of the homes that are black with want
And bitter with grey despair,
I've sold my sweat where their sweat they sell;
If it is in hatred hurled
The song I bring from the gates of Hell
I wrote in the Working World.

I come with a song from a Sydney slum,
Where the cornered men abide,
And brazen scum of the frowsy Drum.
Parade in their sullen pride;
Where joy is as rare as the sunlight free,
And the outcasts daily sink
To drink that is bred by their poverty
And crime that is born of drink,
Where they mint red-gold from a woman's blood,
And the flesh of children buy,
Where a man's life turns to a hunt for food
For the mouths of a back street stye.

I come with a song for the millionaire
That's fashioned with sorrowful slaves
From the Christ of trade on the scrap-heap laid,
And brave dead soldiers' graves.
There is never a man has a million made
But gathered his millions wrong,
Oh, velvet-sheathed are the claws of Trade,
And mine is a Rebel's song.
The skies get dark and the murmurs swell
As the discontent grows strong,
And the People cry by the gates of Hell:
"How long, O Lord! How long?"



From the Sydney Newspaper the Australian Worker Wednesday 16 May 1923 p. 11.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory