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Joe Hill (1916)

High head and back unbending--rebel, "true blue,"
Into the night unending; why was was it you?

Heart that was quick with song torn with their lead;
Life that was young and strong, shattered find dead.

Singer of manly songs, laughter and tears;
Singer of Labor's wrongs joys hopes and fears.

Though you were one of us, what could; we do?
Joe, there were none of us needed like you.

We gave, however small, what, life could give ;
We would have given all that you might live.

Your death you held as naught, slander and shame;
We from the awful thought shrank as from flame.

Each of us held his breath, tense with despair,
You who were close to Death seemed not to care.

White-handed loathsome Power, knowing no pause,
Sinking in Labor's flower, murderous claws.

Boastful, with leerlrig eyes--blood dripping jaws....
Accurst be the cowardice hidden in laws!

Utah has drained your blood; white hands are wet;
We of the "surging flood" never forget!

Our songster! have your laws now had their fill ?
Know ye, his songs and Cause ye cannot kill.

High head and back unbending--such men are few,
Into the night unending; why was it you?

--Ralph Chaplin,


From the Queensland Newspaper the Daily Standard Saturday 8 January 1916 p. 9.

Directly beneath this poem in the newspaper came the following report:
In Austria the workers, are demanding that the example that has been set in Germany be followed, namely
that the Government take over various Industries and also fix maximum prices on food products. Similar
reports come from France and Italy. The various governments have already made long strides along this line
and it is possible that most activities will be nationalised if the war continues during the coming winter.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory