Australian Folk Songs

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Eight Hour Day (1905)

Oh have you seen them passing?--nearly twenty million strong !
Hark! their battle drum a-beating, and the cadence of their song !
Hear them tramping down the bye-ways where the lonely scouts have gone ;
'Tis the tramping of our army--Labour's army marching on !

O their tools of trade are glist'ning, and their flags are all unfurled ;
Yea, and brain and heart have sought them from the walks of all the world !
And the slaves who groped in blindness through the darkness of the past
Have seen the light with open eyes, and join our ranks at last.

From the grandest halls of knowledge, from the palace and the slum--
The prince beside the pauper--oh ! it's splendid how they come !
From the peaceful home of plenty, and from hovels raised in dearth,
Come the army of the workers, and the best of all, the earth !

And the hope that lights the future, and the dearest dreams that were--
They'll waken in the bosom of our faintest comrades there.
See the vanguard still advancing, and the banner waving high--
Hark the drums, the song, the tramping ! It is Labour marching by !

Ah, that song shall not be silenced, nor that ceaseless tramping stayed,
Till the birthrights of the People at that army's feet are laid ;
And those drums shall not be deadened, nor those waving banners furled,
Till their owners march in triumph through the highways of the world.


From the NSW Newspaper the Inverell Times Sat 30 Sep 1905 p. 7.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory