Monday, August 17, 2009

A Song of the Republic

Henry Lawson was one of Australia's greatest writers. His interest in the republican movement was sparked by his exposure to the radicalism of friends of his mother, Louisa. In 1887 he became titular publisher of the Republican. In the aftermath of the republican riots in Sydney in 1887, he penned his first published poem "A Song of the Republic". The poem appeared in The Bulletin, 1 October 1887 and on Saturday, 15 October 1887 in The Republican. Other republican poems by Lawson included “The Statue of Our Queen” (1890), and “The English Queen” (1892).

Lawson was of course not a political theorist; rather, he was the voice of an "Australian sentiment" that put to words the yearnings of the radical nationalists of his day. Lawson was aware that to achieve independence, identity and a just social order, a Republic was the only form of government.

Sons of the South, awake! arise!
Sons of the South, and do.
Banish from under your bonny skies
Those old-world errors and wrongs and lies.
Making a hell in a Paradise
That belongs to your sons and you.
Sons of the South, make choice between
(Sons of the South, choose true),
The Land of Morn and the Land of E'en,
The Old Dead Tree and the Young Tree Green,
The Land that belongs to the lord and the Queen,
And the Land that belongs to you.
Sons of the South, your time will come –
Sons of the South, 'tis near –
The "Signs of the Times", in their language dumb,
Fortell it, and ominous whispers hum
Like sullen sounds of a distant drum,
In the ominous atmosphere.
Sons of the South, aroused at last!
Sons of the South are few!
But your ranks grow longer and deeper fast,
And ye shall swell to an army vast,
And free from the wrongs of the North and Past
The land that belongs to you.

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