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Henry Lawson

(17 June 1867 – 2 September 1922 / Grenfell, New South Wales)

A Dirge of Joy


Oh! this is a joyful dirge, my friends, and this is a hymn of praise;
And this is a clamour of Victory, and a pæan of Ancient Days.
It isn’t a Yelp of the Battlefield; nor a Howl of the Bounding Wave,
But an ode to the Things that the War has Killed, and a lay of the Festive Grave.
’Tis a triolet of the Tomb, you bet, and a whoop because of Despair,
And it’s sung as I stand on my hoary head and wave my legs in the air!
Oh! I dance on the grave of the Suffragette (I dance on my hands and dome),
And the Sanctity-of-the-Marriage-Tie and the Breaking-Up-of-the-Home.
And I dance on the grave of the weird White-Slave that died when the war began;
And Better-Protection-for-Women-and-Girls, and Men-Made-Laws-for-Man!

Oh, I dance on the Liberal Lady’s grave and the Labour Woman’s, too;
And the grave of the Female lie and shriek, with a dance that is wild and new.
And my only regret in this song-a-let as I dance over dale and hill,
Is the Yarn-of-the-Wife and the Tale-of-the-Girl that never a war can kill.

Oh, I dance on the grave of the want-ter-write, and I dance on the Tomb of the Sneer,
And poet-and-author-and-critic, too, who used to be great round here.
But “Old Mother Often” (“Mother of Ten”) and “Parent” escaped from the grave—
And “Pro Bono Publico” liveth again, as “Victis,” or “Honour the Brave.”

Oh, lightly I danced upon Politics’ grave where the Friend of the Candidate slept,
And over the Female Political Devil, oh wildly I bounded and leapt.
But this dance shall be nothing compared with the dance of the spook of the writer who sings
On the grave of the bard and the Bulletin’s grave, out there at the Finish of Things!

Submitted: Friday, March 26, 2010

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