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Henry Lawson

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

Eureka


Roll up, Eureka's heroes, on that grand Old Rush afar,
For Lalor's gone to join you in the big camp where you are;
Roll up and give him welcome such as only diggers can,
For well he battled for the rights of miner and of Man.
In that bright golden country that lies beyond our sight,
The record of his honest life shall be his Miner's Right;
But many a bearded mouth shall twitch, and many a tear be shed,
And many a grey old digger sigh to hear that Lalor's dead.
Yet wipe your eyes, old fossickers, o'er worked-out fields that roam,
You need not weep at parting from a digger going home.
Now from the strange wild seasons past, the days of golden strife,
Now from the Roaring Fifties comes a scene from Lalor's life:
All gleaming white amid the shafts o'er gully, hill and flat
Again I see the tents that form the camp at Ballarat.
I hear the shovels and the picks, and all the air is rife
With the rattle of the cradles and the sounds of digger-life;
The clatter of the windlass-boles, as spinning round they go,
And then the signal to his mate, the digger's cry, "Below!"
From many a busy pointing-forge the sound of labour swells,
The tinkling of the anvils is as clear as silver bells.
I hear the broken English from the mouth of many a one
From every state and nation that is known beneath the sun;
The homely tongue of Scotland and the brogue of Ireland blend
With the dialects of England, right from Berwick to Lands End;
And to the busy concourse here the States have sent a part,
The land of gulches that has been immortalised by Harte;
The land where long from mining-camps the blue smoke upward curled;
The land that gave the "Partner" true and "Mliss" unto the world;
The men from all the nations in the New World and the Old,
All side by side, like brethren here, are delving after gold.
But suddenly the warning cries are heard on every side
As closing in around the field, a ring of troopers ride,
Unlicensed diggers are the game--their class and want are sins,
And so with all its shameful scenes, the digger hunt begins.
The men are seized who are too poor the heavy tax to pay,
Chained man to man as convicts were, and dragged in gangs away.
Though in the eyes of many a man the menace scarce was hid,
The diggers' blood was slow to boil, but scalded when it did.

But now another match is lit that soon must fire the charge
"Roll up! Roll up!" the poignant cry awakes the evening air,
And angry faces surge like waves around the speakers there.
"What are our sins that we should be an outlawed class?" they say,
"Shall we stand by while mates are seized and dragged like lags away?
Shall insult be on insult heaped? Shall we let these things go?"
And with a roar of voices comes the diggers' answer--"No!"
The day has vanished from the scene, but not the air of night
Can cool the blood that, ebbing back, leaves brows in anger white.
Lo, from the roof of Bentley's Inn the flames are leaping high;
They write "Revenge!" in letters red across the smoke-dimmed sky.
"To arms! To arms!" the cry is out; "To arms and play your part;
For every pike upon a pole will find a tyrant's heart!"
Now Lalor comes to take the lead, the spirit does not lag,
And down the rough, wild diggers kneel beneath the Diggers' Flag;
Then, rising to their feet, they swear, while rugged hearts beat high,
To stand beside their leader and to conquer or to die!
Around Eureka's stockade now the shades of night close fast,
Three hundred sleep beside their arms, and thirty sleep their last.

About the streets of Melbourne town the sound of bells is borne
That call the citizens to prayer that fateful Sabbath morn;
But there upon Eureka's hill, a hundred miles away,
The diggers' forms lie white and still above the blood-stained clay.
The bells that toll the diggers' death might also ring a knell
For those few gallant soldiers, dead, who did their duty well.
The sight of murdered heroes is to hero-hearts a goad,
A thousand men are up in arms upon the Creswick road,
And wildest rumours in the air are flying up and down,
'Tis said the men of Ballarat will march on Melbourne town.
But not in vain those diggers died. Their comrades may rejoice,
For o'er the voice of tyranny is heard the people's voice;
It says: "Reform your rotten law, the diggers' wrongs make right,
Or else with them, our brothers now, we'll gather to the fight."

'Twas of such stuff the men were made who saw our nation born,
And such as Lalor were the men who led the vanguard on;
And like such men may we be found, with leaders such as they,
In the roll-up of Australians on our darkest, grandest day!

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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