A Message

Armistice Day 1936

C.J. Dennis


I got dreamin' that a message come in some mysterious way
From one ole pal of mine, gone West this many an' many a day,
A bloke the name of Ginger Mick, a fightin' cove I knoo.
(But 'e's Digger Corporal Mick Esquire, late A.I.F., to you)
'E got 'is on Gallipoli, an' sleeps there with the best,
Not leavin' very much be'ind, excep' one small request.
"Look after things," was all 'e said, when 'e was mortal 'urt.
Dead sure 'is mates - that's me an' you - would never do 'im dirt.

(Think of it in the Silence, with yer 'eads bowed low:
Do we keep the unspoke compact with the men we used to know?)

For I dreams it in the silence of a dark Remembrance Eve;
An' the message seems to tell me it is gettin' late to grieve.
"But if you seem to miss us still, then get the sob-stuff o'er,
An' think about the things wot we went an' fought a war.
Send up a pray`r an' drop a tear an' bend a reverent knee -
(Says Digger Corporal Ginger Mick, A.I.F., says 'e)
But is them things we fought for still the things most dear to you:
The honor an' the glory an' the mateship that we knew?"

(Think of it in the Silence, when the Last Post plays -
The splendid glimpse of Truth we 'ad, once, in the bitter days)

"Grief is a passin' compliment," the message seems to say;
But tears don't carry on the job for men that drift away.
We 'ad small time or taste for such where guns was raisin' 'ell,
When we got busy plantin' blokes an' wishin' 'em farewell.
We blowed sad music over 'em - plain Digs, or Brass 'at Knuts -
But we played a quick-step comin' back, to show we 'ad the guts.
Our speech was rough, our ways was tough - tough as our bloody game.
Are the rough, tough, lads still honored, like when the Terror came?"

(Think of it, in the Silence, when their spirits hover near:
The vision and the vows that held while still the land knew fear.)

'E's sleepin' on Gallipoli. At least, 'is bones is there:
Bones worth a ton of livin' flesh that won't play fair -
Not till the Terror comes again. "An' when it does," says 'e,
If gods you've worshipped let you down, well, don't blame me."
'E's seen a lot, an' learned a lot most like, where 'e 'as gone;
An' 'eaven 'elp us when we meet if we ain't carried on.
A vulgar person, Ginger Mick, a fightin' cove I knoo -
(But Digger Corporal Ginger Mick, if you please, to you.)

(Think of it in the Silence; an', if you pray, pray deep
That all we 'ave an' all we are old loyalties shall keep.


Fire of the Southern Cross: A Collection of Poetry for Australian Nationalists

Australian Nationalism Information Database - www.ausnatinfo.angelfire.com/~natinfo