Poems About Australian Identity

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In Memoriam W.J. Miles
IF EVER it were time for the dead to ride
then surely that time is now:
From the Leeuwin’s cliffs to the roar of Sydney-side,
from Wyndham to the Howe
call up your ghosts, Australia, call up your many dead;
your Kelly and your Lalor and the shirted men they led;
call up your brave, your Stuart, your Wentworth, your
your men who dared Hashemy with its bitter slavish wrong.
Call up your quietened singers from the silence of the grave, who sang your latent spirit to the complaining wave.
Call up your myths and your legends, your men of song and tale, men from the Snowy, the Centre, and lakes where Bunyips wail, your seekers, your finders, your fighters, your men who with Clancy ride,

Lawson’s men from the western creeks, and a thousand more
Call up your ghosts, Australia, and set them riding far
to rouse a sleeping nation to its seven-pointed star.
Call up your dead, Australians, and bid them ride with you
to set your rivers brimming with Eureka’s flood anew.
Call up your hosts, Australia, to strive with you amain,
to fight, to sting, to honor, your Flag of Stars again.
Then, when the day is over, whether to shout or to weep,
keep ever your dead alive in you, oh, never let them sleep,
for the nation that forgets its dead, that lets its heroes lie dust-deep in its mind forever is surely ripe to die.
And only those go on, in glory their story to make,
who ever keep their dead alive, and their songs and heroes awake Now is the time for the nation’s urgent dead to ride,
so set them riding here and now –
from the Leeuwin’s cliffs to the roar of Sydney-side,
from Wyndham to the Howe.
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