Verse > Anthologies > Walter Murdoch, comp. > The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse
Walter Murdoch (1874–1970).  The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse.  1918.
80. Young Democracy
By Bernard O’Dowd
HARK! Young Democracy from sleep
  Our careless sentries raps:
A backwash from the Future’s deep
  Our Evil’s foreland laps.
Unknown, these Titans of our Night        5
  Their New Creation make:
Unseen, they toil and love and fight
  That glamoured Man may wake.
Knights-errant of the human race,
  The Quixotes of to-day,        10
For man as man they claim a place,
  Prepare the tedious way.
They seek no dim-eyed mob’s applause,
  Deem base the titled name,
And spurn, for glory of their Cause,        15
  The tawdry nymphs of Fame.
No masks of ignorance or sin
  Hide from them you or me:
We’re Man—no colour shames our skin,
  No race or caste have we.        20
The prognathous Neanderthal,
  To them, conceals the Bruce;
They see Dan Aesop in the thrall;
  From swagmen Christ deduce.
Tho’ butt for lecher’s ribaldry        25
  And scarred by woman’s scorn,
In baby-burdened girl they see
  God-motherhood forlorn.
With them, to racial siredom glides
  The savage we deprave;        30
That eunuch brilliant Narses hides:
  A Spartacus, that slave.
They Jesus find in manger waif;
  In horse-boys Shakespearehood:
And earthquake-Luthers nestling safe        35
  In German miner’s brood.
The God that pulses everywhere
  They know fills Satan’s veins;
No felon but they see Him there
  Behind His mirror’s stains.        40
’Tis theirs Earth’s charnel rooms to clear,
  And ruthless sweep away
The Lares and Penates dear
  To man in his decay.
Their restless energy supplies        45
  Munitions that will wreck
The keeps whence feudal enemies
  Our free banditti check.
Their unrelenting wars they wage,
  These Furies of the Right,        50
Where myriad Falsehood’s legions rage,
  Artilleried by Might;
Where Fashion’s stupid iron clamps
  Young Innovation’s head,
And Law the stalwart Present cramps        55
  In Past’s Procrustes-bed;
Where Pride of learning, substance, blood,
  Or prowess in the strife,
Exacts from teeming lowlihood
  The lion’s share of life;        60
Where Gluttony would to the brutes
  Degrade his loose-lipped gangs;
Where Tyranny his venom shoots
  From one or million fangs;
Where Cruelty, in Wisdom’s mask,        65
  Piths fame from writhing beasts;
Where blest is racial Murder’s task
  By Christ’s apostate priests.
In Punic or in Persian fray
  With Love’s and Conscience’ foes,        70
Unadvertising Romans they,
  And Spartans free from pose.
Abused as mad or traitors by
  The trolls they would eject;
Cold-shouldered by wan Apathy;        75
  Of motives mean suspect;
Outcast from social gaieties;
  Denied life’s lilied grace;
They mount their hidden Calvaries
  To save the human race.        80
The bowers of Art a few may know;
  A few wait highly placed:
Most bear the hods of common woe,
  And some you call disgraced.
But whether in the mob or school,        85
  In church or poverty,
They teach and live the Golden Rule
  Of Young Democracy:—
‘That culture, joy and goodliness
  Be th’ equal right of all:        90
That Greed no more shall those oppress
  Who by the wayside fall:
‘That each shall share what all men sow:
  That colour, caste’s a lie:
That man is God, however low—        95
  Is man, however high.


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