To America in 1915

 

We watch your attitudes with candid eyes:

Plain men are we, not given much to prate,

Bluntly sincere, keenly compassionate

But lions in our wrath at treacheries;

Britons are we though under Austral skies

And of our lineage proud, fearless of Fate

For we have stamped our manhood with the great

Traditions – Britain's glorious legacies.

                   

We've given ample proof we are a friend

Pledged to the truths your Pilgrim Fathers kenned,

The pure ideals of a people free

Which – are you blind? – our British arms defend

From ravages of vandals that would rend

The very vitals of Democracy.

 

A. A. Bayldon,1915 

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Why I am Poor

(1900)

 

Because, my friends I have a savage glee

In drinking to the dregs the draughts of life

And love to feel my spirit spreading free,

Stretching itself through every calm and strife

Or stealing through the secret souls of others;

Because, thank God! I'm made of simple stuff

And prize the friendship of my ragged brothers;

Because I love my liberty enough

To starve for it at times; because, forsooth,

I do not flout my manhood for a fee

Or care a straw for anything but Truth

And the warm pulse of human sympathy;

Because, in brief, I want no worldly wealth

But riches of the soul and buoyant health.

 

A. A. Bayldon,1898. 

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Crabs

(On a Queensland Beach)

 

Poisonous, bloated, crab-like shapes

Crawl in gangs around these capes-

Stopping here and feeding there,

Listening, crawling everywhere;

Searching every rotten weed

With a frothing, wild-eyed greed:

Fighting o'er a lump of scurf

Or a red boil of the earth;

Thrusting up their writhing claws

To their grinning, fiend-like maws.

And these horrid creatures wet

With a thick, unwholesome sweat

Have most hideous banquets here

On the poor drowned marineer.

Down they hurry eagerly

Chittering all the way with glee:

They have smelt the tainted air

From that body festering there.

How they twitch their claws and pry

Into each distorted eye;

How they spit on him with spite

As their nippers pinch and bite;

How they strip him clean and bare,

Leaving not a morsel there,

Till they're gorged and all squat near

Fleshless remnant with a leer.

When the billows near them roll

Each will scope himself a hole

In the mud-banks, and therein

Sleep like an embodied sin.

 

 ***

In the world so crass and blind

Human crabs feed on their kind:

Glutted creatures that devour

All that fall within their power;

Skulking each near his own hole,

They smell out each human soul

Tossed up on Life's stony shore,

Weary, friendless, weak and poor.

 

                                  Arthur Bayldon,1897

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