The Nation Builders

Original Text: 
The Collected Verse of G. Essex Evans, Memorial Edition (Australia: Angus and Robertson Ltd., 1928): 89-91. British Library
1A handful of workers seeking the star of a strong intent --
2A handful of heroes scattered to conquer a continent --
3Thirst, and fever, and famine, drought, and ruin, and flood,
4And the bones that bleach on the sandhill, and the spears that redden with blood;
5And the pitiless might of the molten skies, at noon, on the sun-cracked plain,
6And the walls of the northern jungles, shall front them ever in vain,
7Till the land that lies like a giant asleep shall wake to the victory won,
8And the hearts of the Nation Builders shall know that the work is done.
9To North, on the seas of summer, where the pearl flotillas swim,
10To East, where the axe is ringing in the heart of the ranges grim,
11On the plains where the free wind bloweth by never a tree or shrub,
12On the pine-topped slopes where the settler carves a home in the tropic scrub,
13On fields where the miner sleeps unstirred by the ceaseless monotone
15'Tis war and stress, with never a pause to mourn for a stout heart gone,
16Till the souls of the Nation Builders shall know that the work is done.
17On the deck of the lonely light-ship, in the sand of the new-found West,
18Where strong men fall and die like sheep in the thirst of the golden quest,
19By the dry stock routes, by the burnt-up creeks, where the cattle sink and fail,
21In the wild ravine where the searcher's gold is bought with his own heart's blood,
22In the dark of the drive where the miner's life goes out with the swirling flood,
23'Tis war and stress, with never a pause to mourn for a stout heart gone,
24Till the lives of the Nation Builders have paid for the victory won.
25In the glare and steam of the cities, the thunder and chatter of wheel,
26By the teeming wharves, where the liners lie at rest on an even keel,
27In the strife of a swelling commerce, at the desk in the dull routine
28Where the soul of a man is warped and sunk to the soul of a mere machine,
29In the flash of the wire to west and north, in the hum of the restless street,
30In the pulse of the toiling press that beats all night in a fever heat,
31Where the weary brain and the pen plod on 'neath the white electric light --
32Tho' we fail and fall still the fight goes on; and ever our sons shall fight,
33Till the land that lies like a giant asleep shall wake to the victory won,
34And the hearts of the Nation Builders shall know that the work is done.
35We are but the hands of the Builder, who toileth and frameth afar;
36System, and order, and sequence; sun, and planet, and star --
37Faint sparks of a Mighty Genius, a breath of the Over Soul,
38Who shapes the thought of the workers wherever his worlds may roll.
39On! tho' we grope and blunder, the trend of our aim is true!
40On! there is death in dalliance whilst yet there is work to do,
41Till the land that lies like a giant asleep shall wake to the victory won,
42And the eyes of the Master Worker shall see that the work is done.

Notes

14] stampers: iron-shod pestles for grinding and crushing ore in a stamp-mill. Back to Line
20] bêching: beaching? Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2001
Rhyme: