(7 September 1876 - 22 June 1938 / Auburn, South Australia)

Fruits Of Victory

These be the fruits, O man who would out-loom
The proudest Caesar of Rome's proudest story,
When legion after legion marched to doom
That one man might be clothed in briefest glory;
Torn bodies, bloody fields and the rank lees
Of Conquest's maddening draft, and so a nation,
Fat with much spoil and many victories,
Drifted into decay and desolation.

These be the fruits: Dead men who die in vain,
Maimed broken men, to living death surrendered,
A myriad stricken homes to mourn the slain
Men? Cannon-fodder to the War God tendered,
Deluded boys, primed with vainglorious dreams
Of flashing steel, romance - war's outworn story
Sent forth to gasp young lives out in foul streams
Of fetid gas - meet attributes of glory!

These be the fruits: This tortured shred of flesh,
Lately a youth, with youth's bright gifts scarce tasted
Sent to the shambles, while, still clear and fresh
In minds of men, the Lesson lingers, wasted
The Lesson tought but lately; and so plain,
That even fools its wisdom here might borrow;
For victor and for vanquished, war's sole gain
Lies in long after years of pain and sorrow.

Fruits? Dead-sea fruits, most bitter with the taste
Of all war's grim bequest of worse confusion.
God and men's bodies, fruitful earth laid waste
Not in dire need, but for a vain delusion,
And, in the end, a tinsel god who prates
Of hollow victories, crying, 'Tomorrow
Shall we triumphant rise!' While at the gates
Lurks a land's heritage - relentless Sorrow.

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