The Old Unionist by Henry Lawson

The Old Unionist

I don’t know if the cause be wrong,
Or if the cause be right —
I’ve had my day and sung my song,
And fought the bitter fight.
To tell the truth, I don’t know what
The boys are driving at,
But I’ve been Union twenty years,
And I’m too old to ” rat “
Maybe, at times in those old days,
Remembered now by few,
We did bite off in various ways
Much more than we could chew —
We paid in sodden strikers’ camps
Upon the blacksoil flat;
We paid in long and hungry tramps —
And I’m too old to rat.
The Queensland strike in eighty-nine,
The Ninety’s gloomy days —
The day the opera comp’ny sang
For us the Marseillaise;
The sea of faces, stern and set,
The waiting ” bitter cup ” ,
The hopeless hearts unbeaten yet,
The storm-clouds rushing up.
The fighting, dying Boomerang
Against the daily press;
The infant Worker holding out;
The families in distress;
The sudden tears of beaten men —
O you remember that! —
Are memories that make my pen
Not worth the while to rat.
I’ve wept with them in strikers’ camps,
Where shivered man and beast;
I’ve worn since then the badge of men
Of Hell! and London East!
White faces by the flaring torch;
Wraith wives! — the slaves of Fat;
And ragged children in the rain —
Yes! — I’m too old to rat.