The Nation Builders

George Essex Evans 1863 (London) – 1909 (Toowoomba)

A handful of workers seeking the star of a strong intent -
A handful of heroes scattered to conquer a continent -
Thirst, and fever, and famine, drought, and ruin, and flood,
And the bones that bleach on the sandhill, and the spears that redden with blood;
And the pitiless might of the molten skies, at noon, on the sun-cracked plain,
And the walls of the northern jungles, shall front them ever in vain,
Till the land that lies like a giant asleep shall wake to the victory won,
And the hearts of the Nation Builders shall know that the work is done.

To North, on the seas of summer, where the pearl flotillas swim,
To East, where the axe is ringing in the heart of the ranges grim,
On the plains where the free wind bloweth by never a tree or shrub,
On the pine-topped slopes where the settler carves a home in the tropic scrub,
On fields where the miner sleeps unstirred by the ceaseless monotone
And crash of the stampers night and day at work on the milk-white stone,
'Tis war and stress, with never a pause to mourn for a stout heart gone,
Till the souls of the Nation Builders shall know that the work is done.

On the deck of the lonely light-ship, in the sand of the new-found West,
Where strong men fall and die like sheep in the thirst of the golden quest,
By the dry stock routes, by the burnt-up creeks, where the cattle sink and fail,
By the coral reefs, where the bêching boats swing on 'neath the sun-tanned sail,
In the wild ravine where the searcher's gold is bought with his own heart's blood,
In the dark of the drive where the miner's life goes out with the swirling flood,
'Tis war and stress, with never a pause to mourn for a stout heart gone,
Till the lives of the Nation Builders have paid for the victory won.

In the glare and steam of the cities, the thunder and chatter of wheel,
By the teeming wharves, where the liners lie at rest on an even keel,
In the strife of a swelling commerce, at the desk in the dull routine
Where the soul of a man is warped and sunk to the soul of a mere machine,
In the flash of the wire to west and north, in the hum of the restless street,
In the pulse of the toiling press that beats all night in a fever heat,
Where the weary brain and the pen plod on 'neath the white electric light -
Tho' we fail and fall still the fight goes on; and ever our sons shall fight,
Till the land that lies like a giant asleep shall wake to the victory won,
And the hearts of the Nation Builders shall know that the work is done.

We are but the hands of the Builder, who toileth and frameth afar;
System, and order, and sequence; sun, and planet, and star -
Faint sparks of a Mighty Genius, a breath of the Over Soul,
Who shapes the thought of the workers wherever his worlds may roll.
On! tho' we grope and blunder, the trend of our aim is true!
On! there is death in dalliance whilst yet there is work to do,
Till the land that lies like a giant asleep shall wake to the victory won,
And the eyes of the Master Worker shall see that the work is done.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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George Essex Evans

George Essex Evans was an Australian poet. more…

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    "The Nation Builders" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 22 Oct. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/14983/the-nation-builders>.

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