Bernard O'Dowd 1866 (Beaufort) – 1953

THE SUNNY rounds of Earth contain
 An obverse to its Day,
Our fertile Vagrancy’s domain,
 Wan Proletaria.
From pole to pole of Poverty
 We stumble through the years,
With hazy-lanterned Memory
 And Hope that never nears.
Wherever Plenty’s crop invites
 Our pitiful brigades,
Lurk cannoneers of Vested Rights,
 Juristic ambuscades;
And here hangs Rent, that squalid cage
 Within which Mammon thrusts,
Bound with the fetter of a wage,
 The helots of his lusts.
With palsied Doubt as guide, we wind
 Among the lanes of Need,
Where meagre Hungers scouting find
 But slavered baits of Greed.
The wet-lipped Lamias of Caste,
 Awaiting our advance,
Our choicest squadrons’ fealty blast
 With magic smile and glance:
Delilah-limbed temptations flit
 Among our drowsy rows,
And on our willing captains fit
 The badges of our foes.
What wonder sometimes if in stealth
 Our starker outposts wait,
And, in the prowling eyes of Wealth,
 Dash vitriol of Hate;
Or if our Samsons, ere too late,
 Their treasons should make good
By whelming in the temple’s fate
 Their viper owners’ brood!
Our polyandrous dam has borne
 To Satan and to God
The hordes of Night, the clans of Morn,
 That through our valleys plod.
Ah, motherhood of misery
 For Christ-child as for pest!
The greater her fertility
 The drier grows her breast!
Too many linger on the track;
 A few outstrip the time:
Some, God has tattooed yellow, black,
 And some disguised with crime.
Art’s living archives here abound,
 Carraras of Despair,
And those weird masks of Sight and Sound
 The Tragic Muses wear.
Tho’ blind and dull, ’tis we supply
 The Painter’s dazzling dreams;
The rolling flood of Poetry
 From our dumb chaos streams.
Nay, when your world is over-tired,
 And Genius comatose,
Our race, by Nemesis inspired,
 Old Order overthrows:
With earthquake-life we thrill your land,
 Refill the cruse of Art,
Revitalize spent Wisdom, and—
 Resume our weary part.
The palace of successful Guilt
 Is mortared with our shame;
On hecatombs of Us are built
 The soaring towers of Fame.
We are the gnomes of Titan works
 Whose throbbings never cease;
Our unregarded signet lurks
 On every masterpiece.
The floating isles, that shuttling tie
 All peoples into one
By adept steermen’s sorcery
 Of magnet, steam, and sun;
Religion’s dolmens, Sphinxes, spires,
 Her Biblic armouries;
The helot lightning of the wires
 That mesh your lands and seas;
The viaducts ’tween Near and Far,
 Whereon, o’er range and mead,
Bacchantic Trade’s triumphant car
 And iron tigers speed;
The modern steely crops that rise
 Where technic Jasons sow:
—All these but feebly symbolize
 The largesse we bestow.
And our reward? In this wan land,
 In clientage of Greed,
Despised, polluted, maimed and banned,
 To wander and—to breed

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Submitted on May 13, 2011


Bernard O'Dowd

Bernard Patrick O'Dowd was an Australian activist, educator, poet, journalist, and author of several law books and poetry books. O'Dowd worked as an assistant-librarian and later Chief Parliamentary Draughtsman in the Supreme Court at Melbourne for 48 years; he was also a co-publisher and writer for the radical paper Tocsin. Bernard O'Dowd lived to age 87. more…

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    "Proletaria" STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 27 Sep. 2020. <>.

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