A solemn prayer for peace
This patriotic poem pays tribute to Australia’s sacrifices in World War I, depicting the fledgling nation earning its place among countries tested by war. Paterson masterfully blends pride and grief in his solemn homage to the fallen.
He opens ‘Song Of Australian’s In Action‘ by honoring the solidarity and courage of young Australian soldiers fighting alongside allies overseas. Through gripping imagery, Paterson conveys the utter commitment of these men to the cause no matter the cost, unfaltering in the face of extreme peril.
The vivid metaphor of the “blood drops on the gravel” marking their sacrifices across once unfamiliar roads underscores devastating losses. Yet for Paterson, their loyalty and valor also mark Australia’s coming of age on the world stage.
In the mournful second half, Paterson envisions the war dead marching home to the lament of women’s weeping. Personifying the elder nations, he movingly shows Australia inducted into their tragic fellowship through suffering.
By concluding with a solemn prayer for peace, Paterson grieves the global trauma while hinting at optimism through hard-won maturity. His spare yet evocative phrasing pays sincere tribute to troops striving to defend Australia’s freedom and possessions.
SONG OF THE AUSTRALIANS IN ACTION
For the honour of Australia, our Mother,
Side by side with our kin from over sea,
We have fought and we have tested one another,
And enrolled among the brotherhood are we.
There was never post of danger but we sought it
In the fighting, through the fire, and through the flood
There was never prize so costly but we bought it,
Though we paid for its purchase with our blood.
Was there any road too rough for us to travel?
Was there any path too far for us to tread?
You can track us by the blood drops on the gravel
On the roads that we milestoned with our dead!
And for you. O our young and anxious mother,
O’er your great gains keeping watch and ward,
Neither fearing nor despising any other,
We will hold your possessions with the sword.
Then they passed to the place of world-long sleeping,
The grey-clad figures with their dead,
To the sound of their women softly weeping
And the Dead March moaning at their head:
And the Nations, as the grim procession ended,
Whispered, “Child, thou has seen the price we pay;
From War may we ever be defended,
Kneel thee down, new-made Sister—Let us Pray!”