The Newer Things at Home
A Song of Australian Clothes
Henry Lawson, 1906
Bring glasses of Australian make, and bring the land's own wine,
And listen for Australia's sake to this new song of mine:
Let all her loyal sons be glad, and careless daughters heed,
For here's to every heart that beats beneath Australian Tweed!
I mind the day not long ago and oft my heart did ache
When few would care to use or wear aught of Australian make.
The greatest deeds Australians did were held of little worth
'Twas sought to kill Australian art and letters at their birth.
I mind the day when in the land and it was not lang syne
From bottles with a foreign brand we drank our own good wine!
And still we go with shoddy cloth in Southern shirts and suits
The lying label "English make" on good Australian boots.
We used to go to London once and call it "going home",
And nothing could be any good that left no wake of foam:
They used to say that London, then, would make Australians stare
But now the spirit of the South has changed opinion there.
We used to chafe at country life and find it dull and slow
The glorious freedom, breadth and light the North can never know:
We used to sail for "life" and scene, and we were mad to roam
We're finding greater pleasures now in grander things at home.
We used imported actors once and paid them very high,
Nor thought an actor could be born beneath a sunny sky.
But now we're sending companies their foreign hair to comb,
While nations write in wonder of our fresher art from home.
We used to bring out singers once, to stir us with their song
We raved of them, and worshipped them, they held us all too long.
'Twas seldom thought Australian girls might sing in tune somehow
And young Australian singing birds are charming Europe now.
They used to prate of Northern girls, their beauty and their talk
It takes the bright Australian girl to teach them how to walk
And, when she goeth forth to win, the Paris gown and grace,
The Yankee cheek and English bloom are nowhere in the race.
We read imported "literature" imported by the ton,
And rave of third rate paintings, still, by Northern artists done.
They'll crowd Australian pictures yet in foreign galleries,
And time shall send a Southern song to swell beyond the seas!
Now every year some new idea or new invention brings,
And quiet Englishmen come here to see and study things:
The cute Americans arrive "to wake the kentry some"
And go back rather startled by our "slicker" things at home.
Our women go to London still, or Paris for their clothes
(Our dress might yet be national for all a body knows).
The English lady of the land now wears Australian tweed,
And new Australian fashions yet the summer world might lead.
But we shall hear within a year Australia's word go forth
"No true Australian heart can beat beneath imported Cloth!"
No Scot was ever prouder of his tartan or his flag,
Than we'll be of Australian tweed, while still we wear a rag.
And though I am Australian born, and come of rebel blood,
And hold no title worth a pound of Darling River mud,
I take off my Australian hat, and bless her heart indeed
The English lady of the land who wears Australian Tweed.