The Old Rebel Flag in the Rear
A May-Day Song

Henry Lawson, 1892

      Whenever the march of oppression
      Reduces a land to despair,
      No matter how mighty the victors,
      The flag of Rebellion is there.
      The might of coercion may triumph,
      And Freedom be laid on her bier —
      Yet over the graves of the conquered there waves
      That Old Rebel Flag in the Rear

      A king may be great in a country
      That cheers when a monarch is crown'd
      But still, in his capital city,
      The flag of the rebel is found.
      A people may boast a Republic,
      Where Liberty dies in a year;
      But close on their flag comes that old stubborn rag,
      The Old Rebel Flag in the Rear

      We sing of the Queen of England,
      Her banner that flaunts in the van,
      Yet out from the slums of her capital comes
      That vengeful red banner of man!
      Lift up the proud Union of England,
      And bear it along with a cheer,
      But England! take care in your triumph, for there
      Is the Old Rebel Flag in the Rear.

      There's the great cruel Eagle of Russia,
      Where thousands are sunk in despair,
      And the hand of the tyrant is mighty,
      But the flag of rebellion is there!
      There's the bloodthirsty flag of the Kaiser,
      A monarch whom nations can fear,
      But William will pause ere he marches, because
      Of the Old Rebel Flag in the Rear.

      There's the Red, White and Blue of the Frenchmen,
      Where soldiers of Freedom are true,
      But lo! from the rear comes a banner,
      Whose skirts lack the white and the blue!
      There's the flag of a boastful republic,
      A country where freedom is dear —
      But still, in the States there's an army that waits
      'Neath the Old Rebel Flag in the Rear.

      There's a new mongrel flag in Australia,
      And the "Banner of Britain" is here,
      But, to break from the past, we are gathering fast
      'Neath the Old Rebel Flag in the Rear.
      There are men in the ranks who are traitors,
      And men who will falter and fear,
      Yet on thro' the arch of the morning we march
      'Neath the Old Rebel Flag in the Rear.

      Some men, for the sake of their conscience,
      Will join and be true in the strife,
      And some for the sake of a moment to break
      The terrible dullness of life!
      They march 'neath the flag of the rebels,
      With lives overburden'd and drear,
      And fling them away on a terrible day
      'Neath the Old Rebel Flag in the Rear.

      A spirit calls out of the future,
      And bids us to strike in our youth —
      And the voice of to-day is appealing
      For Liberty, Justice, and Truth;
      And the blood that was shed by old rebels,
      For rights that shall ever be dear,
      Drips down from the red of the flag overhead,
      Of the Old Rebel Flag in the Rear.

      Oh! brothers of mine and of mankind!
      The banner I sing of is red
      With life-blood of men who were foemen
      To wrong, and oppression, and dread.
      Then march 'neath the flag of the rebels,
      The red days of battle are near,
      Let your feet never lag as you march 'neath the flag,
      'Neath the Old Rebel Flag in the Rear.

      Perhaps there'll be no reformation,
      But Oh! for a moment to rise
      And ride on the storm of rebellion,
      And strike at the things that I hate and despise!
      When Progress is stayed by a red barricade,
      And down in the city we hear
      The roll of a hymn of defiance
      That ends in a desperate cheer,
      And on, for a day they'll remember,
      Comes the Old Rebel Flag from the Rear.

      It rose from the birth of the lords of the earth,
      That Old Rebel Flag in the Rear;
      The rebels are bred by the tyrants who dread
      That Old Rebel Flag in the Rear.
      'Twill never be furl'd while there's wrong in the world,
      It never will fall till there's Justice for all,
      THAT OLD REBEL FLAG IN THE REAR!



      Truth