To the "Advanced Idealist"
Henry Lawson, 1895
Days that "are to be" for ever! What are they to you or me?
I am tired of the drivel of the days that "are to be".
Better than the barren present of the land we're living in,
Better days than have been even, or the world that might have been.
Not of Tennysonian heroes most impossibly insane,
But the Launcelot, the King Arthur, and Miles Hendon of Mark Twain.
Who are they who come to lead us, on the same hard-trodden track,
Which we fancied led to Freedom while the world is rolling back?
Who are you, who come to teach us in the barren thirteenth hour?
Boys with College educations younger sons of wealth and power,
Dazzled by the light of ages, penetrating through the mists
You have raised about you posing as "Advanced Idealists".
You should know who raked your learning from the ashes and the mould
Of your "dead and vanished" ages that your "new ideas" are old.
"New Ideas"? We trace them plainly, as an ancient lava flow,
Burning out the hearts of god-like heroes centuries ago!
Men who lived beyond your wisdom, men who thought and fought alone!
Fought for future generations, while the world went rolling on.
Thought, and fought alone, and suffered every ignorant attack.
What of future generations, while the world is rolling back?
"Sing for us a Song of Freedom; sing a hymn of love and hate,"
So you cry as for the People, but the people come too late.
Round the graves of vanished poets, who were starved along the track,
Clings a cold sarcastic silence while the world is rolling back.
And your "Leader of the People", "Saviour", "King of Nature's Kings",
Stands among his broken idols, brooding over bitter things.
Faith betrayed and trust mistrusted Saviour branded as a thief.
Eyes of Truth for ever meeting steady eyes of unbelief.
"Trust me!" "Trust each other!" cried he. "Throw all selfish ends behind."
And democracy made answer, turning sideways, "Axe to grind."