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El Mahdi to the Australian Troops



And wherefore have they come, this warlike band,
That o’er the ocean many a weary day
Have tossed; and now beside Suakim’s Bay,
With faces stern and resolute, do stand,
Waking the desert’s echoes with the drum
Men of Australia, wherefore have ye come?
To keep the Puppet Khedive on the throne,
To strike a blow for tyranny and wrong,
To crush the weak and aid the oppressing strong!
Regardless of the hapless Fellah’s moan,
To force the payment of the Hebrew loan,
Squeezing the tax like blood from out the stone?

And fair Australia, freest of the free,
Is up in arms against the freeman’s fight;
And with her mother joined to crush the right
Has left her threatened treasures o’er the sea,
Has left her land of liberty and law
To flesh her maiden sword in this unholy war.

Enough! God never blessed such enterprise
England’s degenerate Generals yet shall rue
Brave Gordon sacrificed, when soon they view
The children of a thousand deserts rise
To drive them forth like sand before the gale
God and the Prophet! Freedom will prevail.

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Poem El Mahdi to the Australian Troops - Andrew Barton Paterson
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