Union Songs

Anzac 1944

A Poem by Ernest Antony©Ernest Antony 1944

Yes, you'll remember Anzac and the men who died for you,
The fighting fools who fought to forge their wage slave chains anew.
How often have you told us that their glory shall not fade?
How often have you gloated o'er the sacrifice they made.

While you boasted loud of freedom and your famed democracy,
You schemed to cheat the orphans of far off Gallipoli.
You remember! You remember each year for just a day,
Sons of Anzac and the Anzacs - in a superficial way.

While we heard your voices choking with sentimental slime,
There were things that we remembered, we'll remind you of sometime.
We remember "the depression" and the aftermath of war,
The doles queues and starvation in the "world worth fighting for".

While you weave a wondrous future of a world grown good and wise,
We are not the least forgetting all the trickery and lies.
Nor shall we be forgetting who owes to whom the debt,
Oh, yes, we will remember - when you're trying to forget.


Many thanks to Rowan Cahill for permission to add this poem to the Union Songs collection.

Rowan writes:

'Australian working class poet Ernest Antony (1894-1960) loathed and detested war. He regarded it as an integral part of capitalism, the essential component of Imperialism, while the creation of wars was a device employed by the ruling class to control society, contributing to keeping the working class subservient and in its place.

Antony's anti-war sentiments arguably owed a significant debt to the IWW; his published work was confined to the period between the two World Wars. However amongst the small cache of his literary papers in the Mitchell Library, Sydney, is the typescript of an unpublished anti-war poem dating from the 1940s titled Anzac 1944, addressed angrily to an anonymous collective warmongering "you".

It is rare thing to find on the Australian Left, anti-war sentiment of this kind expressed during World War 2. The poem is also notable for its early criticism of the political manipulation of the Anzac legend.

The archival reference for this poem is ML MSS 1749, Item 2, p. 5.

So far as I have been able to establish, this is the poem's first appearance in print.'

See more of Ernest Antony's work in this collection

The Hungry Mile And 'Maritime Invisibility' - Rowan Cahill

Ernest Antony: A Forgotten Poet - Rowan Cahill

Ernest Antony and the Hungry Mile - Mark Gregory

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