Union Songs

Labor Song or Hear Tigers Snarl

A Song by Arthur Desmond©Arthur Desmond 1893

Above the Senates brawl - the maddening roar for gain,
Do you hear the Christmas Carol - the felons clanking chains,
Behind yon prison walls, your leg-ironed comrade slaves,
While here in marble walls are harlots, knights and knaves.

Your comrades rot in goal - the hungry cry for bread,
Your wives are thin and pale, their hearts are filled with dread,
And earth resounds with praise in holy, heavenly tones,
While tigers prowl the land to crush your children's bones.

Ho! Men of New South Wales, Hark! hear the fetters clink!
Are you but eunuch-churls that only scream and slink?
If you were virile men, you'd raise your strong right arm,
Beard tigers in their den to guard your mates from harm.

You live the life of dogs, you tug and scat and strain,
Your back the slaver flogs while raking in his gain;
You see your sisters starve, you see them on the marts,
You hear the tigers snarl while rending out their hearts.

0 men of New South Wales, behold your ruffian horde,
Who spurn you with their hoof, and bash you with the sword;
Behold the butcher band that shear and tan your hide.
Have you not grit to stand and tame their wolfish pride?

You rise to voice your wrongs, they club you for your pains,
Wheel out their murderous guns to scatter, splash your brains;
They steal your public lands, they steal the cash you earn,
Ho! Cringe to their commands, you're only dogs not men.

In glittering halls they feast - harlots, knights and knaves -
While inside prison walls your legironed comrade slaves.
Ho! Men of New South Wales, Hark! hear the fetters clink!
Are ye but eunuch-slaves, that only scream and slink?


Arthur Desmond was the most mysterious of the 'agitator' group in Sydney in the period 1892-95, even his 'name' is questioned. He appears to have been a journalist, failed politician and union organiser in New Zealand (see "Arthur Desmond" in Trouble Makers) before arriving in Sydney, where he seems to have produced 'Hard Cash' and 'Standard Bearer' two small newletters detailing the financial corruption of banks and public figures at a time of great economic and industrial unrest. He wrote hundreds of poems, worked as a labor organiser, helped to produce 'New Order' for 'Billy' Hughes (future PM) and drafted 'Might is Right', a fierce polemic which, it is said, went to numerous editions overseas. When he fled arrest in Sydney he left behind a mixed bag of mythology and suspicion about hooded conspirators, armed groups and 'undying hostility for class traitors.

see http://www.takver.com/history/raa/raa18.htm

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