War and Peace

Since Queensland separated from NSW in 1859, its poets have dealt with war, first as part of an empire, then as an expression of Australian nationalism. Often poems before a war look forward to the involvement of our armed forces; too often the poems written during and after war reflect on its terrible cost.

Click on the poem titles in the table below to read some of the best early Queensland poetry of military themes.

  • At Lytton 1902

    by Mary Hannay Foott    Past the Fort on the fairway, where river and sea are met, Like new stars risen on the hillside, the Bushmen's fires are set,...

  • At Toowong 1922

    by Emily Bulcock    Unveiling of Anzac Memorial, Sunday July 2, 1922 They met to honour the brave young dead,      Where a noble shaft rose high! In the...

  • Australia in England 1918

    by Zora Cross    He called….The quiet nurse stole to his side, Seeing how with his hands he strove to hide Dull tears, that from his mother's breast...

  • Barbaric Night 1944

    by Howarde Tilse From the distant village Comes the throb of a native drum, And savage voices Chanting through the trees. A full moon Crystalises...

  • Blue 1919

    by Peter Austen    The blue waves break along the shore, How blue, how blue the summer skies! Somewhere in France two brave blue eyes Lie closed for...

  • Brownout 1945

    by Peter Miles    You’re the tight twist in my heart when lost gulls of paperboys cry in a brownout, you are the lights  of my vanishing home and my...

  • Cenotaph 1941

    by Howarde Tilse    Death leers from the jungle – mockingly, And smiles all-knowing from the skies: With bony hands outstretched, caressingly... But light of...

  • Dark Angel 1943

    by Llywelyn Lucas      The wings of the great dark angel – I heard them brushing, I heard them brushing but thank God not by me, And the tide of battle...

  • Dinkum Aussie 2017

      He is long, he is lean, he is wiry; He is loose-limbed and carelessly hung; He is quick on the flare-up and fiery; He swears with an eloquent...

  • Doom 1939

      by Garry Lyle   Let them glide bravely while the night-time lingers Boys and girls dancing down the blue-lit room.  Let them not see the pale,...

  • From Australia Undefended 1909

    by Mabel Forrest       From AUSTRALIA UNDEFENDED                                        I.   The blue sea skirts her slim, sun-ambered feet, Upon her mighty brow red gold is bound,  Upon her breast...

  • Gallipoli - April 25th 1915 1925

    by Colin Bingham    A Fragment Upon the crimson-mottled landing beach, The dying groan among the stiff'ning dead, And here and there a one as if to...

  • How's that Umpire? 1901

    by George Essex Evans    Well done, Queensland! How's that, Umpire? More we may not say, "Kruger and the Mauser rifle" , Are not well to-day, For the...

  • Men of Brisbane 1915

    by Thomas G Rabbets     There was only one volunteer after yesterday's great recruiting meeting, held in Market-square, as the climax of the March of the...

  • Reverie 1919

     Have you heard the bell-birds calling, thro' the grey Australian bush, On some blue September morning, from the trees? Have you heard a creek go...

  • Rub! Dub! R-R-Rub-Dub-Dub 1915

    by Thomas G Rabbetts    The great recruiting march, Warwick to Brisbane, has begun. Rub! Dub! R-r-rub-dub-dub! Rub! Dub! R-r-rub-dub-dub! March! March!...

  • Sky Death (For Australia) 1944

    by Pat Galligan    I shall wait impatient for the day When I shall leave this land of mine To fight her battles on a distant shore; To fight those men I...

  • Soldier's Valediction 1944

    by Frank Francis    I shall not cheer at your triumph for I shall be dead, Exiled from home and part of an alien soil; Lost to your sunset's gold and...

  • Spring, 1916 1917

    by Alice Gore-Jones    The purple jacaranda bells are fluttering in the air; The mango trees are budding, there is sunshine everywhere. By silver...

  • The Fallen Soldier 2011

    by Paula Fitzgerald    To Cyril* All through the years have we not seen your eyes Searching ours as if in mute appeal- And a voice – my soul's – within...

  • The Heroes of Tobruk 1943

    by James Sweeney    Who comprise those gallant heroes, and where did they come from Renowned in song and story, Aussies some thousands strong? They are...

  • The Lists 1917

    by Alice Gore-Jones    These are the lists of death: They were so young! Brave valiant hearts Who loved the earth and sun, The stir of life, And joy's...

  • The Mother 1919

    by Peter Austen                Somewhere in France he lies- Above his head the scarlet poppies blow, And silver moons have bloomed and still will bloom; Somewhere...

  • The River 1944

    by Garry Lyle      How was that boy who laughed a-down the river on glad, unshadowed holidays of peacetime to see across the years himself returning from a...

  • The True Memorial 1923

      by E. Maurice Little      What mean these monuments of bronze and stone That in our midst like sentinels are set? What mean these words I read with...

  • The Veteran's Song 1923

    by E. Maurice Little                  Left-right-left! left-right-left! list to the marching feet! Thum-thum-thum! thum-thum-thum! hark to the drum’s quick beat! It...

  • There Was a Day! 1919

    by Peter Austen    There was a day, when insolently gay, I laughed unto the strumming of guitars. There was a night, I wove in some brave way A...

  • Those at Home 1941

    by Shawn O'Leary    God grant one letter from home today. The days are long and the blood-hate Leaves me weary when the fighting's done. My soul is...

  • To America in 1915 1915

    We watch your attitudes with candid eyes: Plain men are we, not given much to prate, Bluntly sincere, keenly compassionate But lions in our wrath at...

  • To my brother in the navy 1942

        Remember now, as the storm wind from the bay awakens the weeping chorus of the pines,  how proudly I led you[1] off to your first long day at the...

  • Troop Trains 1917

    by Alice Gore-Jones    Troop trains troop trains Passing on their way. A sudden gust of cheering cuts The crisp cold winter's day. Above, a sky swept...

  • Waiting 2020

      Some few nights in the store-keeper’s hut – tin roof and walls -scarce thirty yards from where the twelve head battery’s crushing feet pounded and crushed...

  • Windsor Castle Barracks 1885

    1ST MARCH, 1885. Dedicated to Lord H—n (Minister for War). THE Third Battalion Grenadiers File through their barrack gate,  Mid natural flush of...