Louis Esson

Louis Esson is remembered today for his place in the history of Australian literature. His support for socialism is rarely if ever referred to in the notes to anthologies of poetry and drama where his work can still be found. Thanks to the digital newspaper archive of the National Library of Australia it is now possible to access the poems he contributed to The International Socialist and we present them here. We have found responses in that paper to articles by Esson in the Melbourne Socialist but have not yet found them.  We have also extracted two of the many obituaries and present them here. 

The Cause Shall Yet Be Won

 

For The International Socialist 

 

BY LOUIS ESSON.

Our comrades strove, and we must strive

    (The Cause is never done)

With lusty strokes our hammer must drive

The iron home, when the fire's alive

    (The Cause shall yet be won.)

 

We hold no creed, we scorn all caste

    (The Cause is only one),

Across Time's Bridge from the gloomy Past

To the golden Future we're, marching fast

    (The Cause is just begun).

 

New comrades come from every port

    (The Cause is just begun),

Our banners wave, our trumpets snort,

For we shall hold the Future's fort

    (The Cause shall yet be won).

 

The Workers' host has power and worth

    (The Cause shall yield to none)

To win the world, to bring to birth

New hope of man, fresh joy of earth

    (There is no cause but one).

 

The work of all shall be wealth of all

    (The Cause is just begun).

And none shall rise from a brother's fall,

And none be master, and none be thrall

    (The cause shall yet be won).

 

Labor shall come into its own

    (The Cause is never done).

Labor shall reap what it has sown,

When the Philistine Temple is overthrown

    (The Cause shall yet be won).

 

Nay, none shall rule, but all be free

    (The Cause shall yield to none).

None batten, while others starve perdu

In the coming Age of Liberty

    (There is no Cause but one).

 

The Future calls us, comrades all,

    (The Cause is just begun)

The maimed, the famed, the saint, the thrall,

To drive the Tyrant against the wall

    (There is no Cause but one).

 

There is no Cause to bless or ban

    (There is no Cause but one),

There is no Cause since the world began

But the Cause of the Brotherhood of Man

(One cause, beneath the sun).

 

The Road before us shining lies

    (The Cause this road must run)

Where man shall behold the new sun rise

O'er the gates of an Earthly Paradise

    (The Cause shall yet be won).

 

OUR STREET.

[For The International Socialist ]

BY LOUIS ESSON.

 

The bacchic harp of nature thrums

A hymn of primal gladness.

The magpies warble in the gums,

Our ragged children in the slums

Know only human sadness.

 

For bush we have a narrow lane,

For creek, a greasy gutter.

No trees exult in sun or rain,

Funereal chants of helpless pain

World-wearied creatures mutter.

 

Cracked cobble .stones, and row on row

Of hovels line the. alley

Where haggard figures come and go,

And no birds sing, no sweet winds blow

As in the sunlit valley.

 

In our vile street, where'er you look,

Each worn face tells its story

From sweater's den, or vagrant's nook

Of want and woe — an obscene book

To mock man's grace and glory.

 

The eerie yellow lamps reveal

Hard faces bleared and drunken.

Who cares? None heeds the demon reel,

The bully's blow, the doxy's squeal,

In this Inferno sunken.

 

A wretched mother wails for bread

To feed her starving baby.

An outcast tramps with weary tread,

And knows not where to lay his head,

Though Christ himself he may be.

 

Dull hours slink by on leaden feet,

There is no end of sorrow;

No vista opens from our street

Today is weary, and we meet

A wearier to-morrow.

 

The bacchic harp of nature thrums

Of corn and wine and gladness,

Of sun and space, and birds and gum.

But broken creatures of the slums

Hear naught but notes of sadness.

 

The International Socialist (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1920)

Sat 9 Jul 1910