This poem was originally written at the time of the Boer War as a scathing condemnation of capitalism, imperialism and war. It resurfaced during World War I, at the time of the 1915 and 1917 federal elections, when McDougall's political opponents tried to use the poem in order to discredit him. In 1919, a group of recently returned ex-servicemen were so outraged by the poem that they tarred and feathered McDougall, whom they regarded as fair game given his support for the anti-conscription cause.
Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of
Note: This version has several additional stanzas which did not appear in the 1900 Wagga Worker version - including the stanza beginning 'Ye are the fools and flunkeys', which during World War I, McDougall's political opponents claimed slandered Diggers.
yAustralian Verse : An Oxford AnthologyJohn Leonard
Melbourne:Oxford University Press,1998Z4612071998anthology poetry (taught in 1 units)A thorough survey of poetry by Australians in English, beginning with a selection of contemporary work by younger poets, and going backward in time to the early colonial period. In addition to poems in the literary tradition, it indudes performance poetry, convict songs and old bush ballads. An extensive selection has been provided from the work of five major twentieth-century poets: Les Murray, Gwen Harwood, Judith Wright, A.D. Hope and Kenneth Slessor. Several features are provided to assist the reader: the date of first publication of each poem is provided; footnotes explain unfamiliar words and allusions; and brief biographical notes assist in locating each poet in his or her place in time.Melbourne:Oxford University Press,1998