«Brown Studies» — Poems by G. P. Brown, Punta Arenas, Chile, 1940


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The Book

Publisher's Acknowledgment Author's Foreword


Could I forget? The Cross What Profit a Man? May 1940 June 1940 Hyde Park Orators Are You Doing Your Bit? Home The Haven of Love Afterglow The Six Dolls Forget-me-not My Little Ship Mother's Day The Easy Way Mother Flea The Stockings' Lament The Gamble Who Was It? A Mother's Right Teach me to be Humble


Duncan Campbell


H Y D E   P A R K   O R A T O R S

I went for a stroll on a mid-summer night
       and I passed down the "Marble Arch" way,
There, in Hyde Park, was usual crowd -
       some gloomy, and some very gay;
Near the entrance I noticed small groups here
       and there, who listened - intent on each word,
To the men on the platforms - behind each his
       flag - as they shouted to make themselves heard.

On the left were the Fascists - their main theme
of course, was reviling the Jews and the Reds;
The speaker nearby spoke of marriage and sex,
and the blindness of all newly-weds;
A grey-haired old man held the group next to
       him, he prayed that their souls might be saved,
While an Atheist stated that, "God was a farce"
       and to prove it, he argued and raved.

A Communist party then caught my eye - the
       speaker of foreign extraction,
Criticised with a sneer all the Government did -
and called on the men for reaction;
A small Labour group was the next that I saw
       - here again I heard wailing and woe,
The man on the Stand wanted wages reformed,
       and the owners must pay up - or go.

My thoughts by this time were bewildered and
       grave - the outlook on life seemed so sad,
Could the words of each speaker be right - and
       the truth? If so - then the whole world was bad!
As I moved on again, I passed near a crowd,
       whose faces looked frightened and tense,
The speaker was different - his words seemed
       to hurt, but they certainly sounded like sense.

Just a poor working lad, without polish or style,
       but so eager - his eyes looked half crazed,
His language was blunt - he hit right and left,
       and the people, they listened amazed;
Rough hands and worn clothes, but so healthy
       and strong - at a first glance he looked but a lout,
Yet he held all that crowd in a vice hard as steel,
       and his voice never rose to a shout.

"You poor clots of clay!" I first heard him say,
       "Have you ever done anything good?"
"You prattle and prate, they try to relate, that
       you've never been quite understood;"
"You grumble and rave - believe you're a slave,
       that others have got all the luck;
You twist and you squirm - like some horrible
       worm, while the life-blood of others you suck!"

Is life just to you a mere grasping for wealth,
       and the power you think it will bring?
Do you envy all those who wear better clothes,
       and harsh words hurl at them with a sting?
If you do, then you're fools! And you know not
       the gifts, or blessings that lie at your door,
For riches can never give half as much joy as
       Nature can give to the poor.

Now I ask you - and want you to answer me
       this, but first search your conscience each one,
Can you look back and say that the world of
       to-day, is better for what you have done?
Your eyes look away, and your thoughts want
       to stray, your mean soul is now on the rack,
You know - you poor clod! That greed is your
       God - you take all and put nothing back.

Only few men are worth their salt on this earth,
       having done something good for the rest,
Bringing benefits thus, to the rich and to us;
       their names be all hallowed and blessed;
With science and skill, wondrous patience and
       will, they have passed on to you their great work,
Often risking their health, with no thoughts of
       wealth, never dreaming their duty to shirk.

You may not be Stevenson, Nelson, or Scott or
       ever rise up to great fame;
A Lincoln, Disraeli, a Shakespeare, or Burns, for
       posterity blaze out your name,
But you can do a bit to brighten the world, if
       it's only by wearing a smile,
Drying up someone's tears with a kind word or
       two, and making them feel life's worthwhile.

Cast your eyes over there, to that invalid's chair,
       a crippled one sits there each day,
His two friends are blind, but they've hearts
       That are king, as with sticks they go feeling their way;
They don't sit and moan - although they're alone
       - shut off from the joys that you share,
Their pleasures are few - but they're better than
       you - they always a kind work to spare.

God gave us so much in this dear land of ours
- its rivers - its pastures - its trees,
But man has so spoiled it while grasping for
wealth - 'twere better we went on our knees,
And asked His forgiveness for what we have
done - instead of bewailing our lot,
Ever grumbling and growling, and hatching up
hate - not contented with what we have got.

Flowers bloom every Spring, many sweet-voiced
       birds sing, but in them p'rhaps no pleasure you find;
You've no time for such things, while the pend-
       ulum swings, and you mess through the daily grind;
The trees burst in leaf, but you've nothing but
       grief - thinking always in cash as you go
For all that you care - those treasures so fair
       might be buried ten feet under snow.

Can you truthfully say you have given a day to
       help those that follow behind?
Improving the lot of some down and out sot -
       making sure that some pleasure he'll find?
Or have you just dodged when they've asked
       you for help - pretending you haven't the time?
Then wasted perhaps the whole afternoon, in
       some pub - swilling beer like a swine.

Poor people I see - standing near, watching me
       - so tired - so weary and worn,
They're down on their luck - too ill to have
       pluck, - their outlook on life so forlorn;
But you who have health and age on your side,
'tis to you I am trying to speak,
Real poor seldom squirm, or act like a worm -
'tis you who bellow and squeak.

When you grumble each day, and strike for more
pay, is it food you are wanting, kind friend?
Or a few extra nights to visit the sights, and
some nickels on pleasures to spend?
You're entitled to do what you please with your
       own, to squander - or throw it away,
But you haven't the right - to force with your
       might, and demand that some others should pay.

On a Stand over there I see a red flag, the
       speaker, he asks for revolt,
Do you know what he wants, or what he will
       do? The misguided son of a dolt;
We've got all the freedom in this land of ours
- yet some of you can't see - you're blind,
He'll rob you of all the best of the fruit, and
       leave you the husk and the rind!

Take a glance at the nations of this world I
       pray, and study the laws of each one,
Compare with your own- you're bound to ad-
mit - our place stands alone in the sun;
Can the people elsewhere, take their stand on
a chair, and say what they're thinking or feel?
You know they could not - yet he wants you, the
       sot, to throw this aside - and use steel.

He speaks of your right, he wants you to fight,
       and bag what you can of the cash,
Besmear and bespoil all previous toil - traditions
       must fall with a crash,
And while you're in thick - smashing up with a
       stick this oily-tongued miserly bum,
Will pack up his bag - leaving you with the rag,
       and out through the backdoor he'll run.

Good people take heed, and clear out this breed
       of grumblers who pull down and spoil,
You've got here at hand, a beautiful land, need-
       ing only a measure of toil;
Try living awhile in the old fashioned style, get
       out in the free open air,
Don't miss all the fun - life for you isn't done -
       Mother Nature has plenty to spare.

I've now had my say, and must go on my way,
       I thank you for hearing me through.
Perhaps I've been rough, and spoken hard stuff
       - believe me, I've done it for you.
Hoping some little seed of a future good deed,
       snuggles down in some heart, and is blessed,
Helping you day by day, to pass on your way,
       ever giving and loving the rest.

The young lad got down and walked through
       the crowd. As he passed without swagger or fear,
I heard someone say: "Thank God for this day,
       and those few words so hopeful and clear."
My lot may be bad, and my face pinched and
       sad, but I've freedom in this land so blessed;
That alone is worth while, I can look up and
smile, and at least, I can give of my best.

On my way home that night I thought of those
words, and the young lad so fearless and true,
Who knew how to live, and knew how to give,
ever seeking some kind act to do;
I'd learnt much that night - now a different
light - for me seemed to brighten my path,
I too would be brave, no longer a slave, and
       lock up my troubles, and laugh

The moral is plain - try - try - try again! Ever
       doing some good if you can,
Don't try to pull down, with a scowl and a
       frown, the work of some good honest man;
Ere you journey above, learn the way how to
       love, and when you are met at "The Gate",
Look back with a grin, as you start walking in,
       you've wiped all your debt off the slate.