Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wealth for Toil : a Lament

I have already created a post for the Australia Day 2012 Challenge, set by Shelley of Twigs of Yore; but sometime through the night I remembered a poem written in 1888 by Henry Wilson, a pioneer of Long Bay, better known as Malabar, a seaside suburb of Sydney, and though he seems a bitter man and the rhyme forced, I thought it was a fitting addition on this day, given its title, "The Toiler's Lament" It is unlikely Henry gained any wealth from his toil.

Henry is related to me indirectly in two ways; he was the grandfather of my Great Aunt Vera Morgan's husband another Henry Wilson, and also the Great Grandfather of my mother's cousin, Sheryl, through two different paths. A copy was sent to me by Sheryl's son Nathan.

The poem, as transcribed by Nathan goes like this:

The Toiler’s Lament
By Henry Wilson
Written 1888

"Why should the wealth of this Earth
In scattered heaps be placed, for the Human Race
To those whom revel in wealth and ease
Are given the fruits of the earth and seas
While from early morn till set of sun
The labourer’s task is never done
One ceaseless round of care and toil
He battles bravely with the soil
Small joys he has, One of Heaven
Life’s dark hours with something leaven

As he looks on those he has given life
It nerves his arm for future strife
But when his Earthly task is O’er
When hand and brain will wrought no more
No power he had in the past to save
His resting place, a pauper’s grave
And those who fattened on his toil
Base usurpers of the soil
What care they have for Human Life
For orphan born or stricken wife
Their only aim is power and place
Vampires of the Human Race"

I haven't researched Henry Wilson's life, but an entry by another of my mother's cousins, Darcy, published in the book "Maroubra & District Pioneer's Register" by the Cape Banks Family History Society has this to say about Henry.

"Great Great Grandfather was granted a parcel of land in the 1850's by the Queen [Victoria] which was on the South side of the Rifle Range. The Wilson name is on the plaque twice on the oval opposite Malabar Public School gates in Franklin Street"

Plaque in Pioneers Park, Malabar


  1. Pleased you found this as it told me about the early history of Malabar where I lived as a child. Thanks for the post.

  2. Thanks Jill,

    I have just had about 400 (out of 2000) slides taken by my great uncle Reg Jennings digitised. They were taken mainly in the 1960's. I have created an album on Picasa of the 90 I found, just of Malabar Bay - a few of Little Bay and La Perouse. You can see it here (I hope - I did make it a public album)

    It certainly was a wonderful place to grow up!

  3. Wow! Vampires of the Human race. He saved the best til last! Stern stuff indeed.