Smith, Tony: The Peace Angel (anti-war song)

Smith, Tony

‘The Peace Angel’, Honest History, 29 May 2015

The song (lyrics below by Tony Smith) is sung here by Gene Smith. Maggie Thorp (Margaret Sturge Watts) was a Quaker and a life-long agitator and worker for progressive causes. There is a short biography of her in the Australian Dictionary of Biography and a biography by Hilary Summy, reviewed here and here.

They called her the “Peace Angel”
Maggie Thorp was her name
A Quaker lass of British stock
Who gained Australian fame
She stood against the winds of war
And suffered for her faith
That people would do better
Shunning bile and hate

Maggie Thorp
(Buzzfeed/Hilary Summy)

Hughes was prime minister
While soldiers died in war
He was so determined
He wanted more and more
When volunteer enlistments
Failed to meet his aim
He turned to conscription
To recruit another way

The nation was divided
Voting “Yes!” or “No!”
Most Catholics of Irish stock
The Bill they did oppose
So appalled when British troops
Lowered the flag of Green
And killed the rebel leaders
Of Easter sixteen

On a bitter July night
At Brisbane’s School of Arts
At a pro-conscription rally
Some two hundred did take part
Another thirty came along
With Thorp at their head
To oppose the militarists
And speak up for the dead

There was a resolution
Thorp moved to amend
But she was howled down
No message could she send
To cries of “Chuck her out!”
She was punched and kicked
Though she condemned the system
Not men who had been tricked

She urged patriots to fight
Poverty, crime and greed
The economic roots of war
And peace within to seek
The use of halls and parks
The “Angel” was denied
The jingoists mocked liberty
Theirs no motives high

© Tony Smith 2015

Tony Smith is a singer-songwriter, former academic and regular contributor to periodicals, including Pearls and Irritations and Eureka Street.

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