O Warden! My Warden!

Fire Warden
O Warden! My Warden!


O Warden! My Warden! the raging fire is beat,
The brigade has persevered, despite the raging heat,
The end is nigh, the smoke subsides, the community’s still grieving,
We keep our eyes upon the scene, to prevent the fire rekindling.
But O the heat! heat! heat!
O the smouldering embers,
Where the corpses of the wildlife lay,
It’s what we will remember.

O Warden! My Warden! the sirens never cease;
Move on – to another fire – it’s what you do the best,
For you get gratitude and thanks – for that is how you cope.
For you are the people’s hero, they turn to you with hope;
Dear Warden! our Saviour!
The fire was devastating,
It left the land charred and dead,
Unrelenting, unforgiving.

My Warden remains silent, he seeks no accolade,
My leader just does what he must, with no desire for pay,
One fire is out and finished, the next under control,
Of sacrifice and bravery, are tales soon to be told;
Hail the brigade, and shout for joy!
Who showed no sign of fear.
While for those who perished in the fire,
We shed a sullen tear.

by John Hansen © 2019

The Above Poem is Based on the Following Poem Written by Walt Whitman

I wrote “O Warden! My Warden! during the recent (2019/2020) bushfires that raged out of control across Australia as a tribute to the brave firefighters, and a friend also challenged me to write a poem in the style of Walt Whitman. So I decided to kill two birds with one stone, and this was what I came up with.

O Captain! My Captain!

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

— Walt Whitman

Latest posts by John Hansen (see all)

John Hansen

Longtime poet but not in the traditional technical sense. I enjoy rhyme but like to experiment and dabble in many different forms and maybe even make up some of my own. There is always a message or lesson I want to promote through my writing, for that reason, my poetry generally shies away from the abstract and obscure. After a lot of procrastinating I have finally self-published my first eBooks of poetry "I Laughed a Smile" and "On the Wings of Eagles" at Lulu.com. Now I find myself branching out and experimenting with short fiction. I have also been fortunate to have two poems chosen to be made into songs and recorded. The first "On the Road to Kingdom Come" by Al Wordlaw, and the second, "If I Could Write a Love Poem" by award-winning Israeli/British singer Tally Koren. I am also finding my services increasingly in demand as a freelance writer and I have ghost-written the text for a number of children's books and educational tutorials. It has taken me many years of searching and restlessness to realise that my life's passion is to write. It saddens me that I wasted so many years not devoting to that, but thinking positively, the experiences gained over those years is now wonderful material for my stories and poems. I want to try to bring a new focus on poetry and try to make it appealing to a new generation of young people and those who thought they never liked or understood it before.

10 thoughts on “O Warden! My Warden!

  • January 18, 2020 at 11:05 PM

    Excellent work, John. The devastation from the bush fires is keenly felt through your great phrasing. Well done.

  • January 19, 2020 at 5:30 AM

    Hello Phyllis. It has been a trying time for many people in Australia. Now the rains are here thankfully to ease things and the cleanup and recovery can begin. But, the side effects of the rain may be floods. thank you for rereading as always.

  • January 19, 2020 at 8:36 AM

    Amazing work here John. You have hit the rhythm and the rhyme of Whitman and included the intensity of the situation at hand. Brilliant work. I am glad to hear of the rains and hope that the rebuilding effort goes quickly. My prayers, Jamie.

    • January 22, 2020 at 11:33 PM

      Hi Jamie, thanks for the kind words. though most fires are out another is now out of control in Canberra our nation’s capital. A water bomber plane just crashed killing three crew. Glad you liked the poem.

  • January 22, 2020 at 2:11 PM

    Awesome piece John and brilliant on top of that. Sorry your country has been in such a state with the fires. Just know we here in the US feel your pain.

    • January 22, 2020 at 11:34 PM

      Thank you Kurt. Your concerns are greatly appreciated. Thank you for reading and liking my poem.

  • January 22, 2020 at 3:44 PM

    Awesome poetry and a great remembrance of the devastation across Australia My blessings to all

  • January 22, 2020 at 11:35 PM

    Thank you Rasma. Your blessings are greatly appreciated. Glad you enjoyed this poem.

  • January 23, 2020 at 5:33 PM

    John rhyme and rhythm on point as always. So sorry for what’s happened in your country, you can tell that yours is a tale of perseverance and sorrow. It ruminates from the words you pen. Excellent work as always my friend.

  • January 23, 2020 at 10:20 PM

    Thank you Paul. Unfortunately a new fire broke out in Canberra and soon became out of control. A water tanker aircraft crewed by a US fire crew (three men) sadly crashed and the brave men were killed. Another sad event in regard to these fires.


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