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Dan The Wreck

 Tall, and stout, and solid-looking, 
Yet a wreck; 
None would think Death's finger's hooking 
Him from deck.
Cause of half the fun that's started -- `Hard-case' Dan -- Isn't like a broken-hearted, Ruined man.
Walking-coat from tail to throat is Frayed and greened -- Like a man whose other coat is Being cleaned; Gone for ever round the edging Past repair -- Waistcoat pockets frayed with dredging After `sprats' no longer there.
Wearing summer boots in June, or Slippers worn and old -- Like a man whose other shoon are Getting soled.
Pants? They're far from being recent -- But, perhaps, I'd better not -- Says they are the only decent Pair he's got.
And his hat, I am afraid, is Troubling him -- Past all lifting to the ladies By the brim.
But, although he'd hardly strike a Girl, would Dan, Yet he wears his wreckage like a Gentleman! Once -- no matter how the rest dressed -- Up or down -- Once, they say, he was the best-dressed Man in town.
Must have been before I knew him -- Now you'd scarcely care to meet And be noticed talking to him In the street.
Drink the cause, and dissipation, That is clear -- Maybe friend or kind relation Cause of beer.
And the talking fool, who never Reads or thinks, Says, from hearsay: `Yes, he's clever; But, you know, he drinks.
' Been an actor and a writer -- Doesn't whine -- Reckoned now the best reciter In his line.
Takes the stage at times, and fills it -- `Princess May' or `Waterloo'.
Raise a sneer! -- his first line kills it, `Brings 'em', too.
Where he lives, or how, or wherefore No one knows; Lost his real friends, and therefore Lost his foes.
Had, no doubt, his own romances -- Met his fate; Tortured, doubtless, by the chances And the luck that comes too late.
Now and then his boots are polished, Collar clean, And the worst grease stains abolished By ammonia or benzine: Hints of some attempt to shove him From the taps, Or of someone left to love him -- Sister, p'r'aps.
After all, he is a grafter, Earns his cheer -- Keeps the room in roars of laughter When he gets outside a beer.
Yarns that would fall flat from others He can tell; How he spent his `stuff', my brothers, You know well.
Manner puts a man in mind of Old club balls and evening dress, Ugly with a handsome kind of Ugliness.
One of those we say of often, While hearts swell, Standing sadly by the coffin: `He looks well.
' .
We may be -- so goes a rumour -- Bad as Dan; But we may not have the humour Of the man; Nor the sight -- well, deem it blindness, As the general public do -- And the love of human kindness, Or the GRIT to see it through!

by Henry Lawson
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