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Best Famous Henry Lawson Poems

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by Henry Lawson | |

The Vagabond

 Give to me the life I love,
Let the lave go by me,
Give the jolly heaven above
And the byway nigh me.
Bed in the bush with stars to see, Bread I dip in the river - There's the life for a man like me, There's the life for ever.
Let the blow fall soon or late, Let what will be o'er me; Give the face of earth around And the road before me.
Wealth I seek not, hope nor love, Nor a friend to know me; All I seek, the heaven above And the road below me.
Or let autumn fall on me Where afield I linger, Silencing the bird on tree, Biting the blue finger.
White as meal the frosty field - Warm the fireside haven - Not to autumn will I yield, Not to winter even! Let the blow fall soon or late, Let what will be o'er me; Give the face of earth around, And the road before me.
Wealth I ask not, hope nor love, Nor a friend to know me; All I ask, the heaven above And the road below me.


by Henry Lawson | |

As far as your Rifles Cover

 Do you think, you slaves of a thousand years to poverty, wealth and pride, 
You can crush the spirit that has been free in a land that's new and wide? 
When you've scattered the last of the farmer bands, and the war for a while is over, 
You will hold the land – ay, you'll hold the land – the land that your rifles cover.
Till your gold has levelled each mountain range where a wounded man can hide, Till your gold has lighted the moonless night on the plains where the rebels ride; Till the future is proved, and the past is bribed from the son of the land's dead lover – You may hold the land – you may hold the land just as far as your rifles cover.


by Henry Lawson | |

When The `Army Prays For Watty

 When the kindly hours of darkness, save for light of moon and star, 
Hide the picture on the signboard over Doughty's Horse Bazaar; 
When the last rose-tint is fading on the distant mulga scrub, 
Then the Army prays for Watty at the entrance of his pub.
Now, I often sit at Watty's when the night is very near, With a head that's full of jingles and the fumes of bottled beer, For I always have a fancy that, if I am over there When the Army prays for Watty, I'm included in the prayer.
Watty lounges in his arm-chair, in its old accustomed place, With a fatherly expression on his round and passive face; And his arms are clasped before him in a calm, contented way, And he nods his head and dozes when he hears the Army pray.
And I wonder does he ponder on the distant years and dim, Or his chances over yonder, when the Army prays for him? Has he not a fear connected with the warm place down below, Where, according to good Christians, all the publicans should go? But his features give no token of a feeling in his breast, Save of peace that is unbroken and a conscience well at rest; And we guzzle as we guzzled long before the Army came, And the loafers wait for `shouters' and -- they get there just the same.
It would take a lot of praying -- lots of thumping on the drum -- To prepare our sinful, straying, erring souls for Kingdom Come; But I love my fellow-sinners, and I hope, upon the whole, That the Army gets a hearing when it prays for Watty's soul.


More great poems below...

by Henry Lawson | |

Above Eurunderee

 There are scenes in the distance where beauty is not,
On the desolate flats where gaunt appletrees rot.
Where the brooding old ridge rises up to the breeze From his dark lonely gullies of stringy-bark trees, There are voice-haunted gaps, ever sullen and strange, But Eurunderee lies like a gem in the range.
Still I see in my fancy the dark-green and blue Of the box-covered hills where the five-corners grew; And the rugged old sheoaks that sighed in the bend O'er the lily-decked pools where the dark ridges end, And the scrub-covered spurs running down from the Peak To the deep grassy banks of Eurunderee Creek.
On the knolls where the vineyards and fruit-gardens are There's a beauty that even the drought cannot mar; For I noticed it oft, in the days that are lost, As I trod on the siding where lingered the frost, When the shadows of night from the gullies were gone And the hills in the background were flushed by the dawn.
I was there in late years, but there's many a change Where the Cudgegong River flows down through the range, For the curse of the town with the railroad had come, And the goldfields were dead.
And the girl and the chum And the old home were gone, yet the oaks seemed to speak Of the hazy old days on Eurunderee Creek.
And I stood by that creek, ere the sunset grew cold, When the leaves of the sheoaks are traced on the gold, And I thought of old things, and I thought of old folks, Till I sighed in my heart to the sigh of the oaks; For the years waste away like the waters that leak Through the pebbles and sand of Eurunderee Creek.


by Henry Lawson | |

Mount Bukaroo

 Only one old post is standing -- 
Solid yet, but only one -- 
Where the milking, and the branding, 
And the slaughtering were done.
Later years have brought dejection, Care, and sorrow; but we knew Happy days on that selection Underneath old Bukaroo.
Then the light of day commencing Found us at the gully's head, Splitting timber for the fencing, Stripping bark to roof the shed.
Hands and hearts the labour strengthened; Weariness we never knew, Even when the shadows lengthened Round the base of Bukaroo.
There for days below the paddock How the wilderness would yield To the spade, and pick, and mattock, While we toiled to win the field.
Bronzed hands we used to sully Till they were of darkest hue, `Burning off' down in the gully At the back of Bukaroo.
When we came the baby brother Left in haste his broken toys, Shouted to the busy mother: `Here is dadda and the boys!' Strange it seems that she was able For the work that she would do; How she'd bustle round the table In the hut 'neath Bukaroo! When the cows were safely yarded, And the calves were in the pen, All the cares of day discarded, Closed we round the hut-fire then.
Rang the roof with boyish laughter While the flames o'er-topped the flue; Happy days remembered after -- Far away from Bukaroo.
But the years were full of changes, And a sorrow found us there; For our home amid the ranges Was not safe from searching Care.
On he came, a silent creeper; And another mountain threw O'er our lives a shadow deeper Than the shade of Bukaroo.
All the farm is disappearing; For the home has vanished now, Mountain scrub has choked the clearing, Hid the furrows of the plough.
Nearer still the scrub is creeping Where the little garden grew; And the old folks now are sleeping At the foot of Bukaroo.


by Henry Lawson | |

Eurunderee

 There are scenes in the distance where beauty is not, 
On the desolate flats where gaunt appletrees rot.
Where the brooding old ridge rises up to the breeze From his dark lonely gullies of stringy-bark trees, There are voice-haunted gaps, ever sullen and strange, But Eurunderee lies like a gem in the range.
Still I see in my fancy the dark-green and blue Of the box-covered hills where the five-corners grew; And the rugged old sheoaks that sighed in the bend O'er the lily-decked pools where the dark ridges end, And the scrub-covered spurs running down from the Peak To the deep grassy banks of Eurunderee Creek.
On the knolls where the vineyards and fruit-gardens are There's a beauty that even the drought cannot mar; For I noticed it oft, in the days that are lost, As I trod on the siding where lingered the frost, When the shadows of night from the gullies were gone And the hills in the background were flushed by the dawn.
I was there in late years, but there's many a change Where the Cudgegong River flows down through the range, For the curse of the town with the railroad had come, And the goldfields were dead.
And the girl and the chum And the old home were gone, yet the oaks seemed to speak Of the hazy old days on Eurunderee Creek.
And I stood by that creek, ere the sunset grew cold, When the leaves of the sheoaks are traced on the gold, And I thought of old things, and I thought of old folks, Till I sighed in my heart to the sigh of the oaks; For the years waste away like the waters that leak Through the pebbles and sand of Eurunderee Creek.


by Henry Lawson | |

When the Children Come Home

 On a lonely selection far out in the West 
An old woman works all the day without rest, 
And she croons, as she toils 'neath the sky's glassy dome, 
`Sure I'll keep the ould place till the childer come home.
' She mends all the fences, she grubs, and she ploughs, She drives the old horse and she milks all the cows, And she sings to herself as she thatches the stack, `Sure I'll keep the ould place till the childer come back.
' It is five weary years since her old husband died; And oft as he lay on his deathbed he sighed `Sure one man can bring up ten children, he can, An' it's strange that ten sons cannot keep one old man.
' Whenever the scowling old sundowners come, And cunningly ask if the master's at home, `Be off,' she replies, `with your blarney and cant, Or I'll call my son Andy; he's workin' beyant.
' `Git out,' she replies, though she trembles with fear, For she lives all alone and no neighbours are near; But she says to herself, when she's like to despond, That the boys are at work in the paddock beyond.
Ah, none of her children need follow the plough, And some have grown rich in the city ere now; Yet she says: `They might come when the shearing is done, And I'll keep the ould place if it's only for one.
'


by Henry Lawson | |

The Paroo

 It was a week from Christmas-time, 
As near as I remember, 
And half a year since, in the rear, 
We'd left the Darling timber.
The track was hot and more than drear; The day dragged out for ever; But now we knew that we were near Our camp - the Paroo River.
With blighted eyes and blistered feet, With stomachs out of order, Half-mad with flies and dust and heat We'd crossed the Queensland border.
I longed to hear a stream go by And see the circles quiver; I longed to lay me down and die That night on Paroo River.
The "nose-bags" heavy on each chest (God bless one kindly squatter!), With grateful weight our hearts they pressed - We only wanted water.
The sun was setting in a spray Of colour like a liver - We'd fondly hoped to camp and stay That night by Paroo River.
A cloud was on my mate's broad brow, And once I heard him mutter: 'What price the good old Darling now? - God bless that grand old gutter!" And then he stopped and slowly said In tones that made me shiver: "It cannot well be on ahead - I think we've crossed the river.
" But soon we saw a strip of ground Beside the track we followed, No damper than the surface round, But just a little hollowed.
His brow assumed a thoughtful frown - This speech did he deliver: "I wonder if we'd best go down Or up the blessed river?" "But where," said I, " 's the blooming stream?' And he replied, 'we're at it!" I stood awhile, as in a dream, "Great Scott!" I cried, "is that it? Why, that is some old bridle-track!" He chuckled, "Well, I never! It's plain you've never been Out Back - This is the Paroo River!"


by Henry Lawson | |

Scots of the Riverina

 The boy cleared out to the city from his home at harvest time -- 
They were Scots of the Riverina, and to run from home was a crime.
The old man burned his letters, the first and last he burned, And he scratched his name from the Bible when the old wife's back was turned.
A year went past and another.
There were calls from the firing-line; They heard the boy had enlisted, but the old man made no sign.
His name must never be mentioned on the farm by Gundagai -- They were Scots of the Riverina with ever the kirk hard by.
The boy came home on his "final", and the township's bonfire burned.
His mother's arms were about him; but the old man's back was turned.
The daughters begged for pardon till the old man raised his hand -- A Scot of the Riverina who was hard to understand.
The boy was killed in Flanders, where the best and bravest die.
There were tears at the Grahame homestead and grief in Gundagai; But the old man ploughed at daybreak and the old man ploughed till the mirk -- There were furrows of pain in the orchard while his housefolk went to the kirk.
The hurricane lamp in the rafters dimly and dimly burned; And the old man died at the table when the old wife's back was turned.
Face down on his bare arms folded he sank with his wild grey hair Outspread o'er the open Bible and a name re-written there.


by Henry Lawson | |

The Dons of Spain

 The Eagle screams at the beck of trade, so Spain, as the world goes round, 
Must wrestle the right to live or die from the sons of the land she found; 
For, as in the days when the buccaneer was abroad on the Spanish Main, 
The national honour is one thing dear to the hearts of the Dons of Spain.
She has slaughtered thousands with fire and sword, as the Christian world might know; We murder millions, but, thank the Lord! we only starve 'em slow.
The times have changed since the days of old, but the same old facts remain – We fight for Freedom, and God, and Gold, and the Spaniards fight for Spain.
We fought with the strength of the moral right, and they, as their ships went down, They only fought with the grit to fight and their armour to help 'em drown.
It mattered little what chance or hope, for ever their path was plain, The Church was the Church, and the Pope the Pope – but the Spaniards fought for Spain.
If Providence struck for the honest thief at times in the battle's din – If ever it struck at the hypocrite – well, that's where the Turks came in; But this remains ere we leave the wise to argue it through in vain – There's something great in the wrong that dies as the Spaniards die for Spain.
The foes of Spain may be kin to us who are English heart and soul, And proud of our national righteousness and proud of the lands we stole; But we yet might pause while those brave men die and the death-drink pledge again – For the sake of the past, if you're doomed, say I, may your death be a grand one, Spain! Then here's to the bravest of Freedom's foes who ever with death have stood – For the sake of the courage to die on steel as their fathers died on wood; And here's a cheer for the flag unfurled in a hopeless cause again, For the sake of the days when the Christian world was saved by the Dons of Spain.


by Henry Lawson | |

Said Grenfell to my Spirit

 Said Grenfell to my spirit, "You’ve been writing very free 
Of the charms of other places, and you don’t remember me.
You have claimed another native place and think it’s Nature’s law, Since you never paid a visit to a town you never saw: So you sing of Mudgee Mountains, willowed stream and grassy flat: But I put a charm upon you and you won’t get over that.
" O said Grenfell to my spirit, " Though you write of breezy peaks, Golden Gullies, wattle sidings, and the pools in she-oak creeks, Of the place your kin were born in and the childhood that you knew, And your father’s distant Norway (though it has some claim on you), Though you sing of dear old Mudgee and the home on Pipeclay Flat, You were born on Grenfell goldfield – and you can’t get over that .
"


by Henry Lawson | |

The Flour Bin

 By Lawson's Hill, near Mudgee, 
On old Eurunderee – 
The place they called "New Pipeclay", 
Where the diggers used to be – 
On a dreary old selection, 
Where times were dry and thin, 
In a slab and shingle kitchen 
There stood a flour bin.
'Twas "ploorer" with the cattle, 'Twas rust and smut in wheat, 'Twas blight in eyes and orchards, And coarse salt-beef to eat.
Oh, how our mothers struggled Till eyes and brain were dull – Oh, how our fathers slaved and toiled To keep those flour bins full! We've been in many countries, We've sailed on many seas; We've travelled in the steerage And lived on land at ease.
We've seen the world together Through laughter and through tears – And not been far from baker's bread These five and thirty years.
The flats are green as ever, The creeks go rippling through; The Mudgee Hills are showing Their deepest shades of blue; Those mountains in the distance That ever held a charm Are fairer than a picture As seen from Cox's farm.
On a German farm by Mudgee, That took long years to win, On the wide bricked back verandah There stands a flour bin; And the dear old German lady – Though the bakers' carts run out – Still keeps a "fifty" in it Against a time of drought.
It was my father made it, It stands as good as new, And of the others like it There still remain a few.
God grant, when drought shall strike us, The young will "take a pull", And the old folk their strength anew To keep those flour bins full.


by Henry Lawson | |

The Song of the Darling River

 The skies are brass and the plains are bare, 
Death and ruin are everywhere -- 
And all that is left of the last year's flood 
Is a sickly stream on the grey-black mud; 
The salt-springs bubble and the quagmires quiver, 
And -- this is the dirge of the Darling River: 

`I rise in the drought from the Queensland rain, 
`I fill my branches again and again; 
`I hold my billabongs back in vain, 
`For my life and my peoples the South Seas drain; 
`And the land grows old and the people never 
`Will see the worth of the Darling River.
`I drown dry gullies and lave bare hills, `I turn drought-ruts into rippling rills -- `I form fair island and glades all green `Till every bend is a sylvan scene.
`I have watered the barren land ten leagues wide! `But in vain I have tried, ah! in vain I have tried `To show the sign of the Great All Giver, `The Word to a people: O! lock your river.
`I want no blistering barge aground, `But racing steamers the seasons round; `I want fair homes on my lonely ways, `A people's love and a people's praise -- `And rosy children to dive and swim -- `And fair girls' feet in my rippling brim; `And cool, green forests and gardens ever' -- Oh, this is the hymn of the Darling River.
The sky is brass and the scrub-lands glare, Death and ruin are everywhere; Thrown high to bleach, or deep in the mud The bones lie buried by last year's flood, And the Demons dance from the Never Never To laugh at the rise of the Darling River.


by Henry Lawson | |

The Wreck Of The `Derry Castle

 Day of ending for beginnings! 
Ocean hath another innings, 
Ocean hath another score; 
And the surges sing his winnings, 
And the surges shout his winnings, 
And the surges shriek his winnings, 
All along the sullen shore.
Sing another dirge in wailing, For another vessel sailing With the shadow-ships at sea; Shadow-ships for ever sinking -- Shadow-ships whose pumps are clinking, And whose thirsty holds are drinking Pledges to Eternity.
Pray for souls of ghastly, sodden Corpses, floating round untrodden Cliffs, where nought but sea-drift strays; Souls of dead men, in whose faces Of humanity no trace is -- Not a mark to show their races -- Floating round for days and days.
.
.
.
.
.
Ocean's salty tongues are licking Round the faces of the drowned, And a cruel blade seems sticking Through my heart and turning round.
Heaven! shall HIS ghastly, sodden Corpse float round for days and days? Shall it dash 'neath cliffs untrodden, Rocks where nought but sea-drift strays? God in heaven! hide the floating, Falling, rising, face from me; God in heaven! stay the gloating, Mocking singing of the sea!


by Henry Lawson | |

The Song And The Sigh

 The creek went down with a broken song, 
'Neath the sheoaks high; 
The waters carried the song along, 
And the oaks a sigh.
The song and the sigh went winding by, Went winding down; Circling the foot of the mountain high, And the hillside brown.
They were hushed in the swamp of the Dead Man's Crime, Where the curlews cried; But they reached the river the self-same time, And there they died.
And the creek of life goes winding on, Wandering by; And bears for ever, its course upon, A song and a sigh.


by Henry Lawson | |

The Poets Of The Tomb

 The world has had enough of bards who wish that they were dead, 
'Tis time the people passed a law to knock 'em on the head, 
For 'twould be lovely if their friends could grant the rest they crave -- 
Those bards of `tears' and `vanished hopes', those poets of the grave.
They say that life's an awful thing, and full of care and gloom, They talk of peace and restfulness connected with the tomb.
They say that man is made of dirt, and die, of course, he must; But, all the same, a man is made of pretty solid dust.
There is a thing that they forget, so let it here be writ, That some are made of common mud, and some are made of GRIT; Some try to help the world along while others fret and fume And wish that they were slumbering in the silence of the tomb.
'Twixt mother's arms and coffin-gear a man has work to do! And if he does his very best he mostly worries through, And while there is a wrong to right, and while the world goes round, An honest man alive is worth a million underground.
And yet, as long as sheoaks sigh and wattle-blossoms bloom, The world shall hear the drivel of the poets of the tomb.
And though the graveyard poets long to vanish from the scene, I notice that they mostly wish their resting-place kept green.
Now, were I rotting underground, I do not think I'd care If wombats rooted on the mound or if the cows camped there; And should I have some feelings left when I have gone before, I think a ton of solid stone would hurt my feelings more.
Such wormy songs of mouldy joys can give me no delight; I'll take my chances with the world, I'd rather live and fight.
Though Fortune laughs along my track, or wears her blackest frown, I'll try to do the world some good before I tumble down.
Let's fight for things that ought to be, and try to make 'em boom; We cannot help mankind when we are ashes in the tomb.


by Henry Lawson | |

Reedy River

 Ten miles down Reedy River 
A pool of water lies, 
And all the year it mirrors 
The changes in the skies, 
And in that pool's broad bosom 
Is room for all the stars; 
Its bed of sand has drifted 
O'er countless rocky bars.
Around the lower edges There waves a bed of reeds, Where water rats are hidden And where the wild duck breeds; And grassy slopes rise gently To ridges long and low, Where groves of wattle flourish And native bluebells grow.
Beneath the granite ridges The eye may just discern Where Rocky Creek emerges From deep green banks of fern; And standing tall between them, The grassy she-oaks cool The hard, blue-tinted waters Before they reach the pool.
Ten miles down Reedy River One Sunday afternoon, I rode with Mary Campbell To that broad, bright lagoon; We left our horses grazing Till shadows climbed the peak, And strolled beneath the she-oaks On the banks of Rocky Creek.
Then home along the river That night we rode a race, And the moonlight lent a glory To Mary Campbell's face; And I pleaded for our future All through that moonlight ride, Until our weary horses Drew closer side by side.
Ten miles from Ryan's Crossing And five miles below the peak, I built a little homestead On the banks of Rocky Creek; I cleared the land and fenced it And ploughed the rich, red loam, And my first crop was golden When I brought my Mary home.
Now still down Reedy River The grassy she-oaks sigh, And the water-holes still mirror The pictures in the sky; And over all for ever Go sun and moon and stars, While the golden sand is drifting Across the rocky bars But of the hut I builded There are no traces now.
And many rains have levelled The furrows of the plough; And my bright days are olden, For the twisted branches wave And the wattle blossoms golden On the hill by Mary's grave.


by Henry Lawson | |

The Wattle

 I saw it in the days gone by, 
When the dead girl lay at rest, 
And the wattle and the native rose 
We placed upon her breast.
I saw it in the long ago (And I've seen strong men die), And who, to wear the wattle, Hath better right than I? I've fought it through the world since then, And seen the best and worst, But always in the lands of men I held Australia first.
I wrote for her, I fought for her, And when at last I lie, Then who, to wear the wattle, has A better right than I?


by Henry Lawson | |

Cherry- Tree Inn

 The rafters are open to sun, moon, and star, 
Thistles and nettles grow high in the bar -- 
The chimneys are crumbling, the log fires are dead, 
And green mosses spring from the hearthstone instead.
The voices are silent, the bustle and din, For the railroad hath ruined the Cherry-tree Inn.
Save the glimmer of stars, or the moon's pallid streams, And the sounds of the 'possums that camp on the beams, The bar-room is dark and the stable is still, For the coach comes no more over Cherry-tree Hill.
No riders push on through the darkness to win The rest and the comfort of Cherry-tree Inn.
I drift from my theme, for my memory strays To the carrying, digging, and bushranging days -- Far back to the seasons that I love the best, When a stream of wild diggers rushed into the west, But the `rushes' grew feeble, and sluggish, and thin, Till scarcely a swagman passed Cherry-tree Inn.
Do you think, my old mate (if it's thinking you be), Of the days when you tramped to the goldfields with me? Do you think of the day of our thirty-mile tramp, When never a fire could we light on the camp, And, weary and footsore and drenched to the skin, We tramped through the darkness to Cherry-tree Inn? Then I had a sweetheart and you had a wife, And Johnny was more to his mother than life; But we solemnly swore, ere that evening was done, That we'd never return till our fortunes were won.
Next morning to harvests of folly and sin We tramped o'er the ranges from Cherry-tree Inn.
.
.
.
.
.
The years have gone over with many a change, And there comes an old swagman from over the range, And faint 'neath the weight of his rain-sodden load, He suddenly thinks of the inn by the road.
He tramps through the darkness the shelter to win, And reaches the ruins of Cherry-tree Inn.


by Henry Lawson | |

Send Round the Hat

 Now this is the creed from the Book of the Bush – 
Should be simple and plain to a dunce: 
"If a man’s in a hole you must pass round the hat – 
Were he jail-bird or gentleman once.
"


by Henry Lawson | |

Fall In My Men Fall In

 The short hour's halt is ended, 
The red gone from the west, 
The broken wheel is mended, 
And the dead men laid to rest.
Three days have we retreated The brave old Curse-and-Grin – Outnumbered and defeated – Fall in, my men, fall in.
Poor weary, hungry sinners, Past caring and past fear, The camp-fires of the winners Are gleaming in the rear.
Each day their front advances, Each day the same old din, But freedom holds the chances – Fall in, my men, fall in.
Despair's cold fingers searches The sky is black ahead, We leave in barns and churches Our wounded and our dead.
Through cold and rain and darkness And mire that clogs like sin, In failure in its starkness – Fall in, my men, fall in.
We go and know not whither, Nor see the tracks we go – A horseman gaunt shall tell us, A rain-veiled light shall show.
By wood and swamp and mountain, The long dark hours begin – Before our fresh wounds stiffen – Fall in, my men, fall in.
With old wounds dully aching – Fall in, my men, fall in – See yonder starlight breaking Through rifts where storm clouds thin! See yonder clear sky arching The distant range upon? I'll plan while we are marching – Move on, my men - march on!


by Henry Lawson | |

Middletons Rouseabout

 Tall and freckled and sandy,
Face of a country lout;
This was the picture of Andy,
Middleton's Rouseabout.
Type of a coming nation, In the land of cattle and sheep, Worked on Middleton's station, 'Pound a week and his keep.
' On Middleton's wide dominions Plied the stockwhip and shears; Hadn't any opinions, Hadn't any 'idears'.
Swiftly the years went over, Liquor and drought prevailed; Middleton went as a drover, After his station had failed.
Type of a careless nation, Men who are soon played out, Middleton was:—and his station Was bought by the Rouseabout.
Flourishing beard and sandy, Tall and robust and stout; This is the picture of Andy, Middleton's Rouseabout.
Now on his own dominions Works with his overseers; Hasn't any opinions, Hasn't any 'idears'.


by Henry Lawson | |

Australian Bards And Bush Reviewers

 While you use your best endeavour to immortalise in verse 
The gambling and the drink which are your country's greatest curse, 
While you glorify the bully and take the spieler's part -- 
You're a clever southern writer, scarce inferior to Bret Harte.
If you sing of waving grasses when the plains are dry as bricks, And discover shining rivers where there's only mud and sticks; If you picture `mighty forests' where the mulga spoils the view -- You're superior to Kendall, and ahead of Gordon too.
If you swear there's not a country like the land that gave you birth, And its sons are just the noblest and most glorious chaps on earth; If in every girl a Venus your poetic eye discerns, You are gracefully referred to as the `young Australian Burns'.
But if you should find that bushmen -- spite of all the poets say -- Are just common brother-sinners, and you're quite as good as they -- You're a drunkard, and a liar, and a cynic, and a sneak, Your grammar's simply awful and your intellect is weak.


by Henry Lawson | |

The Professional Wanderer

 When you’ve knocked about the country—been away from home for years; 
When the past, by distance softened, nearly fills your eyes with tears— 
You are haunted oft, wherever or however you may roam, 
By a fancy that you ought to go and see the folks at home.
You forget the family quarrels—little things that used to jar— And you think of how they’ll worry—how they wonder where you are; You will think you served them badly, and your own part you’ll condemn, And it strikes you that you’ll surely be a novelty to them, For your voice has somewhat altered, and your face has somewhat changed— And your views of men and matters over wider fields have ranged.
Then it’s time to save your money, or to watch it (how it goes!); Then it’s time to get a ‘Gladstone’ and a decent suit of clothes; Then it’s time to practise daily with a hair-brush and a comb, Till you drop in unexpected on the folks and friends at home.
When you’ve been at home for some time, and the novelty’s worn off, And old chums no longer court you, and your friends begin to scoff; When ‘the girls’ no longer kiss you, crying ‘Jack! how you have changed!’ When you’re stale to your relations, and their manner seems estranged ; When the old domestic quarrels, round the table thrice a day, Make it too much like the old times—make you wish you’d stayed away, When, in short, you’ve spent your money in the fulness of your heart, And your clothes are getting shabby .
.
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Then it’s high time to depart.


by Henry Lawson | |

The Men We Might Have Been

 When God's wrath-cloud is o'er me, 
Affrighting heart and mind; 
When days seem dark before me, 
And days seem black behind; 
Those friends who think they know me -- 
Who deem their insight keen -- 
They ne'er forget to show me 
The man I might have been.
He's rich and independent, Or rising fast to fame; His bright star is ascendant, The country knows his name; His houses and his gardens Are splendid to be seen; His fault the wise world pardons -- The man I might have been.
His fame and fortune haunt me; His virtues wave me back; His name and prestige daunt me When I would take the track; But you, my friend true-hearted -- God keep our friendship green! -- You know how I was parted From all I might have been.
But what avails the ache of Remorse or weak regret? We'll battle for the sake of The men we might be yet! We'll strive to keep in sight of The brave, the true, and clean, And triumph yet in spite of The men we might have been.