Top 20 Most Popular Poems of Henry Lawson

These are the top twenty (20) most popular poems of Henry Lawson.

From The Water to The Three Kings.

If you want to know his greatest poems of all time, then this poetry collection is for you.

Keep reading!.

The Water

Let others make the songs of love
For our young struggling nation;
But I will sing while e’er I live
The Songs of Irrigation;
For while the white man shall beget
The white man’s son and daughter,
The two most precious things for us
Shall still be wheat and water.

We’ve been drought-ruined in the West,
And ever in my dreaming
I see wide miles of waving crops
And sheets of water gleaming,
On plains where fortune died of thirst
When my brave father sought her,
I see the painted barges pass
Along the winding water.

And now the glorious scheme’s afoot,
Our country to deliver
From drought and death on blazing waste,
By long neglected river.
You’ll see the boodlers of the world
Rush in from every quarter:
They want the land,, the gold-reefed sand,
And now they’ll want the water.

Bright intellects will plan the dykes,
With little gold to gild them,
Bright intellects will plan the dykes,
The people pay to build them;
And when we’ve made our long canals,
And lakes in every quarter,
Then ours would be the ‘guarantee’,
The Trust would own the water.

They’d hold the bores and aqueducts,
The water-ways and barges,
And we would live, or we would starve
According to their charges;
From all the Edens in the West
They’d bar our sons and daughters,
They’d hold the land, ten leagues or so,
Each side the rippling waters.

But those who fight to hold their own,
The Lord and time delivers;
As we have held our railway lines,
So we shall hold our rivers.
We’ll find the money, as was found
The money spent in slaughter,
To build our dykes and build our dams,
And we shall own the water.

Henry Lawson

The Things We Dare Not Tell

The fields are fair in autumn yet, and the sun’s still shining there,
But we bow our heads and we brood and fret, because of the masks we wear;
Or we nod and smile the social while, and we say we’re doing well,
But we break our hearts, oh, we break our hearts! for the things we must not tell.

There’s the old love wronged ere the new was won, there’s the light of long ago;
There’s the cruel lie that we suffer for, and the public must not know.
So we go through life with a ghastly mask, and we’re doing fairly well,
While they break our hearts, oh, they kill our hearts! do the things we must not tell.

We see but pride in a selfish breast, while a heart is breaking there;
Oh, the world would be such a kindly world if all men’s hearts lay bare!
We live and share the living lie, we are doing very well,
While they eat our hearts as the years go by, do the things we dare not tell.

We bow us down to a dusty shrine, or a temple in the East,
Or we stand and drink to the world-old creed, with the coffins at the feast;
We fight it down, and we live it down, or we bear it bravely well,
But the best men die of a broken heart for the things they cannot tell.

Henry Lawson


Opening salvo in “The Bush Controversy”.

I am back from up the country, very sorry that I went,
Seeking for the Southern poets’ land whereon to pitch my tent;
I have lost a lot of idols, which were broken on the track,
Burnt a lot of fancy verses, and I’m glad that I am back.
Further out may be the pleasant scenes of which our poets boast,
But I think the country’s rather more inviting round the coast,
Anyway, I’ll stay at present at a boarding-house in town
Drinking beer and lemon-squashes, taking baths and cooling down.

Sunny plains! Great Scot!, those burning wastes of barren soil and sand
With their everlasting fences stretching out across the land!
Desolation where the crow is! Desert! where the eagle flies,
Paddocks where the luny bullock starts and stares with reddened eyes;
Where, in clouds of dust enveloped, roasted bullock-drivers creep
Slowly past the sun-dried shepherd dragged behind his crawling sheep.
Stunted “peak” of granite gleaming, glaring! like a molten mass
Turned, from some infernal furnace, on a plain devoid of grass.

Miles and miles of thirsty gutters, strings of muddy waterholes
In the place of “shining rivers” (walled by cliffs and forest boles).
“Range!” of ridgs, gullies, ridges, barren! where the madden’d flies,
Fiercer than the plagues of Egypt, swarm about your blighted eyes!
Bush! where there is no horizon! where the buried bushman sees
Nothing. Nothing! but the maddening sameness of the stunted trees!
Lonely hut where drought’s eternal, suffocating atmosphere,
Where the God forgottcn hatter dreams of city-life and beer.

Treacherous tracks that trap the stranger, endless roads that gleam and glare,
Dark and evil-looking gullies, hiding secrets here and there!
Dull, dumb flats and stony “rises,” where the bullocks sweat and bake,
And the sinister “gohanna,” and the lizard, and the snake.
Land of day and night, no morning freshness, and no afternoon,
For the great, white sun in rising brings with him the heat of noon.
Dismal country for the exile, when the shades begin to fall
From the sad, heart-breaking sunset, to the new-chum, worst of all.

Dreary land in rainy weather, with the endless clouds that drift
O’er the bushman like a blanket that the Lord will never lift,
Dismal land when it is raining, growl of floods and oh! the “woosh”
Of the rain and wind together on the dark bed of the bush,
Ghastly fires in lonely humpies where the granite rocks are pil’d
On the rain-swept wildernesses that are wildest of the wild.

Land where gaunt and haggard women live alone and work like men,
Till their husbands, gone a-droving, will return to them again,
Homes of men! if homes had ever such a God-forgotten place,
Where the wild selector’s children fly before a stranger’s face.
Home of tragedy applauded by the dingoes’ dismal yell,
Heaven of the shanty-keeper, fitting fiend for such a hell,
And the wallaroos and wombats, and, of course, the “curlew’s call”,
And the lone sundowner tramping ever onward thro’ it all!

I am back from up the country, up the country where I went
Seeking for the Southern poets’ land whereon to pitch my tent;
I have left a lot of broken idols out along the track,
Burnt a lot of fancy verses, and I’m glad that I am back,
I believe the Southern poet’s dream will not be realised
Till the plains are irrigated and the land is humanised.
I intend to stay at present, as I said before, in town
Drinking beer and lemon-squashes, taking baths and cooling down.

Henry Lawson


I only woke this morning
To find the world is fair,
I’m going on for forty,
With scarcely one grey hair;

I’m going on for forty,
Where man’s strong life begins,
With scarce a sign of crows’ feet,
In spite of all my sins.

Then here’s the living Forties!
The Forties! The Forties!
Then here’s the living Forties!
We’re good for ten years more.

The teens were black and bitter,
A smothered boyhood’s grave,
A farm-drudge in the drought-time,
A weary workshop slave.

But twenty years have laid them,
And all the world is fair,
We’ll find time in the Forties,
To have some boyhood there.

Then here’s the wide, free Forties,
The Forties! The Forties!
Then here’s the wide, free Forties!
We’re good for ten years more!

The twenties they were noble,
The bravest years, I think;
‘Twas man to man in trouble,
In working and in drink;

‘Twas man to man in fighting,
For money or for praise.
And we’ll find in the Forties
Some more Bohemian days.

Then here’s the wiser Forties!
The Forties! The Forties!
Then here’s the wiser Forties!
We’re good for ten years more.

The thirties were the fate years;
I fought behind the scenes.
The thirties were more cruel
And blacker than the teens;

I held them not but bore them,
They were no years of mine;
But they are going from me,
For I am thirty-nine.

So here’s the stronger Forties!
The Forties! The Forties!
And here’s the good old Forties!
We’re good for ten years more.

Henry Lawson

A Dan Yell

I wish I’d never gone to board
In that house where I met
The touring lady from abroad,
Who mocks my nightmares yet.
I wish, I wish that she had saved
Her news of what she’d seen,
That Dan O’Connor is clean shaved
And parts his hair between.

The ladies down at Manly now,
And widows understood,
No more deplore their marriage vow
Or hopeless widowhood.
For Dan O’Connor is the same
As though he’d never been,
Since Daniel shaved that shave of shame,
And combed his hair between.

No more, Oh Bards, in Danyel tones
He’ll voice our several fames,
And nevermore he’ll mix our bones
As once he mixed our names.
Let Southern minstrels dree their weird
And lay their sad harps down,
For Dan O’Connor’s shorn of beard
And cracked across the crown.

The lobby and refreshment room
Are shorn of half their larks,
A newer ghost now haunts the gloom
That knew the ghost of Parkes:
The brightest joke Australia had
Is but a hopeless grunt,
It went for ever mad and bad
When Daniel shaved his front.

The fair Spotswhoshky weeps indeed,
Frogsleggi and Bung Lung,
With none to greet and none to speed
Them in their native tongue!
By Sucklar Key nor Golden Gate
No Dan is ever seen
Since Dan O’Connor wiped his ‘slate’
And notched his top between.

But, Dan O’Connor, (Lord knows best
The thing might be a sell),
You surely will forgive a jest
From one who wished you well,
When we’ve forgot the face we feared
And Time has deadened pain,
Oh! Dan O’Connor, grow your beard,
And come to us again.

Henry Lawson

In Possum Land

In Possum Land the nights are fair,
the streams are fresh and clear;
no dust is in the moonlit air;
no traffic jars the ear.

With Possums gambolling overhead,
‘neath western stars so grand,
Ah! would that we could make our bed
tonight in Possum Land

Henry Lawson

The Tragedy

Oh, I never felt so wretched, and things never looked so blue
Since the days I gulped the physic that my Granny used to brew;
For a friend in whom I trusted, entering my room last night,
Stole a bottleful of Heenzo from the desk whereon I write.

I am certain sure he did it (though he never would let on),
For all last week he had a cold and to-day his cough is gone;
Now I’m sick and sore and sorry, and I’m sad for friendship’s sake
(It was better than the cough-cure that our Granny used to make).

Oh, he might have pinched my whisky, and he might have pinched my beer,
Or all the fame or money that I make while writing here,
Oh, he might have shook the blankets and I’d not have made a row,
If he’d only left my Heenzo till the morning, anyhow.

So I’ve lost my faith in Mateship, which was all I had to lose
Since I lost my faith in Russia and myself and got the blues;
And so trust turns to suspicion, and so friendship turns to hate,
Even Kaiser Bill would never pinch his Heenzo from a mate.

Henry Lawson

In The Day’s When We Are Dead

Listen! The end draws nearer,
Nearer the morning, or night,
And I see with a vision clearer
That the beginning was right!
These shall be words to remember
When all has been done and said,
And my fame is a dying ember
In the days when I am dead.

Listen! We wrote in sorrow,
And we wrote by candle light;
We took no heed of the morrow,
And I think that we were right,
(To-morrow, but not the day after,
And I think that we were right).

We wrote of a world that was human
And we wrote of blood that was red,
For a child, or a man, or a woman,
Remember when we are dead.

Listen! We wrote not for money,
And listen! We wrote not for fame,
We wrote for the milk and the honey
Of Kindness, and not for a name.

We paused not, nor faltered for any,
Though many fell back where we led;
We wrote of the few for the many,
Remember when we are dead.

We suffered as few men suffer,
Yet laughed as few men laugh;
We grin as the road grows rougher,
And a bitterer cup we quaff.

We lived for Right and for Laughter,
And we fought for a Nation ahead,
Remember it, friends, hereafter,
In the years when I am dead,
For to-morrow and not the day after,
For ourselves, and a Nation ahead.

Henry Lawson

Sacred To The Memory Of ‘Unknown’

Oh, the wild black swans fly westward still,
While the sun goes down in glory,
And away o’er lonely plain and hill
Still runs the same old story:
The sheoaks sigh it all day long,
It is safe in the Big Scrub’s keeping,
‘Tis the butcher-birds’ and the bell-birds’ song
In the gum where ‘Unknown’ lies sleeping,
(It is heard in the chat of the soldier-birds
O’er the grave where ‘Unknown’ lies sleeping).
Ah! the Bushmen knew not his name or land,
Or the shame that had sent him here,
But the Bushmen knew by the dead man’s hand
That his past life lay not near.
The law of the land might have watched for him,
Or a sweetheart, wife, or mother;
But they bared their heads, and their eyes were dim,
For he might have been a brother!
(Ah! the death he died brought him near to them,
For he might have been a brother.)

Oh, the wild black swans to the westward fade,
And the sunset burns to ashes,
And three times bright on an eastern range
The light of a big star flashes,
Like a signal sent to a distant strand
Where a dead man’s love sits weeping.
And the night comes grand to the Great Lone Land
O’er the grave where ‘Unknown’ lies sleeping,
And the big white stars in their clusters blaze
O’er the Bush where ‘Unknown’ lies sleeping.

Henry Lawson

In The Storm That Is To Come

By our place in the midst of the furthest seas we were fated to stand alone,
When the nations fly at each other’s throats let Australia look to her own;
Let her spend her gold on the barren west, let her keep her men at home;
For the South must look to the South for strength in the storm that is to come.

Now who shall gallop from cape to cape, and who shall defend our shores,
The crowd that stand on the kerb agape and glares at the cricket scores?
And who will hold the invader back when the shells tear up the ground,
The weeds that yelp by the cycling track while a nigger scorches round?

There may be many to man the forts in the big towns beside the sea,
But the East will call to the West for scouts in the storm that is to be:
The West cries out to the East in drought, but the coastal towns are dumb;
And the East must look to the West for food in the war that is to come.

The rain comes down on the Western land and the rivers run to waste,
When the city folk rush for the special tram in their childless, senseless haste,
And never a pile of a lock we drive, but a few mean tanks we scratch,
For the fate of a nation is nought compared with the turn of a cricket match!

There’s a gutter of mud where there spread a flood from the land-long western creeks,
There is dust and drought on the plains far out where the water lay for weeks,
There’s a pitiful dam where a dyke should stretch and a tank where a lake should be,
And the rain goes down through the silt and sand and the floods waste into the seas.

We’ll fight for Britain or for Japan, we will fling the land’s wealth out;
While every penny and every man should be used to fight the drought.
God helps the nation that helps itself, and the water brings the rain,
And a deadlier foe than the world could send is loose on the western plain.

I saw a vision in days gone by and would dream that dream again
Of the days when the Darling shall not back her billabongs up in vain.
There were reservoirs and grand canals where the Dry Country had been,
And a glorious network of aqueducts, and the fields were always green.

I have seen so long in the land I love what the land I love might be,
Where the Darling rises from Queensland rains and the floods run into the sea.
And it is our fate that we’ll wake to late to the truth that we were blind,
With a foreign foe at our harbour gate and a blazing drought behind!

Henry Lawson

Before We Were Married

Blacksoil plains were grey soil, grey soil in the drought.
Fifteen years away, and five hundred miles out;
Swag and bag and billy carried all our care
Before we were married, and I wish that I were there.

River banks were grassy, grassy in the bends,
Running through the land where mateship never ends;
We belled the lazy fishing lines and droned the time away
Before we were married, and I wish it were to-day.

Working down the telegraph, winters’ gales and rains
Cross the tumbled scenery of Marlborough ‘plains’,
Beach and bluff and cook’s tent, and the cook was a ‘cow’
Before we were married, but I wish that it was now.

The rolling road to Melbourne, and grey-eyed girl in fur,
One arm to a stanchion, and one round her;
Seat abaft the skylight when the moon had set,
Before she was married, and I wish it wasn’t yet.

Henry Lawson

And What Have You To Say

I mind the days when ladies fair
Helped on my overcoat,
And tucked the silken handkerchief
About my precious throat;
They used to see the poet’s soul
In every song I wrote.

They pleaded hard, but I had work
To do, and could not stay
I used to work the whole night through,
And what have you to say?

‘Twas clever, handsome woman then,
And I their rising star;
I could not see they worshipped me,
Because I saw too far.
(‘Tis well for one or two, I think,
That things are as they are.)

(I used to write for writing’s sake,
I used to write till day,
I loved my prose and poetry,
And what have you to say?)

I guess if one should meet me now
That she would gasp to think,
She ever knew a thing like me,
As down the street I slink,
And trembling cadge from some old pal
The tray-bit for a drink.

I used to drink with gentlemen
To pass an hour away:
I drink long beers in common bars,
And what have you to say?

But often, in the darkest night
(And ’tis a wondrous thing),
When others see the devils dance,
I hear the angels sing,
And round the drunkard’s lonely bed
Heaven’s nurses whispering.

I wrote for Truth and Right alone,
I wrote from night till day;
I’ll find a drunken pauper grave,
And what have you to say?
Good night!
Good day!
My noble friends,
And what have you to say?

Henry Lawson

Here’s Luck

Old Time is tramping close to-day, you hear his bluchers fall,
A mighty change is on the way, an’ God protect us all;
Some dust’ll fly from beery coats, at least it’s been declared.
I’m glad that wimin has the votes, but just a trifle scared.

I’m just a trifle scared, For why? The wimin mean to rule;
It makes me feel like days gone by when I was caned at school.
The days of men is nearly dead, of double moons and stars,
They’ll soon put out our pipes, ’tis said, an’ close the public bars.

No more we’ll take a glass of ale when pushed with care an’ strife,
An’chuckle home with that old tale we used to tell the wife.
We’ll laugh an’joke an sing no more with jolly beery chums,
An’ shout ‘Here’s luck! while waitin for the luck that never comes.

Did we prohibit swillin’ tea clean out of common-sense
Or legislate on gossipin’ across a backyard fence?
Did we prohibit bustles, or the hoops when they was here?
The wimin never think of this, they want to stop our beer.

The track o’ life is dry enough, an’ crossed with many a rut,
But, oh! we’ll find it long an’ rough when all the pubs is shut,
When all the pubs is shut, an’ gone the doors we used to seek,
An’ we go toilin’, thirstin’ on through Sundays all the week.

For since the days when pubs was ‘inns’, in years gone past’n’ far,
Poor sinful souls have drowned their sins an’ sorrers at the bar;
An’ though at times it led to crimes, an’ debt, and such complaints,
I scarce dare think about the time when all mankind is saints.

‘Twould make the bones of Bacchus leap an’ break his coffin lid;
And Burns’s ghost would wail an’ weep as Bobby never did.
But let the preachers preach in style, an’ rave and rant, ‘n’ buck,
I rather guess they’ll hear awhile the old war-cry: ‘Here’s Luck!’

The world might wobble round the sun, an’ all the banks go bung,
But pipes’ll smoke an’ liquor run while Auld Lang Syne is sung.
While men are driven through the mill, an’ flinty times is struck,
They’ll find a private entrance still! Here’s Luck, old man, Here’s Luck!

Henry Lawson

Knocked Up

I’m lyin’ on the barren ground that’s baked and cracked with drought,
And dunno if my legs or back or heart is most wore out;
I’ve got no spirits left to rise and smooth me achin’ brow,
I’m too knocked up to light a fire and bile the billy now.

Oh it’s trampin’, trampin’, tra-a-mpin’, in flies an’ dust an’ heat,
Or it’s trampin’ trampin’ tra-a-a-mpin’
through mud and slush ‘n sleet;
It’s tramp an’ tramp for tucker, one everlastin’ strife,
An’ wearin’ out yer boots an’ heart in the wastin’ of yer life.

They whine o’ lost an’ wasted lives in idleness and crime,
I’ve wasted mine for twenty years, and grafted all the time
And never drunk the stuff I earned, nor gambled when I shore,
But somehow when yer on the track yer life seems wasted more.

A long dry stretch of thirty miles I’ve tramped this broilin’ day,
All for the off-chance of a job a hundred miles away;
There’s twenty hungry beggars wild for any job this year,
An’ fifty might be at the shed while I am lyin’ here.

The sinews in my legs seem drawn, red-hot, ‘n that’s the truth;
I seem to weigh a ton, and ache like one tremendous tooth;
I’m stung between my shoulder-blades, my blessed back seems broke;
I’m too knocked out to eat a bite, I’m too knocked up to smoke.

The blessed rain is comin’ too, there’s oceans in the sky,
An’ I suppose I must get up and rig the blessed fly;
The heat is bad, the water’s bad, the flies a crimson curse,
The grub is bad, mosquitoes damned, but rheumatism’s worse.

I wonder why poor blokes like me will stick so fast ter breath,
Though Shakespeare says it is the fear of somethin’ after death;
But though Eternity be cursed with God’s almighty curse,
What ever that same somethin’ is I swear it can’t be worse.

For it’s trampin’, trampin’, tra-a-mpin’ thro’ hell across the plain,
And it’s trampin’ trampin’ tra-a-mpin’ thro’ slush ‘n mud ‘n rain,
A livin’ worse than any dog, without a home ‘n wife,
A-wearin’ out yer heart ‘n soul in the wastin’ of yer life.

Henry Lawson

In The Street

Where the needle-woman toils
Through the night with hand and brain,
Till the sickly daylight shudders like a spectre at the pain,
Till her eyes seem to crawl,
And her brain seems to creep,

And her limbs are all a-tremble for the want of rest and sleep!
It is there the fire-brand blazes in my blood; and it is there
That I see the crimson banner of the Children of Despair!
That I feel the soul and music in a rebel’s battle song,
And the greatest love for justice and the hottest hate for wrong!

When the foremost in his greed
Presses heavy on the last,
In the brutal spirit rising from the grave-yard of the past,
Where the poor are trodden down
And the rich are deaf and blind!

It is there I feel the greatest love and pity for mankind:
There, where heart to heart is saying, though the tongue and lip be still:
We’ve been through it all and know it! brother, we’ve been through the mill!
There the spirits of my brothers rise the higher for defeat,
And the drums of revolution roll for ever in the street!

Christ is coming once again,
And his day is drawing near;
He is leading on the thousands of the army of the rear!
We shall know the second advent
By the lower skies aflame

With the signals of his coming, for he comes not as he came,
Not humble, meek, and lowly, as he came in days of old,
But with hatred, retribution for the worshipers of gold!
And the roll of battle music and the steady tramp of feet
Sound for ever in the thunder and the rattle of the street!

Henry Lawson

Above Crow’s Nest – Sydney

A blanket low and leaden,
Though rent across the west,
Whose darkness seems to deaden
The brightest and the best;
A sunset white and staring
On cloud-wrecks far away,
And haggard house-walls glaring
A farewell to the day.

A light on tower and steeple,
Where sun no longer shines,
My people, Oh my people!
Rise up and read the signs!
Low looms the nearer high-line
(No sign of star or moon),
The horseman on the skyline
Rode hard this afternoon!

(Is he, and who shall know it?,
The spectre of a scout?
The spirit of a poet,
Whose truths were met with doubt?
Who sought and who succeeded
In marking danger’s track,
Whose warnings were unheeded
Till all the sky was black?)

It is a shameful story
For our young, generous home,
Without the rise and glory
We’d go as Greece and Rome.
Without the sacrifices
That make a nation’s name,
The elder nation’s vices
And luxuries we claim.

Grown vain without a conquest,
And sure without a fort,
And maddened in the one quest
For pleasure or for sport.
Self-blinded to our starkness
We’d fling the time away
To fight, half-armed, in darkness
Who should be armed to-day.

This song is for the city,
The city in its pride,
The coming time shall pity
And shield the countryside.
Shall we live in the present
Till fearful war-clouds loom,
And till the sullen peasant
Shall leave us to our doom?

Cloud-fortresses titanic
Along the western sky,
The tired, bowed mechanic
And pallid clerk flit by.
Lit by a light unhealthy,
The ghastly after-glare,
The veiled and goggled wealthy
Drive fast, they know not where.

Night’s sullen spirit rouses,
The darkening gables lour
From ugly four-roomed houses
Verandah’d windows glower;
The last long day-stare dies on
The scrub-ridged western side,
And round the near horizon
The spectral horsemen ride.

Henry Lawson

The Vote Of Thanks Debate

The other night I got the blues and tried to smile in vain.
I couldn’t chuck a chuckle at the foolery of Twain;
When Ward and Billings failed to bring a twinkle to my eye,
I turned my eyes to Hansard of the fifteenth of July.
I laughed and roared until I thought that I was growing fat,
And all the boarders came to see what I was laughing at:
It rose the risibility of some, I grieve to state,
That foolish speech of Brentnall’s in the Vote of Thanks debate.

O Brentnall, of the olden school and cold sarcastic style!
You’ll take another WORKER now and stick it on your file;
‘We’re very fond of poetry,’, we hope that this is quite
As entertaining as the lines you read the other night.
We know that you are honest, but ’twas foolish to confess
You read and file the WORKER; we expected something less.
We think an older member would have told the people, so,
‘My attention was directed to a certain print’ (, you know).

The other night in Parliament you quoted something true,
Where truth is very seldom heard except from one or two.
You know that when the people rise the other side must fall,
And you are on the other side, and that explains it all.
You hate the Cause by instinct, the instinct of your class,
And fear the reformation that shall surely come to pass;
Your nest is feathered by the ‘laws’ which you of course defend,
Your daily bread is buttered on the upper crust, my friend.

‘We aim at broader interests,’ you say, and so we do;
We aim at ‘vested interests’ (the gun is loaded too).
We hate the wrongs we write against. We’ve felt the curse of Greed.
There’s little nonsense in the school where Labour earns its creed.
But you know little of the Cause that you are running down.
You would deny there’s misery and hardship in the town;
Yet I could take you through the hells where Poverty holds sway,
And show you things you’d not forget until your dying day.

O Brentnall! Have you ever tramped the city streets within?
And felt the pavement wearing through the leather, sock, and skin;
And looked for work, and asked for work, and begged for work in vain,
Until you cared not though you ne’er might touch your tools again.
O Brentnall! Have you ever felt the summer sun and dirt?
And wore the stiffened socks for weeks, for weeks the single shirt?
And shunned your friends like small-pox, passing on the other side,
And crept away in shadows with your misery and pride?

Another solemn member rose encouraged by the cheers,
And talked of serving medals to our gallant volunteers,
And extra uniforms, that they might hand the old ones on
‘As heirlooms in the family’ when they are dead and gone.
But since the state of future times is very much in doubt,
They’d better wear their uniforms, they’d better wear them out;
They may some day be sorry for the front that they have shown,
And, e’er the nap is worn away, they mightn’t like it known.

The children of a future time shall read, with awe profound,
How goslings did the goose-step while a gander led ’em round.
O Brentnall! Speak your periods into a phonograph,
That generations yet to rise may lay them down and laugh.
I wouldn’t trust the future much; Posterity might own
That sense of the ridiculous that you have never shown;
And not the smiles of Mammon, nor the pride of place and pelf,
Can soothe the thought that one has made a jackass of one’s self.

We’re low, but we would teach you if you’re willing to be taught,
That in the wilderness of print are tartars still uncaught;
And if you hunt in such a way, believe we do not jest,
Your chance to catch one is as good, and better than the best.
Be very sure about the mark before you cast the stone,
And, well, perhaps ‘twould be as well to leave the muse alone.
You’ll call it egotism? Yes: but still I think that I
Might hit a little harder if I only liked to try.

Henry Lawson

A Backward Glance

It is well when youve lived in clover,
To mourn for the days gone by,
Would I live the same life over
Could I live again? Not I!
But, knowing the false from the real,
I would strive to ascend:
I would seek out my boyhoods ideal,
And follow it to the end.

Henry Lawson

The Stranger’s Friend

The strangest things and the maddest things, that a man can do or say,
To the chaps and fellers and coves Out Back are matters of every day;
Maybe on account of the lives they lead, or the life that their hearts discard,
But never a fool can be too mad or a ‘hard case’ be too hard.

I met him in Bourke in the Union days, with which we have nought to do
(Their creed was narrow, their methods crude, but they stuck to ‘the cause’ like glue).
He came into town from the Lost Soul Run for his grim half-yearly ‘bend,’
And because of a curious hobby he had, he was known as ‘The Stranger’s Friend.’

It is true to the region of adjectives when I say that the spree was ‘grim,’
For to go on the spree was a sacred rite, or a heathen rite, to him,
To shout for the travellers passing through to the land where the lost soul bakes,
Till they all seemed devils of different breeds, and his pockets were filled with snakes.

In the joyful mood, in the solemn mood, in his cynical stages too,
In the maudlin stage, in the fighting stage, in the stage when all was blue,
From the joyful hour when his spree commenced, right through to the awful end,
He never lost grip of his ‘fixed idee’ that he was the Stranger’s Friend.

‘The feller as knows, he can battle around for his bloomin’ self,’ he’d say,
‘I don’t give a curse for the ‘blanks’ I know the hard-up bloke this way;
‘Send the stranger round, and I’ll see him through,’ and, e’en as the bushman spoke,
The chaps and fellers would tip the wink to a casual, ‘hard-up bloke.’

And it wasn’t only a bushman’s ‘bluff’ to the fame of the Friend they scored,
For he’d shout the stranger a suit of clothes, and he’d pay for the stranger’s board,
The worst of it was that he’d skite all night on the edge of the stranger’s bunk,
And never got helplessly drunk himself till he’d got the stranger drunk.

And the chaps and the fellers would speculate, by way of a ghastly joke,
As to who’d be caught by the ‘jim-jams’ first, the Friend or the hard-up bloke?
And the ‘Joker’ would say that there wasn’t a doubt as to who’d be damned in the end,
When the Devil got hold of a hard-up bloke in the shape of the Stranger’s Friend.

It mattered not to the Stranger’s Friend what the rest might say or think,
He always held that the hard-up state was due to the curse of drink,
To the evils of cards, and of company: ‘But a young cove’s built that way,
‘And I was a bloomin’ fool meself when I started out,’ he’d say.

At the end of the spree, in clean white ‘moles,’ clean-shaven, and cool as ice,
He’d give the stranger a ‘bob’ or two, and some straight Out Back advice;
Then he’d tramp away for the Lost Soul Run, where the hot dust rose like smoke,
Having done his duty to all mankind, for he’d ‘stuck to a hard-up bloke.’

They’ll say ’tis a ‘song of a sot,’ perhaps, but the Song of a Sot is true.
I have ‘battled’ myself, and you know, you chaps, what a man in the bush goes through:
Let us hope when the last of his sprees is past, and his cheques and his strength are done,
That, amongst the sober and thrifty mates, the Stranger’s Friend has one.

Henry Lawson

The Three Kings

Trio East is dead and the West is done, and again our course lies thus
South-east by Fate and the Rising Sun where the Three Kings* wait for us.
When our hearts are young and the world is wide, and the heights seem grand to climb,
We are off and away to the Sydney-side; but the Three Kings bide their time.

‘I’ve been to the West,’ the digger said: he was bearded, bronzed and old;
Ah, the smothering curse of the East is wool, and the curse of the West is gold.
I went to the West in the golden boom, with Hope and a life-long mate,
‘They sleep in the sand by the Boulder Soak, and long may the Three Kings wait.’

‘I’ve had my fling on the Sydney-side,’ said a blacksheep to the sea,
Let the young fool learn when he can’t be taught: I’ve learnt what’s good for me.’
And he gazed ahead on the sea-line dim, grown dim in his softened eyes,
With a pain in his heart that was good for him, as he saw the Three Kings rise.

A pale girl sits on the foc’sle head, she is back, Three Kings! so soon;
But it seems to her like a life-time dead since she fled with him ‘saloon.’
There is refuge still in the old folks’ arms for the child that loved too well;
They will hide her shame on the Southern farm, and the Three Kings will not tell.

‘Twas a restless heart on the tide of life, and a false star in the skies
That led me on to the deadly strife where the Southern London lies;
But I dream in peace of a home for me, by a glorious southern sound,
As the sunset fades from a moonlit sea, and the Three Kings show us round.

Our hearts are young and the old hearts old, and life, on the farms is slow,
And away in the world there is fame and gold, and the Three Kings watch us go.
Our heads seem wise and the world seems wide, and its heights are ours to climb,
So it’s off and away in our youthful pride, but the Three Kings bide our time.

Henry Lawson

Wow! His poetry collection is really splendid! No wonder he’s one of the best-known Australian poets. Compared to other poetry collections, Henry Lawson was more on long poems but more engaging because of their details and rhymes.

In The Day’s When We Are Dead is my favorite poem in this collection. I’ve learned the most crucial yet the reality in our lives.

What about you? What’s your most favorite poem of Henry Lawson?

Do you still want to add another of his poem to this list? Let me know in the comment section below! 😉


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