Project Gutenberg Australia
a treasure-trove of literature

treasure found hidden with no evidence of ownership
BROWSE the site for other works by this author
(and our other authors) or get HELP Reading, Downloading and Converting files)

SEARCH the entire site with Google Site Search
Title:  For Australia and Other Poems
Author: Henry Lawson
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0607901h.html
Language: English
Date first posted:  August 2020
Most recent update: August 2020

This eBook was produced by: Walter Moore

Project Gutenberg of Australia eBooks are created from printed editions
which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice
is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular
paper edition.

Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the
copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this

This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions
whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms
of the Project Gutenberg Australia Licence which may be viewed online.

GO TO Project Gutenberg Australia HOME PAGE

For Australia
and Other Poems

Henry Lawson


For Australia
The Day Before I Die
The Spirits of Our Fathers
For All the Land to See (A Song of the Tools)
Our Mistress and the Queen
The Gathering of the Brown-Eyed
Who’ll Wear the Beaten Colours?
Macleay Street and Red Rock Lane
The Wantaritencant
The Motor Car
Freedom on the Wallaby
Give Yourself a Show (New Year’s Eve)
That Great Waiting Silence
Above Crow’s Nest (Sydney)
To Be Amused
Australia’s Peril, The Warning
The Federal City
Cypher Seven “07”
Every Man Should Have a Rifle
What Have We All Forgotten?
Since the Cities are the Cities
To Victor Daley
The Bards Who Lived at Manly
The Empty Glass
The Soul of a Poet
And What Have You to Say?
Till all the Bad Things Came Untrue
In Possum Land
The Spirits for Good
To Jack
In the Height of Fashion
The Prime of Life
My Father-in-Law and I
Johnson’s Wonder
“Bound for the Lord-Knows-Where”
The Rush to London
A Word from the Bards
The Stranded Ship (The “Vincennes”)
The Cab Lamps, or From the Lanes of ’Loo
The Bard of Furthest Out
To Show What a Man Can Do
The Lily of St. Leonards
Before We Were Married
My Wife’s Second Husband
The Peace Maker
Keeping His First Wife Now
I’m an Older Man Than You
When Your Sins Come Home to Roost
The Muscovy Duck
For He was a Jolly Good Fellow
The Separated Women
The Bush Beyond the Range
Hannah Thomburn
A Dan Yell
“Bush Hay”
When Hopes Ran High
The Little Native Rose
Take It Fightin’
The Sorrows of a Simple Bard

“For Australia”

Now, with the wars of the world begun, they’ll listen to you and me,
Now, while the frightened nations run to the arms of democracy,
Now, when our blathering fools are scared, and the years have proved us right—
All unprovided and unprepared, the Outpost of the White!

“Get the people—no matter how,” that is the way they rave,
Could a million paupers aid us now, or a tinpot squadron save?
The “loyal” drivel, the blatant boast are as shames that used to be—
Our fight shall be a fight for the coast, with the future for the sea!

We must turn our face to the only track that will take us through the worst—
Cable to charter that we lack, guns and cartridges first,
New machines that will make machines till our factories are complete—
Block the shoddy and Brummagem, pay them with wool and wheat.

Build to-morrow the foundry shed (’tis a task we dare not shirk)
Lay the runs and the engine-bed, and get the gear to work,
Have no fear when we raise the steam in the hurried factory—
We are not lacking in the brains that teem with originality.

Have no fear, for the way is clear—we’ll shackle the hands of greed
Every lad is an engineer in his country’s hour of need—
Many are brilliant, swift to learn, quick at invention too,
Born inventors whose young hearts burn to show what the South can do!

To show what the South can do, done well, and more than the North can do.
They’ll make us the cartridge and make the shell, and the gun to carry true,
Give us the gear and the South is strong—the docks shall yield us more;
The national arm like the national song comes with the first great war.

Books of science from every land, volumes on gunnery,
Practical teachers we have at hand, masters of chemistry,
Clear young heads that will sift and think in spite of authorities,
And brains that shall leap from invention’s brink at the clash of factories.
Still be noble in peace or war, raise the national spirit high;
And this be our watchword for evermore:—“For Australia—till we die”


The Day Before I Die

There’s such a lot of work to do, for such a troubled head!
I’m scribbling this against a book, with foolscap round, in bed.
It strikes me that I’ll scribble much in this way by and by,
And write my last lines so perchance the day before I die.

There’s lots of things to come and go, and I, in careless rhyme,
And drink and love (it wastes the most) have wasted lots of time.
There’s so much good work to be done it makes me sure that I
Will be the sorriest for my death, the day before I die.

But, lift me dear, for I am tired, and let me taste the wine—
And lay your cheek a little while on this lined cheek of mine.
I want to say I love you so—your patient love is why
I’ll have such little time, you know, the day before I die.


The Spirits of Our Fathers

The spirits of our fathers rise not from every wave,
They left the sea behind them long ago;
It was many years of “slogging,” where strong men must be brave,
For the sake of unborn children, and, maybe, a soul to save,
And the end a tidy homestead, and four panels round a grave,
And—the bones of poor old Someone down below.

Some left happy homes in old lands when they heard the New Land call
(Some were gentlemen and some were social wrecks)
Some left squalor and starvation—they were soldiers one and all,
And their weapons were the cross-cut and the wedges and the maul.
(How we used to run as children when we heard the big trees fall!
While they paused to wipe their faces and their necks.)

They were buried by our uncles where the ground was hard to dig
(It was little need for churchmen that they had),
And they sobbed like grown-up children, for their hearts were soft and big.
And the myrtle and the ivy, and the vine-tree and the fig—
And the heather—and the shamrock, where th’ mother kept the pig,
Waited vainly for the Grand Australian Dad.

The spirits of our fathers have belts and bowyangs on
(Oh, Father! do you live again and know?)
Strapped riding pants and leggings parched and perished in the sun,
And love-belts “worked” by sweethearts ere the digging days were done,
And the cabbage-tree that went out with the muzzle-loading gun
That was carried round the cattle out beyond the furthest run
Where the brave exploring drovers used to go.

The spirits of our fathers, they rise from every grave
(Each side the line that Burke and Leichhardt crossed),
And where still in “settled districts” ghastly Bush-lost madmen rave
(While the grim search parties, haggard, struggle hopelessly to save)
Till the spirit timber beacons and the spirit waters lave,
And no spirit of a father has been lost.

The spirits of our fathers, they rise from level sand
(Like an ocean where an ocean used to be),
Out where Heaven’s grandest ’lectrics light the Never Never Land
With the glorious hope and promise that the Bushmen understand
When the rain and grass are coming till the desert-plain is grand,
And the drought-divorced Australian meets his soul.

Listen! There’s the word that’s spoken when no other soul seems near,
And the one who hears is sober, calm and sane,
And the name called, amongst many, when the called alone can hear—
Words by lone huts and in prison, speaking comfort, hope and cheer—
And the Warning, not admited to each other, calm and clear—
Then the fathers of a nation speak again.

There are spirits of our fathers in the theatres to-night
(And the places where rich sons of settlers go),
And a half-dressed daughter shivers, and a tailored son turns white,
For the heritage world-squandered, and the Land put out of sight,
And that awful thirst for Nothing that they bought with their birthright
And a haggard mother’s spirit bending low.

There are spirits of our fathers by the pleasant South Coast roads
Where motor cars of sons of stockmen go,
In the wealth robbed from Up Country, oh, the shame of it is black!
And the laugh and giggle ceases and the car swerves and turns back,
’Tis the old dad, smiling grimly, with arms folded by the track,
And the shades of horse and swagmen that they know.

There’s the flagship of the First Fleet rising grimly on the tide
(Out by Watson where the motor, launches go),
And the features known to many of our families of pride—
But the launches veer like seabirds, veer and turn and circle wide
From the shadow of a free ship where the waiting liners ride
And pale faces of brave emigrants look sadly o’er the side—
Boys and girls who were our parents long ago.

There the word said in the Senate by the patriot unafraid
(Senate where the comic fatmen never mind)
And the tissue starts and wakens, summons “Haw-haws!” to its aid,
But the honest men sit upright who were wearied of tirade.
And a nation’s aims are furthered! and a nation’s law is made—
For the spirit of a father stands behind.


For All the Land to See

(A Song of the Tools)

The cross-cut and the crowbar cross, and hang them on the wall,
And make a greenhide rack to fit the wedges and the maul,
The “done” long-handled shovel and the thong-bound axe that fell,
The crowbar, pick-axe and the “throw”—the axe that morticed well.
The old patched tent and “fly”, bag bunk and pillow of sugee,
The frying-pan and billy-can, for all the land to see.

The cross-cut, after pounds of files, is narrowed down and thin,
With here and there a tooth cut out as th’ curve straightened in,
The axe close to the iron ground, the shovel to the shaft,
The handle from the first worn smooth with sweat and dust and graft.
The maul and wedges burred and split, spell bravest history—
These were the arms our fathers bore, for none but they to see.

Then look you round on all that is, on cities proud and fair,
And look you westward from the range—towns, farms and homesteads there.
Then hurry to a place you know lest you should be too late,
And clear the scrub some little space—small place, say—three-by eight.
A blackened post stump stands where four rough panels used to be
And there take off your panama where none but God might see.


Our Mistress and Our Queen

We set no right above hers,
    No earthly light nor star,
She hath had many lovers,
    But not as lovers are:
They all were gallant fellows
    And died all deaths for her,
And never one was jealous
    But comrades true they were.

Oh! each one is a brother,
    Though all the lands they claim—
For her or for each other
    They’ve died all deaths the same
Young, handsome, old and ugly,
    Free, married or divorced,
Where springtime bard or Thug lie
    Her lover’s feet have crossed.

’Mid buttercups and daisies
    With fair girls by their side,
Young poets sang her praises
    While day in starlight died.
In smoke and fire and dust, and
    With red eyes maniac like,
Those same young poets thrust and—
    Wrenched out the reeking pike!

She is as old as ages,
    But she is ever young.
Upon her birthday pages
    They’ve writ in every tongue;
Her charms have never vanished
    Nor beauty been defiled,
Her lovers ne’er were banished—
    Can never be exiled.

Ah! thousands died who kissed her,
    But millions died who scorned
Our Sweetheart, Queen and Sister,
    Whom slaves and Cæsars spurned!
And thousands lost her for her
    Own sweet sake, and the world,
Her first most dread adorer,
    From Heaven’s high state was hurled.

No sign of power she beareth,
    In silence doth she tread,
But evermore she weareth
    A cap of red rose red.
Her hair is like the raven,
    Her soul is like the sea,
Her blue eyes are a haven
    That watch Eternity.

She claimed her right from Heaven,
    She claims her right from earth,
She claimed it hell-ward driven,
    Before her second birth.
No real man lives without her,
    No real man-child thrives,
Sweet sin may cling about her,
    But purity survives.

She claims the careless girl, and
    She claims the master mind;
She whispers to the Earl, and
    She whispers to the hind!
No ruler knoweth which man
    His sword for her might draw;
Her whisper wakes the rich man—
    The peasant on his straw.

She calls us from the prison,
    She calls us from the plain,
To towns where men have risen
    Again, again, again!
She calls us from our pleasures,
    She calls us from our cares,
She calls us from our treasures,
    She calls us from our prayers.

From seas and oceans over
    Our long-lost sons she draws,
She calls the careless rover,
    She calls us from our wars.
The hermit she discovers
    To lead her bravest brave——
The spirit of dead lovers,
    She calls them from the grave!

We leave the squalid alley,
    Our women and our vice,
We leave the pleasant valley,
    Life-lust or sacrifice.
The gold hunt in the mountains,
    The power-lust on the sea,
The land-lust by earth’s fountains,
    Defeat or victory.

No means of peace discover
    Her strength on “Nights Before”,
She has her secret lover
    That guards the Grand Duke’s door.
No power can resist hers,
    No massacre deter—
Small brothers and wee sisters
    Of lovers, watch for her!

Old dotards undetected,
    School boys that never tire,
And lone hags unsuspected
    That drone beside the fire.
The youth in love’s first passion,
    The girl in day-dream mood,
And, in the height of fashion,
    The “butterfly” and “dude”.

The millionaire heart-broken,
    The beggar with his whine,
And each one hath a token,
    And each one hath a sign.
And when the time is ripe and
    The hells of earth in power,
The dotard drops his pipe, and—
    The maiden drops a flower!

Oh, bloody our revivals!
    And swift our vengeance hurled,
We’ve laid our dear-loved rivals
    In trenches round the world!
We’ve flung off fair arms clinging,
    Health, wealth, and life’s grand whole,
And marched out to her singing,
    A passion of our soul.

Her lovers fought on ice fields
    With stone clubs long ago,
Her lovers slave in rice fields
    And in the “’lectric’s” glow.
Her lovers pine wherever
    The lust for Nothing is,
They starve where light is never,
    And starve in palaces.

They’ve gathered, crowded and scattered,
    With heads and scythe-blades low,
Through fir and pine clump spattered,
    Like ink blots on the snow.
With broken limbs and shattered
    They’ve crushed like hunted brute,
And died in hellish torture
    In holes beneath the roof.

They’ve coursed through streets of cities
    The fleeing Parliaments,
And songs that were not ditties
    They’ve sung by smouldering tents.
And trained in caps and sashes
    They’ve heard the head drums roll,
They’ve danced on kings-blood splashes
    The dreadful carmagnole.

By mountains, and by stations,
    Out where wide levels are,
They’ve baulked the march of nations
    And ridden lone and far.
The whip stroke of the bullet,
    The short grunt of distress—
The saddled pony grazing
    Alone and riderless.

The plain in sunlight blazing—
    No signal of distress,
Unseen by far scouts gazing,
And still, with wide eyes glazing:
    Dead lover of our mistress,
    Dead comrade of his rivals,
    Dead champion of his country,
    Dead soldier of his widow
     And of his fatherless.

She pauses by her writers,
    And whispers, through the years,
The poems that delight us
    And bring the glorious tears.
The song goes on unbroken
    Through worlds of senseless drones,
Until the words are spoken
    By Emperors on their thrones.


The Gathering of the Brown-Eyed

The brown eyes came from Asia, where all mystery is true,
Ere the masters of Soul Secrets dreamed of hazel, grey, and blue;
And the Brown Eyes came to Egypt, which is called the gypsies’ home,
And the Brown Eyes went from Egypt and Jerusalem to Rome.

There was strife amongst the Brown Eyes for the false things and the true;
There was war amongst the Brown Eyes for the old gods and the new;
But the old gods live for ever, and their goddesses are bright
In the temples of Old Passions with the Brown Eyes of the White.

The Brown Eyes east, by Africa, they saw and conquered Spain,
And the Brown Eyes marched as Christians till a Brown Eye met a Dane,
The Dane had Brown-Eyed children who in blue eyes took delight—
And a son of blue-eyed sailors, brown-eyed, reads the stars to-night.

Oh, Knowledge from Old Deserts, where the great stars rocked the world!
Oh, courage from grim seaboards, where the Viking ships were hurled!
The clear skin of the Norseman, and the desert strength and sight,
The power to fathom mankind, and the glorious gift to write!

We can look in souls of women, aye! and let them know we do;
We can fix the false eyes earthward; we can meet and match the true;
We can startle Voice from Silence, and from Darkness flash the Light—
And the eyes to fathom Asia are the Brown Eyes of the White.

There’s a legend in the nations that all Brown Eyes once were true,
But were taught in love and warfare by the sinful shades of blue;
There’s a story amongst sinners that all Brown Eyes once were kind,
Till the Steel-Blue struck the Red-Fire in a hatred that was blind.

But the Brown Eyes are the saddest at the death of Love and Truth.
And the Brown Eyes are the grandest and the dreamiest of Youth.
They have risen in rebellion unto leadership sublime—
And the grey-eyed queens of women loved, and love them for all time!

Brown Eyes never married Brown Eyes but unhappiness held sway,
For the real mates of the Brown Eyes have for ever been the grey.
But though Brown Eyes quarrel hotly, though their very souls be wrenched,
Never Blue-Eye wronged a Brown-Eye but the Brown-Eye was avenged!

Through the breadth of wide Australia, waiting desert-like and vast,
We have sent our Brown-Eyed children, who are multiplying fast.
Patriots, picture-writers, sages, fill the Brown-Eyed rolls to-night—
’Tis the gathering from all ages of the Brown-Eyed of the White.


Who’ll Wear the Beaten Colours?

Who’ll wear the beaten colours—and cheer the beaten men?
Who’ll wear the beaten colours, till our time comes again?
Where sullen crowds are densest, and fickle as the sea,
Who’ll wear the beaten colours, and wear them home with me?

We closed the bars and gambling dens and voted straight and clean,
Our women walked while motor cars were whirling round the scene,
The Potts Point Vote was one for Greed and Ease and Luxury
With all to hold, and coward gold, and beaten folk are we.

Who’ll wear the beaten colours, with hands and pockets clean?
(I wore the beaten colours since I was seventeen)
I wore them up, and wore them down, Outback and across the sea—
Who’ll wear the beaten colours, and wear them home with me?

We wore them back from Ladysmith to where the peace was signed,
And wore them through the London streets where Jingoes howled behind.
We wore them to the Queen’s Hall, while England yelled “Pro-Boers!”
And sat them over victory while London banged the doors.

We wore them from Port Arthur round till all sunk in the sea—
(Who’ll wear the white man’s colours, and wear them home with me?)
I’ve worn them through with gentlemen, with work-slaves and alone—
Who’ll wear the beaten colours, boys, and wear them on his own?

There’s one would look with startled eyes and shrink while I caressed,
Came I not with the colours of the conquered on my breast.
And twenty thousand Bushmen would stand with hands behind
And scorn in all their faces for the coward of his kind.

Who’ll wear the beaten colours and raise the voice they drowned—
It may be when we march again, they’ll bear some other sound—
Who’ll pin the beaten colours on and drive the beaten pen—
It may be other steel and ink when we march out again.


Macleay Street and Red Rock Lane

Macleay Street looks to Mosman,
    Across the other side,
With brave asphalted pavements
    And roadway clean and wide.
Macleay Street hath its mansions,
    Its grounds and greenery;
Macleay Street hath its terraces
    As terraces should be.

Red Rock Lane looks to nowhere,
    With pockets into hell;
Red Rock Lane is a horror
    Of heat and dirt and smell.
Red Rock Lane hath its brothels,
    Of houses one in three;
Red Rock Lane hath its corner pubs
    As fourth-rate pubs should be.

Macleay Street, cool and quiet,
    Is marked off from the town,
And standing in the centre
    The tall arc lamps look down.
The jealous closed cabs vanish
    That stole from out the row,
Fair women stroll bareheaded,
    And theatre parties go.

Red Rock Lane, hot with riot,
    Hides things that none should know;
The furtive couples vanish
    Through doorways dark and low.
Lust, thievery, drink and madness
    In one infernal stew—
And Mrs Johnson, raving,
    Walks out—bareheaded too.

Macleay Street hath its swindles,
    But on a public scale;
Macleay Street hath its razzles
    Until the night grows pale.
Macleay Street hath its scandals,
    But—only this is plain,
That nothing is a scandal
    Down there in Red Rock Lane.

Macleay Street looks to Mosman
    In morning’s rosy glow,
And freshly to the city
    The summer-suited go
While wild-eyed, foul and shaking,
    Red Rock Lane wakes again.
This morning at the Central
    They’re fining Red Rock Lane.

The Central says “the risin’”,
    “Seven days”, or what you will;
Macleay Street says, “Drive slowly”
    When any one is ill.
The law sends Black Maria
    When Red Rock Lane is dead.
But doctors come in motor cars
    When Macleay Street’s got a head.

The grey-faced, weedy parents
    Sunk in Red Rock Lane holes—
They worry, pinch, and perish
    To save their children’s souls.
The fairy of Macleay Street
    Shall never soil her hands—
Her Pa is independent,
    Or high up in “the Lands”.

And—well, there seems no moral,
    And nothing more to tell,
But because of that fierce sympathy
    Of souls to souls in hell;
And because of that wild kindness
    To souls in sordid pain,
My soul I’d rather venture
    With some in Red Rock Lane.


The Wantaritencant

It watched me in the cradle laid, and from my boyhood’s home
It glared above my shoulder-blade when I wrote my first “pome”;
It’s sidled by me ever since, with greeny eyes aslant—
It is the thing (O, Priest and Prince!) that wants to write, but can’t.

It yells and slobbers, mows and whines, It follows everywhere;
’Tis gloating on these very lines with red and baleful glare.
It murders friendship, love and truth (It makes the “reader” pant),
It ruins editorial youth, the Wantaritencant.

Its slime is ever on my work, and ever on my name;
No toil nor trouble does It shirk—for It will write, all the same!
It tantalized when great thoughts burned, in trouble and in want;
It makes it hell for all concerned, the Wantaritencant.

And now that I would gladly die, or rest my weary mind,
I cannot rest to think that I must leave the Thing behind.
Its green rot damns the dead, for sure—that greatest curse extant,
’Twill kill Australian literature, the Wantaritencant!

You cannot kill or keep It still, or ease It off a bit;
It talks about Itself until the world believes in It.
It is a Scare, a Fright, a Ghast, a Gibber, and a Rant,
A future Horror and a Past, the Wantaritencant!


The Motor Car

Caesar’s Column, in book of same name, is built of the bodies of the victims of the Terrible Revolution, set in cement, with the aid of box-like arrangements, or built like a rubble, an adobe, or a mud wall. For Heaven and all the worlds to see. The interior is filled with explosives, with wires, or rods running out as a precaution against Vandalism. The last word is mine.

The motor car is sullen, like a thing that should not be;
The motor car is master of Smart Society.
’Twas born of sweated genius and collared by a clown;
’Twas planned by Retribution to ride its riders down.
                And straight for Caesar’s Column,
                It runs to Caesar’s Column,
                Last section, Caesar’s Column
                To ride its riders down!

The motor car is shame-struck, for greed and misery,
For mad and hopeless self-lust, and the sins that need not be.
The motor car is vicious, for its conscience makes it so,
It aye would smash the victims while it runs the riders low.
                And straight for Caesar’s Column,
                Its goal is Caesar’s Column,
                It longs for Caesar’s Column
                To lay its riders low.

The motor car is maddened like a horse that’s had a fright,
The shameful day behind it and the Coming of the Night!
It flees across the country and it flees back to the town
And straight for Caesar’s Column to run its riders down.
                And straight for Caesar’s Column,
                What ho! for Caesar’s Column!
                Hurrah! for Caesar’s Column!
                To seal its riders down.

The motor car is reckless like a gambler losing fast;
The motor car’s in terror of the Future—and the Past;
The motor car is worn out and has passed Sin’s boundary by,
And is bound for Caesar’s Column where to pile its riders high.
                It’s bound for Caesar’s Column
                And marked for Caesar’s Column,
                And doomed for Caesar’s Column
                To pile its riders high.

The motor car is brainless, and scornful of all tears,
Its dust is in our faces, its giggle in our ears,
Its harsh laugh is the last laugh of the last lost soul alone,
’Tis nearing Caesar’s Column to set self-damned in stone.
                Change here for Caesar’s Column!
                All out for Caesar’s Column!
                Past Hope—and Caesar’s Column
                To lodge self-damned in stone.

I don’t know how ’twill happen, or when ’twill come to pass,
But folk shall yet pass sanely by river, tree and grass;
By homesteads and farm wagons, they’ll ride each pleasant mile,
And back from Caesar’s Column where the world went mad awhile.
                And back from Caesar’s Column
                With lessons from the Column;
                Grown sane at Caesar’s Column
                To save the world awhile.


Freedom on the Wallaby

Australia’s a big country
    An’ Freedom’s humping bluey,
An’ Freedom’s on the wallaby
    Oh! don’t you hear ’er cooey?
She’s just begun to boomerang,
    She’ll knock the tyrants silly,
She’s goin’ to light another fire
    And boil another billy.

Our fathers toiled for bitter bread
    While loafers thrived beside ’em,
But food to eat and clothes to wear,
    Their native land denied ’em.
An’ so they left their native land
    In spite of their devotion,
An’ so they came, or if they stole,
    Were sent across the ocean.

Then Freedom couldn’t stand the glare
    O’ Royalty’s regalia,
She left the loafers where they were,
    An’ came out to Australia.
But now across the mighty main
    The chains have come ter bind her—
She little thought to see again
    The wrongs she left behind her.

Our parents toil’d to make a home—
    Hard grubbin’ ’twas an’ clearin’—
They wasn’t crowded much with lords
    When they was pioneering.
But now that we have made the land
    A garden full of promise,
Old Greed must crook ’is dirty hand
    And come ter take it from us.

So we must fly a rebel flag,
    As others did before us,
And we must sing a rebel song
    And join in rebel chorus.
We’ll make the tyrants feel the sting
    O’ those that they would throttle;
They needn’t say the fault is ours
    If blood should stain the wattle!


Give Yourself a Show

(New Year’s Eve)

To my fellow sinners all, who, in hope and doubt,
Through the Commonwealth to-night watch the Old Year out,
New Year’s Resolutions are jerry-built I know,
But I want to say to you, “Give yourselves a show”.

You who drink for drinking’s sake, love for lust alone,
Thinking heaven is a myth and the world your own—
Dancing gaily down to hell in the devil’s dance—
This I have to say to you: “Give your souls a chance”.

You who drink because of shame that you think will last,
Or because of wrong done you—trouble in the past—
“Nothing left to live for now,” you will say, I know;
But you have your own self yet, give that self a show!

You who want all things on earth—money, love, and fame
Having the advantage of worldly place or name—
You who have more than you want, even than you know,
In the glorious New Year give someone else a show.

You, the mischief-makers all, who in secret glee
Love to tell the villainies of a scamp like me;
There are things he’ll never tell—things you’ll never know—
Look into your own lives first—give the man a show.

You, the politician, who, for jealousy or gold,
Or for mean ambition, sell, or see your country sold,
Pandering to the hollow crowd, toadying to the low,
For shame’s sake banish selfishness—give your land a show.



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.


That Great Waiting Silence

Where shall we go for prophecy? Where shall we go for proof?
The holiday street is crowded, pavement, window and roof;
Band and banner pass by us, and the old tunes rise and fall—
But that great waiting silence is on the people all!

Where is the cheering and laughter of the eight-hour days gone by?
When the holiday heart was careless, and the holiday spirit high—
The friendly jostling and banter, the wit and the jovial call?
But that great waiting silence is over the people all.

Oh! but my heart beats faster—and a gush that was nearly tears:
Clatter of hammers on iron! and Australian Engineers!
Goods from Australian workshops—proud to the world at last
(And I see, in a flash from the future, Australian guns go past).

The morning sun-glare, softened by a veil, like frosted glass—
There is no breath of a head-breeze as the Labour banners pass,
There seems no sign of a danger or a change for the workers now—
But for some great, new-born spirit the banners seem to bow.

Where shall we go for our platforms? Where shall we go, indeed?
Shall we follow the cackle of women that follow the jesting Reid,
Through indifferent-seeming cities—and the browned men straight and tall?
But that great waiting silence is on the people all.

Twist and tangle and mystify, bully, and weep and bluff;
Marry the truth to a glaring lie, and say it is good enough;
Boast of your vice and villainy—in your virtue rant and bawl—
But that great waiting silence is over the people all!

Brothers, who work with shovel or pen, labour by day and night:
Brothers, who think of the hearts of men, ponder and speak and write;
Work for Australia’s destiny, content till you hear the call,
For the spirit that builds a nation is over the people all.


Above Crow’s Nest


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.


To Be Amused

You ask me to be gay and glad
    While lurid clouds of danger loom,
And vain and bad and gambling mad,
    Australia races to her doom.
You bid me sing the light and fair,
    The dance, the glance on pleasure’s wings—
While you have wives who will not bear,
    And beer to drown the fear of things.

A war with reason you would wage
    To be amused for your short span,
Until your children’s heritage
    Is claimed for China by Japan.
The football match, the cricket score,
    The “scraps”, the tote, the mad’ning Cup—
You drunken fools that evermore
    “To-morrow morning” sober up!

I see again with haggard eyes,
    The thirsty land, the wasted flood;
Unpeopled plains beyond the skies,
    And precious streams that run to mud;
The ruined health, the wasted wealth,
    In our mad cities by the seas,
The black race suicide by stealth,
    The starved and murdered industries!

You bid me make a farce of day,
    And make a mockery of death;
While not five thousand miles away
    The yellow millions pant for breath!
But heed me now, nor ask me this—
    Lest you too late should wake to find
That hopeless patriotism is
    The strongest passion in mankind!

You’d think the seer sees, perhaps,
    While staring on from days like these,
Politeness in the conquering Japs,
    Or mercy in the banned Chinese!
I mind the days when parents stood,
    And spake no word, while children ran
From Christian lanes and deemed it good
    To stone a helpless Chinaman.

I see the stricken city fall,
    The fathers murdered at their doors,
The sack, the massacre of all
    Save healthy slaves and paramours—
The wounded hero at the stake,
    The pure girl to the leper’s kiss—
God, give us faith, for Christ’s own sake,
    To kill our womankind ere this.

I see the Bushman from Out Back,
    From mountain range and rolling downs,
And carts race on each rough bush track
    With food and rifles from the towns;
I see my Bushmen fight and die
    Amongst the torn blood-spattered trees,
And hear all night the wounded cry
    For men! More men and batteries!

I see the brown and yellow rule
    The southern lands and southern waves,
White children in the heathen school,
    And black and white together slaves;
I see the colour-line so drawn
    (I see it plain and speak I must),
That our brown masters of the dawn
    Might, aye, have fair girls for their lusts!

With land and life and race at stake—
    No matter which race wronged, or how—
Let all and one Australia make
    A superhuman effort now.
Clear out the blasting parasites,
    The paid-for-one-thing manifold,
And curb the goggled “social-lights”
    That “scorch” to nowhere with our gold.

Store guns and ammunition first,
    Build forts and warlike factories,
Sink bores and tanks where drought is worst,
    Give over time to industries.
The outpost of the white man’s race,
    Where next his flag shall be unfurled,
Make clean the place! Make strong the place!
    Call white men in from all the world!


Australia’s Peril
The Warning

Not from the God of Nations direct shall the bolt be hurled,
But for the crimes of mankind the world shall punish the world,
From the East comes the dreadful storm-cloud of darkness shot with fire,
Not sent to the West, but permitted by the great God in his ire.

We must suffer, husband and father, we must suffer, daughter and son,
For the wrong we have taken part in and the wrong that we have seen done.
Let the bride of frivolous fashion, and of ease, be ashamed and dumb,
For I tell you the nations shall rule us who have let their children come!

How shall Australia escape it—we in the South and alone
Who have taken the sword for no right of England and none of our own?
(Can we bring back the husbands and fathers, can we bring the lovers and sons?
From the Dead to the homes we have ruined with the fire of our murdering guns?)

With the Jews we belied the farmers; with the cowardly Jingoes we yelped;
We have earned the scorn of brave men—the contempt of the men we helped.
The curse of the widows and orphans, the debt for the ruin we wrought,
We were punished by drought and famine, we must fight as the Boers fought.

Who shall aid and protect us when the blood-streaked dawn we meet?
Will England, the hated of nations, whose existence depends on her fleet?
Who, because of the deer-parks and game-runs where her wheat-fields and pastures should be,
Must bring food for her herded thousands and shepherd it over the sea?

The beak of the British Octopus, or the Bosses within our reach
Who spend the hot days on the Mountains or summer at Manly Beach!
The thousands of paltry swindlers who are fathoms beneath our scorn—
Or the army of brave sons grown from the children who should have been born!

What avail us the Wriggler, the Bully, or the she-politician who kicks
Like a hen in the rubbish and cackles in our backyard politics?
What was done by our Federation—our brotherhood covenants?
What was done by our Governors seven and our thirteen Parliaments?

Listen through Houses and Senate—listen from east to west
For the voice of one Australian who will stand above the rest;
Who will lead in his country’s dawning, who will lead in his manhood’s noon—
The man will come with the hour—but the hour may come too soon.

The wealth you have won has been wasted on trips to the English Rome,
On costly costumes from Paris, and titles and gewgaws from “home”.
Shall a knighthood frighten Asia when she comes with the hate of hell?
Will the motor-launch race the torpedo, or the motor-car outspeed the shell?

You who fought through the blinding dust-storm—you who toiled in the blazing noons—
Are you “Hayseeds” and “Hodges” and “Bushies” the butt of the comic cartoons?
Field-labourers, paupers, and peasants—slaves in your later years,
With the motor-car dust in your faces and the giggle and laugh in your ears?

Keep the wealth you have won from the cities, spend the wealth you have won on the land,
Save the floods that run into the ocean—save the floods that sink into the sand!
Make farms fit to live on, build workshops and technical schools for your sons;
Keep the wealth of the land in Australia—make your own cloth, machines, and guns!

Clear out the Calico Jimmy, the nigger, the Chow, and his pals;
Be your foreword for years: Irrigation! Make a network of lakes and canals!
See that your daughters have children, and see that Australia is home,
And so be prepared, a strong nation, for the storm that most surely must come.


The Federal City

Oh! the folly, the waste, and the pity! Oh, the time that is flung behind!
They are seeking a site for a city, whose eyes shall be always blind,
Whose love for their ease grows greater, and whose care for their country less—
They are seeking a site for a city—a City of Selfishness.

In ignorance, deafness, blindness, in the cities by the sea,
With waste of time and of money, and with local jealousy;
With Anti-Federal envy, and personal paltriness,
They are seeking a site for a city—while Australia moans in distress.

By the coast with the people crowding, where Australia’s danger lies,
By the hills and the clear, cool rivers, and under the softer skies,
Where the fat shall not melt, and the ranter grow cool in the fresh’ning breeze,
And the dwellers drivel in comfort and the boodlers swindle at ease.

They are seeking a site for a city in the beauty spots of the land,
While I see so plainly, my children, where the Federal towers should stand!
Where the heart of Australia beats strongest and highest in desert air.
Make a site for a Federal City, and build you your capital there!

Where the crowd should be drawn from the coast line to the great bush that cradled the race,
Where the bush might be armed and directed should the seaboard be lost for a space;
Where the waste should be watered and gardened, in the drought-land of Never Despair,
There build you your Federal City, and make you a paradise there.

It shall be a world-wide object-lesson; it shall stand while a bushman is true,
And I tell you the bushmen will build it to show what a nation can do;
And there shall Australia sit queenly, and there shall her children be schooled,
For, I say, from the heart of Australia shall the whole of Australia be ruled.


Cypher Seven

The nearer camp fires lighted,
    The distant beacons bright—
The horsemen on the skyline
    Are closing in to-night!
My brothers, Oh my brothers!
    Lie down and rest at last—
The Years of Reparation
    Have rushed upon us fast.

Oh, ride and ride, you riders,
    Who rode ere I was born,
While blink-and-blink the star-dust
    That blinks before the morn.
And glow and glow you camp fires,
    And flash, you beacons bright!
They’re riding round the wronged ones
    And riding round the right!

My brothers, Oh my brothers!
    With dried and haggard eyes,
In gaol for just blows stricken—
    In gaol for women’s lies!
Lie down and pace no longer
    But bathe your eyes in tears
For Years of Retribution
    That shall be seven years!

Their lovers and believers!
    Their sweethearts, sisters, wives,
Their daughters, sons and mothers,
    The true friends of their lives!
Hold up your heads and firmly
    Look down the Crooked Seers
For Years of Justifying
    That shall be seven years.

Inventors, artists, poets—
    Exiled or driven mad,
Sweated, sneered at, slandered,
    And driven to the bad—
Take up the tools of genius,
    Freed from all paltry fears,
For Seasons of Repayment
    That shall be seven years.

Oh, ride and ride, you riders,
    That rode when I was born
Against a ghastly skyline
    Beneath a storm-cloud torn!
I watched you through my childhood,
    I saw the whip and spur,
No spy’s glass could detect you
    But I knew what you were!

Oh, ride and ride, my riders,
    And flash my birth star bright!
The youth I never dreamed of
    Is with me here to-night!
The hearing, strength and vision,
    The will to do and dare,
The love I ever longed for
    Is round me everywhere.

Dead Friendship—ah! Dead Friendship,
    Rise up and breathe again—
I ride my rounds re-honoured
    Along the ranks of men.
My old mates, Oh! my old mates,
    Who fought the cur and brute—
My horsemen from the skyline
    Are drawn up to salute!

My Dead Love, Oh! my Dead Love,
    Who died for love of me—
Who sleeps amongst the poets
    Since five years sobbed the sea.
Since five years blackened honour
    And cramped and warped the pen—
There’s glory to your spirit
    The laurel leafs again.

My enemies, the causeless
    Of vicious mysteries,
Or mad with jealous madness—
    Or for the crawler’s fees—
Fear ye my Cypher Seven!
    For seven years to run—
The number set by Heaven
    When Heaven’s will is done.

So ride and ride, my riders,
    And ride for men and me,
Ride close round madness yonder
    And blackest treachery!
Oh! ride round little children
    That sleep through all and smile!—
At daybreak I will lead you—
    Now I must rest awhile.


Every Man Should Have a Rifle

So I sit and write and ponder, while the house is deaf and dumb,
Seeing visions “over yonder” of the war I know must come.
In the corner—not a vision—but a sign for coming days,
Stand a box of ammunition and a rifle in green baize.
And in this, the living present, let the word go through the land,
Every tradesman, clerk and peasant should have these two things at hand.

No—no ranting song is needed, and no meeting, flag or fuss
In the future, still unheeded, shall the spirit come to us!
Without feathers, drum or riot, on the day that is to be,
We shall march down, very quiet, to our stations by the sea.
While the bitter parties stifle every voice that warns of war,
Every man should own a rifle and have cartridges in store!


What Have We All Forgotten?

What have we all forgotten, at the break of the seventh year?
With a nation born to the ages and a Bad Time borne on its bier!
Public robbing, and lying that death cannot erase—
“Private” strife and deception—Cover the bad dead face!
Drinking, gambling and madness—Cover and bear it away—
But what have we all forgotten at the dawn of the seventh day?

These are the years of plenty—years when the “tanks” are full—
Stacked by the lonely sidings mountains of wheat and wool.
Country crowds to the city, healthy, shaven and dressed,
Clothes to wear with the gayest, money to spend with the best.
Grand are the lights of the cities, carnival kings in power—
But what have we all forgotten, in this, the eleventh hour?

“We” have brought the states together, a land to the lands new born.
We have worked in the glorious weather, we have garnered and reaped and shorn.
We have come from the grass-waves flowing under Heaven’s electric lamps
(Making of sordid cities, boyish and jovial camps).
“We” have cleansed the cities and townships: we rest and frolic and gain,
But what have we all forgotten? Did we send the peace and the rain?

What have we all forgotten, here in our glorious home?
(I the greater the sinner because I was greater than some.)
What have we all forgotten so widely from east to west?
(I—and the most ungrateful because I was doubly blessed.)
Sinners to self and to country! and saviours though misunderstood!
Let us all kneel for one moment and thank the Great Spirits for Good.


Since the Cities are the Cities

Fools can parrot-cry the prophet when the proof is close at hand,
And the blind can see the danger when the foe is in the land!
Truth was never cynicism, death or ruin’s not a joke,
“Told-you-so” is not a warning—Patriotism not a croak.

Blame will aid no man nor country when the dark days come at last—
As with men so with a nation, and the warning time is past.
Our great sins were of omission, and the dogs of war are loosed—
And we all must stand together when those sins come home to roost.

Since the cities are the cities and shall stand for evermore,
Let us justify our being, be it peace or be it war.
For because we are the townsfolk, and have never ridden far
Shall we call the bush to aid us that has made us what we are?

Westward went our brothers, fighting distance, drought, and loneliness
While we lived in light and comfort knowing nothing of distress,
We who never shared the hardships when the sunset led them on,
Now’s our time, O street-bred people, with our faces to the dawn!

They have conquered with the cross-cut and the wedges and the maul,
With the spade and axe and mattock and the saddle-packs and all,
They have mighty work before them for the sake of you and me—
Let us stand up to our duty! We’re the Rearguard by the Sea.

Days of gibes at “street-bred people” by the street-bred bards are done—
Shall the man who lays the yard-stick never learn to lay the gun?
Shall the crouched type-writer toiling for his home in days like these
Touch the button the less firmly when we play on other keys?

We have seen in many countries what the street-bred men can do—
In the desert, scrub and jungle they were men who battled through!
Human weeds of grand endurance winning where the strong men quailed,
Pigeon-chested leaders leading on where beef-born courage failed.

Street-bred people down the ages—beggars, mobs and democrats—
Fought through many desperate sieges (fought on horseflesh, dogs and rats)
When their own cowed country failed them, then the city soul was proved—
“Street-bred people” died in thousands for the cities that they loved.

In the days when strength was needed—days of pike and axe and sword—
Daylight found the peaceful burghers ready, keeping watch and ward.
Clerks and tailors fought like heroes at the gates and in the trench—
(Even Falstaff brought his herrings with some slaughter through the French).

Every man should have a cottage and a garden to defend,
But the “should-be” is for ever—cities stand until the end,
Every farmer has a country that he loves when war-drums roll—
Every clerk may have a city that he loves with heart and soul.

Fat or lean, we all are sinners—lean or fat we all would be;
High or low or lean or fatted, ’tis for Nationality.
It will be till all is ended, as it was since all began—


To Victor Daly

I thought that silence would be best,
    But I a call have heard,
And, Victor, after all the rest,
    I well might say a word:
The day and work is nearly done,
    And ours the victory,
And we are resting, one by one,
    In graveyards by the sea.

But then you talked of other nights,
    When, gay from dusk to dawn,
You wasted hours with other lights
    That went where you have gone.
You spoke not of the fair and “fast”,
    But of the pure and true—
“Sweet ugly women of the past”
    Who stood so well by you.

You made a jest on that last night,
    I met it with a laugh:
You wondered which of us should write
    The other’s epitaph.
We filled the glasses to the brim—
    “The land’s own wine” you know—
And solemnly we drank to him
    Who should be first to go.

No ribald jest; we were but two—
    The royst’ring days were past—
And in our heart of hearts we knew,
    That one was going fast.
We both knew who should win the race—
    Were rest or fame the prize—
As with a quaint smile on your face
    You looked into my eyes.

You talked about old struggles brave,
    But in a saddened tone—
The swindles editors forgave
    For laughter’s sake alone.
You talked of humorous distress,
    And bailiffs that you knew,
But with a touch of bitterness
    I’d never seen in you.

No need for tears or quick-caught breath—
    You sleep not in the sand—
No need for ranting song of death,
    With the death drink in our hand.
No need for vain invective hurled
    At “cruel destiny”,
Though you seem dead to all the world
    You are not dead to me.

I see you walk into the room—
    We aye remember how—
And, looking back into the gloom,
    You’ll smile about it now.
’Twas Victor’s entry, solemn style—
    With verse or paragraph:
Though we so often saw your smile
    How many heard you laugh?

They dare to write about the man
    That they have never seen:
The blustering false Bohemian
    That you have never been;
Some with the false note in their voice,
    And with the false tear shed,
Who in their secret heart rejoice
    For one more rival—dead.

They miss the poems, real and true,
    Where your heart’s blood was shed.
And rave of reckless things that you
    Threw out for bitter bread.
They “weep” and “worship” while you “rest”,
    They drivel and they dote—
But, Victor, we remember best
    The things we never wrote.

The things that lie between us two,
    The things I’ll never tell.
A fool, I stripped my soul, but you—
    You wore your mask too well
(How strangely human all men be,
    Though each one plays a part).
You only dropped it once for me,
    But then I saw your heart.

A souls’-match, such as one might strike
    With or without intent
(How strangely all men are alike—
    With masks so different).
No need to drop the mask again,
    On that last night, I know—
It chanced when we were sober men,
    Some seven years ago.

They slander you, fresh in the sand,
    They slander me alive;
But, when their foul souls flee the land,
    Our spirits shall arrive.
In slime and envy let them rave,
    And let the worst be said:
“A drunkard at a drunkard’s grave,”
    “A brilliant drunkard dead.”

Because we would not crawl to them,
    Their hands we would not shake,
Because their greed we would condemn,
    Their bribes we would not take:
Because unto the fair and true
    Our hearts and songs we gave—
But I forgot them when I threw
    My white flower on your grave.

So let us turn, and with a smile
    Let those poor creatures pass
While we, the few who wait awhile,
    Drink to an empty glass.
We’ll live as in the days gone by,
    To no god shall we bow—
Though, Victor, there are times when I
    Feel jealous of you now.

But I’ll have done with solemn songs,
    Save for my country’s sake;
It is not meet, for all the wrongs,
    That any heart should break.
So many need to weep and smile,
    Though all the rest should frown,
That I’d take your burden up awhile
    Where you have laid it down.


The Bards Who Lived at Manly

The camp of high-class spielers,
    Who sneered in summer dress,
And doo-dah dilettante,
    And scornful “venuses”—
House agents, and storekeepers,
    All eager they to “bleed”—
The bards who tackled Manly,
    Were plucky bards indeed!

With shops that feared to trust them,
    And pubs that looked askance;
And prigs who read their verses,
    But gave them not a glance;—
When all were vain and selfish,
    And editors were hard—
The bard that stuck to Manly
    Was sure a mighty bard.

What mattered floors were barren,
    And windows curtainless,
And our life seemed to others
    But blackguard recklessness?
We wore our clothes for comfort,
    We earned our bread alway,
And beer and good tobacco
    Came somehow every day.

Came kindred souls to Manly—
    Outsiders that we knew,
And with them scribes and artists,
    And low comedians too;
And sometimes bright girl writers—
    Called “Tommy”, “Jack”, or “Pat”—
(Though each one had a sweetheart
    The rest knew nought of that).

’Twas not the paltry village
    We honoured unaware,
Or welcome warm, or friendship,
    Or “tone” that took us there;
We longed to sing for mankind,
    Where heaven’s breath was free
We only sought the grandeur
    Of sea-cliff, sands and sea.

And we were glad at Manly,
    All unaware of “swells”,
Of doctors and of nurses,
    And private hospitals;
With little fear of bailiffs,
    And great contempt for greed—
The bards who lived at Manly,
    They were a healthy breed.

Oh! moonlit nights at Manly,
    When all the world was fair!
In shirts and turned-up trousers
    We larked like big boys there.
Oh! glorious autumn mornings—
    The gold and green and blue—
We “stripped” as well as any,
    And swam as strongly too.

The artist had a missus,
    Who rather loved the wretch,
And so for days together
    He’d stay at home and sketch.
And then—I fear ’twas only
    When things were getting tight—
The bards would shun each other,
    And hump themselves—and write.

When bailiffs came to Manly
    They’d find no “sticks” to take,
We’d welcome them as brothers—
    Their grimy hands we’d shake;
We’d send for beer in billies—
    And straightway send for more—
And bailiff nights in Manly
    Were merry nights of yore.

There are some things that landlords
    And law can’t do at all:
They could not take the pictures
    We painted on the wall;
They could not take the table—
    The table was a door;
They could not take the bedsteads—
    The beds were on the floor.

The door of some old stable—
    We’d borrowed for a drink—
A page of rhymes and sketches,
    And stained with beer and ink;
A dead hand drew the portraits—
    And, say, should I be shamed,
To seek it out in Manly
    And get the old door framed?

They left the masterpieces
    The artist dreamed of long;
They could not take the gardens
    From Victor Daley’s song;
They left his summer islands
    And fairy ships at sea,
They could not take my mountains
    And western plains from me.

One bailiff was our brother,
    No better and no worse—
And, oh! the yarns he told us
    To put in prose and verse,
And sorry we to lose him,
    And sorry he to go—
(Oh! skeletons of Pott’s Point,
    How many things we know)!

The very prince of laughter,
    With brains and sympathy;
And with us on the last night
    He spent his bailiff’s fee.
He banished Durkin’s gruffness,
    He set my soul afloat,
And drew till day on Daley’s
    Bright store of anecdote.

He said he’d stick to business—
    Though he could well be free—
If but to save poor devils
    From harder “bums” than he,
Now artist, bard and bailiff
    Have left this vale of sin—
I trust, if they reach Heaven,
    They’ll take that bailiff in.

The bards that lived in Manly
    Have vanished one and one;
But do not think in Manly
    Bohemian days are done.
They bled me white in Manly
    When rich and tempest-tossed—
I’ll leave some bills in Manly
    To pay for what I lost.

They’d grab and grind in Manly,
    Then slander, sneer, and flout.
The shocked of moral Manly!
    They starved my brothers out.
The miserable village,
    Set in a scene so fair,
Were honester and cleaner
    If some of us were there!

But one went with December—
    These last lines seem to-night
Like some song I remember,
    And not a song I write.
With vision strangely clearer
    My old chums seem to be,
In death and absence, nearer
    Than e’er they were to me.

Alone, and still not lonely—
    When tears will not be shed—
I wish that I could only
    Believe that they were dead.
With hardly curbed emotion,
    I can’t but think, somehow,
In Manly by the ocean
    They’re waiting for me now.


The Empty Glass

There are three lank bards in a borrowed room—
    Ah! The number is one too few—
They have deemed their home and the bars unfit
    For the thing that they have to do.
Three glasses they fill with the Land’s own wine,
    And the bread of life they pass.
Their glasses they take, which they slowly raise—
    And they drink to an empty glass.

(There’s a greater glare in the street to-night,
    And a louder rush and roar,
There’s a mad crowd yelling the winner’s name,
    And howling the cricket score:
Oh! The bright moonlight on the angels white,
    And the tombs and the monuments grand—
And down by the water at Waverley
    There’s a little lone mound of sand.)

Oh, the drinkers would deem them drunk or mad,
    And the barmaid stare and frown—
Each lays a hand on the empty glass
    Ere they turn it upside down.
There’s a name they know, in a hand they know,
    Was scratched with a diamond there—
And they place it in sight—turn on more light—
    And they fill their glasses fair.

There’s a widow that weeps by the Hornsby line,
    And she stood by him long and true—
But the widow should think by the Hornsby line
    That others have loved him too,
’Twas a peaceful end, and his work was done,
    When called with the year away;
And the greatest lady in all the land
    Is working for her to-day.

If the widow should fear for her children’s fate,
    Or brood on a future lot,
In a frivolous land with her widowed state
    In a short twelve months forgot.
She can lay her down for a peaceful rest
    And forget her grief in sleep,
For his brothers have taken an oath to-night,
    An oath that their hearts can keep.

They have taken an oath to his memory,
    A pledge they cannot recall,
To stand by the woman that stood by him,
    Through poverty, illness and all.
They are young men yet, or the prime of life,
    And as each lays down his trust,
May the world be kind to the left behind,
    And their native land be just.

(Silence of death in town to-night,
    And the streets seem strangely clear—
Have the pitiful slaves of the gambling curse
    Fled home for a strange new fear?
Oh, the soft moonlight on the angels white,
    Where the beautiful marbles stand—
And down by the rollers at Waverley
    There’s a mound of the golden sand.)


The Soul of a Poet

I have written, long years I have written,
    For the sake of my people and right,
I was true when the iron had bitten
    Deep into my soul in the night;
I wrote not for praise nor for money,
    I craved but the soul and the pen,
And I felt not the sting in the honey
    Of writing the kindness of men.

You read and you saw without seeing,
    My work seemed a trifle apart,
While the truth of things thrilled through my being,
    And the wrong of things murdered my heart!
Cast out, and despised and neglected,
    And weak, and in fear, and in debt,
My songs, mutilated! rejected!
    Shall ring through the Commonwealth yet!

And you to the pure and the guileless,
    And the peace of your comfort and pride—
You have mocked at my bodily vileness,
    You have tempted and cast me aside.
But wronged, and cast out, drink-sodden,
    But shunned, and “insane” and unclean,
I have dared where few others have trodden,
    I have seen what few others have seen.

I have seen your souls bare for a season!
    I have heard as a deaf man can hear!
I have seen you deprived of your reason
    And stricken with deadliest fear.
And when beautiful night hid the shocking
    Black shame of the day that was past,
I felt the Great Universe rocking
    With the truth that was coming at last.



Two couples are drifting the self-same way
    (Men of the world know well)
From the ballroom glare as the night grows grey
    (Men of the world can tell).
Many are round them who know, and knew,
    But men of the world are blind;
That couple in front has nought to do
    With the couple that comes behind.

The woman starts on her partner’s arm,
    For a reason he could not tell—
She trips and she laughs the Society laugh,
    That men of the world know well.
If she laughs too suddenly, talks too fast,
    We are deaf as well as blind—
’Twas only the ghosts of the girlish days
    When she married the man behind.

He feels a pang where his heart had been
    (For a reason he cannot tell).
A spasm that mars the cynical smile
    That men of the world know well.
A spasm that’s known in Society,
    And by many men “out of the hunt”.
’Tis only the ghosts of his boyish hopes
    When he married the woman in front.

And the man in front, and the woman behind
    (Oh, Society’s smile and bow!)
They are too well-bred to ask even in thought
    What has come to their partners now.
But the couples drift in Society’s stream
    To the kerb where the two cabs wait—
It was all because of what others had said,
    And a word that was spoken too late.


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?


Till All the Bad Things Came Untrue

By blacksoil plains burned grey with drought
    Where desert shrubs and grasses grow,
Along the Land of Furthest Out
    That only Overlanders know.
I dreamed I camped on river grass
    In bends where river timber grew—
I dreamed, I dreamed the days to pass
    Till all the bad things came untrue.

I dreamed that I was young again,
    But was not young as I had been,
My path through life seemed fair and plain,
    My sight and hearing clear and keen.
No longer bent nor lined and grey,
    I met and loved and worshipped you—
I dreamed, I dreamed the days away
    Till all the sad things came untrue.

I dreamed a home of freestone stood
    With toned tiled roofs as roofs should be,
By cliff and fall and beach and wood
    With wide verandahs to the sea.
I dreamed a hale gudeman and wife,
    With sons and daughters well-to-do,
Lived there the glorious old home life
    And all the mad things were untrue.

From blacksoil plains burned bare with drought
    Where years are sown that never grow—
From dead grey creeks of dreams and drought,
    Through black-ridged wastes of weirdest woe,
I tramped and camped with fearsome fare
    Until the sea-scape came in view,
And lo! the home lay smiling there
    And all the bad things were untrue.


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
    To-night in Possum Land.


The Spirits for Good

We come with peace and reason,
    We come with love and light,
To banish black self-treason
    And everlasting night.

We know no god nor devil,
    We neither drive nor lead—
We come to banish evil
    In thought as well as deed.

And this our grandest mission,
    And this our purest worth;
To banish superstition,
    The blackest curse on earth.

We come to pass no sentence,
    For ours is not the power—
The coward’s vain repentance
    But wastes the waiting hour.

’Tis not for us to lengthen
    The years of wasted lives;
We come to help and strengthen
    The goodness that survives.

We promise nought hereafter,
    We cannot conquer pain,
But work, and rest, and laughter,
    Will soothe the tortured brain.

That which is lost, we cannot
    Restore to any one—
But Truth and Right must triumph,
    And Justice must be done!

We come in many guises;
    But every one is plain
To each pure thought that rises
    Again and yet again.

We are ourselves and human,
    And ours our destiny;
The souls of Man and Woman
    Divorced by Vanity.


To Jack

So, I’ve battled it through on my own, Jack,
    I have done with all dreaming and doubt.
Though “stoney” to-night and alone, Jack,
    I am watching the Old Year out.
I have finished with brooding and fears,
    Jack, And the spirit is rising in me,
For the sake of the old New Years, Jack,
    And the bright New Years to be.

I have fallen in worldly disgrace, Jack,
    And I know very well that you heard;
They have blackened my name in this place, Jack,
    And I answered them never a word.
But why should I bluster or grieve,
    Jack? So narrow and paltry they be—
I knew you would never believe, Jack,
    The lies that were said against me.

That is done which shall never be undone,
    And I blame not, I blame not my land,
But I’m hearing the Calling of London,
    And I long for the roar of the Strand.
It was always the same with our race,
    Jack; You know how a vagabond feels—
We can fight a straight man face to face, Jack.
    But we can’t keep the curs from our heels.

You know I loved women and drink, Jack,
    And that’s how the trouble began;
But you know that I never would shrink,
    Jack, From a deed that was worthy a man!
I never was paltry or mean, Jack.
    And cruel I never could be,
I will give you a hand which is clean,
    Jack, When we meet again over the sea.

I will bring a few wrinkles of care,
    Jack; I have altered a lot, I am told;
The steel-filings show in my hair, Jack;
    But my heart is as young as of old.
I have faith still in women, and men, Jack,
    Though selfish and blind they may be.
I still have my soul and my pen, Jack,
    And my country seems dearer to me.

I will sail when your summer sets in, Jack,
    And good-bye to my own native land;
Oh, I long for a glimpse of your grin, Jack,
    And I long for the grip of your hand.
We both suffered sorrow and pain, Jack,
    And sinned in the days that are done;
But we’ll fight the old battle again, Jack,
    Where the battle is worth being won.


In the Height of Fashion

So at last a toll they’ll levy
    For the passing fool who sings—
Take the harp grown dull and heavy
    (With the dried blood on the strings)
Let us sing, and sing right gaily,
    For the wreath is on our brow—
Are you hearin’, Victor Daley?
    We are fashionable now!

Once the greatest earl could flout us,
    And the meanest scribe could sneer—
Nought too bad to say about us,
    Nought too hard for us to hear.
Slaves to journal-owning Neroes,
    And we died—no matter how—
We’re sweet singers now and heroes,
    We are fashionable now.

Once we suffered all save gaol, if
    We’d no rich admirers near;
And our sole guest was the bailiff
    And our only comfort beer.
Now we’ll dine with toffs and “ladies”,
    Who shall clasp our hands and bow.
Let the pale muse go to Hades!
    We are fashionable now.

Once we had to be contented
    With the “Palace of the Mind”,
While our coats were washed and mended,
    And our pants were patched behind;
Now by goose-knights we are measured,
    While the lordly tailors bow;
And our worn-out pants are treasured—
    We are fashionable now!

Once, when stony-broke and mournful,
    We put our petition clear,
Then our country, cold and scornful,
    Answered, “Go and get a beer!”
And it threw the tray bit at us
    Just to stop our “silly row”,
Now it’s champagne spreads and—satis!
    We are fashionable now.

Once our grandest lines were drivel,
    And our wisest words were rot,
All our teachings false and evil,
    To be sneered at and forgot;
Now our silliest clack delights ’em,
    Doggerel their feelings plow,
And our shallow bluff affrights ’em—
    We are fashionable now!

“I adore the Swagman—Drover—
    ‘When the World was Round!’—But ah!
‘While the Billy’s Boiling Over’
    Is too awfully hurrah!”
Thus the maiden trills and gushes
    While her johnnie knots his brow,
And the fair young maiden blushes—
    We are fashionable now!

“I like your book, Mr Lawson,
    ‘Clancy of the Overflow’,
Better far than Mr Banjo’s—
    ‘When Your Pants Begin to Go’.”
No! I am no longer snarling,
    Long ago we had our row—
Don’t be angry, Banjo, darling,
    Though I’m fashionable now.

I am feeling young and restive—
    Skittish more than I can tell,
Skipping with a skip that’s festive,
    Singing with a gladsome yell.
I will let my hair grow longer,
    Storm-tossed from my stormy brow,
I am going strong and stronger—
    For I’m fashionable now.

We shall write lines to their poodles—
    Darlings of Society—
Praise the blatant cad who boodles,
    Write odes to the Divorcee.
Let, at last Australia know its
    Brilliant circles anyhow,
We’re the Doo-dah, Doo-dah! Poets—
    We are fashionable now.


The Prime of Life

Oh, the strength of the toil of those twenty years, with father, and master, and men!
And the clearer brain of the business man, who has held his own for ten:
Oh, the glorious freedom from business fears, and the rest from domestic strife!
The past is dead, and the future assured, and I’m in the prime of life!

She bore me old, and they kept me old, and they worked me early and late;
I carried the loads of my selfish tribe, from seven to thirty eight:
I slaved with dad, in the dust and heat, that my brothers might enjoy—
But I rest to-day in the prime of life, and I’ll live and die a boy!

When the last crop failed, and the stock were gone, did the old man’s head go down?
No! he started business, on what was left, in the produce line in town.
They sent my brothers to boarding schools, when our way to the front we’d won—
They’d borrow, and borrow, but never had aught but contempt for the eldest son.

My brothers they went to the world away, and they left the home in strife.
They sowed wild oats in the pride of youth, and they pawned the prime of life.
They sowed too fast, and they sowed too far; and they came back one by one—
You couldn’t tell which is the eldest son and which is the youngest son.

Oh, I longed for a love that I could not claim, and a breath of the youth denied—
But I stuck to the store when the old man went, and the mater until she died:
With Job’s own sister and Satan’s aunt—good Lord! and the fiend’s own wife—
But I’m free of them now, it is no matter how, and I’m in the prime of life.

My brothers have turned respectable, and are steady as men can be:
The youngest and worst is a leading light—and he aims at reforming me!
But I lend and help, and I’ll fix them up, for I can’t but see with a sigh,
That the youngest, who left us a handsome boy, is an older man than I.

But it’s “Lord make us thankful” three times a day, before they eat their fill—
They can thank the Lord if they like, I say, but I reckon I pay the bill.
They feel independent, I’m glad to know, for if all I hear is true,
My brothers agree that I do no more than I have a right to do.

They’ll work in the store while I see the world, and I’ll let them share the till—
But I sail to-day, for a year away, to go wherever I will:
I sail with the woman who waited for me—old sweetheart; and brand new wife—
She is handsome and true, and she’s thirty-two—and I’m in the prime of life.

For Capetown, and London, and Norraway, for Germany, Holland, and France,
For Switzerland, Italy—anywhere—for Greece, and for Egypt a glance,
For India, China, and “strange Japan”, for the East with mystery rife—
I have made enough, and I have my love—and I’m in the prime of life!


My Father-in-Law and I

My father-in-law is a careworn man,
    And a silent man is he;
But he summons a smile as well as he can
    Whenever he meets with me.
The sign we make with a silent shake
    That speaks of the days gone by—
Like men who meet at a funeral—
    My father-in-law and I.

My father-in-law is a sober man
    (And a virtuous man, I think);
But we spare a shilling whenever we can,
    And we both drop in for a drink.
Our pints they fill, and we say, “Ah, well!”
    With the sound of the world-old sigh—
Like the drink that comes after a funeral—
    My father-in-law and I.

My father-in-law is a kindly man—
    A domestic man is he.
He tries to look cheerful as well as he can
    Whenever he meets with me.
But we stand and think till the second drink
    In a silence that might imply
That we’d both get over a funeral,
    My father-in-law and I.


Johnson’s Wonder

I’d been right round by overlands to see the world and life,
And on the boat at Plymouth I met Johnson and his wife;
He was a man who knew the world and wore the know-all smile—
His wife a silly pussy cat—the soft, obedient style.
His constant source of comfort was his life was all serene,
His ceaseless source of wonder was that “men could be so green”.

There were two women of the world whom Johnson knew by sight,
The one as fair as Southern dawn; the other dark as night—
They played each other off you see, as many sisters do—
They travelled with their “uncle dear” (their “manager”—a Jew);
To us the make-up and the game was plainly to be seen,
And Johnson wondered how on earth most men could be so green.

At Naples, as at Genoa, too, they left no room for doubt;
They took down the chief officer and cleared the captain out.
We saw it as outsiders do—those seamen looked so mad—
’Twas managed so that neither knew the other had been had.
Such games are known to all who sail for gain or change of scene,
And Johnson wondered how in air such men could be so green.

You know Port Said, by Suez Lane, and no doubt you’re aware
What sort of carnivals are held ashore on Sunday there.
And “Uncle”, being far from well, and voting ports a bore,
The doctor and a Johnnie took the lovely pair ashore.
They had a glorious donkey ride (you know which pair I mean),
And Johnson wondered how the deuce an ass could be so green.

There was a third-class passenger who acted like an earl,
Spent something over thirty pounds upon a Southern girl.
They’d met aboard, and soon the news went round from mouth to mouth,
They were engaged to marry when they reached the Sunny South.
She chucked him at Fremantle, and she didn’t think it mean,
And Johnson wondered how in life a boy could be so green.

There was another married pair whom Johnson did despise;
She carried on most scand’lously before her husband’s eyes.
He fetched and carried all day long as to the manner born,
And plain to all on board but him, was her conceited “scorn”.
And Johnson bossed his wife to show the difference between
Some husbands—wondering ’owinel a man could be so green.

Now, Mrs Johnson, through it all, was anything but slack;
I’d seen her sleepy-meaning smile behind her husband’s back,
I’d heard the whispered covered sneer, the stress on “him” and “he”.
She spread her charms for all men, from the captain down to me.
She used her drooping eyes on all while Johnson smoked serene,
And chuckled secretly because the world was very green.

He got a wire from Adelaide—on business, understand—
And left his wife to follow round, and journeyed overland.
That very night, while musing in a quiet spot on deck,
I caught her with her arms about a first-class Johnnie’s neck.

The Johnsons live at Manly now, their lives are all serene,
And Johnson still is wondering how the world can be so green.


“Bound for the Lord-Knows-Where”

“Where are you going with your horse and bike,
    And the townsfolk still at rest?
Where are you going, with your swag and pack,
    And the night still in the West?
Your clothes are worn, and your cheques are gone,
    But your eyes are free from care?”
“We’re bushmen down for a spree in town,
    And we’re bound for the Lord-knows-where,
    Old chap—we’re bound for the Lord-knows-where.”

(There are great dark scrubs in the Lord-knows-where,
    Where they fight it out alone,
There are wide wide plains in the Lord-knows-where,
    Where a man’s soul is his own.
There is healthy work, there is healthy rest,
    There is peace from self-torture there,
And the glorious freedom from paltriness!
    And they’re bound for the Lord-knows-where.)

“Now, where are you going in your Sunday suit,
    And a bag for your second best?
Now where are you going with your chest of tools,
    And the old togs in the chest?
With your six clean shirts and a pound of ‘weed’,
    And enough for a third-class fare?”
“Oh! I’ll be afloat by the very next boat,
    And I’m bound for the Lord-knows-where,
    Old chap—I’m bound for the Lord-knows-where.”

(There are wide wide seas to the Lord-knows-where,
    Where a man might have a spell,
The things turn up in the Lord-knows-where that
    We waited for too well.
There’s a stranger land in the Lord-knows-where,
    And a show for the stranger there.
There is war and quake more work to make,
    And he’s bound for the Lord-knows-where.)

“Now where are you going with your Gladstone bag,
    With your shirt-case and valise?
Now where are you going with your cap and shoes,
    And your looks of joyful peace?
Now where are you going with your money belts,
    And your drafts on the first bank there?”
“’We have made a hit,’ or ‘we’ve made a bit,’
    And we’re bound for the Lord-knows-where,
    Old chap—we’re bound for the Lord-knows-where.”

(There are sinful ports in the Lord-knows-where,
    There are marvellous sights to see,
There are high old games in the Lord-knows-where,
    That were known to you and me.
There is love and music, and life and light from
    The Heads to “Lester” Square,
There is more than space for their high young hearts
    There is safety or danger there,
And they’ll come back wild, or they’ll come back tamed
    When they’ve been to the Lord-knows-where.)

“Now where am I going with my whisky flask,
    And with little else beside?
Now where am I going with my second shirt,
    To wear while the first is dried?
I have marred my name, and I’ve lost my fame,
    But my hope’s in good repair.
There are lies about, there are warrants out—
And I’m bound for the Lord-knows-where,
Old Chap—and I’m bound for the Lord-knows-where.”

(There’s a rise and fall of the sloping decks,
    That is good for a soul in pain;
There’s the drowsy rest on the sunlight sea
    Till your strength comes back again.
Oh, the wild mad spirit is hypnotized,
    And nerves are tranquil there,
And the past is hushed in forgetfulness,
    On the road to the Lord-knows-where.)


The Rush to London

You’re off away to London now,
    Where no one dare ignore you,
With Southern laurels on your brow,
    And all the world before you.
But if you should return again,
    Forgotten and unknowing,
Then one shall wait in wind and rain,
    Where forty cheered you going.

You’re off away to London, proved,
    Where fair girls shall adore you;
The poor, plain face of one that loved
    May never rise before you.
But if you should return again,
    When young blood ceases flowing,
Then one shall wait in wind and rain,
    Where forty cheered you going.

It may be carelessly you spoke
    Of never more returning,
But sometimes in the London smoke,
    You’ll smell the gum leaves burning;
And think of how the grassy plain
    Beyond the fog is flowing,
And one that waits in shine or rain,
    Where forty cheered you going.


A Word From the Bards

It is New Year’s Day and I rise to state that here on the Sydney side
The Bards have commenced to fill out of late and they’re showing their binjies with pride
They’re patting their binjies with pride, old man, and I want you to understand,
That a binjied bard is a bard indeed when he sings in the Southern Land,
        Old chaps,
     When he sings in the Southern Land.

For the Southern Land is the Poet’s Home, and over the world’s wide roam,
There was never till now a binjied bard that lived in a poet’s home, old man;
For the poet’s home was a hell on earth, and I want you to understand,
That it isn’t exactly a paradise down here in the Southern Land,
        Old chap,
     Down here in the Southern Land.

The Beer and the Bailiff were gone last night and the “temple” doorstep clean,
And our heads are clear and our hearts are light with wine from the Riverine—
With wine from the Riverine, old man, and I want you to understand
That Bard, Beer and Bailiff too long were kin down here in the Southern Land,
        Old man,
     Down here in the Southern Land.

It is not because of a larger fee, nor yet that the bards are free,
For the bards I know and the bards I see are married enough for three;
Are married enough for three, old man, and I want you to understand,
They’ve a right to be married enough for four, down here in the Southern Land,
        My girl,
     Down here in the Southern Land.

But I think it’s because a bird went round and twittered in ears of men
That bards have care and the world seems bare as seen from the rhyming den,
And twittered in ears of men, old chaps, and got folks to understand
That a poet is something more than a joke down here in the Southern Land,
        Old man,
     Down here in the Southern Land.


The Stranded Ship
(The “Vincennes”)

’Twas the glowing log of a picnic fire where a red light should not be,
Or the curtained glow of a sick room light in a window that faced the sea.
But the Manly lights seemed the Sydney lights, and the bluffs as the “Heads” were seen;
And the Manly beach was the channel then—and the captain steered between.

The croakers said with a shoulder shrug, and a careless, know-all glance:
“You might pull out her stem, or pull out her stern—but she’ll sail no more for France!”
Her stem was dry when the tide was out, and behind her banked the sand,
Where strong gales come from the Hurricane east and the sun sets on the land.

When the tide was high and the rollers struck she shuddered as if in pain,
She had no hope for the open sea and the fair full breeze again.
She turned her side to the pounding seas and the foam glared over the rails,
It seemed her fate to be sold and stripped, and broken by winter gales.

But they sent strong gear, and they sent the gangs, and they sent her a man who knew,
And the tugs came nosing round from the Heads to see what a tug could do;
The four-ton anchors they laid to sea in the waves and the wind and rain,
And the great steel hawser they hove aboard made fast to her cable chain.

And then, while the gaping townsfolk stared from the shining beach in doubt,
The crew and the shore-gangs lowered her yards and they hove the ballast out.
(To lie like a strange sea-grave upheaved on the smooth sand by her side)
And they made all ready and clear for the tugs to come on the rising tide.

And so, in the night when the tide was in and a black sky hid the stars,
The shoremen worked at the jumping winch and the crew at the capstan bars.
To seaward the two tugs rose and fell in their own wild stormy glare
And her head came round for a fathom’s length! for a mighty heave was there.

So, tide by tide, and yard by yard, they hove her off the shore
To fit, and load for her ports of call, and to sail for France once more.
Till at last she came with the wild blind rush of a frightened thing set free,
And they towed her round to the Sydney Heads and in from the stormy sea.

And the croakers say, when a man is down, with a shrug and a know-all glance,
Oh, he’ll never get out of the gutter again, he has done with every chance;
But we’ll “haul and heave on the block and sheeve”, wave-beaten and black-rock hemmed,
And we’ll sail with cargoes that they shall buy, when their ships are all condemned.


The Cab Lamps
or, From the Lanes of ’Loo

The crescent moon and clock tower are fair above the wall
Across the smothered lanes of ’Loo, the stifled vice and all,
And in the shadow yonder—like cats that wait for scraps—
The crowding cabs seem waiting—for you and me, perhaps.

The cab lamps are watching as they watched for you and me,
The cab lamps are a-watching and they watch unblinkingly.
The sea breeze in Macleay Street and star-angels over all,
But the slinking cabs of darkness keep their watch beside the wall.

Oh! the years we slipped like months—and the months like a day—
When our cabs slid from the stand—touched the kerb and sped away—
Oh! the cloak on girlish shoulders—Oh! the theatres and light!
And the private rooms and supper that were all in a night!

Oh! the rickshaw in Colombo! And the flat that no one knew,
Where the cab lamps watched Haymarket—London cabs for me and you.
Oh! the gay run “Home” by Paris when the world was ours to play
And the wild run back by Frisco that seems all in a day.

Oh! the cab lamps and rose curtains, when the lie called love seemed true,
While an honest wife and husband suffered by the lanes of ’Loo.
Oh! the health and strength and beauty and the money with its power—
And those two good lives we ruined that was all in an hour.

But the night policeman’s coming with a sharp suspicious eye,
And he’d shift us “quick and lively” to the sweet by and by.
So we’ll seek our frowsy bedroom, if the old hag lets us through—
Where our folks died broken-hearted in the cruel lanes of ’Loo.

The cab lamps are watching as they watched across the sea,
The cab lamps are watching, and they watch for you and me.
For you and me they waited, when the thing called love seemed true,
But the bull’s-eye of our midnight must not flash on me—and you.


The Bard of Furthest Out

He longed to be a Back-Blocks Bard,
    And fame he wished to win—
He wrote at night and studied hard
    (He read The Bulletin);
He sent in “stuff” unceasingly,
    But couldn’t get it through;
And so, at last, he came to me
    To see what I could do.

The poet’s light was in his eye,
    He aimed to be a man;
He bought a bluey and a fly,
    A brand new billy-can.
I showed him how to roll his swag
    And “sling it” with the best;
I gave him my old water-bag,
    And pointed to the west.

“Now you can take the train as far
    As Blazes if you like—
The wealthy go by motor-car
    (Some travellers go by bike);
They race it through without a rest,
    And find it very tame—
But if you tramp it to the west
    You’ll get there just the same.

“(No matter if the hour is late,
    The morning goes Out-Back),
You do not need a dog nor mate,
    You’ll find them on the track.
You must avoid such deadly rhymes
    As ‘self’ and ‘elf’ and ‘shelf’.
But were it as in other times,
    I’d go with you myself.

“Those days are done for me, but ah!
    On hills where you shall be,
The wattle and the waratah
    Are good to smell and see.
But there’s a scent, my heart believes,
    That ‘travellers’ set higher
Than wattle—’tis the dried gum leaves
    That light the evening fire.

“The evening fire and morning fire
    Are one fire in the Bush.
(You’ll find the points that you require
    As towards the west you push.)
And as you pass by ancient ways,
    Old camps, and mountain springs,
The spirits of the Roaring Days
    Will whisper many things.

“The lonely ridge-and-gully belt—
    The spirit of the whole
It must be seen; it must be felt—
    Must sink into your soul!
The summer silence-creek-oaks’ sigh—
    The windy, rainy “woosh”—
’Tis known to other men, and I—
    The Spirit of the Bush!

“So on, and on, through dust and heat,
    When past the spurs you be—
And you shall meet whom you shall meet,
    And see what you shall see,
You need not claim the stranger’s due,
    They yield it everywhere,
And mateship is a thing that you
    Must take for granted there.

“And in the land of Lord-knows-where—
    Right up and furthest out—
You find a new Australia there
    That we know nought about.
Live as they live, fight as they fight,
    Succeed as they succeed,
And then come back again and write
    For all the world to read.”

I’ve got a note from Hungerford,
    ’Tis written frank and fair;
The bushman’s grim philosophy—
    The bushman’s grin are there.
And tramping on through rain and drought—
    Unlooked for and unmissed—
I may have sent to furthest out
    The Great Bush Novelist.


To Show What a Man Can Do

“He has rowed to a wreck when the lifeboat failed, with Jim in a crazy boat.

—From “The Bill of the Ages”, World’s News

 There has been many a grander deed since man had life to give,
    And thousands have gone to certain death, eyes open, that men might live;
And many have gone for their country’s sake, when their numbers were all too few,
    And bravely died that their mates may die—to show what a man can do.

Now this is the song of La Bella wreck at the harbour of Warnambool,
    And this is the song of a brave, brave man of the grand old simple school:
We all know the forces of circumstance, and we blame not the lifeboat crew—
    But this is the song of a fisherman who showed what a man can do.

With a single scull in his strong young hands, and his brave young eyes aglow,
    He shot his skill o’er the raging hell, where the lifeboat dared not go!
It was twice and thrice that he went again, and the lives they were only two—
    But this is the song of The Man Who Knows, and can show what a man can do.

And we need such deeds in this world of ours, lest the hearts of men might fail—
    Oh we need such deeds in this world of ours, and a man to tell the tale!
When the eloquent gestures come from the wreck, and never a word comes through—
    Oh, we need such deeds in our land to-day to show what a man can do!

            And this is the moral of all that is,
                And it’s only known to two
            Put out in your dinghy with confidence,
                To show what a man can do.


The Lily of St Leonards

’Tis sunrise over Watson,
    Where I sailed out to sea,
On that wild run to London
    That wrecked and ruined me.
The beauty of the morning
    On bluff and point and bay,
But the Lily of St Leonards
    Was fairer than the day.

        O Lily of St Leonards!
            And I was mad to roam—
        She died with loving words for me
            Three days ere I came home.

As fair as lily whiteness,
    As pure as lily gold,
And bright with childlike brightness
    And wise as worlds of old.
Her heart for all was beating
    And all hearts were her own—
Like sunshine through the Lily
    Her purity was shown.

        O Lily of St Leonards!
             My night is on the track,
        ’Tis well you never lived to see
            The wreck that I came back.

A leaden sky shuts over
    A sobbing leaden sea,
For the Lily of St Leonards
    Is never more for me.
I seek the wharf of Outward
    Where the deck no longer thrills
Where she stood with great tears starting
    Like the lights on dark wet hills.

        The world was all before me
            The laurels on my brow—
        ’Twas the world-star of the rovers,
            ’Tis the Star of Exile now.


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.


My Wife’s Second Husband

The world goes round, old fellow,
    And still I’m in the swim,
While my wife’s second husband
    Is growing old and grim.
I meet him in the city—
    It all seems very tame—
He glances at me sometimes
    As if I were to blame.

Oh, my wife’s second husband
    Was handsome, young and true;
He had his boyish visions
    (I had my visions too).
He made a model lover—
    The greenest in the game—
They say, when I was married
    That I was just the same.

Though I am ten years older
    My hair is dark to-day,
While my wife’s second husband
    Is quickly growing grey.
I drank when first he knew me,
    And he drank not at all;
I see that he, through drinking,
    Is going to the wall.

A sweet ill-treated woman,
    A drunken brute (Good Lord!)—
Ah, well, she got her freedom,
    And he got his reward.
He’ll fight it out a season,
    For Fate will not be forced,
But my wife’s second husband
    Shall surely be divorced.

I sympathize, and wonder
    What mutual friends would think
If my wife’s second husband
    And I should have a drink.
And I a mere bystander—
    It almost seems absurd—
Might lay prophetically
    My hand on my wife’s third.

But my wife’s second husband
His sorrows shall forget,
We’ll clasp warm hands in friendship
And clink our glasses yet.
We’ll smoke cigars together,
In pure philosophy,
While calmly contemplating
The fate of number three.


The Peace Maker

It has a “point” of neither sex
    But comes in guise of both,
And, doubly dangerous complex,
    It is a thing to loathe—
A lady with her sweet, sad smile,
    A gentleman on oath.

Strip off the mother-veil, and fur!
    And signs of “quiet taste”.
The dead child’s locket take from her
    (The dead man’s gift in haste)
And wash from every evil line
    The layers of filling paste!

From “saddened eyes” the hell’s own glare!
    From “sweet mouth” blasphemy!
Wrench out the gold-filled false teeth there
    That twice mock honesty,
And leave the evil face awry
    For married folk to see.

For foolish girl wives in despair,
    For men’s and children’s sakes,
Let loose the glossed and padded hair
    To writhe like scorching snakes!
And strip the barren body bare
    To show what Satan makes.

Aye! I could take her by the throat
    More sure than hangman’s noose,
And set my teeth and set my nails,
    And hate would set my thews.
And fling her to the drought-starved swine,
    Were all my brethren Jews.

There was the kindest man I knew,
    Brave, handsome, straight and tall—
Between his loved ones and the world
    He stood, a fortress wall.
He whines, a ruined drunkard now,
    And this thing did it all.

There was the girl who married me
    And bore my children twain,
We’ll never meet each other’s eyes
    Like boy and girl again.
The very children’s love and trust
    By this foul thing was slain.

There was a girl my manhood loved,
    She’d Love’s own red gold hair,
And grey eyes that were Pity’s own
    And courage that was rare.
She sleeps amongst the suicides,
    And this thing sent her there.

And all because the town was dull
    And goodness was too tame,
And people took no interest
    In one they could not blame.
And all because my life was clean
    And I had won a name.

And now, for years of senseless hate
    And paltry, bitter strife,
For “reparation” come too late,
    For sweetheart, mate and wife,
I tread her vile heart in the dust
    And ashes of my life.


Keeping His First Wife Now

It’s oh! for a rivet in marriage bonds,
    And a splice in the knot untied—
The sanctity of the marriage tie
    Is growing more sanctified!
They’re getting mixed up in society,
    There’s an awful family row,
For Reginald Jones of “The Fernery”
    Is “keeping” his first wife now!

Oh! she belonged to the smart, smart set
    (Where reasons are far to seek)—
And the wedding and “crush” are remembered yet
    As the “smart” things of the week.
Never an atom of love had she,
    But they had a child somehow—
And Reginald Jones of “The Fernery”
    Has the love of his first wife now.

Mad for “notice” and “talk” was she—
    A butterfly blind as a bat—
She would flaunt for a season a divorcee,
    Or divorce him, failing that.
He played his part and she held his heart
    As light as her marriage vow—
But Reginald Jones of “The Fernery”
    Has a hold on his first wife now.

She swore in Court what the world knew false,
    With never a thought of shame—
She was free to flaunt to her heart’s content,
    But she found it mighty tame:
The talk of the “town” for a week or two—
    The gush, the smirk and the bow—
But Reginald Jones of “The Fernery”
    Is the God of his first wife now!

Her soul grew sick of the smart, smart set,
    Or her conscience drove her wild—
Or she craved for “notice” and “talk” once more—
    Or perhaps because of the child;
But they met at last and they met again—
    No matter the where or how—
And Reginald Jones of “The Fernery”
    Is in love with his first wife now.

’Tis a “terrible life” for the second young wife,
    But she married him too for “place”;
And she mustn’t forget that a smarting set
    Belongs to the human race.
They say it’s fixed up in camera,
    And, if that is the case, I’ll vow,
That Reginald Jones of “The Fernery”
    Will marry his first wife now.

And there is a song of the English world
    And a song for the English race:
The second husband and second wife
    Must ever take second place.
So cherish the best that you find in the first,
    And a margin of width allow:
The future looks after itself too well!
    Look after the first ones now.



And his death came in December,
    When our summer was aglow—
Like a song that we remember,
    Like a child’s dream long ago,
And it brought Australia to him,
    Her sweetest singer dead,
While in silence friends who knew him
    Bowed their heads beside his bed.

Angel Death comes softly stealing
    When the watchers’ eyes are dim,
And, when all has failed in healing
    Wounded heart or helpless limb—
With a whisper we may hear not
    ’Till with “Adsum” we respond,
And a vision we shall fear not
    Of the Peaceful Land beyond.

While Australians in their blindness
    Fail to realize their loss,
Place the wreath of loving kindness
    And raise the simple cross.
For he taught us to be brothers
    And he taught us to be brave—
And we’ll banish pride and envy
    With a hand-clasp by his grave.


I’m an Older Man Than You

When you’ve managed with the tailor for a rig-out of a sort
And you find the coat or trousers are an inch or so too short,
Do not fret and swear and worry, make the tailor see you through—
I have been through many new suits, I’m an older man than you.

When your girl is interfering with your appetite and work,
With your sleep and time and reason till the jealous demons lurk;
When your girl is playing with you, leave her for a week or two:
If in vain, then quit for ever!—I’m an older man than you.

When your wife deceives or leaves you for a “blackguard”, “brute”, and “sot”,
And when not a soul believes you when you say that you were not;
Do not rave or brood and weaken, and the years will prove you true,
Let your own self be the beacon!—I’m an older man than you.

Do not take a silly mistress in your vanity accursed,
And a second wife (or husband) but reminds you of the first;
Banish mutual friends, and pity (kill or cure relations, too),
Shun false “reconciliation”—I’m an older man than you.

Be the cause however worthy, and your case however strong,
Be your wrong however cruel, drink will put you in the wrong.
Drink will neutralize and murder all the good that time can do
(Though our birthdays come together, I’m an older man than you).

But for ever and for ever, over seas and through the lands,
Go the hand laid on the shoulder and the silent grip of hands
With a world of human feeling—men who know and men who knew:
Clear your soul of pessimism—I’m an older man than you.


When Your Sins Come Home to Roost

When you fear the barber’s mirror when you go to get a crop,
Or in sorrow every morning comb your hair across the top:
When you titivate and do the little things you never used—
It is close upon the season when your sins come home to roost.

Many were the sins of others and you never were to blame,
Some were sins you shared in common—you must suffer all the same;
Some were sins of wasted hours with the wine cup or a mate,
But you cannot share the burden—and they come in duplicate.

Oh! you’ll find the fowls are heavy and their claws are sharp and deep—
They will bow your head in working, they will jerk you from your sleep,
And so many hands are eager just to give your back a boost
On the road to wreck and ruin when your sins come home to roost.

But you don’t let on they’re roosting and you take some only way,
And you never whine or guzzle and you neither curse nor pray;
You will never for an instant let your lower lip be loosed—
But you stand up like a soldier when your sins come home to roost!

And you’ll find them growing lighter till you find room for a few
Of the sins of other mortals who have weaker souls than you:
Then you’ll smile, and not too sadly, at old sins reintroduced—
And you’ll be a man in many when your sins come home to roost.


The Muscovy Duck

The rooster is a brainless dude, although he sports a crest,
The hen’s an awful fool we know, though hen-eggs are the best;
She’ll flutter, cackling, anywhere save through a gate or door,
And try to hatch a door-knob, too, for forty days or more.
The turkey is of small account, we’ll let it go in peace,
And other fowls are ornaments, and geese are simply geese;
But over all that cackle, hiss, or gobble, quack, or cluck,
My favourite shall always be the quaint Muscovy duck.

I’m fond of Mrs Muscovy, I think she knows the most
Of all the different kinds of fowls that poultry-breeders boast.
She knows best how to build her nest when laying time is past,
And you should see the knowing pride with which she sets at last.
She waddles out for food and drink—she’s not afraid of us,
And if we fix her now and then she doesn’t make a fuss;
No frantic flaps of useless wings, no cackle, hiss, nor cluck,
She’s queen of all philosophers—the quaint Muscovy duck.

It is a wondrous thing to see, and a wondrous thing to tell,
Her ducklings know as much as ducks the day they leave the shell.
That she is proud as proud can be, is plain to any dunce—
The little ducklings set to work to grow up ducks at once;
And, on a sunny winter’s day, ’tis a good thing for the eyes
To see her waddle round and watch her ducklings catching flies,
I love her for her waddle, and her patience, and her pluck,
Her wag of tail and nod of head—the quaint Muscovy duck.


For He was a Jolly Good Fellow

They cheered him from the wharf—it was a glorious day:
His hand went to his scarf—his thoughts were far away.
Oh, he was “Jolly Good”, they sang it long and loud—
The money lender stood unknown amongst the crowd.
He’d taken him aside, while trembling fit to fall,
No friendly eye espied the last farewell of all!

He held a peevish kid—another at his knee;
The wife whom he could bid farewell—eternally
Stood nagging at his side in tones that none could hear,
And deared him, tender eyed, when passengers came near
(The cabin waits below the row and children’s squall,
And not a soul to know the bitter farce of all).

Their hearts were good as gold, each pocket spared a “tray”,
They pooled them as of old to drink him on his way.
His pile of luggage rose, as bravely as the best—
He had two suits of clothes, his wife and kids the rest.
He’d “stood ’em up” a sov., for fear of seeming small,
And he was thinking of that worst farewell of all.

They cheered from cargo ways and ballast heap and pile,
To last him all his days—they sent him off in style.
(He only took his book.) He only turned his head
In one last hopeless look towards a cargo shed
Where one stood brimming eyed in silence by the wall—
No jealous eyes espied that last farewell of all.

The ship is out of sight and out of memory clean,
He’s rolling through the Bight on board the All Serene.
His heart’s like half a brick, the voice of hope is dumb,
He’s handicapped and sick with fear of what’s to come.
They’re passing Cape Leuwin, the half-brick starts to fall,
But with a fiendish grin, he curses land and all.


The Separated Women

The Separated Women
    Go lying through the land,
For they have plenty dresses,
    And money, too, in hand;
They married brutes and drunkards
    And blackguards “frightful low”,
But why are they so eager
    For all the world to know?

The shamed and ill-used woman
    Who really longs to die,
She slaves at home in silence
    And hides her poor black eye!
She lives a life of terror
    Eased off at times in woe—
But why is she so frightened
    That any one might know?

The Separated Woman
    She rushes to the court,
Sad, shabby and pathetic,
    Or flaunting or distraught;
The real wronged wife would rather
    Lose both eyes and her hair—
She swears a lie to save him
    When he is taken there.

The Separated Woman
    She mostly goes the same,
Bag-woman, sham-nurse, “pretty”,
    Or on her husband’s name;
The real loafed-on woman,
    With courage almost grim,
“Goes out” and takes in washing
    To keep the kids—and him.

The Separated Woman—
    I knew her course so well:
“The Stage”, then first-class barmaid,
    Then third-class bar—and hell:
And “hell” means all things vicious
    That prey upon the town
(She wishes her poor husband
    Had sometimes knocked her down).

Masseur and manicurist,
    Or anything by chance,
They vilify their husbands—
    And draw the maintenance.
Sham artists, “music teachers”—
    Oh! they are flinty nuts!
Their friends are man-shaped crawlers
    And lower than the dust.

The separated “Monsters”
    Are missing from the tale—
They seem to have cleared out—or,
    Perhaps they are in gaol.
The separated husband
    Is heard of here and there,
A mild and decent citizen
    And mostly bowed with care.

The Separated Women,
    When upset in the track,
Are often very eager
    To take the “Monster” back.
They’ve moved all hell to crush him
    And, startled, find too late
The Monster’s grown content with
    The separated state.


The Bush Beyond the Range

From Crow’s Nest here by Sydney town
    Where crows had nests of old
I see the Range where day goes down—
    The dim blue in the gold.
And sometimes wonder, half in doubt,
    Has there been so much change
As pictured in the prints about
    The Bush beyond the Range.

There’s motor car and all the “frills”
    But none of my old mates—
The Bush seems run by Buff’lo Bills
    And Hayseeds from the States.
I miss the homesteads and the scrub,
    The stock and fences too,
The horse and swagmen and the pub.
    That Minns and Mahoney drew.

I miss the drivers, diggers, sheep,
    And—lots of things—Ah, well!
I wonder if the Kellys keep
    The Carrier’s Camp Hotel—
If that still stands by hill and plain
    As old man Kelly’s pride—
Or if he did pull round again
    When Mary Kelly died?

And Andy Kelly took to drink,
    And Barney took a horse
(And two years’ hard without a blink)
    And each one took his course.
And what became of Andy Mack,
    Tom Browne, and Pat “O’Brine”?
It must be twenty seasons back
    Since last I had a line.

I wonder if—but I forget
    And wonder like a fool,
Is Bertha Lambert teaching yet
    A wretched, half-time school?
I hope—ah! how the memories come,
    To bother and defer,
I only hope my boyhood’s chum,
    Fred Spencer, married her.

I wonder if the farms we had
    Are scrub or ploughed ground now?
A fence by Harry Dare or “Dad”
    Would last it, anyhow.
I wonder if the cemet’ry,
    Fenced in by Dad and Dare,
Is lonely as it used to be
    When they were buried there.

I wonder, and the more it seems
    So far away and strange,
For I have lost, except in dreams,
    The Bush beyond the Range.
I wonder too, in fear and shame,
    Do they, like me, forget—
I wonder if they mind the name
    Of “Henry Lawson” yet.


Hannah Thomburn

They lifted her out of a story
    Too sordid and selfish by far,
They left me the innocent glory
    Of love that was pure as a star;
They left me all guiltless of “evil”
    That would have brought years of distress
When the chance to be man, god or devil,
    Was mine, on return from Success.

With a name and a courage uncommon
    She had come in the soul striving days,
She had come as a child, girl and woman—
    Come only to comfort and praise.
There was never a church that could marry,
    For never a court could divorce,
In the season of Hannah and Harry
    When the love of my life ran its course.

Her hair was red gold on head Grecian,
    But fluffed from the parting away,
And her eyes were the warm grey Venetian
    That comes with the dawn of the day.
No Fashion nor Fad could entrap her,
    And a simple print work dress wore she,
But her long limbs were formed for the “wrapper”
    And her fair arms were meant to be free.

(Oh, I knew by the thrill of pure passion
    At the touch of her elbow, or hand—
By the wife’s loveless eyes that would flash on
    The feeling I could not command.
Oh, I knew when revulsion came rushing—
    Oh, I knew by the brush strokes that hurt
At the sight of a sculptor friend brushing
    The clay from the hem of her skirt.)

She was mine on return from succeeding
    In a struggle that no one shall know;
She only knew my heart was bleeding,
    She only knew what dealt the blow.
I had fought back the friends that were clutching,
    I had forced back the heart-scalding tears
Just to lay my hot head to her touching
    And to weep for Two Terrible Years.

Oh! the hand on my hair that was greying!
    Oh! the kiss on my brow that was lined!
Oh! the peace when my reason was straying
    And the rest and relief for my mind.
Till, no longer world shackled or frightened,
    The voice of the past would be stilled,
Hearts quickened, cheeks flushed and eyes brightened,
    And the love of our lives be fulfilled!

It was Antwerp, and Plymouth—th’ Atlantic
    And, so well had Love’s network been laid,
That I heard of her illness, grown frantic,
    At Genoa, Naples—Port Said.
I was mad just to reach her and “tell her”,
    But a sandbank at Suez tripped me,
And we limped, with a crippled propeller,
    Through all Hades adown the Red Sea.

Through the monsoon we rolled like a Jumbo
    With a second blade shaken away,
There was never a dock in Colombo
    So the captain drank hard to Bombay.
Then a “point” in the south like an anthill
    Or seawastes—then hove into sight—
I called for no news at Fremantle
    For I wanted to hope through the Bight.

There’s a gentleman, reading, shall know it,
    There’s an earl who will now understand
Why I “slighted” the son of their poet
    (And a vice regal lord of the land)—
Semaphore—and a burst through the wicket
    On platform left guards in distress—
A run without luggage or ticket,
    A cab, and the Melbourne Express.

’Twas a brother-in-grief of mine told me
    With harsh eyes unwontedly dim,
With a hand on my shoulder to hold me
    And a grip on my own—to hold him.
A dry choke, and words cracked and hurried,
    A stare, as of something afraid,
And he told me that Hannah was buried
    On the day I reached Port Adelaide.

They could greet me—let Heaven or Hell come,
    They could weep—for the grave by the sea
Oh! the mother and father could welcome
    And the kinsfolk without fear of me.
For they watched her safe out of a story
    Where she slaved and suffered alone—
They could weep to the tune of the hoary
    Old lie “If we only had known”.

But I have the letter that followed
    That she wrote to England and me—
That crossed us perchance as we wallowed
    That birthday of mine on the sea,
That she wrote on the eve of her going,
    Hopeful and loving and brave,
To keep me there, prosperous, knowing,
    No care save the far away grave.

They have lifted her out of a story
    Too sordid and selfish by far,
And left me the innocent glory
    Of love that was pure as a star:
That was human and strong though she hid it
    To write before death in last lines—
And I kneel to the angels who did it
    And I bow to the fate that refines.


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.


Bush Hay

The stamp of Scotland is on his face,
    But he sailed to the South a lad,
And he does not think of the black bleak hills
    And the bitter hard youth he had;
He thinks of a nearer and dearer past
    In the bright land far away,
When the teams went up and the teams came down,
    In the days when they made bush hay.

The fare was rough and the bush was grim
    In the “years of his pilgrimage”,
But he gained the strength that is still with him
    In his hale, late middle age.
He thinks of the girl at the halfway inn
    They use as a barn to-day—
Oh, she was a dumpling and he was thin
    In the days when they made bush hay.

The ration teams to the Bathurst Plains
    Were often a fortnight full.
And they branched all ways in the early days
    And back to the port with wool.
They watched for the lights of old Cobb & Co.
    That flashed to the West away,
When drivers drove six on a twelve-mile stage
    In the days when they made bush hay.

He has made enough, and he’s sold his claim,
    And he goes by the morning train,
From the gold-field town in the sultry West
    To his home by the sea again,
Where a bustling old body’s expecting him
    Whose hair is scarcely grey,
And she was the girl of the halfway house
    In the days when they made bush hay.


When Hopes Ran High

When hopes ran high the world was young,
We thought that we would never die,
And glorious were the songs we sung
In those grand days when hopes ran high.

When hopes ran high the world was true
We thought that friends could never lie—
There have been bitter truths for you
And me, since days when hopes ran high.


The Little Native Rose

There is a lasting little flower,
That everybody knows,
Yet none has thought to think about
The little Native Rose.

The wattle and the waratah—
The world has heard of those;
But who, outside Australia, kens
The little Native Rose.

Yet first for faint, far off perfume,
That lives where memory goes;
And first of all for fadelessness—
The little Native Rose.


Take It Fightin’

When you’ve got no chance at all,
        Take it fightin’.
When you’re driven to the wall,
        Take it fightin’.

There are things that we delight in
For the wrongin’ or the rightin’,
But the fool you cannot frighten
(That you cannot bluff nor frighten)
        He is King of all.
        (Take it fightin’.)

When you’re down an’ out an’ utter,
        Take it fightin’;
When they’ve put you in the gutter,
        Take it fightin’.

There are things that we delight in
For the wrongin’ or the rightin’,
But the fool you cannot frighten
(That you cannot bluff nor frighten)
        He is King of all.
        (Take it fightin’.)


The Sorrows of a Simple Bard

When I tell a tale of virtue and of injured innocence,
Then my publishers and lawyers are the densest of the dense:
With the blank face of an image and the nod of keep-it-dark
And a wink of mighty meaning at their confidential clerk.

(When, Oh! tell me when shall poets cease to be misunderstood?
When, Oh! When? shall people reckon rhymers can be any good?
Do their work and pay their debts and drink their pint of beer, and then,
Look in woman’s eyes and leave them, just like ordinary men?)

“Is there literary friendship ’twix the sexes? don’t you think?”
And they wink their idiotic and exasperating wink.
“Can’t we kiss a clever woman without wanting any more?”
And their clock-work nod is only more decided than before.

But if I should hint that there’s a little woman somewhere, say,
Then the public and the law are interested straight away,
The impassive confidential gets a bright and cheerful glance—
Things are straightway on a footing that may lead to an advance.

Both are married and respected and they both are rising higher:
One’s church warden, one’s a deacon in a fashionable choir.
And the clerks have both unblemished private characters to show—
What do they know about woman? That’s what I should like to know.

(Flash of dark eyes in the moonlight, in the scrub or far afield,
Blouse-sleeves back from white arms clinging—clinging while she will not yield,
Or the fair head on your shoulder and the grey eyes moist and mild—
Weary of the strife with passion, yielding like a tired child.)

There’s my aunt; the dear old lady hints about “experience”
When I go to her for comfort with my injured innocence.
She screws up a wise expression, while she listens, for my pains—
Isn’t it an awful pity women haven’t any brains?

Now I’m serious and angry, for it isn’t any joke—
Poets have been damned for ages by such evil-minded folk.
Must we all be public blackguards? Can’t a rhymer be a man,
Spite of Byron’s silly mistress—Burns’s gawky Mary Ann?

As tame bards they will not have us, and I don’t know what they want,
There’s my publisher and lawyer, my admirers and my aunt.
Do they want a rake and a spendthrift? Look out! Tradesman trusting me!
Look out! Husbands! Fathers! Brothers! I’ll be wicked as can be!
                    There now.


This site is full of FREE ebooks - Project Gutenberg Australia