Poem – 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! 

Poem – The Voice from Over Yonder

“Did she care as much as I did

When our paths of Fate divided?

Was the love, then, all onesided—

Did she understand or care?”

Slowly fall the moments leaden,

And the silence seems to deaden—

And a voice from over yonder answers sadly: “I’ve been there.”

“Have you tramped the streets of cities

Poor? And do you know what it is—

While no mortal cares or pities—

To have drifted past ambition;

To have sunk below despair?

Doomed to slave and stint and borrow;

Ever haunted in your sorrow

By the spectre of To-morrow?”

And the voice from over yonder answers sadly: “I’ve been there.”
“Surely in the wide Hereafter

There’s a land of love and laughter?

Say: Is this life all we live for—

Say it! think it, if you dare!

Have you ever thought or wondered

Why the Man and God were sundered?

Do you think the Maker blundered?”

And the voice, in mocking accents, answered only: “I’ve been there.” 

Poem – Vanguard

While the crippled cruisers stagger where the blind horizon dips,

And the ocean ooze is rising round the sunken battle-ships,

While the battered wrecks, unnoticed, with their mangled crews drift past—

Let me fire one gun for Russia, though that gun should be the last. 

’Tis a struggle of the Ages, and the White Man’s star is dim,

There is little jubilation, for the game has got too grim;

But though Russia’s hope seems shattered, and the Russian star seems set,

It may mean the Dawn for Russia—and my hope’s in IVAN yet! 
Let the Jingo in his blindness cant and cackle as he will;

But across the path from Asia run the Russian trenches still!

And the sahib in his rickshaw may loll back and smoke at ease,

While the haggard, ragged heroes man the battered batteries. 
’Tis the first round of the struggle of the East against the West,

Of the fearful war of races—for the White Man could not rest.

Hold them, IVAN! staggering bravely underneath your gloomy sky;

Hold them, IVAN! we shall want you pretty badly by-and-bye! 
Fighting for the Indian empire, when the British pay their debt;

Never Britain watched for BLUCHER as he’ll watch for IVAN yet!

It means all to young Australia—it means life or death to us,

For the vanguard of the White Man is the vanguard of the Russ! 

Poem – The Two Poets

Two poets were born where the skies were fair,

To live in the land thereafter;

And one was a singer of sorrow and care,

And one was a bard of laughter.
With simple measure and simple word,

The feelings of mankind voicing –

And light hearts listened and sad hearts heard,

And they went on their way rejoicing.
The glad rejoiced that the world was gay –

Who took no thought of the morrow-

And it ever has lightened the sad hearts’ way

To hear of another’s’ sorrow.
The poets died when none were aware,

(For no one could see the token)

That light of heart was the bard of care,

But the heart of the other was broken. 

Poem – The Triumph of the Poeple

LO, the gods of Vice and Mammon from their pinnacles are hurled

By the workers’ new religion, which is oldest in the world;

And the earth will feel her children treading firmly on the sod,

For the triumph of the People is the victory of God.
Not the victory of Churches, nor of Punishment and Wrath,

Not the triumph of the sceptic, throwing shadows on the path,

But of Christ and love and mercy o’er the Monarch and the Rod,

For the harvest of the Saviour is the aftermath of God.
O the Light of Revelation, since the reign of Care began,

Has been shining through the ages on the darkened eyes of man.

And the willing slave of Error—he is senseless as a clod—

For the simple Book of Nature is the written scroll of God.
Who will dare to say the sunlight on the pregnant Earth was shed

That the few might rest and fatten, while the many fight for bread?

Lo, there springs a common garden, where the foot of Greed hath trod,

For the victory of Labour was the prophecy of God.
Mother Earth, in coming seasons, shall fulfil her motherhood;

Then the children of her bosom never more shall want for food,

And oppression shall no longer grind the people iron-shod;

For the lifted hand of Labour is the upraised hand of God. 

Poem – A Little Mistake – Henry Lawson 

Tis a yarn I heard of a new-chum ‘trap’ 
On the edge of the Never-Never, 

Where the dead men lie and the black men lie, 

And the bushman lies for ever. 

’Twas the custom still with the local blacks 

To cadge in the ‘altogether’— 

They had less respect for our feelings then, 

And more respect for the weather. 
The trooper said to the sergeant’s wife: 

‘Sure, I wouldn’t seem unpleasant; 

‘But there’s women and childer about the place, 

‘And—barrin’ a lady’s present— 
‘There’s ould King Billy wid niver a stitch 

‘For a month—may the drought cremate him!— 

‘Bar the wan we put in his dirty head, 

‘Where his old Queen Mary bate him. 
‘God give her strength!—and a peaceful reign— 

‘Though she flies in a bit av a passion 

‘If ony wan hints that her shtoyle an’ luks 

‘Are a trifle behind the fashion. 
‘There’s two of the boys by the stable now— 

‘Be the powers! I’ll teach the varmints 

‘To come wid nought but a shirt apiece, 

‘And wid dirt for their nayther garmints. 
‘Howld on, ye blaggards! How dare ye dare 

‘To come widin sight av the houses?— 

‘I’ll give ye a warnin’ all for wance 

‘An’ a couple of ould pair of trousers.’ 
They took the pants as a child a toy, 

The constable’s words beguiling 

A smile of something beside their joy; 

And they took their departure smiling. 
And that very day, when the sun was low, 

Two blackfellows came to the station; 

They were filled with the courage of Queensland rum 

And bursting with indignation. 
The constable noticed, with growing ire, 

They’d apparently dressed in a hurry; 

And their language that day, I am sorry to say, 

Mostly consisted of ‘plurry.’ 
The constable heard, and he wished himself back 

In the land of the bogs and the ditches— 

‘You plurry big tight-britches p’liceman, what for 

‘You gibbit our missuses britches?’ 
And this was a case, I am bound to confess, 

Where civilisation went under; 

Had one of the gins been less modest in dress 

He’d never have made such a blunder. 
And here let the moral be duly made known, 

And hereafter signed and attested: 

We should place more reliance on that which is shown 

And less upon what is suggested.

Poem – A Dirge of Joy – Henry Lawson

Oh! this is a joyful dirge, my friends, and this is a hymn of praise; 
And this is a clamour of Victory, and a pæan of Ancient Days. 

It isn’t a Yelp of the Battlefield; nor a Howl of the Bounding Wave, 

But an ode to the Things that the War has Killed, and a lay of the Festive Grave. 

’Tis a triolet of the Tomb, you bet, and a whoop because of Despair, 

And it’s sung as I stand on my hoary head and wave my legs in the air! 

Oh! I dance on the grave of the Suffragette (I dance on my hands and dome), 

And the Sanctity-of-the-Marriage-Tie and the Breaking-Up-of-the-Home. 

And I dance on the grave of the weird White-Slave that died when the war began; 

And Better-Protection-for-Women-and-Girls, and Men-Made-Laws-for-Man! 
Oh, I dance on the Liberal Lady’s grave and the Labour Woman’s, too; 

And the grave of the Female lie and shriek, with a dance that is wild and new. 

And my only regret in this song-a-let as I dance over dale and hill, 

Is the Yarn-of-the-Wife and the Tale-of-the-Girl that never a war can kill. 
Oh, I dance on the grave of the want-ter-write, and I dance on the Tomb of the Sneer, 

And poet-and-author-and-critic, too, who used to be great round here. 

But “Old Mother Often” (“Mother of Ten”) and “Parent” escaped from the grave— 

And “Pro Bono Publico” liveth again, as “Victis,” or “Honour the Brave.” 
Oh, lightly I danced upon Politics’ grave where the Friend of the Candidate slept, 

And over the Female Political Devil, oh wildly I bounded and leapt. 

But this dance shall be nothing compared with the dance of the spook of the writer who sings 

On the grave of the bard and the Bulletin’s grave, out there at the Finish of Things!

Poem – Faces In The Street – Henry Lawson 

They lie, the men who tell us in a loud decisive tone 
That want is here a stranger, and that misery’s unknown; 

For where the nearest suburb and the city proper meet 

My window-sill is level with the faces in the street — 

Drifting past, drifting past, 

To the beat of weary feet — 

While I sorrow for the owners of those faces in the street. 
And cause I have to sorrow, in a land so young and fair,

To see upon those faces stamped the marks of Want and Care; 

I look in vain for traces of the fresh and fair and sweet 

In sallow, sunken faces that are drifting through the street — 

Drifting on, drifting on, 

To the scrape of restless feet; 

I can sorrow for the owners of the faces in the street. 
In hours before the dawning dims the starlight in the sky 

The wan and weary faces first begin to trickle by, 

Increasing as the moments hurry on with morning feet, 

Till like a pallid river flow the faces in the street — 

Flowing in, flowing in, 

To the beat of hurried feet — 

Ah! I sorrow for the owners of those faces in the street. 
The human river dwindles when ’tis past the hour of eight, 

Its waves go flowing faster in the fear of being late; 

But slowly drag the moments, whilst beneath the dust and heat 

The city grinds the owners of the faces in the street — 

Grinding body, grinding soul, 

Yielding scarce enough to eat — 

Oh! I sorrow for the owners of the faces in the street. 
And then the only faces till the sun is sinking down 

Are those of outside toilers and the idlers of the town, 

Save here and there a face that seems a stranger in the street, 

Tells of the city’s unemployed upon his weary beat — 

Drifting round, drifting round, 

To the tread of listless feet — 

Ah! My heart aches for the owner of that sad face in the street. 
And when the hours on lagging feet have slowly dragged away, 

And sickly yellow gaslights rise to mock the going day, 

Then flowing past my window like a tide in its retreat, 

Again I see the pallid stream of faces in the street — 

Ebbing out, ebbing out, 

To the drag of tired feet, 

While my heart is aching dumbly for the faces in the street. 
And now all blurred and smirched with vice the day’s sad pages end, 

For while the short large hours' toward the longersmall hours’ trend, 

With smiles that mock the wearer, and with words that half entreat, 

Delilah pleads for custom at the corner of the street — 

Sinking down, sinking down, 

Battered wreck by tempests beat — 

A dreadful, thankless trade is hers, that Woman of the Street. 
But, ah! to dreader things than these our fair young city comes, 

For in its heart are growing thick the filthy dens and slums, 

Where human forms shall rot away in sties for swine unmeet, 

And ghostly faces shall be seen unfit for any street — 

Rotting out, rotting out, 

For the lack of air and meat — 

In dens of vice and horror that are hidden from the street. 
I wonder would the apathy of wealthy men endure 

Were all their windows level with the faces of the Poor?

Ah! Mammon’s slaves, your knees shall knock, your hearts in terror beat, 

When God demands a reason for the sorrows of the street, 

The wrong things and the bad things 

And the sad things that we meet 

In the filthy lane and alley, and the cruel, heartless street. 
I left the dreadful corner where the steps are never still,

And sought another window overlooking gorge and hill; 

But when the night came dreary with the driving rain and sleet, 

They haunted me — the shadows of those faces in the street, 

Flitting by, flitting by, 

Flitting by with noiseless feet, 

And with cheeks but little paler than the real ones in the street. 
Once I cried: `Oh, God Almighty! if Thy might doth still endure, 

Now show me in a vision for the wrongs of Earth a cure.’ 

And, lo! with shops all shuttered I beheld a city’s street, 

And in the warning distance heard the tramp of many feet, 

Coming near, coming near, 

To a drum’s dull distant beat, 

And soon I saw the army that was marching down the street. 
Then, like a swollen river that has broken bank and wall, 

The human flood came pouring with the red flags over all, 

And kindled eyes all blazing bright with revolution’s heat, 

And flashing swords reflecting rigid faces in the street. 

Pouring on, pouring on, 

To a drum’s loud threatening beat, 

And the war-hymns and the cheering of the people in the street. 
And so it must be while the world goes rolling round its course, 

The warning pen shall write in vain, the warning voice grow hoarse, 

But not until a city feels Red Revolution’s feet 

Shall its sad people miss awhile the terrors of the street — 

The dreadful everlasting strife 

For scarcely clothes and meat 

In that pent track of living death — the city’s cruel street.

Poem – A Bush Girl – Henry Lawson 

She’s milking in the rain and dark, 

As did her mother in the past. 

The wretched shed of poles and bark, 

Rent by the wind, is leaking fast. 

She sees the “home-roof” black and low, 

Where, balefully, the hut-fire gleams— 

And, like her mother, long ago, 

She has her dreams; she has her dreams. 

The daybreak haunts the dreary scene, 

The brooding ridge, the blue-grey bush, 

The “yard” where all her years have been, 

Is ankle-deep in dung and slush; 

She shivers as the hour drags on, 

Her threadbare dress of sackcloth seems— 

But, like her mother, years agone, 

She has her dreams; she has her dreams. 
The sullen “breakfast” where they cut 

The blackened “junk.” The lowering face, 

As though a crime were in the hut, 

As though a curse was on the place; 

The muttered question and reply, 

The tread that shakes the rotting beams, 

The nagging mother, thin and dry— 

God help the girl! She has her dreams. 
Then for “th’ separator” start, 

Most wretched hour in all her life, 

With “horse” and harness, dress and cart, 

No Chinaman would give his “wife”; 

Her heart is sick for light and love, 

Her face is often fair and sweet, 

And her intelligence above 

The minds of all she’s like to meet. 
She reads, by slush-lamp light, may be, 

When she has dragged her dreary round, 

And dreams of cities by the sea 

(Where butter’s up, so much the pound), 

Of different men from those she knows, 

Of shining tides and broad, bright streams; 

Of theatres and city shows, 

And her release! She has her dreams. 
Could I gain her a little rest, 

A little light, if but for one, 

I think that it would be the best 

Of any good I may have done. 

But, after all, the paths we go 

Are not so glorious as they seem, 

And—if t’will help her heart to know— 

I’ve had my dream. ’Twas but a dream.