In the Days When the World Was Wide and Other Verses
Henry Lawson [Australian house-painter/author/poet 1867-1922]

Part 3 out of 3

Knew where Jack Marshall crawled to die -- but Crowbar might have known.

He'd scarcely closed his quiet eyes or drawn a sleeping breath --
They say that Crowbar slept no more until he slept in death.
A careless, roving scamp, that loved to laugh and drink and joke,
But no man saw him smile again (and no one saw him smoke),
And, when we spelled at night, he'd lie with eyes still open wide,
And watch the stars as if they'd point the place where Marshall died.

The search was made as searches are (and often made in vain),
And on the seventh day we saw a smoke across the plain;
We left the track and followed back -- 'twas Crowbar still that led,
And when his horse gave out at last he walked and ran ahead.
We reached the place and turned again -- dragged back and no man spoke --
It was a bush-fire in the scrubs that made the cursed smoke.
And when we gave it best at last, he said, `I'LL see it through,'
Although he knew we'd done as much as mortal men could do.
`I'll not -- I won't give up!' he said, his hand pressed to his brow;
`My God! the cursed flies and ants, they might be at him now.
I'll see it so in twenty years, 'twill haunt me all my life --
I could not face his sister, and I could not face his wife.
It's no use talking to me now -- I'm going back,' he said,
`I'm going back to find him, and I will -- alive or dead!'

. . . . .

He packed his horse with water and provisions for a week,
And then, at sunset, crossed the plain, away from Dingo Creek.
We watched him tramp beside the horse till we, as it grew late,
Could not tell which was Bonypart and which was Marshall's mate.
The dam went dry at Dingo Creek, and we were driven back,
And none dared face the Ninety Mile when Crowbar took the track.

They saw him at Dead Camel and along the Dry Hole Creeks --
There came a day when none had heard of Marshall's mate for weeks;
They'd seen him at No Sunday, he called at Starving Steers --
There came a time when none had heard of Marshall's mate for years.
They found old Bonypart at last, picked clean by hungry crows,
But no one knew how Crowbar died -- the soul of Marshall knows!

And now, way out on Dingo Creek, when winter days are late,
The bushmen talk of Crowbar's ghost `what's looking for his mate';
For let the fools indulge their mirth, and let the wise men doubt --
The soul of Crowbar and his mate have travelled further out.
Beyond the furthest two-rail fence, Colanne and Nevertire --
Beyond the furthest rabbit-proof, barbed wire and common wire --
Beyond the furthest `Gov'ment' tank, and past the furthest bore --
The Never-Never, No Man's Land, No More, and Nevermore --
Beyond the Land o' Break-o'-Day, and Sunset and the Dawn,
The soul of Marshall and the soul of Marshall's mate have gone
Unto that Loving, Laughing Land where life is fresh and clean --
Where the rivers flow all summer, and the grass is always green.

The Poets of the Tomb

The world has had enough of bards who wish that they were dead,
'Tis time the people passed a law to knock 'em on the head,
For 'twould be lovely if their friends could grant the rest they crave --
Those bards of `tears' and `vanished hopes', those poets of the grave.
They say that life's an awful thing, and full of care and gloom,
They talk of peace and restfulness connected with the tomb.

They say that man is made of dirt, and die, of course, he must;
But, all the same, a man is made of pretty solid dust.
There is a thing that they forget, so let it here be writ,
That some are made of common mud, and some are made of GRIT;
Some try to help the world along while others fret and fume
And wish that they were slumbering in the silence of the tomb.

'Twixt mother's arms and coffin-gear a man has work to do!
And if he does his very best he mostly worries through,
And while there is a wrong to right, and while the world goes round,
An honest man alive is worth a million underground.
And yet, as long as sheoaks sigh and wattle-blossoms bloom,
The world shall hear the drivel of the poets of the tomb.

And though the graveyard poets long to vanish from the scene,
I notice that they mostly wish their resting-place kept green.
Now, were I rotting underground, I do not think I'd care
If wombats rooted on the mound or if the cows camped there;
And should I have some feelings left when I have gone before,
I think a ton of solid stone would hurt my feelings more.

Such wormy songs of mouldy joys can give me no delight;
I'll take my chances with the world, I'd rather live and fight.
Though Fortune laughs along my track, or wears her blackest frown,
I'll try to do the world some good before I tumble down.
Let's fight for things that ought to be, and try to make 'em boom;
We cannot help mankind when we are ashes in the tomb.

Australian Bards and Bush Reviewers

While you use your best endeavour to immortalise in verse
The gambling and the drink which are your country's greatest curse,
While you glorify the bully and take the spieler's part --
You're a clever southern writer, scarce inferior to Bret Harte.

If you sing of waving grasses when the plains are dry as bricks,
And discover shining rivers where there's only mud and sticks;
If you picture `mighty forests' where the mulga spoils the view --
You're superior to Kendall, and ahead of Gordon too.

If you swear there's not a country like the land that gave you birth,
And its sons are just the noblest and most glorious chaps on earth;
If in every girl a Venus your poetic eye discerns,
You are gracefully referred to as the `young Australian Burns'.

But if you should find that bushmen -- spite of all the poets say --
Are just common brother-sinners, and you're quite as good as they --
You're a drunkard, and a liar, and a cynic, and a sneak,
Your grammar's simply awful and your intellect is weak.

The Ghost

Down the street as I was drifting with the city's human tide,
Came a ghost, and for a moment walked in silence by my side --
Now my heart was hard and bitter, and a bitter spirit he,
So I felt no great aversion to his ghostly company.
Said the Shade: `At finer feelings let your lip in scorn be curled,
`Self and Pelf', my friend, has ever been the motto for the world.'

And he said: `If you'd be happy, you must clip your fancy's wings,
Stretch your conscience at the edges to the size of earthly things;
Never fight another's battle, for a friend can never know
When he'll gladly fly for succour to the bosom of the foe.
At the power of truth and friendship let your lip in scorn be curled --
`Self and Pelf', my friend, remember, is the motto of the world.

`Where Society is mighty, always truckle to her rule;
Never send an `i' undotted to the teacher of a school;
Only fight a wrong or falsehood when the crowd is at your back,
And, till Charity repay you, shut the purse, and let her pack;
At the fools who would do other let your lip in scorn be curled,
`Self and Pelf', my friend, remember, that's the motto of the world.

`Ne'er assail the shaky ladders Fame has from her niches hung,
Lest unfriendly heels above you grind your fingers from the rung;
Or the fools who idle under, envious of your fair renown,
Heedless of the pain you suffer, do their worst to shake you down.
At the praise of men, or censure, let your lip in scorn be curled,
`Self and Pelf', my friend, remember, is the motto of the world.

`Flowing founts of inspiration leave their sources parched and dry,
Scalding tears of indignation sear the hearts that beat too high;
Chilly waters thrown upon it drown the fire that's in the bard;
And the banter of the critic hurts his heart till it grows hard.
At the fame your muse may offer let your lip in scorn be curled,
`Self and Pelf', my friend, remember, that's the motto of the world.

`Shun the fields of love, where lightly, to a low and mocking tune,
Strong and useful lives are ruined, and the broken hearts are strewn.
Not a farthing is the value of the honest love you hold;
Call it lust, and make it serve you! Set your heart on nought but gold.
At the bliss of purer passions let your lip in scorn be curled --
`Self and Pelf', my friend, shall ever be the motto of the world.'

Then he ceased and looked intently in my face, and nearer drew;
But a sudden deep repugnance to his presence thrilled me through;
Then I saw his face was cruel, by the look that o'er it stole,
Then I felt his breath was poison, by the shuddering of my soul,
Then I guessed his purpose evil, by his lip in sneering curled,
And I knew he slandered mankind, by my knowledge of the world.

But he vanished as a purer brighter presence gained my side --
`Heed him not! there's truth and friendship
in this wondrous world,' she cried,
And of those who cleave to virtue in their climbing for renown,
Only they who faint or falter from the height are shaken down.
At a cynic's baneful teaching let your lip in scorn be curled!
`Brotherhood and Love and Honour!' is the motto for the world.'

The End.

[From the July, 1909 section of Advertisements.]


By Henry Lawson.

THE ACADEMY: "These ballads (for such they mostly are) abound in
spirit and manhood, in the colour and smell of Australian soil.
They deserve the popularity which they have won in Australia, and which,
we trust, this edition will now give them in England."

THE SPEAKER: "There are poems in `In the Days When the World was Wide'
which are of a higher mood than any yet heard in distinctively
Australian poetry."

LITERARY WORLD: "Not a few of the pieces have made us feel discontented
with our sober surroundings, and desirous of seeing new birds,
new landscapes, new stars; for at times the blood tingles because of
Mr. Lawson's galloping rhymes."

NEWCASTLE WEEKLY CHRONICLE: "Swinging, rhythmic verse."


By Henry Lawson.

THE ACADEMY: "A book of honest, direct, sympathetic, humorous writing
about Australia from within is worth a library of travellers' tales. . . .
The result is a real book -- a book in a hundred. His language is terse,
supple, and richly idiomatic. He can tell a yarn with the best."

THE SCOTSMAN: "There is no lack of dramatic imagination in
the construction of the tales; and the best of them contrive to construct
a strong sensational situation in a couple of pages. But the chief charm
and value of the book is its fidelity to the rough character of the scenes
from which it is drawn."

LITERATURE: "These sketches bring us into contact with one phase
of colonial life at first hand. . . . The simplicity of the narrative
gives it almost the effect of a story that is told by word of mouth."

THE SPECTATOR: "It is strange that one we would venture to call
the greatest Australian writer should be practically unknown in England.
Mr. Lawson is a less experienced writer than Mr. Kipling,
and more unequal, but there are two or three sketches in this volume
which for vigour and truth can hold their own with even so great a rival.
Both men have somehow gained that power of concentration
which by a few strong strokes can set place and people before you
with amazing force."

THE TIMES: "A collection of short and vigorous studies and stories
of Australian life and character. A little in Bret Harte's manner,
crossed, perhaps, with that of Guy de Maupassant."

BRITISH WEEKLY: "Many of Mr. Lawson's tales photograph life
at the diggings or in the bush with an incisive and remorseless reality
that grips the imagination. He silhouettes a swagman in a couple of pages,
and the man is there, alive."

THE MORNING POST: "For the most part they are full of local colour,
and, correctly speaking, represent rather rapid sketches illustrative of
life in the bush than tales in the ordinary sense of the word. . . .
They bear the impress of truth, sincere if unvarnished."

A few other titles by Henry Lawson:

Prose: Poetry:
On the Track When I was King
Over the Sliprails Popular Verses
Joe Wilson Humorous Verses
Joe Wilson's Mates Winnowed Verses

THE BOOK LOVER: "Any book of Lawson's should be bought and treasured
by all who care for the real beginnings of Australian literature.
As a matter of fact, he is the one Australian literary product,
in any distinctive sense."


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