The Way I Treated Father


Henry Lawson

I WORKED with father in the bush
        At splitting rails and palings.
He never was unkind to me,
        Although he “had his failings:”
And now his grave is old and green,
        And now at times I’m rather
Inclined to think ’twas very mean
        The way I treated father.

The mother had for years been dead,
        And Dad and I and Stumpy
Were living in a little shed—
        What bushmen call a humpy;
And now I think when day began,
        And it was cold and chilly,
’Twas mean to see a grey old man
        Get up and boil the billy.

And though my lazy limbs were stiff;
        And though ’twas winter weather.
And though my eyes were shut as if
        The lids were glued together,
I think ’twas mean to lie in bed;
        I think that I was silly,
Because I growled if father said,
        “Git up and bile the billy!”

I didn’t help the cooking much
        For I was always “tired”—
’Twas strange that I could eat with such
        An appetite as I had;
But now I mind I never growled
        When father shouted, “Willie!
It’s gittin’ on for dinnertime;
        Go home and bile the hilly.”

His grave is growing old and green
        And things have altered rather;
But still I think ’twas mighty mean
        The way I treated father.
He left a tidy sum to me,
        But I’d give all the money
To hear him say, “Will you get up
        And bile the billy, Sonny?”

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