For Australia

And What Have You to Say

Henry Lawson

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?

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