The Old Mile-Tree


Henry Lawson

OLD coach-road West by Nor’-ward—
    Old mile-tree by the track:
A dead branch pointing forward,
    And a dead branch pointing back.
And still in clear-cut romans
    On his hard heart he tells
The miles that were to fortune,
    The miles from Bowenfels.
Old chief of Western timber!
    A famous gum you’ve been.
Old mile-tree, I remember
    When all your boughs were green.

There came three boyish lovers
    When golden days begun;
There rode three boyish rovers
    Towards the setting sun.
And Fortune smiled her fairest
    And Fate to these was kind—
The truest, best and rarest,
    The girls they’d left behind.
By the camp-fire’s dying ember
    They dreamed of love and gold;
Old mile-tree, I remember
    When all our hearts were bold.

And when the wrecks of those days
    Were sadly drifting back,
There came a lonely swagman
    Along the dusty track;
And save for limbs that trembled—
    For weak and ill was he—
Old mile-tree, he resembled
    The youngest of the three.
Beneath you, dark and lonely,
    A wronged and broken man
He crouched, and sobbed as only
    The strong heart broken can.
The darkness wrapped the timber,
    The stars seemed dark o’erhead—
Old mile-tree, I remember
    When all green leaves seemed dead.

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