’Cross the Border


Henry Lawson

ALBURY, Wednesday. The body of the man who committed suicide in the Murray has been identified as that of a German named F. Frank or F. Frahm. Five weeks since the man came to Albury from Rutherglen, Victoria, in search of work, and had been stopping at a private boarding-house. Latterly he bad been in a despondent condition of mind, and complained to his landlady that he had had trouble with his relatives. He was unable no pay for his board through failing to obtain work. At the magisterial inquiry held today a verdict was recorded that deceased committed suicide by drowning, but there was no evidence to show what his mental condition was at the time.

HE WAS but a poor mechanic, and from Germany he came,
But the paragraphs in papers seem in doubt about his name;
“Fralm” or “Frank” I think they spell it, I don’t know exactly how—
There’s a doubt about his surname. but it doesn’t matter now.

He was looking for employment, but it wasn’t to be got,
And the bill for board and lodging seemed to trouble him a lot,
And in such a case, we fancy, it was neither safe not right
To go strolling dawn the river with his misery at night.

By himself? ah, well—we know not—there are things we do not know,
For perhaps he saw his mother as in days of long ago:
And perhaps he saw that father who, beneath a porch of vine.
Smoked a long pipe in the gleaming, by a cottage ’cross the Rhine.

What remains? In human nature there are many chords to strike,
Let the reader paint the picture: you can fancy if you like
That the Murray, and the starlight, put the lonely man in mind
Of the river of his boyhood—and the girl he letf behind.

He was unemployed and friendless and he hadn’t any gold.
And the “aching void” was greater than his manly breast could hold;
So he drifted by the Murray when the day was growing dim,
And the river on its journey took to drifting over him.

Ah! we say the deed was sinful, but the Master will forgive,
For he knows it’s getting harder for a working man to live;
Frank was done with care, and nothing kept his body from its bed—
Save, of course, the formal inquest on the cold sarcastic dead.

Let us trust, in spite of cynics, that he knelt upon the sward
Just to send a last petition “on approval” to the Lord.
And, if our religion’s questioned, ’tis enough that Frank replied
With the bitter, cold, sarcastic silence of the suicide.

Workmen struggle, and are beaten, and they give it best and go,
And like Frank they cross the Border where the mighty waters flow.
But I rather think the Master will inquire the reason why
In the universal inquest—’cross the Border, by-and-by.

Back    |    Words Home    |    Lawson Home    |    Site Info.    |    Feedback