Arthur Desmond

December 1893

Henry Lawson

THEY are stoning Arthur Desmond, and, of course, it’s understood
By the people of New Zealand that he isn’t good.
He’s a plagiarist, they tell us, and a scamp—but after all,
He is fighting pretty plucky with his back against the wall.

When I see a fellow sinner face about and stand his ground;
All alone and undefended, while the crowd is howling round—
And his nearest friends forsake him, just because his case is slim—
Why, I think it’s time that someone said a word or two for him!

They are damning Arthur Desmond for the battle that he fought—
For his awful crime in saying what so many people thought.
He was driven from the country—but I like to see fair play—
And to slander absent brothers—why it ain’t New Zealand’s way.

Once I met Arthur Desmond “and I took him by the hand”,
But I scarcely think the action spoilt my chance for the Promised Land;
And I think of Arthur gazing, with his earnest, thoughtful eyes,
Out beyond the brighter ages that we cannot realize.

He’ll be shot or gaoled they tell us (so were others in the van):
Be it prison cell or bullet, he will meet it like a man.
And ’twere best to have been neutral when the stormy path is trod,
And we’re brought together level at the bar of God.

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