The Rising of the Court

The Friends of Fallen Fortunes

Henry Lawson

    And night loomed on the track;
The Friends of Fallen Fortunes
    Were riding at my back.
Save those who lay face upward
    Upon the sodden plain,
Not one of all I’d trusted
    Was missing from my train.

A draggled train and blood-stained,
    With helmets dented in,
With battered, loosened armour,
    But with a cheerful grin.
No dark look bent upon me;
    I noted to my shame
That Friends of Fallen Fortunes
    Are aye the last to blame.

Not one of all I’d trusted,
    Who’d followed to their cost,
Save those who lay face upward
    On that red field I’d lost;
And here and there a soldier
    I’d trusted not at all,
Like an unexpected mourner
    At a poor man’s funeral.

And as the horses stumbled,
    And the footmen limped along,
They all joined in the chorus
    Of a good old Next Time song.
Behind us in the distance,
    By hill and lane and wood,
My ever-dwindling rear-guard
    Fell back again and stood.

They recked not wounds nor losses,
    They all seemed very kind,
From knight who rode beside me
    To boor who limped behind;
And some borne in their litters
    Through that long agony—
Their death-white, pain-drawn faces
    Had no reproach for me.

And so from noon till darkness,
    Till morning grim and grey,
The Earl’s son and the Peasant’s
    Were brothers that dark day.
I straightened in my saddle,
    And proudly glanced me round—
I still was King of Comrades,
    Whoever might be crowned!

I straightened in my saddle,
    And glanced round proudly then—
Whoe’er might reign a season,
    I held the hearts of men!
No power of gold can buy them
    While battles shall be fought—
The Friends of Fallen Fortunes
    Are never to be bought.

Through rain and marsh and hunger,
    To what their fate might bring,
The remnants of my legions
    Toiled on to join their King.
From north and south the captains
    Of scattered bands won through—
Beneath its beaten colours
    My beaten army grew.

And in the West before us—
    The West was ever thus—
More Friends of Fallen Fortunes
    Were gathering food for us;
For refuge and for succour—
    For safety, food and rest—
The best of beaten armies
    For ever seek the West.

.     .     .     .     .

With these men for my captains,
    When we marched east again,
Our enemies were scattered
    Like dust across the plain.
Our city lay before us,
    And as we marched along,
We joined the grand old chorus
    Of the glorious Next Time song.

And though they wear no armour,
    And bear no blade nor bill,
The Friends of Fallen Fortunes
    Are riding with me still;
And, many times defeated
    By city, field, and sea,
The Friends of Fallen Fortunes
    March on to Victory.

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