Original Photograph Of Henry Lawson ~ 1902

Oh, Henry just where are you
Are you looking down on me
And as you sit there wondering
I wish you could tell me what you see

It’s not the place that you once knew
As you put your swag upon your back
Filled your billy up with water
And walked that dusty track

You’d walk into the distance
As if you would never tire
And as darkness was about to fall
You’d boil your billy on a fire

Sometimes you’d see someone’s selection
And ask if you could stay
For was there any jobs that you could do
To help you earn some pay

Perhaps you’d chop some wood for them
Or help to thresh some grain
And when you finished doing that
You’d be on your way again

And on all your travels
In your mind you would record
Because one day it would all be written
Those things that you had stored

There were those times you would cease travelling
From on track to the next
And choose to sit and stop a while
To let yourself just rest

For you might have been a swagman
But you were not a fool
For your pencil and your paper
Became your greatest tools

You wrote of many travels
And places you had been
How tough it was in country
And other things you’d seen

You spoke of the mighty Murray River
And the Darling at its best
For they were the very lifeline
Of selectors from out West

Some years of droughts and hardships
When the rains did fail to come
And at times like that you simply
Rolled up your swag again

More travels lay ahead for you
But they would bring more insight
And when the time would come around
You’d sit again and write

For you wrote of many topics
But two things I always see
One, you were a Bushman
And two, so proud Australian be

So, Henry I do sit back
And read the words you left behind
For those things that you have written
Are always on my mind

So as you sit back just now Henry
Wherever there are your kind
Smile down upon Australia
And the land you left behind

Dark Blue Knight ~ Eddie
29th October 2005
All Rights Reserved

Dedicated to the memory of Henry Lawson, 11th June 1867 ~ 2nd September 1922

For Non Australian Readers
"Swag" ~ Bedroll and all a Bushman’s belongings, rolled up together.

"Swagman" ~ One who carries a "Swag", normally on his back.

"Billy" ~ Tin can for with wire handle holding/carrying/boiling water.

"Selectors" ~ New arrivals, usually from the East Coast, moving westward, seeking new land to open up for farming etc. They would claim a selection of land as their own, which was known as their "selection".

Author's Note
Although this poem speaks of Henry Lawson as a travelled bushman, he was not in fact a great traveller and spent most of his life in Sydney.  Lawson was born into a poor family and was not highly educated.  He also suffered a severe hearing problem, but along with A. B. (Banjo) Patterson (of "Waltzing Matilda" fame) he was one of the great writers of Australia's colonial period.

Although Patterson was much more highly educated, being both a Lawyer and Journalist, I personally consider that Lawson was a far superior writer in both poetry and short stories.  I think that Lawson's "And The Sun Went Down" to be one of the best short stories I have ever read.  This wonderful writing tells a story of never forgetting to say you are sorry, before the "sun may go down" and in fact has been the inspiration for some of my own poetry.

There was much good natured rivalry and competition between Lawson and Patterson as they both were writing at the same times and about similar subject material.  It would be fair to say that Lawson and Patterson would be Australia's two best known writers.

Sadly, despite his great talent, Henry Lawson died basically penniless in 1922.  For some time his memory was honoured by having his image on Australia's $10.00 note.

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Main Photograph Of Henry Lawson 1902

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