Henry Lawson

(17 June 1867 – 2 September 1922 / Grenfell, New South Wales)

And What Have You To Say? Poem by Henry Lawson


I MIND the days when ladies fair
Helped on my overcoat,
And tucked the silken handkerchief
About my precious throat;
They used to see the poet’s soul
In every song I wrote.

They pleaded hard, but I had work
To do, and could not stay
I used to work the whole night through,
And what have you to say?

’Twas clever, handsome woman then,
And I their rising star;
I could not see they worshipped me,
Because I saw too far.
(’Tis well for one or two, I think,
That things are as they are.)

(I used to write for writing’s sake,
I used to write till day,
I loved my prose and poetry,
And what have you to say?)

I guess if one should meet me now
That she would gasp to think,
She ever knew a thing like me,
As down the street I slink,
And trembling cadge from some old pal
The tray-bit for a drink.

I used to drink with gentlemen
To pass an hour away:
I drink long beers in common bars,
And what have you to say?

But often, in the darkest night
(And ’tis a wondrous thing)—
When others see the devils dance,
I hear the angels sing,
And round the drunkard’s lonely bed
Heaven’s nurses whispering.

I wrote for Truth and Right alone,
I wrote from night till day;
I’ll find a drunken pauper grave,
And what have you to say?
Good night!
Good day!
My noble friends,
And what have you to say?

Submitted: Friday, March 26, 2010

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