At the Tug-of-War
Henry Lawson, 1891
'Twas in a tug-of-war where I the guvnor's hope and pride
Stepped proudly on the platform as the ringer on my side;
Old dad was in his glory there it gave the old man joy
To fight a passage through the crowd and barrack for his boy.
A friend came up and said to me, 'Put out your muscles, John,
And pull them to eternity your guvnor's looking on.'
I paused before I grasped the rope, and glanced around the place,
And, foremost in the waiting crowd, I saw the old man's face.
My mates were strong and plucky chaps, but very soon I knew
That our opponents had the weight and strength to pull them through;
The boys were losing surely and defeat was very near,
When, high above the mighty roar, I heard the old man cheer!
I felt my muscles swelling when the old man cheer'd for me,
I felt as though I'd burst my heart, or gain the victory!
I shouted, 'Now! Together!' and a steady strain replied,
And, with a mighty heave, I helped to beat the other side!
Oh! how the old man shouted in his wild, excited joy!
I thought he'd burst his boiler then, a-cheering for his boy;
The chaps, oh! how they cheered me, while the girls all smiled so kind,
They praised me, little dreaming, how the old man pulled behind.
He barracks for his boy no more his grave is old and green,
And sons have grown up round me since he vanished from the scene;
But, when the cause is worthy where I fight for victory,
In fancy still I often hear the old man cheer for me.