The Man Ahead

Henry Lawson, 1899

      He travels and studies the lay of the land
      And the hearts of the people on hill and flat,
      And hears at times but he can't make out
      What the "crawlers" behind him are yelping at.
      A smile for his face when he turns a space
      To see what the country behind him is like,
      And a stab in the back, when he leaves his track,
      To strike a blow where they dare not strike!

      They see not right, and they see not left —
      They trust his instinct to show the track —
      And lured with hatred of envious spite,
      Their eyes are fixed on the small of his back.
      They would steal his name, they would steal his fame,
      They would steal his work — they would steal his bread —
      Oh! they yelp in despair to the silent crowd
      To help 'em strangle the man ahead.

      Oh! man ahead! if you slip in a hole —
      That others (and others) may step aside —
      The crawlers will go for you body and soul!
      And you'll need your strength and you'll need your hide;
      But you have them close when they think you're sick —
      And you have them tight when they think you're dead —
      Choke the cowards! and choke 'em quick
      For the sake of the man to be next ahead!