The Men Who Sleep With Danger

Henry Lawson, 1912

      The men who sleep with Danger
      Are mostly quiet men;
      And one may use a rifle,
      And one may use a pen.
      And some meet wrong with patience
      And some arise and strike;
      But in the big essentials
      They're pretty much alike.

      The men who go with Danger
      Are mostly dreamy-eyed;
      Upon the swooping fo'c's'le,
      Or by the camp-fire side,
      You'll find them grouped together;
      And always where they are
      You'll see a a pipe-bowl glowing,
      And savour a cigar.

      The men who camp with Danger
      Have jests that are their own,
      And songs that you've forgotten,
      And yarns you've never known.
      There's little you can tell them
      Of deeds good, wicked, mean,
      That men who've lived for danger
      Have neither done nor seen.

      The men who sleep with Danger
      Sleep soundly while they may,
      But always wake at midnight
      Or just before the day.
      A Something in the darkness
      That shudders at the dawn —
      A side-mate softly wakened,
      A pistol swiftly drawn.

      The men who sail with Danger,
      As actors, at command —
      They lightly laugh to fool you
      When Terror is at hand.
      The men who sail with Danger
      A wondrous insight have;
      They know if you are timid,
      They know if you are brave.

      The man who's lived with Danger
      Has knowledge all his own;
      The instinct of a woman —
      Of men who fight alone.
      He learns from peace and comfort,
      He learns from care and strife;
      He studies, night and morning,
      The book that men call Life.

      The men who live with Danger
      See sermons in a log;
      They have the horse's swiftness,
      The instinct of the dog.
      When illness comes to loved ones,
      They know where'er they roam —
      Have you seen, without for reason,
      A bushman start for home?

      They know and feel our "warnings"
      As only Gipsies do.
      They know the Norse Fore-Goer,
      Have heard and seen it, too.
      They know when Death has passed them,
      And the Death Watch is at end.
      And they know when he is coming —
      The Unexpected Friend.

      The men who live with Danger,
      They take things as they go —
      In seeming unpreparedness,
      To those who do not know.
      They sleep when work is over,
      And mind and body ache;
      But Danger whispers gently,
      And they are wide awake!