The Old Mile-Tree

Henry Lawson, 1897

      Old coach-road West by Nor'-ward,
      Old mile-tree by the track:
      A dead branch pointing forward,
      And a dead branch pointing back.
      And still in clear-cut romans
      On his hard heart he tells
      The miles that were to fortune,
      The miles from Bowenfels.
      Old chief of Western timber!
      A famous gum you've been.
      Old mile-tree, I remember
      When all your boughs were green.

      There came three boyish lovers
      When golden days begun;
      There rode three boyish rovers
      Towards the setting sun.
      And Fortune smiled her fairest
      And Fate to these was kind,
      The truest, best and rarest,
      The girls they'd left behind.
      By the camp-fire's dying ember
      They dreamed of love and gold;
      Old mile-tree, I remember
      When all our hearts were bold.

      And when the wrecks of those days
      Were sadly drifting back,
      There came a lonely swagman
      Along the dusty track;
      And save for limbs that trembled,
      For weak and ill was he,
      Old mile-tree, he resembled
      The youngest of the three.
      Beneath you, dark and lonely,
      A wronged and broken man
      He crouched, and sobbed as only
      The strong heart broken can.
      The darkness wrapped the timber,
      The stars seemed dark o'erhead,
      Old mile-tree, I remember
      When all green leaves seemed dead.