The Old Pens and the New

Henry Lawson, 1908

      I wish that Time could bring again
      To Letters — and so give to Art —
      The healthy humour of Mark Twain,
      The kindly scamps of poor Bret Harte!
      This worship of the Things That Are,
      These lazy pens of Let it Bide —
      These would-be makers who but mar
      Have held their sway since Dickens died.

      Oh, we are wise, and "realise",
      We study men and things, and know —
      Just in the sense that fools grew wise
      Three thousand weary years ago.
      We sit beneath the fraud and fool,
      With poisoned minds in manhood's prime,
      While children prattle home from school,
      As happy as in Pharaoh's time!

      We want no God, but many a god,
      And we want many gods and none —
      The preacher by the upturned sod
      Shall pray, when all is said and done.
      We make a noble thing of sin —
      We've found the "Truth" (for aught I know),
      Since we, as children, tip-toed in
      When late to "chapel" long ago.

      We part the husband and the wife,
      And make a filthy thing of love.
      We make a "problem" of grand Life!
      Despite the shining signs above.
      We "scoff at gale" or "rail at fate",
      Or rave and rant with rotten lung,
      But Jim and Mary at the gate
      Are young as when the world was young.

      There's gold, and passing fame in store
      For those with "clever books" to give,
      But I would win me back once more
      To where my working people live.
      Where evening, coming on apace,
      Brings father and the boys to see
      The mother bustling round the place,
      And Mary "dishing" up the "tea".