The Separated Women

Henry Lawson, 1907

      The Separated Women
      Go lying through the land,
      For they have plenty dresses,
      And money, too, in hand;
      They married brutes and drunkards
      And blackguards "frightful low",
      But why are they so eager
      For all the world to know?

      The shamed and ill-used woman
      Who really longs to die,
      She slaves at home in silence
      And hides her poor black eye!
      She lives a life of terror
      Eased off at times in woe —
      But why is she so frightened
      That any one might know?

      The Separated Woman
      She rushes to the court,
      Sad, shabby and pathetic,
      Or flaunting or distraught;
      The real wronged wife would rather
      Lose both eyes and her hair —
      She swears a lie to save him
      When he is taken there.

      The Separated Woman
      She mostly goes the same,
      Bag-woman, sham-nurse, "pretty",
      Or on her husband's name;
      The real loafed-on woman,
      With courage almost grim,
      "Goes out" and takes in washing
      To keep the kids — and him.

      The Separated Woman —
      I knew her course so well:
      "The Stage", then first-class barmaid,
      Then third-class bar — and hell:
      And "hell" means all things vicious
      That prey upon the town
      (She wishes her poor husband
      Had sometimes knocked her down).

      Masseur and manicurist,
      Or anything by chance,
      They vilify their husbands —
      And draw the maintenance.
      Sham artists, "music teachers" —
      Oh! they are flinty nuts!
      Their friends are man-shaped crawlers
      And lower than the dust.

      The separated "Monsters"
      Are missing from the tale —
      They seem to have cleared out — or,
      Perhaps they are in gaol.
      The separated husband
      Is heard of here and there,
      A mild and decent citizen
      And mostly bowed with care.

      The Separated Women,
      When upset in the track,
      Are often very eager
      To take the "Monster" back.
      They've moved all hell to crush him
      And, startled, find too late
      The Monster's grown content with
      The separated state.