The Sign of the Old Black Eye
Henry Lawson, 1908
When your rifle is lost, and your bayonet too,
And your mates have all turned tail,
And captain and country are done with you,
And the chances are death or gaol
When the treacherous knife for your throat is raised
Or the handcuffs held for your wrists
Then put up a fight with your fists, old man!
Oh, put up a fight with your fists!
For the sign of a man since strife began
(Which nobody can deny),
Of the Man who Won, and the Beaten Man,
Was the sign of the Old Black Eye.
Oh, the signs of a man since a man had foes,
To show 'em the reason why,
Were ever the sign of the Broken Nose
And the sign of the Blue-Black Eye.
When you're down in the world where you once were up
When weather and friends were fair
And the coat you wear is a lonesome coat,
And your pants are a lonesome pair,
When the friends who borrowed when luck was good
All leave you severely alone,
Then put up a fight on your own, old man!
Oh, put up a fight on your own!
You'll need to stand, where the down-track ends,
With your drink-lulled senses clear,
For you'll get no help from your fine new friends,
And you'll get no help from beer.
They'll call you a boozer and loafer and all,
And be noble for your disgrace.
But put your back to the nearest wall,
And strike at the nearest face.
There are friends you helped, when your star was high,
Who pass you as something strange
Oh, they drank your beer in the days gone by,
And they borrowed your careless change!
But you pass 'em blind and you pass 'em dumb,
And they'll borrow your cash again;
For they'll drink your wine in the days to come,
And you'll pity the world of men.
There were friends that you lost by your own neglect
In the days of your sinful pride;
There were friends that you lost with your self-respect
Who'd have fought for you side by side.
You'd never have thought it would come to this
That you'd battle the world alone
But swallow the lump in your throat, old man,
And put up a fight of your own.
There were friends who came thrice, with help and advice,
Ere the days of your folly were spent
Oh, you wish you had answered the letters they wrote
And paid back the money they lent!
Think not of the grey-black mists behind,
Nor the future's lurid mists,
But put up a fight with your fists (so to speak)
Oh, put up a fight with your fists.
You'll know, when it's done, and the fight you've won
And won on your lonesome own
That a man goes up with a host of friends,
But a man goes down alone.
But you laugh at it all as they chair you in,
As they did in the days gone by,
And they'll chuckle and grin, and drink to your win,
At the Sign of the Old Black Eye.