When There's Trouble on Your Mind

Henry Lawson, 1909

      Now I do not want to bore you, or to take up too much time
      When your nose is on the grindstone and to lift it seems a crime;
      But in spite of all your wisdom you will nearly always find
      That there's one you like to talk to when there's trouble on your mind.
      Never mind
      If it's Gaol, or Corns, or Toothache that's the trouble on your mind.

      And he'll grip your hand a moment, and he'll beckon silently
      To the waiter or the barmaid, as the case may chance to be;
      And he'll signal you to light up — and you'll mostly always find
      At this early stage the trouble seems much lighter on your mind.
      Why, you'll find
      That 'twill cost you quite an effort for to keep it on your mind!

      "I've been there!" he says, and fills up — or he only says "Same here,"
      And the humour of it strikes you as your head begins to clear.
      And you say no more about it, for you see that you've been blind:
      It was Nothing! Have another! Damn the trouble on your mind!
      Weren't you blind!
      Why, there wasn't any trouble — it was just your silly mind!

      And he grins the grin of sorrow as he sees you home to bed,
      And you even cease to wonder what was bothering your head.
      Let the godly cant and snuffle, and the shallow cynic scoff,
      But the grandest thing in this world is the grin that won't come off
      Won't wash off;
      It may fade at times a little, but (in public) won't come off.

      No, it won't come off in public when the world is there to see,
      And it won't come off in private when there's only you and me.
      You may shift it for a moment when you're sure you're quite alone,
      just to clasp your head in trouble, and to shed a tear and groan —
      Just one groan,
      For you cannot always wear it when you're sure you're quite alone.

      Man was always, for his comfort, just a worry-making brute;
      When you've just escaped the gallows, then your corns begin to shoot.
      When you're clear of debt or doctors, and the wolf has left your throat,
      Then you find the time to worry at the fit of your new coat.
      (That damned tailor!)
      Why is man for ever haunted by the fit of his new coat?

      When the future's fair before him and when things are all serene,
      Then he'll think of years he wasted and the man he might have been.
      Why! we might have all been married, and been living with our wives,
      With a world of things to worry and to irritate our lives —
      Just like knives,
      And our grown-up children at us, backed up blindly by our wives.

      Or he thinks about his boyhood, and he mourns his vanished Youth —
      Now, who would live his life again, or face it? Tell the truth.
      I am mighty glad my boyhood and my youth are far away —
      I am in the straight for Fifty — and grow younger every day;
      Drink and play,
      And I grow more interested in a woman every day.

      Death is nothing! We're immortal — that's the blessing — or the curse:
      But whate'er the further future, I am sure it can't be worse.
      We shall live again in this world through the centuries to come,
      And, should I return a woman, oh, I'll make it warm for some!
      Make things hum —
      Breach o' Promise — Alimony — Oh, I'll score in times to come.

      But the main thing for the present is just only to be kind —
      You can always hear the scandal, but you don't know what's behind.
      Take what friends can give in friendship, and pass on what you can get;
      And, while jokes or kindly words can cheer, your life's not wasted yet —
      Never fret!
      While a friend's in need of cheering, life is full of interest yet.