As It Is in the Days of Now
Henry Lawson, 1908
Sir William set sail for the Holy Land,
When his good right arm was strong
(Oh, never was knight with heart so right
And head so stubborn and wrong!).
He sailed away in the birth of day
With a gay and gallant band
Ah, little they knew there was aught to do
In a most unholy land.
For love, or country, or faith, or gold
Or all that men's hearts pursue
It was always the same in the days of old
As it is in the days that are new.
The Ladye Clare was his ladye there,
And Sir Antony Mark was his friend;
And a clerk and a squire watched his honour for hire,
And he trusted them all to the end.
His ladye gazed out from the castle gate,
And Sir William gazed back from the deck;
And she sobbed like a bride ere she went inside,
With her arms for the other man's neck.
'Twill be always the same in the long to come
As it was in the Long Ago
And they ate his bread, and "What matter," they said,
"So long as he does not know?"
His father's friend, with his grim grey beard,
And his wise old aunt, Dame Ruth,
Knew the scandal well, but they dared not tell
Dared not tell a true man the truth.
Sir William is come from the Holy Land,
And Sir Antony welcomes him;
And the true friend pledges the false friend thrice,
With their glasses filled to the brim.
There's a banquet to-night, and the ladye is bright,
And she clings to "her lord" regained,
And the music is heard, and we spake no word
But say, is his knighthood stained?
Oh, I was page to Sir William then,
And I knew the shameful thing
(To learn to do right from his noblest knight
I'd been sent by my sire, the King).
Ah, a devil was she. And they knighted me,
For I proved in the brute-fight brave,
And in council and field my lips were sealed,
And say, was I knight or knave?
Sir William he lies in the solemn aisle,
And his ladye lies by his side
The bravest of all at his country's call,
Sir Antony fought and died.
And I ruled well till at last I fell
For the wife of my dearest friend;
And he fell, too for his wife was a shrew
And who shall judge in the end?
For love or honour or faith or gold
For good or for evil, I trow
It was in men's hearts in the days of old
As it is in the days of now.