The Light on the Wreck

Henry Lawson, 1897

      Out there by the rocks, at the end of the bank,
      In the mouth of the river, the Wanderer sank.
      She is resting where meet the blue water and green,
      And only her masts and her funnel are seen;
      And you see, when is fading the sunset's last fleck,
      On her foremast a lantern — a light on a wreck.

      'Tis a light on a wreck, warning ships to beware
      Of the drowned iron hull of the Wanderer there;
      And the ships that come in and go out in the night
      Keep a careful lookout for the Wanderer's light.
      There are rules for the harbour and rules for the wave;
      But all captains steer clear of the Wanderer's grave.

      And the stories of strong lives that ended in wrecks
      Might be likened to lights over derelict decks;
      Like the light where, in sight of the streets of the town,
      In the mouth of the channel the Wanderer went down.
      Keep a watch from the desk, as they watch from the deck;
      Keep a watch from your home for the light on the wreck.

      But the lights on the wrecks since creation began
      Have been shining in vain for the vagabond clan.
      They will never take warning, they will not beware,
      For they hold for their mottoes 'What matter?' 'What care?'
      And they sail without compass, they sail without check,
      Till they steer to their grave 'neath a light on a wreck.