The Man Ahead
Henry Lawson, 1899
He travels and studies the lay of the land
And the hearts of the people on hill and flat,
And hears at times but he can't make out
What the "crawlers" behind him are yelping at.
A smile for his face when he turns a space
To see what the country behind him is like,
And a stab in the back, when he leaves his track,
To strike a blow where they dare not strike!
They see not right, and they see not left
They trust his instinct to show the track
And lured with hatred of envious spite,
Their eyes are fixed on the small of his back.
They would steal his name, they would steal his fame,
They would steal his work they would steal his bread
Oh! they yelp in despair to the silent crowd
To help 'em strangle the man ahead.
Oh! man ahead! if you slip in a hole
That others (and others) may step aside
The crawlers will go for you body and soul!
And you'll need your strength and you'll need your hide;
But you have them close when they think you're sick
And you have them tight when they think you're dead
Choke the cowards! and choke 'em quick
For the sake of the man to be next ahead!