The Old Pens and the New
Henry Lawson, 1908
I wish that Time could bring again
To Letters and so give to Art
The healthy humour of Mark Twain,
The kindly scamps of poor Bret Harte!
This worship of the Things That Are,
These lazy pens of Let it Bide
These would-be makers who but mar
Have held their sway since Dickens died.
Oh, we are wise, and "realise",
We study men and things, and know
Just in the sense that fools grew wise
Three thousand weary years ago.
We sit beneath the fraud and fool,
With poisoned minds in manhood's prime,
While children prattle home from school,
As happy as in Pharaoh's time!
We want no God, but many a god,
And we want many gods and none
The preacher by the upturned sod
Shall pray, when all is said and done.
We make a noble thing of sin
We've found the "Truth" (for aught I know),
Since we, as children, tip-toed in
When late to "chapel" long ago.
We part the husband and the wife,
And make a filthy thing of love.
We make a "problem" of grand Life!
Despite the shining signs above.
We "scoff at gale" or "rail at fate",
Or rave and rant with rotten lung,
But Jim and Mary at the gate
Are young as when the world was young.
There's gold, and passing fame in store
For those with "clever books" to give,
But I would win me back once more
To where my working people live.
Where evening, coming on apace,
Brings father and the boys to see
The mother bustling round the place,
And Mary "dishing" up the "tea".