Something Better

Henry Lawson, 1893

      Though the workers' bitter struggle for a better state of things
      May not touch the man in reach of all the joys that money brings,
      There are times, and very often, when such joys begin to pall,
      And his better nature rises in revolt against it all,
      Stirring up the nobler manhood that is in him even now,
      Like the hand of some pure woman on a dying blackguard's brow.

      'Tis the hope of something better than the present or the past —
      'Tis the wish for something better strong within us till the last —
      Stronger still in dissipation — 'tis the longing to ascend —
      'Tis the hope of something better that will save us in the end.

      Give a man all earthly treasures give him genuine love and pelf* —
      Yet at times he'll get disgusted with the world and with himself;
      And at times there comes a vision in his conscience-stricken nights,
      Of a land where "Vice" is cleanly, of a land of pure delights;
      And the better state of living which we sneer at as "ideal",
      Seems before him in the distance — very far, but very real.

      'Tis the hope of something better than the present or the past —
      'Tis the wish for something better — strong within us till the last.
      'Tis the longing for redemption as our ruined souls descend;
      'Tis the hope of something better that will save us in the end.



      New Australia

      * "Pelf" refers to money or wealth, usually in a contemptuous manner, especially regarding wealth having been acquired by dishonest means; from the Old French pelfre (booty or stolen goods), it is related to "pilfer".