The Song of the Back to Front
Henry Lawson, 1908
The Finn stokes well in the hot Red Sea, where the fireman damns his soul;
And the played-out sons of a warm country went furthest towards the Pole.
The grief is oft to the topside pub and the "first" runs out of the hunt
And this is the song of the downside up, and a song of the back to front.
And a song of the back to front.
Oh! this is the way that it all begun since first on one end we trod.
The short girl yearns for the six-foot-one, and the long for the four-foot-odd;
Or this is the way that it all began (if my grammar's misunderstood),
The good girl loveth the bad, bad man, and the bad girl loves the good.
And the bad girl loves the good.
The thin girl seeketh the stout boy oft when the slight boy's there to win;
And often the man who is fat and soft gets roped by the hard and thin.
The slave-wife loveth her "boss" and house, and everything seems to suit,
And the pampered wife leaves a generous spouse and sticks to a drunken brute.
And she sticks to a drunken brute.
The woman says "Yes" when she meaneth "No", and "No" when she meaneth "Yes"
But the blithering fool who would take her so is about to fall in, I guess.
The mother sticks fast to the worthless one who treated her with contempt,
And often she hateth the good old son of whose "feelings" she never dreamt
Of whose feelings she never dreamt.
The low comedian's glum off-stage, and the heavy tragedian's gay,
With the artist or poet at Pint or Page, 'tis ever the self-same way.
The fool looks wise, and the wise a fool, and the extra-"open" looks sly,
The smart and the cunning is oft the tool that the plain and the simple ply.
So the plain and the simple ply.
The hard man's "soft" when the crisis comes, though the whole of his life be marred,
And often as not, in our peaceful homes, are the "soft" men mean and hard.
The excitable man when the crisis arrives is cool as often as not.
And the calm, mild men with the fiend's own wives are wild to the world, and hot
Yes! Ge-e-t hot!
Are wild to the world and hot.
The weeds go through where the strong men fail be it office or desert or trench,
And the fattest coward in England's tale brought tucker slap through the French!
The coward dies for his king and gods, and he throws his men away,
But the brave man runs from the doubtful odds that his foe may run next day
That his foe may run some day.
The pig is clean, and the bulldog kind, but the man is a brute or hog.
'Tis starve, sty, or bludgeon, you'll mostly find, that spoileth the man, pig and dog.
The poet is generous, noble and clean, and he singeth by day and night,
But the edit er publisher? Woddidimean? well, I didn't mean that way quite.
*** ! ! !! All right !!
But I didn't mean thatwayquite.
FROM THE FOOT OF THE STAIRS:
The Low is Up, and the Small is Great and
and the scissoring fool is wise
(All right, constable!)
The car must run, but the hound can wait, and
and The Bulletin's mostly lies.
Tho' nothing is much, and the much is less, and the staring are always blind,
And the front is as good as the back, I guess, when the editor's back's behind.