A Voice from the City

Henry Lawson, 1903

      On western plain and eastern hill
             Where once my fancy ranged,
      The station hands are riding still
             And they are little changed.
      But I have lost in London gloom
             The glory of the day,
      The grand perfume of wattle bloom
             Is faint and far away.

      Brown faces under broad-brimmed hats
             The grip of wiry hands,
      The gallops on the frosty flats,
             Seem dreams of other lands;
      The camp fire and the stars that blaze
             Above the mystic plain
      Are but the thoughts of vanished days
             That never come again.

      The evening star I seldom view —
             That led me on to roam —
      I never see the morning star
             That used to draw me home.
      But I have often longed for day
             To hide the few I see,
      Because they only point and say
             Most bitter things to me.

      I wear my life on pavement stones
             That drag me ever down,
      A paltry slave to little things,
             By custom chained to town.
      I've lost the strength to strike alone,
             The heart to do and dare —
      I mind the day I'd roll my swag
             And tramp to — God-knows-where.

      When I should wait I wander out,
             When I should go I bide —
      I scarcely dare to think about
             The days when I could ride.
      I would not mount before his eyes,
             'Straight' Bushman tall and tan —
      I mind the day when I stood up
             And fought him like a man.

      I mind the time when I was shy
             To meet the brown Bush girls —
      I've lunched with lords since then and I
             Have been at home with earls:
      I learned to smile and learned to bow
             And lie to ladies gay —
      But to a gaunt Bushwoman now
             I'd not know what to say.

      And if I sought her hard bare home
             From scenes of show and sham,
      I'd sit all ill at ease and fell
             The poor weak thing I am.
      I could not meet her hopeless eyes
             That look one through and through,
      The haggard woman of the past
             Who once thought I was true.

      But nought on earth can last for aye,
             And wild with care and pain,
      Some day by chance I'll break away
             And seek the Bush again.
      And find awhile from bitter years
             The rest the Bush can bring,
      And hear, perhaps, with truer ears
             The songs it has to sing.