Henry Lawson ( )

Dan, The Wreck

Tall, and stout, and solid-looking, 
Yet a wreck; 
None would think Deaths fingers hooking 
Him from deck. 
Cause of half the fun thats started -- 
`Hard-case Dan -- 
Isnt like a broken-hearted, 
Ruined man. 

Walking-coat from tail to throat is 
Frayed and greened -- 
Like a man whose other coat is 
Being cleaned; 
Gone for ever round the edging 
Past repair -- 
Waistcoat pockets frayed with dredging 
After `sprats no longer there. 

Wearing summer boots in June, or 
Slippers worn and old -- 
Like a man whose other shoon are 
Getting soled. 
Pants? Theyre far from being recent -- 
But, perhaps, Id better not -- 
Says they are the only decent 
Pair hes got. 

And his hat, I am afraid, is 
Troubling him -- 
Past all lifting to the ladies 
By the brim. 
But, although hed hardly strike a 
Girl, would Dan, 
Yet he wears his wreckage like a 

Once -- no matter how the rest dressed -- 
Up or down -- 
Once, they say, he was the best-dressed 
Man in town. 
Must have been before I knew him -- 
Now youd scarcely care to meet 
And be noticed talking to him 
In the street. 

Drink the cause, and dissipation, 
That is clear -- 
Maybe friend or kind relation 
Cause of beer. 
And the talking fool, who never 
Reads or thinks, 
Says, from hearsay: `Yes, hes clever; 
But, you know, he drinks. 

Been an actor and a writer -- 
Doesnt whine -- 
Reckoned now the best reciter 
In his line. 
Takes the stage at times, and fills it -- 
`Princess May or `Waterloo. 
Raise a sneer! -- his first line kills it, 
`Brings em, too. 

Where he lives, or how, or wherefore 
No one knows; 
Lost his real friends, and therefore 
Lost his foes. 
Had, no doubt, his own romances -- 
Met his fate; 
Tortured, doubtless, by the chances 
And the luck that comes too late. 

Now and then his boots are polished, 
Collar clean, 
And the worst grease stains abolished 
By ammonia or benzine: 
Hints of some attempt to shove him 
From the taps, 
Or of someone left to love him -- 
Sister, praps. 

After all, he is a grafter, 
Earns his cheer -- 
Keeps the room in roars of laughter 
When he gets outside a beer. 
Yarns that would fall flat from others 
He can tell; 
How he spent his `stuff, my brothers, 
You know well. 

Manner puts a man in mind of 
Old club balls and evening dress, 
Ugly with a handsome kind of 

. . . . . 

One of those we say of often, 
While hearts swell, 
Standing sadly by the coffin: 
`He looks well. 

. . . . . 

We may be -- so goes a rumour -- 
Bad as Dan; 
But we may not have the humour 
Of the man; 
Nor the sight -- well, deem it blindness, 
As the general public do -- 
And the love of human kindness, 
Or the GRIT to see it through!

Henry Lawson's other poems:
  1. To an Old Mate
  2. Queen Hilda of Virland
  3. Jack Dunn of Nevertire
  4. The Heart of Australia
  5. The Bush Girl

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