Henry Lawson ( )


The Cockney Soul


From Woolwich and Brentford and Stamford Hill, from Richmond into the Strand, 
Oh, the Cockney soul is a silent soul  as it is in every land! 
But out on the sand with a broken band its sarcasm spurs them through; 
And, with never a laugh, in a gale and a half, tis the Cockney cheers the crew. 

Oh, send them a tune from the music-halls with a chorus to shake the sky! 
Oh, give them a deep-sea chanty now  and a star to steer them by! 

Now this is a song of the great untrained, a song of the Unprepared, 
Who had never the brains to plead unfit, or think of the things they dared; 
Of the grocer-souled and the draper-souled, and the clerks of the four oclock, 
Who stood for London and died for home in the nineteen-fourteen shock. 

Oh, this is a pork-shop warriors chant  come back from it, maimed and blind, 
To a little old counter in Greys Inn-road and a tiny parlour behind; 
And the bedroom above, where the wife and he go silently mourning yet 
For a son-in-law who shall never come back and a dead sons room To Let. 

(But they have a boy in the fried-fish line in a shop across the wye, 
Who will take them aht and abaht to-night and cheer their old eyes dry.) 

And this is a song of the drapers clerk (what have you all to say?)  
Hed a tall top-hat and a walking-coat in the city every day  
He wears no flesh on his broken bones that lie in the shell-churned loam; 
For he went over the top and struck with his cheating yard-wand  home. 

(Oh, touch your hat to the tailor-made before you are aware, 
And lilt us a lay of Bank-holiday and the lights of Leicester-square!) 

Hats off to the dowager lady at home in her house in Russell-square! 
Like the pork-shop back and the Brixton flat, they are silently mourning there; 
For one lay out ahead of the rest in the slush neath a darkening sky, 
With the blood of a hundred earls congealed and his eye-glass to his eye. 

(He gave me a cheque in an envelope on a distant gloomy day; 
He gave me his hand at the mansion door and he said: Good-luck! Good-bai!)



Henry Lawson's other poems:
  1. The Heart of Australia
  2. The Bush Girl
  3. The Song of Old Joe Swallow
  4. Mount Bukaroo
  5. The Fire at Rosss Farm


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