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Short poem

Henry Lawson (1867-1922)

The Men We Might Have Been

              1When God's wrath-cloud is o'er me,
              2    Affrighting heart and mind;
              3When days seem dark before me,
              4    And days seem black behind;
              5Those friends who think they know me --
              6    Who deem their insight keen --
              7They ne'er forget to show me
              8    The man I might have been.

              9He's rich and independent,
            10    Or rising fast to fame;
            11His bright star is ascendant,
            12    The country knows his name;
            13His houses and his gardens
            14    Are splendid to be seen;
            15His fault the wise world pardons --
            16    The man I might have been.

            17His fame and fortune haunt me;
            18    His virtues wave me back;
            19His name and prestige daunt me
            20    When I would take the track;
            21But you, my friend true-hearted --
            22    God keep our friendship green! --
            23You know how I was parted
            24    From all I might have been.

            25But what avails the ache of
            26    Remorse or weak regret?
            27We'll battle for the sake of
            28    The men we might be yet!
            29We'll strive to keep in sight of
            30    The brave, the true, and clean,
            31And triumph yet in spite of
            32    The men we might have been.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Henry Lawson, Verses Popular and Humorous (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1900): 101-02. x.981/3738 British Library; PR 6023 A94H8 1905 Robarts Library
First publication date: 20 March 1897
Publication date note: Bulletin; See Stone, 9
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2001.
Recent editing: 4:2002/2/23

Rhyme: ababcdcd

Other poems by Henry Lawson