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Short poem

Henry Lawson (1867-1922)

The Things We Dare not Tell

              1The fields are fair in autumn yet, and the sun's still shining there,
              2But we bow our heads and we brood and fret, because of the masks we wear;
              3Or we nod and smile the social while, and we say we're doing well,
              4But we break our hearts, oh, we break our hearts! for the things we must not tell.

              5There's the old love wronged ere the new was won, there's the light of long ago;
              6There's the cruel lie that we suffer for, and the public must not know.
              7So we go through life with a ghastly mask, and we're doing fairly well,
              8While they break our hearts, oh, they kill our hearts! do the things we must not tell.

              9We see but pride in a selfish breast, while a heart is breaking there;
            10Oh, the world would be such a kindly world if all men's hearts lay bare!
            11We live and share the living lie, we are doing very well,
            12While they eat our hearts as the years go by, do the things we dare not tell.

            13We bow us down to a dusty shrine, or a temple in the East,
            14Or we stand and drink to the world-old creed, with the coffins at the feast;
            15We fight it down, and we live it down, or we bear it bravely well,
            16But the best men die of a broken heart for the things they cannot tell.

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, When I was King and Other Verses (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1906): 56-57. x.908/578 British Library
First publication date: 1906
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2001.
Recent editing: 4:2002/2/23

Form note: aabb

Other poems by Henry Lawson