Henry Lawson

Dan, The Wreck

Tall, and stout, and solid-looking, Yet a wreck; None would think Death’s finger’s hooking Him from deck. Cause of half the fun that’s started `Hard-case’ Dan Isn’t 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? They’re far from being recent But, perhaps, I’d better not Says they are the only decent Pair he’s got. And his hat, I am afraid, is Troubling him Past all lifting to the ladies By the brim. But, although he’d hardly strike a Girl, would Dan, Yet he wears his wreckage like a Gentleman! 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 you’d 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, he’s clever; But, you know, he drinks.’ Been an actor and a writer Doesn’t 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, p’r’aps. 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 Ugliness. . . . . . 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!

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