Henry Lawson

The Good Samaritan

He comes from out the ages dim The good Samaritan; I somehow never pictured him A fat and jolly man; But one who’d little joy to glean, And little coin to give A sad-faced man, and lank and lean, Who found it hard to live. His eyes were haggard in the drought, His hair was iron-grey His dusty gown was patched, no doubt, Where we patch pants to-day. His faded turban, too, was torn But darned and folded neat, And leagues of desert sand had worn The sandals on his feet. He’s been a fool, perhaps, and would Have prospered had he tried, But he was one who never could Pass by the other side. An honest man whom men called soft, While laughing in their sleeves No doubt in business ways he oft Had fallen amongst thieves. And, I suppose, by track and tent, And other ancient ways, He drank, and fought, and loved, and went The pace in his young days. And he had known the bitter year When love and friendship fail I wouldn’t be surprised to hear That he had been in jail. A silent man, whose passions slept, Who had no friends or foes A quiet man, who always kept His hopes and sorrows close. A man who very seldom smiled, And one who could not weep Be it for death of wife or child Or sorrow still more deep. But sometimes when a man would rave Of wrong, as sinners do, He’d say to cheer and make him brave ‘I’ve had my troubles too.’ (They might be twittered by the birds, And breathed high Heaven through, There’s beauty in those world-old words: ‘I’ve had my sorrows too.’) And if he was a married man, As many are that roam, I guess that good Samaritan Was rather glum at home, Impatient when a child would fret, And strict at times and grim A man whose kinsmen never yet Appreciated him. Howbeit in a study brown He had for all we know, His own thoughts as he journeyed down The road to Jericho, And pondered, as we puzzle yet, On tragedies of life And maybe he was deep in debt And parted from his wife. (And so ‘by chance there came that way,’ It reads not like romance The truest friends on earth to-day, They mostly come by chance.) He saw a stranger left by thieves Sore hurt and like to die He also saw (my heart believes) The others pass him by. (Perhaps that good Samaritan Knew Levite well, and priest) He lifted up the wounded man And sat him on his beast, And took him on towards the inn All Christ-like unawares Still pondering, perhaps, on sin And virtue and his cares. He bore him in and fixed him right (Helped by the local drunk), And wined and oiled him well all night, And thought beside his bunk. And on the morrow ere he went He left a quid and spoke Unto the host in terms which meant ‘Look after that poor bloke.’ He must have known them at the inn, They must have known him too Perhaps on that same track he’d seen Some other sick mate through; For ‘Whatsoe’er thou spendest more’ (The parable is plain) ‘I will repay,’ he told the host, ‘When I return again.’ He seemed to be a good sort, too, The boss of that old pub (As even now there are a few At shanties in the scru . The good Samaritan jogged on Through Canaan’s dust and heat, And pondered over various schemes And ways to make ends meet. He was no Christian, understand, For Christ had not been born He journeyed later through the land To hold the priests to scorn; And tell the world of ‘certain men’ Like that Samaritan, And preach the simple creed again Man’s duty! Man to man! ‘Once on a time there lived a man,’ But he has lived alway, And that gaunt, good Samaritan Is with us here to-day; He passes through the city streets Unnoticed and unknown, He helps the sinner that he meets His sorrows are his own. He shares his tucker on the track When things are at their worst (And often shouts in bars outback For souls that are athirst). To-day I see him staggering down The blazing water-course, And making for the distant town With a sick man on his horse. He’ll live while nations find their graves And mortals suffer pain When colour rules and whites are slaves And savages again. And, after all is past and done, He’ll rise up, the Last Man, From tending to the last but one The good Samaritan.

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