Sydney-Side [poem by Henry Lawson]

[Editor: This poem by Henry Lawson was published in Verses Popular and Humorous, 1900.]


Where’s the steward ? — Bar-room steward ? Berth ? Oh, any berth will do —
I have left a three-pound billet just to come along with you.
Brighter shines the Star of Rovers on a world that’s growing wide,
But I think I’d give a kingdom for a glimpse of Sydney-Side.

Run of rocky shelves at sunrise, with their base on ocean’s bed ;
Homes of Coogee, homes of Bondi, and the lighthouse on South Head ;
For in loneliness and hardship — and with just a touch of pride —
Has my heart been taught to whisper, ‘You belong to Sydney-Side.’

Oh, there never dawned a morning, in the long and lonely days,
But I thought I saw the ferries streaming out across the bays —
And as fresh and fair in fancy did the picture rise again
As the sunrise flushed the city from Woollahra to Balmain :

And the sunny water frothing round the liners black and red,
And the coastal schooners working by the loom of Bradley’s Head ;
And the whistles and the sirens that re-echo far and wide —
All the life and light and beauty that belong to Sydney-Side.

And the dreary cloud-line never veiled the end of one day more,
But the city set in jewels rose before me from ‘The Shore.’
Round the sea-world shine the beacons of a thousand ports o’ call,
But the harbour-lights of Sydney are the grandest of them all !

Toiling out beyond Coolgardie — heart and back and spirit broke,
Where the Rover’s Star gleams redly in the desert by the ‘soak’ —
But says one mate to the other, ‘Brace your lip and do not fret,
‘We will laugh on trains and ’buses — Sydney’s in the same place yet.’

Working in the South in winter, to the waist in dripping fern,
Where the local spirit hungers for each ‘saxpence’ that we earn —
We can stand it for a season, for our world is growing wide,
And they all are friends and strangers who belong to Sydney-Side.

‘T’other-siders ! T’other-siders !’ Yet we wake the dusty dead ;
It is we that send the backward province fifty years ahead ;
We it is that ‘trim’ Australia — making narrow country wide —
Yet we’re always T’other-siders till we sail for Sydney-side.

Henry Lawson. Verses Popular and Humorous, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1900, pages 10-12

Editor’s notes:
’buses = omnibuses; long enclosed vehicles, used for public transport; unlike modern buses, these were horse-drawn contraptions

t’other-siders = a term used by Western Australians to denote those from the Eastern states of Australia (that is, regarding people from “the other side” of the Australian continent)

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