The Men We Might Have Been [poem by Henry Lawson]

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

The Men We Might Have Been

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

He’s rich and independent,
Or rising fast to fame ;
His bright star is ascendant,
The country knows his name ;
His houses and his gardens
Are splendid to be seen ;
His fault the wise world pardons —
The man I might have been.

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

But what avails the ache of
Remorse or weak regret ?
We’ll battle for the sake of
The men we might be yet !
We’ll strive to keep in sight of
The brave, the true, and clean,
And triumph yet in spite of
The men we might have been.

Henry Lawson. Verses Popular and Humorous, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1900, pages 101-102

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