So the days of my tramping are over,
And the days of my riding are done —
I’m about as content as a rover
Will ever be under the sun;
I write, after reading your letter —
My pipe with old memories rife —
And I feel in a mood that had better
Not meet the true eyes of the wife.
You must never admit a suggestion
That old things are good to recall;
You must never consider the question:
‘Was I happier then, after all?’
You must banish the old hope and sorrow
That make the sad pleasures of life,
You must live for To-day and To-morrow
If you want to be just to the wife.
I have changed since the first day I kissed her.
Which is due — Heaven bless her! — to her;
I’m respected and trusted — I’m ‘Mister,’
Addressed by the children as ‘Sir.’
And I feel the respect without feigning —
But you’d laugh the great laugh of your life
If you only saw me entertaining
An old lady friend of the wife.
By-the-way, when you’re writing, remember
That you never went drinking with me,
And forget our last night of December,
Lest our sev’ral accounts disagree.
And, for my sake, old man, you had better
Avoid the old language of strife,
For the technical terms of your letter
May be misunderstood by the wife.
Never hint of the girls appertaining
To the past (when you’re writing again),
For they take such a lot of explaining,
And you know how I hate to explain.
There are some things, we know to our sorrow,
That cut to the heart like a knife,
And your past is To-day and To-morrow
If you want to be true to the wife.
I believe that the creed we were chums in
Was grand, but too abstract and bold,
And the knowledge of life only comes in
When you’re married and fathered and old.
And it’s well. You may travel as few men,
You may stick to a mistress for life;
But the world, as it is, born of woman
Must be seen through the eyes of the wife.
No doubt you are dreaming as I did
And going the careless old pace,
While my future grows dull and decided,
And the world narrows down to the Place.
Let it be. If my ‘treason’s’ resented,
You may do worse, old man, in your life;
Let me dream, too, that I am contented —
For the sake of a true little wife.
Henry Lawson. Verses Popular and Humorous, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1900, pages 108-110