At the Tug-Of-War
’Twas in a tug-of-war where I — the guvnor’s hope and pride —
Stepped proudly on the platform as the ringer on my side;
Old dad was in his glory there — it gave the old man joy
To fight a passage through the crowd and barrack for his boy.
A friend came up and said to me, ‘Put out your muscles, John,
And pull them to eternity — your guvnor’s looking on.’
I paused before I grasped the rope, and glanced around the place,
And, foremost in the waiting crowd, I saw the old man’s face.
My mates were strong and plucky chaps, but very soon I knew
That our opponents had the weight and strength to pull them through;
The boys were losing surely and defeat was very near,
When, high above the mighty roar, I heard the old man cheer!
I felt my muscles swelling when the old man cheer’d for me,
I felt as though I’d burst my heart, or gain the victory!
I shouted, ‘Now ! Together!’ and a steady strain replied,
And, with a mighty heave, I helped to beat the other side!
Oh! how the old man shouted in his wild, excited joy!
I thought he’d burst his boiler then, a-cheering for his boy;
The chaps, oh! how they cheered me, while the girls all smiled so kind,
They praised me, little dreaming, how the old man pulled behind.
* * * * * *
He barracks for his boy no more — his grave is old and green,
And sons have grown up round me since he vanished from the scene;
But, when the cause is worthy where I fight for victory,
In fancy still I often hear the old man cheer for me.
Henry Lawson. Verses Popular and Humorous, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1900, pages 205-207