[Editor: This poem by Henry Lawson was published in In the Days When the World Was Wide and Other Verses, 1896.]
The rafters are open to sun, moon, and star,
Thistles and nettles grow high in the bar —
The chimneys are crumbling, the log fires are dead,
And green mosses spring from the hearthstone instead.
The voices are silent, the bustle and din,
For the railroad hath ruined the Cherry-tree Inn.
Save the glimmer of stars, or the moon’s pallid streams,
And the sounds of the ’possums that camp on the beams,
The bar-room is dark and the stable is still,
For the coach comes no more over Cherry-tree Hill.
No riders push on through the darkness to win
The rest and the comfort of Cherry-tree Inn.
I drift from my theme, for my memory strays
To the carrying, digging, and bushranging days —
Far back to the seasons that I love the best,
When a stream of wild diggers rushed into the west,
But the ‘rushes’ grew feeble, and sluggish, and thin,
Till scarcely a swagman passed Cherry-tree Inn.
Do you think, my old mate (if it’s thinking you be),
Of the days when you tramped to the goldfields with me?
Do you think of the day of our thirty-mile tramp,
When never a fire could we light on the camp,
And, weary and footsore and drenched to the skin,
We tramped through the darkness to Cherry-tree Inn?
Then I had a sweetheart and you had a wife,
And Johnny was more to his mother than life;
But we solemnly swore, ere that evening was done,
That we’d never return till our fortunes were won.
Next morning to harvests of folly and sin
We tramped o’er the ranges from Cherry-tree Inn.
* * * * * *
The years have gone over with many a change,
And there comes an old swagman from over the range,
And faint ’neath the weight of his rain-sodden load,
He suddenly thinks of the inn by the road.
He tramps through the darkness the shelter to win,
And reaches the ruins of Cherry-tree Inn.
Henry Lawson. In the Days When the World Was Wide and Other Verses, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1903 [first published 1896], pages 135-136
Leave a Reply