The Battling Days
So, sit you down in a straight-backed chair, with your pipe and your wife content,
And cross your knees with your wisest air, and preach of the ‘days mis-spent;’
Grown fat and moral apace, old man! you prate of the change ‘since then’ —
In spite of all, I’d as lief be back in those hard old days again.
They were hard old days; they were battling days; they were cruel at times — but then,
In spite of all, I would rather be back in those hard old days again.
The land was barren to sow wild oats in the days when we sowed our own —
(’Twas little we thought or our friends believed that ours would ever be sown)
But the wild oats wave on their stormy path, and they speak of the hearts of men —
I would sow a crop if I had my time in those hard old days again.
We travel first, or we go saloon — on the planned-out trips we go,
With those who are neither rich nor poor, and we find that the life is slow;
It’s ‘a pleasant trip’ where they cried, ‘Good luck! There was fun in the steerage then —
In spite of all, I would fain be back in those vagabond days again.
On Saturday night we’ve a pound to spare — a pound for a trip down town —
We took more joy in those hard old days for a hardly spared half-crown;
We took more pride in the pants we patched than the suits we have had since then —
In spite of all, I would rather be back in those comical days again.
’Twas We and the World — and the rest go hang — as the Outside tracks we trod;
Each thought of himself as a man and mate, and not as a martyred god;
The world goes wrong when your heart is strong — and this is the way with men —
The world goes right when your liver is white, and you preach of the change ‘since then.’
They were hard old days; they were battling days; they were cruel times — but then,
In spite of all, we shall live to-night in those hard old days again.
Henry Lawson. Verses Popular and Humorous, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1900, pages 105-107
fain = happily or gladly; ready or willing; obliged or compelled
lief = glad, ready, willing
[Editor: Corrected “itmes” to “times” in the second stanza.]