[Editor: This poem by Henry Lawson was published in Verses Popular and Humorous, 1900.]
The Three Kings *
The East is dead and the West is done, and again our course lies thus :—
South-east by Fate and the Rising Sun where the Three Kings wait for us.
When our hearts are young and the world is wide, and the heights seem grand to climb —
We are off and away to the Sydney-side ; but the Three Kings bide their time.
‘I’ve been to the West,’ the digger said : he was bearded, bronzed and old :
‘Ah, the smothering curse of the East is wool, and the curse of the West is gold.
‘I went to the West in the golden boom, with Hope and a life-long mate,
‘They sleep in the sand by the Boulder Soak, and long may the Three Kings wait.’
‘I’ve had my fling on the Sydney side,’ said a black-sheep to the sea,
‘Let the young fool learn when he can’t be taught : I’ve learnt what’s good for me.’
And he gazed ahead on the sea-line dim — grown dim in his softened eyes —
With a pain in his heart that was good for him — as he saw the Three Kings rise.
A pale girl sits on the foc’sle head — she is back, Three Kings ! so soon ;
But it seems to her like a life-time dead since she fled with him ‘saloon.’
There is refuge still in the old folks’ arms for the child that loved too well ;
They will hide her shame on the Southern farm and the Three Kings will not tell.
’Twas a restless heart on the tide of life, and a false star in the skies
That led me on to the deadly strife where the Southern London lies ;
But I dream in peace of a home for me, by a glorious southern sound,
As the sunset fades from a moonlit sea, and the Three Kings show us round.
Our hearts are young and the old hearts old, and life on the farms is slow,
And away in the world there is fame and gold — and the Three Kings watch us go.
Our heads seem wise and the world seems wide, and its heights are ours to climb,
So it’s off and away in our youthful pride — but the Three Kings bide our time.
* Three sea-girt pinnacles off North Cape, New Zealand.
Henry Lawson. Verses Popular and Humorous, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1900, pages 5-7
saloon = saloon class on a ship was first class (for first class passengers, as distinct from second class and third class); although, on ships without any first class designation, saloon class could refer to second class (distinct from third class); saloon class cabins were generally bigger, less crowded (saloon class cabins could be shared cabins, but with fewer people sharing), and/or better positioned on a ship (e.g. away from the noise of a ship’s propellers); the designations, facilities, and conditions of passenger accommodation varied in relation to different ships and different time periods
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