[Editor: This poem by Henry Lawson was published in In the Days When the World Was Wide and Other Verses, 1896.]
To an Old Mate
Old Mate! In the gusty old weather,
When our hopes and our troubles were new,
In the years spent in wearing out leather,
I found you unselfish and true —
I have gathered these verses together
For the sake of our friendship and you.
You may think for awhile, and with reason,
Though still with a kindly regret,
That I’ve left it full late in the season
To prove I remember you yet;
But you’ll never judge me by their treason
Who profit by friends — and forget.
I remember, Old Man, I remember —
The tracks that we followed are clear —
The jovial last nights of December,
The solemn first days of the year,
Long tramps through the clearings and timber,
Short partings on platform and pier.
I can still feel the spirit that bore us,
And often the old stars will shine —
I remember the last spree in chorus
For the sake of that other Lang Syne,
When the tracks lay divided before us,
Your path through the future and mine.
Through the frost-wind that cut like whip-lashes,
Through the ever-blind haze of the drought —
And in fancy at times by the flashes
Of light in the darkness of doubt —
I have followed the tent poles and ashes
Of camps that we moved further out.
You will find in these pages a trace of
That side of our past which was bright,
And recognise sometimes the face of
A friend who has dropped out of sight —
I send them along in the place of
The letters I promised to write.
Henry Lawson. In the Days When the World Was Wide and Other Verses, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1903 [first published 1896], pages 9-10