Henry Lawson

Here you will find the Long Poem Dan, The Wreck of poet Henry Lawson

Dan, The Wreck

Tall, and stout, and solid-looking,
 Yet a wreck;
None would think Death's finger's hooking
 Him from deck.
Cause of half the fun that's started --
 `Hard-case' Dan --
Isn't like a broken-hearted,
 Ruined man.

Walking-coat from tail to throat is
 Frayed and greened --
Like a man whose other coat is
 Being cleaned;
Gone for ever round the edging
 Past repair --
Waistcoat pockets frayed with dredging
 After `sprats' no longer there.

Wearing summer boots in June, or
 Slippers worn and old --
Like a man whose other shoon are
 Getting soled.
Pants? They're far from being recent --
 But, perhaps, I'd better not --
Says they are the only decent
 Pair he's got.

And his hat, I am afraid, is
 Troubling him --
Past all lifting to the ladies
 By the brim.
But, although he'd hardly strike a
 Girl, would Dan,
Yet he wears his wreckage like a

Once -- no matter how the rest dressed --
 Up or down --
Once, they say, he was the best-dressed
 Man in town.
Must have been before I knew him --
 Now you'd scarcely care to meet
And be noticed talking to him
 In the street.

Drink the cause, and dissipation,
 That is clear --
Maybe friend or kind relation
 Cause of beer.
And the talking fool, who never
 Reads or thinks,
Says, from hearsay: `Yes, he's clever;
 But, you know, he drinks.'

Been an actor and a writer --
 Doesn't whine --
Reckoned now the best reciter
 In his line.
Takes the stage at times, and fills it --
 `Princess May' or `Waterloo'.
Raise a sneer! -- his first line kills it,
 `Brings 'em', too.

Where he lives, or how, or wherefore
 No one knows;
Lost his real friends, and therefore
 Lost his foes.
Had, no doubt, his own romances --
 Met his fate;
Tortured, doubtless, by the chances
 And the luck that comes too late.

Now and then his boots are polished,
 Collar clean,
And the worst grease stains abolished
 By ammonia or benzine:
Hints of some attempt to shove him
 From the taps,
Or of someone left to love him --
 Sister, p'r'aps.

After all, he is a grafter,
 Earns his cheer --
Keeps the room in roars of laughter
 When he gets outside a beer.
Yarns that would fall flat from others
 He can tell;
How he spent his `stuff', my brothers,
 You know well.

Manner puts a man in mind of
 Old club balls and evening dress,
Ugly with a handsome kind of

 . . . . .

One of those we say of often,
 While hearts swell,
Standing sadly by the coffin:
 `He looks well.'

 . . . . .

We may be -- so goes a rumour --
 Bad as Dan;
But we may not have the humour
 Of the man;
Nor the sight -- well, deem it blindness,
 As the general public do --
And the love of human kindness,
 Or the GRIT to see it through!