Poem: Grace Jennings Carmichael by Henry Lawson

"But the broken heart of the poet is written between the lines." Grace Jennings Carmichael, bush girl, born in Gippsland, Vic., spent her young life in the bush; went to Melbourne into the Children's Training Hospital and obtained a certificate. Wrote verses for many years to the Australasian. Died in great poverty in London in 1904. Three younger children (one or more probably Australians) still in a London workhouse.

I hate the pen, the foolscap fair,
   The poet's corner, and the page,
For Grief and Death are written there,
   In every land and every age.
The poets sing and play their parts,
   Their daring cheers, their humour shines,
But, ah! my friends! their broken hearts
   Have writ in blood between the lines.

They fought to build a Commonwealth,
   They write for women and for men,
They give their youth, we give their health
   And never prostitute the pen.
Their work in other tongues is read,
   And when sad years wear out the pen,
Then they may seek their happy dead
   Or go and starve in exile then.

A grudging meed of praise you give,
   Or, your excuse, the ready lie --
(O! God, you don't know how they live!
   O! God, you don't know how they die!)
The poetess, whose gentle tone
   Oft cheered your mothers' hearts when down;
A lonely woman, fought alone
   The bitter fight in London town.

Your rich to lilac lands resort,
   And old-world luxuries they buy;
You pour out gold to Cant and Sport
   And give a million to a lie.
You give to cheats who rant and rave
   With eyes that glare and arms that whirl,
But not a penny that might save
   The children of the Gippsland girl.

First published in The Skyline Riders and Other Verses by Henry Lawson, 1910

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on May 24, 2008 9:27 AM.

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