The Men We Might Have Been by Henry Lawson

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When God's wrath-cloud is o'er me,
   Affrighting heart and mind;
When days seem dark before me,
   And days seem black behind;
Those friends who think they know me --
   Who deem their insight keen --
They ne'er forget to show me
  The man I might have been.

He's rich and independent,
   Or rising fast to fame;
His bright star is ascendant,
   The country knows his name;
His houses and his gardens
   Are splendid to be seen;
His fault the wise world pardons --
   The man I might have been.

His fame and fortune haunt me;
   His virtues wave me back:
His name and prestige daunt me
   When I would take the track;
But you, my friend true-hearted --
   God, keep our friendship green! --
You know how I was parted
   From all I might have been.

But what avails the ache of
   Remorse or weak regret?
We'll battle for the sake of
   The men we might be yet!
We'll strive to keep in sight of
   The brave, the true and clean
And triumph yet in spite of
   The men we might have been.

First published in The Bulletin, 3 April 1897;
and later in
A Camp-Fire Yarn: Henry Lawson Complete Works 1885-1900 edited by Leonard Cronin, 1984

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library, The Poetry of Henry Lawson website

See also.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on April 3, 2011 11:13 AM.

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