The Bard and the Disbarred by Henry Lawson

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There's a little old pub that I go to,
   And one or two others as well;
And thirsty souls tram, walk and row to
   That little amphibious hotel.
It stands somewhere down where the whalers
   Held more than high revel of yore,
(And the jetty is handy to sailors
   On days when their skippers ashore.)

There's a sort of outcast physician,
   Because he had stuck to a mate.
There's a sort of thrown-out politician,
   Because he had tried to go straight.
And old actor --and he's our reciter --
   As long as his audience endure --
A pianist, and artist and writer
   (Art, music and lit-er-a-ture.)

There's a boxer that we call "the Feather" --
   He never showed white in his time --
He lost on a foul, and, well, whether --
   (I'm stuck up here for a rhyme.)
He lost on a foul, and, well this is
   A thing that might hurt 'em and vex;
The fool, I know, came from his missis,
   To the honour of all of her sex.

To the honour of all of her gender --
   (Oh, love in the spring-time is sweet);
There's a hard-working waster and spender,
   And so we are nearly complete.
But the other one lives for his life's sake,
   And his honour -- and he finds it hard;
He was struck off the rolls for his wife's sake,
   And he's known to us all as "Disbarred".

There are only two more I might mention,
   Though I don't know why they come here;
There's a water policeman, on pension,
   And a wrecker (whose mostly on beer).
And they can't understand how it rankles
   In the hearts of the young od "the force"
The floating ashore of brass ankles
   And davit, blown out of their course.

(Ain't it marvellous, weary world-ranger?
   So true that it sounds like a hymn --
Ain't it marvellous, shipmates in danger?
   Did you know that red herrings can swim?)

The Disbarred gives advice in all evil,
   Free gratis to husbands of sin.
(And in things merely local and civil --
   Oh, that's where "the Feather" comes in.)
She made your embezzlement easy,
   She made your embezzlement hard,
Your "victim" was rich, fat and greasy,
   And so she divorced you Disbarred!

I am one of the few friends that knew you,
   And how you fought upwards -- how hard;
A young married daughter stuck to you --
   But she died in childbirth Disbarred!
("In the wild wood a fountain is springing
   In the desert there still is a tree --
And a bird in the wilderness singing
   That speaks of thy spirit to me.")

Last New Year (my recollection),
   Or, maybe 'twas three years ago,
There was someone took up a collection
   In the little old pub that we know.
Said the Feaher, "I ain't got the science
   Of sparrin' with clack be ther yard --
Here's a coupler quid from yer clients
   Ter see yer past New Year, Disbarred."

And you went, like a lost soul that's banished
   And you slunk like a coward, outside.
And you went as you lately have vanished,
   To where fallen angels have pride.
But a bloke without principle saw yer
   By the little place down in the yard,
There were tears in the eyes of a lawyer,
   Though he'd been a long time disbarred.

First published in Truth, 23 February 1924;
and later in
A Fantasy of Man: Henry Lawson Complete Works 1901-1922 edited by Leonard Cronin.

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 February 23, 2012 8:58 AM.

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