The Pavement Stones :A Song of the Unemployed

Henry Lawson 1867 (Grenfell) – 1922 (Sydney)

WHEN first I came to town, resolved
To fight my way alone,
No prouder foot than mine e’er trod
Upon the pavement stone;
But I am one in thousands,
And why should I repine?
The pavement stones have broken springs
In stronger feet than mine.

I brought to aid me all the hope
And energy of youth;
And in my heart I felt the strength
Of plain bucolic truth:
The independence nourished
Amid the hills and trees—
But, ah! the city hath a cure
For qualities like these.

I wonder oft how e’er I made
The efforts that I made,
For after three long weary years
I taught myself a trade.
And two more years and I was free
With strength and hope elate,
For “he that hath a trade,” they say,
“Hath also an estate.”

I tramped the streets and looked for work
And begged for work in vain,
Until I recked not, though I ne’er
Might touch my tools again.
I tramped the streets despairing;
My cheeks grew white and thin;
I felt the pavement wearing through
The leather, sock, and skin.

The bitter war goes on between
The idlers and the drones,
Until the hearts of men grow cold
And hard as pavement stones;
But I am one amid the crowd,
Then why should I repine?
The pavement stones have broken springs
In stronger feet than mine.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Henry Lawson

Henry Lawson 17 June 1867 - 2 September 1922 was an Australian writer and poet Along with his contemporary Banjo Paterson Lawson is among the best-known Australian poets and fiction writers of the colonial period more…

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