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Past Carin’ -- Henry Lawson

Guest poem sent in by Frank O'Shea
(Poem #1568) Past Carin’
 Now up and down the siding brown
     The great black crows are flyin’,
 And down below the spur, I know,
     Another ‘milker’s’ dyin’;
 The crops have withered from the ground,
     The tank’s clay bed is glarin’,
 But from my heart no tear nor sound,
     For I have gone past carin’—
             Past worryin’ or carin’,
             Past feelin’ aught or carin’;
             But from my heart no tear nor sound,
             For I have gone past carin’.
 Through Death and Trouble, turn about,
     Through hopeless desolation,
 Through flood and fever, fire and drought,
     And slavery and starvation;
 Through childbirth, sickness, hurt, and blight,
     And nervousness an’ scarin’,
 Through bein’ left alone at night,
     I’ve got to be past carin’.
             Past botherin’ or carin’,
             Past feelin’ and past carin’;
             Through city cheats and neighbours’ spite,
             I’ve come to be past carin’.
 Our first child took, in days like these,
     A cruel week in dyin’,
 All day upon her father’s knees,
     Or on my poor breast lyin’;
 The tears we shed—the prayers we said
     Were awful, wild—despairin’!
 I’ve pulled three through, and buried two
     Since then—and I’m past carin’.
             I’ve grown to be past carin’,
             Past worryin’ and wearin’;
             I’ve pulled three through and buried two
             Since then, and I’m past carin’.

 ’Twas ten years first, then came the worst,
     All for a dusty clearin’,
 I thought, I thought my heart would burst
     When first my man went shearin’;
 He’s drovin’ in the great North-west,
     I don’t know how he’s farin’;
 For I, the one that loved him best,
     Have grown to be past carin’.
             I’ve grown to be past carin’
             Past lookin’ for or carin’;
             The girl that waited long ago,
             Has lived to be past carin’.

 My eyes are dry, I cannot cry,
     I’ve got no heart for breakin’,
 But where it was in days gone by,
     A dull and empty achin’.
 My last boy ran away from me,
     I know my temper’s wearin’,
 But now I only wish to be
     Beyond all signs of carin’.
             Past wearyin’ or carin’,
             Past feelin’ and despairin’;
             And now I only wish to be
             Beyond all signs of carin’.
-- Henry Lawson
To join A D Hope today and Eric Bogle's lovely "Now I'm Easy" a few weeks
ago, here is another Australian poem. Unlike Bogle's old man, the speaker
here is far from "easy" as she looks back on her hard life.

Henry Lawson's reputation as a short-story writer has outlasted his fame as
a poet, at least among the academics. But today's poem is like a short
story in its own right, and anyway people who have never read a short story
still read his poetry. You can get a sense of his own bleak outlook as well
as his love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with the outback in this poem.
I don't know if it is great poetry, but where else can you find such
unremitting bleakness so sympathetically portrayed? The strong, determined
woman finally beaten by her lot.

I'm surprised that you have only two of Lawson's poems in your collection.
If you want to find out what Australia was like 100 years ago, it would be
hard to beat Lawson. The fact that he was what we might today call "a
loser" has in no way changed the affection in which he was then, and still
is, held by Australians.

Frank O'Shea

46 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Norm Rourke/Connie Carson-Rourke said...

Bully! Great poem that could well be one of the American West. Much like our cowboy poetry. Unfortunately, many have no clue the story-telling technique used in this poetry genre. Also unfortunately, too many are still hung up with the rigidity of the academic approach to poetry...a lot of which is next to impossible to comprehend. This poem (and it's like in cowboy poetry) has feeling, life and understanding. In short, it's what poetry is all about.

Norm Rourke
Stone Bluff Ranch

Anna Marie Bohmann said...

There's a really lovely folk song version of this poem by a group called
Bok, Muir and Trickett on their album call "And So Will We Yet".

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