Divorced

A poem by Henry Lawson

Two couples are drifting the self-same way
(Men of the world know well)
From the ballroom glare as the night grows grey
(Men of the world can tell).
Many are round them who know, and knew,
But men of the world are blind;
That couple in front has nought to do
With the couple that comes behind.

The woman starts on her partner’s arm,
For a reason he could not tell,
She trips and she laughs the Society laugh,
That men of the world know well.
If she laughs too suddenly, talks too fast,
We are deaf as well as blind,
’Twas only the ghosts of the girlish days
When she married the man behind.

He feels a pang where his heart had been
(For a reason he cannot tell).
A spasm that mars the cynical smile
That men of the world know well.
A spasm that’s known in Society,
And by many men “out of the hunt”.
’Tis only the ghosts of his boyish hopes
When he married the woman in front.

And the man in front, and the woman behind
(Oh, Society’s smile and bow!)
They are too well-bred to ask even in thought
What has come to their partners now.
But the couples drift in Society’s stream
To the kerb where the two cabs wait,
It was all because of what others had said,
And a word that was spoken too late.

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