He Had So Much Work To Do

A poem by Henry Lawson

Tell a simple little story of a settler in the West,
Where the soldier birds and farmers, and selectors never rest
While the sun shines, and they often work in rainy weather, too:
But it’s all about a young man who had so much work to do.

One of Mason’s sons, Jim Mason, and the straightest of the lot,
(They were all straight for that matter) Jim was working for old Scott,
(Scott that fired at Brummy Hughson, when the “stick-ups” used to be),
Jim was courting Mary Kelly down at Lowes, at Wilbertree.

Jim was trucking for a sawmill to make money for the home,
He was making, out of Mudgee, for the family to come,
And a load-chain snapped the switch-bar, and Black Anderson found Jim,
In the morning, in a creek-bed, with a log on top of him.

There was riding for the doctor, just the same old reckless race:
And a spring cart with a mattress came and took him from the place,
To the hospital at Gulgong, but they couldn’t pull him through,
And Jim said “It seems a pity, I, had so much work to do.”

“There’s the hut, it’s close-up finished; and the forty acres fenced;
And, I’ve cleared enough for ploughin’, but the dam is just commenced!”
Then he said, and for a moment from the nurse his eyes he hid,
“But I’m glad we wasn’t married, for there might have been a kid.”

That was all, at least it wasn’t for he didn’t die until
He had “fixed it up for Mary with a proper lawyer will,”
And the “Forty acre paddick,” “And I only hope,” said he,
“That she’ll get some decent feller when she’s quite got over me.”

Poor old broken-hearted Mason and his “missus” took their spell,
But another son and Mary finished Jim’s work very well.
They have grown-up sons and daughters, some on new selections, too,
And their hands and hearts are fitted for the work they have to do.

Now, my brothers! see the moral, lest the truth should come too late!
We are far too apt to quarrel with the writer’s fancied fate,
Damn the Past! and leave to-morrow: millions are worse off than you!
Think, ere you would “drown your sorrow,” of the work that you should do.

Though the fates have seemed unkind to our unhappy brotherhood,
We are too apt to be blind to our great power to do good;
Many thousands, starved and stinted, for a line of comfort come,
We can write, and have it printed, They must suffer and be dumb.

Think not of the hours we wasted in “oblivion” foully won,
Or the bitter cups we tasted. Let us work! that, when life’s done,
We shall have in bush or city, shaped our future course so true
That they’ll say “It is a pity, they had so much more to do.”

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