The Briny Grave

A poem by Henry Lawson

You wonder why so many would be buried in the sea,
In this world of froth and bubble,
But I don’t wonder, for it seems to me
That it saves such a lot of trouble.
And there ain’t no undertaker,
Oh! there ain’t no order that your friends can give
On the quiet to the coffin-maker,
To a gimcrack coffin-maker,
They make no differ twixt the absentee swell
And the clerk that cut from a “shortage”,
Oh! there ain’t no pauper funer-el,
And there ain’t no “impressive cortege.”
It may be a chap from the for’ard crowd,
Or a member of the British Peerage,
But they sew his nibs in a canvas shroud
Just the same as the bloke from the steerage,
As that poor bloke from the steerage.
There ain’t no need for a gravedigger there,
For you dig your own grave! Lord love yer!
And there ain’t no use for a headstone fair
When the waters close above yer!
The little headstone where they come to weep,
May be right for the land’s dry-rotters,
But you rest just as sound when you’re anchored deep
With the pigiron at your trotters,
(Our fathers had iron at their trotters).
The sea is democratic the wide world round,
And it don’t give a hang for no man,
There ain’t no Church of England burial ground,
Nor yet there ain’t no Roman.
Orthodox and het’rodox by wreck-strewn cliffs,
At peace in the stormiest weather,
Might bob up and down like two brother “stiffs,”
And rest in one shark together,
And mix up their bones together.

The bare-headed skipper is as good any day
As an authorised shifter of sin is,
And the tear of shipmate is better anyway
Than the tear of the next-of-kin is.
It saves your friends, and it fills your needs,
It is best when all is reckoned,
And she can’t come there in her widder weeds,
With her eyes on a likely second,
And a spot for the likely second.

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