The Peace Maker

A poem by Henry Lawson

It has a “point” of neither sex
But comes in guise of both,
And, doubly dangerous complex,
It is a thing to loathe,
A lady with her sweet, sad smile,
A gentleman on oath.

Strip off the mother-veil, and fur!
And signs of “quiet taste”.
The dead child’s locket take from her
(The dead man’s gift in haste)
And wash from every evil line
The layers of filling paste!

From “saddened eyes” the hell’s own glare!
From “sweet mouth” blasphemy!
Wrench out the gold-filled false teeth there
That twice mock honesty,
And leave the evil face awry
For married folk to see.

For foolish girl wives in despair,
For men’s and children’s sakes,
Let loose the glossed and padded hair
To writhe like scorching snakes!
And strip the barren body bare
To show what Satan makes.

Aye! I could take her by the throat
More sure than hangman’s noose,
And set my teeth and set my nails,
And hate would set my thews.
And fling her to the drought-starved swine,
Were all my brethren Jews.

There was the kindest man I knew,
Brave, handsome, straight and tall,
Between his loved ones and the world
He stood, a fortress wall.
He whines, a ruined drunkard now,
And this thing did it all.

There was the girl who married me
And bore my children twain,
We’ll never meet each other’s eyes
Like boy and girl again.
The very children’s love and trust
By this foul thing was slain.

There was a girl my manhood loved,
She’d Love’s own red gold hair,
And grey eyes that were Pity’s own
And courage that was rare.
She sleeps amongst the suicides,
And this thing sent her there.

And all because the town was dull
And goodness was too tame,
And people took no interest
In one they could not blame.
And all because my life was clean
And I had won a name.

And now, for years of senseless hate
And paltry, bitter strife,
For “reparation” come too late,
For sweetheart, mate and wife,
I tread her vile heart in the dust
And ashes of my life.

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