The Scamps

A poem by Henry Lawson

Of home, name and wealth and ambition bereft,
We are children of fortune and luck:
They deny there’s a shred of our characters left,
But they cannot deny us the pluck!
We are vagabond scamps, we are kings over all,
There is little on earth we desire,
We are devils who stand with our backs to the wall,
And who call on the cowards to fire!

There are some of us here who were noble and good,
And who learnt in ingratitude’s schools,
They were born of the selfish and misunderstood,
They were soft, they were ‘smoodgers’ or fools.
With their hands in their pockets to help every friend
In a fix, and they never asked how:
Beware of them you who have money to lend,
For it’s little you’d get from them now.

There are some of us here who were lovers of old,
In the days that were nearer to God;
The girl was more precious than honour or gold,
And they worshipped the ground where she trod;
But she trampled their hearts and they suffered and knew
How the soul of a woman to read,
They will never again to a woman be true;
Let the girls who may meet them take heed!

There are some of us here who were devils from birth,
Who would steal the eye out of a friend,
But we judge not or blame not the worst on the earth,
For it comes to the same in the end.
There are some of us here who were ruined by wrong,
To whom justice and love came too late,
And they threw them aside and go singing a song,
And they know that their mistress is fate.

We were some of us failures at suicide, too,
We are most of us back from the dead,
But we’ve all found the courage to battle it through,
Till the strength of our bodies is sped:
With a flag that is dyed with our hearts’-blood unfurled,
We are marching and marching afar,
We are comrades of all who are fighting the world,
For the world made us all what we are.

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