The Separated Women

A poem by Henry Lawson

The Separated Women
Go lying through the land,
For they have plenty dresses,
And money, too, in hand;
They married brutes and drunkards
And blackguards “frightful low”,
But why are they so eager
For all the world to know?

The shamed and ill-used woman
Who really longs to die,
She slaves at home in silence
And hides her poor black eye!
She lives a life of terror
Eased off at times in woe,
But why is she so frightened
That any one might know?

The Separated Woman
She rushes to the court,
Sad, shabby and pathetic,
Or flaunting or distraught;
The real wronged wife would rather
Lose both eyes and her hair,
She swears a lie to save him
When he is taken there.

The Separated Woman
She mostly goes the same,
Bag-woman, sham-nurse, “pretty”,
Or on her husband’s name;
The real loafed-on woman,
With courage almost grim,
“Goes out” and takes in washing
To keep the kids, and him.

The Separated Woman,
I knew her course so well:
“The Stage”, then first-class barmaid,
Then third-class bar, and hell:
And “hell” means all things vicious
That prey upon the town
(She wishes her poor husband
Had sometimes knocked her down).

Masseur and manicurist,
Or anything by chance,
They vilify their husbands,
And draw the maintenance.
Sham artists, “music teachers”,
Oh! they are flinty nuts!
Their friends are man-shaped crawlers
And lower than the dust.

The separated “Monsters”
Are missing from the tale,
They seem to have cleared out, or,
Perhaps they are in gaol.
The separated husband
Is heard of here and there,
A mild and decent citizen
And mostly bowed with care.

The Separated Women,
When upset in the track,
Are often very eager
To take the “Monster” back.
They’ve moved all hell to crush him
And, startled, find too late
The Monster’s grown content with
The separated state.

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