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Dan, The Wreck
by Henry Lawson


Tall, and stout, and solid-looking,
Yet a wreck;
None would think Death's finger's hooking
Him from deck.
Cause of half the fun that's started --
`Hard-case' Dan --
Isn't like a broken-hearted,
Ruined man.

Walking-coat from tail to throat is
Frayed and greened --
Like a man whose other coat is
Being cleaned;
Gone for ever round the edging
Past repair --
Waistcoat pockets frayed with dredging
After `sprats' no longer there.

Wearing summer boots in June, or
Slippers worn and old --
Like a man whose other shoon are
Getting soled.
Pants? They're far from being recent --
But, perhaps, I'd better not --
Says they are the only decent
Pair he's got.

And his hat, I am afraid, is
Troubling him --
Past all lifting to the ladies
By the brim.
But, although he'd hardly strike a
Girl, would Dan,
Yet he wears his wreckage like a
Gentleman!

Once -- no matter how the rest dressed --
Up or down --
Once, they say, he was the best-dressed
Man in town.
Must have been before I knew him --
Now you'd scarcely care to meet
And be noticed talking to him
In the street.

Drink the cause, and dissipation,
That is clear --
Maybe friend or kind relation
Cause of beer.
And the talking fool, who never
Reads or thinks,
Says, from hearsay: `Yes, he's clever;
But, you know, he drinks.'

Been an actor and a writer --
Doesn't whine --
Reckoned now the best reciter
In his line.
Takes the stage at times, and fills it --
`Princess May' or `Waterloo'.
Raise a sneer! -- his first line kills it,
`Brings 'em', too.

Where he lives, or how, or wherefore
No one knows;
Lost his real friends, and therefore
Lost his foes.
Had, no doubt, his own romances --
Met his fate;
Tortured, doubtless, by the chances
And the luck that comes too late.

Now and then his boots are polished,
Collar clean,
And the worst grease stains abolished
By ammonia or benzine:
Hints of some attempt to shove him
From the taps,
Or of someone left to love him --
Sister, p'r'aps.

After all, he is a grafter,
Earns his cheer --
Keeps the room in roars of laughter
When he gets outside a beer.
Yarns that would fall flat from others
He can tell;
How he spent his `stuff', my brothers,
You know well.

Manner puts a man in mind of
Old club balls and evening dress,
Ugly with a handsome kind of
Ugliness.

. . . . .

One of those we say of often,
While hearts swell,
Standing sadly by the coffin:
`He looks well.'

. . . . .

We may be -- so goes a rumour --
Bad as Dan;
But we may not have the humour
Of the man;
Nor the sight -- well, deem it blindness,
As the general public do --
And the love of human kindness,
Or the GRIT to see it through!