Henry Lawson

17 June 1867 – 2 September 1922 / Grenfell, New South Wales

In The Height Of Fashion

SO at last a toll they’ll levy
For the passing fool who sings—
Take the harp grown dull and heavy
(With the dried blood on the strings)
Let us sing, and sing right gaily,
For the wreath is on our brow—
Are you hearin’, Victor Daley?
We are fashionable now!

Once the greatest earl could flout us,
And the meanest scribe could sneer—
Nought too bad to say about us,
Nought too hard for us to hear.
Slaves to journal-owning Neroes,
And we died—no matter how—
We’re sweet singers now and heroes,
We are fashionable now.

Once we suffered all save gaol, if
We’d no rich admirers near;
And our sole guest was the bailiff
And our only comfort beer.
Now we’ll dine with toffs and “ladies”,
Who shall clasp our hands and bow.
Let the pale muse go to Hades!
We are fashionable now.

Once we had to be contented
With the “Palace of the Mind”,
While our coats were washed and mended,
And our pants were patched behind;
Now by goose-knights we are measured,
While the lordly tailors bow;
And our worn-out pants are treasured—
We are fashionable now!

Once, when stony-broke and mournful,
We put our petition clear,
Then our country, cold and scornful,
Answered, “Go and get a beer!”
And it threw the tray bit at us
Just to stop our “silly row”,
Now it’s champagne spreads and—satis!
We are fashionable now.

Once our grandest lines were drivel,
And our wisest words were rot,
All our teachings false and evil,
To be sneered at and forgot;
Now our silliest clack delights ’em,
Doggerel their feelings plow,
And our shallow bluff affrights ’em—
We are fashionable now!

“I adore the Swagman—Drover—
‘When the World was Round!’—But ah!
‘While the Billy’s Boiling Over’
Is too awfully hurrah!”
Thus the maiden trills and gushes
While her johnnie knots his brow,
And the fair young maiden blushes—
We are fashionable now!

“I like your book, Mr Lawson,
‘Clancy of the Overflow’,
Better far than Mr Banjo’s—
‘When Your Pants Begin to Go’.”
No! I am no longer snarling,
Long ago we had our row—
Don’t be angry, Banjo, darling,
Though I’m fashionable now.

I am feeling young and restive—
Skittish more than I can tell,
Skipping with a skip that’s festive,
Singing with a gladsome yell.
I will let my hair grow longer,
Storm-tossed from my stormy brow,
I am going strong and stronger—
For I’m fashionable now.

We shall write lines to their poodles—
Darlings of Society—
Praise the blatant cad who boodles,
Write odes to the Divorcee.
Let, at last Australia know its
Brilliant circles anyhow,
We’re the Doo-dah, Doo-dah! Poets—
We are fashionable now.
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