Henry Lawson

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

The Cab Lamps

The crescent moon and clock tower are fair above the wall
Across the smothered lanes of ’Loo, the stifled vice and all,
And in the shadow yonder—like cats that wait for scraps—
The crowding cabs seem waiting—for you and me, perhaps.

The cab lamps are watching as they watched for you and me,
The cab lamps are a-watching and they watch unblinkingly.
The sea breeze in Macleay Street and star-angels over all,
But the slinking cabs of darkness keep their watch beside the wall.

Oh! the years we slipped like months—and the months like a day—
When our cabs slid from the stand—touched the kerb and sped away—
Oh! the cloak on girlish shoulders—Oh! the theatres and light!
And the private rooms and supper that were all in a night!

Oh! the rickshaw in Colombo! And the flat that no one knew,
Where the cab lamps watched Haymarket—London cabs for me and you.
Oh! the gay run “Home” by Paris when the world was ours to play
And the wild run back by Frisco that seems all in a day.

Oh! the cab lamps and rose curtains, when the lie called love seemed true,
While an honest wife and husband suffered by the lanes of ’Loo.
Oh! the health and strength and beauty and the money with its power—
And those two good lives we ruined that was all in an hour.

But the night policeman’s coming with a sharp suspicious eye,
And he’d shift us “quick and lively” to the sweet by and by.
So we’ll seek our frowsy bedroom, if the old hag lets us through—
Where our folks died broken-hearted in the cruel lanes of ’Loo.

The cab lamps are watching as they watched across the sea,
The cab lamps are watching, and they watch for you and me.
For you and me they waited, when the thing called love seemed true,
But the bull’s-eye of our midnight must not flash on me—and you.
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