Henry Lawson

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

The Men Who Made Bad Matches

'Tis the song of many husbands, and you all must understand
That you cannot call me coward now that women rule the land;
I have written much for women, where I thought that they were right,
But the men who made bad matches claim a song from me to-night.
Oh, the men who made bad matches are of every tribe and clime,
And, if Adam was the first man, then they date from Adam’s time.
They shall live and they shall suffer, until married life is past,
And the last sad son of Adam stands alone—at peace at last.

Oh, the men who made bad matches, and the Great Misunderstood,
Are through all the world a mighty and a silent brotherhood.
If a wife is discontented, every other woman knows—
But the men who made bad matches keep the cruel secret close.

You may say that you can tell them, by their clothing, if you will,
But a man may seem neglected, and his home be happy still.
You may tell by their assumption of conventional disguise—
But, the men who made bad matches, I can tell them by their eyes!

I have seen them by the camp-fire, where a child’s voice never comes,
I have seen them by the fireside, in their seeming happy homes—
Seen their wives’ false arms go round them, and the kisses that were lies—
Oh, the men who made bad matches! I can tell them by their eyes.

I have seen them bad in prison—seen them sullen, seen them sad;
I have seen them (in the mad-house)—I have seen them raving mad.
Watched them fight the battle bravely, for the children’s sake alone,
Like a father who has wronged them, and who lives but to atone.

But it’s cruel, oh! it’s cruel, for the husband and the wife,
Who have not one thought in common, and are yoked for weary life.
They must see it through and suffer, for the children they must rear—
Oh, the folk who made bad matches have a heavy cross to bear.

There is not a ray of comfort, in the future’s gloomy sky,
For the children of bad matches will make trouble by-and-bye.
And though second wives be angels, while the first wives were the worst,
No second wife yet wedded makes a man forget the first.

Ah! the men who made bad matches think more often than we know,
Of the girls they should have married, in the glorious long ago,
And there’s many a wife and mother thinks with bitter pain to-day,
Of her giddy, silly girlhood, and the man she sent away.

Life is sad for men and women, but the thoughts are bitter sad
Of the girls we should have married, and the boys we should have had.
But we’ll part now with a handshake, if we cannot with a kiss,
And bad matches may be mended in a better world than this.
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