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In The Days When The World Was Wide - Poem by Henry Lawson


The world is narrow and ways are short, and our lives are dull and slow,
For little is new where the crowds resort, and less where the wanderers go;
Greater, or smaller, the same old things we see by the dull road-side --
And tired of all is the spirit that sings
of the days when the world was wide.

When the North was hale in the march of Time,
and the South and the West were new,
And the gorgeous East was a pantomime, as it seemed in our boyhood's view;
When Spain was first on the waves of change,
and proud in the ranks of pride,
And all was wonderful, new and strange in the days when the world was wide.

Then a man could fight if his heart were bold,
and win if his faith were true --
Were it love, or honour, or power, or gold, or all that our hearts pursue;
Could live to the world for the family name, or die for the family pride,
Could fly from sorrow, and wrong, and shame
in the days when the world was wide.

They sailed away in the ships that sailed ere science controlled the main,
When the strong, brave heart of a man prevailed
as 'twill never prevail again;
They knew not whither, nor much they cared --
let Fate or the winds decide --
The worst of the Great Unknown they dared
in the days when the world was wide.

They raised new stars on the silent sea that filled their hearts with awe;
They came to many a strange countree and marvellous sights they saw.
The villagers gaped at the tales they told,
and old eyes glistened with pride --
When barbarous cities were paved with gold
in the days when the world was wide.

'Twas honest metal and honest wood, in the days of the Outward Bound,
When men were gallant and ships were good -- roaming the wide world round.
The gods could envy a leader then when `Follow me, lads!' he cried --
They faced each other and fought like men
in the days when the world was wide.

They tried to live as a freeman should -- they were happier men than we,
In the glorious days of wine and blood, when Liberty crossed the sea;
'Twas a comrade true or a foeman then, and a trusty sword well tried --
They faced each other and fought like men
in the days when the world was wide.

The good ship bound for the Southern seas when the beacon was Ballarat,
With a `Ship ahoy!' on the freshening breeze,
`Where bound?' and `What ship's that?' --
The emigrant train to New Mexico -- the rush to the Lachlan Side --
Ah! faint is the echo of Westward Ho!
from the days when the world was wide.

South, East, and West in advance of Time -- and, ay! in advance of Thought
Those brave men rose to a height sublime -- and is it for this they fought?
And is it for this damned life we praise the god-like spirit that died
At Eureka Stockade in the Roaring Days
with the days when the world was wide?

We fight like women, and feel as much; the thoughts of our hearts we guard;
Where scarcely the scorn of a god could touch,
the sneer of a sneak hits hard;
The treacherous tongue and cowardly pen, the weapons of curs, decide --
They faced each other and fought like men
in the days when the world was wide.

Think of it all -- of the life that is! Study your friends and foes!
Study the past! And answer this: `Are these times better than those?'
The life-long quarrel, the paltry spite, the sting of your poisoned pride!
No matter who fell it were better to fight
as they did when the world was wide.

Boast as you will of your mateship now -- crippled and mean and sly --
The lines of suspicion on friendship's brow
were traced since the days gone by.
There was room in the long, free lines of the van
to fight for it side by side --
There was beating-room for the heart of a man
in the days when the world was wide.

. . . . .

With its dull, brown days of a-shilling-an-hour
the dreary year drags round:
Is this the result of Old England's power?
-- the bourne of the Outward Bound?
Is this the sequel of Westward Ho! -- of the days of Whate'er Betide?
The heart of the rebel makes answer `No!
We'll fight till the world grows wide!'

The world shall yet be a wider world -- for the tokens are manifest;
East and North shall the wrongs be hurled that followed us South and West.
The march of Freedom is North by the Dawn! Follow, whate'er betide!
Sons of the Exiles, march! March on! March till the world grows wide!


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