Saturday, September 9, 2023



When Your Pants Begin to Go

A poem by Henry Lawson, from 1892.


Hear and see a virtual Henry Lawson read his poem by clicking on:

A brilliant effort by Jim Clark.

There is also a bio of Henry Lawson at the above link.


An alternative read version:


When Your Pants Begin To Go

- Henry Lawson

When you wear a cloudy collar and a shirt that isn’t white,
And you cannot sleep for thinking how you’ll reach to-morrow night,
You may be a man of sorrow, and on speaking terms with Care,
But as yet you’re unacquainted with the Demon of Despair;
For I rather think that nothing heaps the trouble on your mind
Like the knowledge that your trousers badly need a patch behind.

I have noticed when misfortune strikes the hero of the play
That his clothes are worn and tattered in a most unlikely way;
And the gods applaud and cheer him while he whines and loafs around,
But they never seem to notice that his pants are mostly sound;
Yet, of course, he cannot help it, for our mirth would mock his care
If the ceiling of his trousers showed the patches of repair.

You are none the less a hero if you elevate your chin
When you feel the pavement wearing through the leather, sock and skin;
You are rather more heroic than are ordinary folk
If you scorn to fish for pity under cover of a joke;
You will face the doubtful glances of the people that you know;
But—of course, you’re bound to face them when your pants begin to go.

If, when flush, you took your pleasure—failed to make a god of Pelf—
Some will say that for your troubles you can only thank yourself;
Some will swear you’ll die a beggar, but you only laugh at that
While your garments hang together and you wear a decent hat;
You may laugh at their predictions while your soles are wearing through—
But a man’s an awful coward when his pants are going too!

Though the present and the future may be anything but bright,
It is best to tell the fellows that you're getting on all right.
And a man prefers to say it—’tis a manly lie to tell,
For the folks may be persuaded that you’re doing very well;
But it’s hard to be a hero, and it’s hard to wear a grin,
When your most important garment is in places very thin.

Get some sympathy and comfort from the chum who knows you best,
Then your sorrows won’t run over in the presence of the rest;
There’s a chum that you can go to when you feel inclined to whine,
He’ll declare your coat is tidy, and he’ll say: “Just look at mine!”
Though you may be patched all over he will say it doesn’t show,
And he’ll swear it can’t be noticed when your pants begin to go.

Brother mine, and of misfortune! times are hard, but do not fret,
Keep your courage up and struggle, and we’ll laugh at these things yet.
Though there is no corn in Egypt, surely Africa has some—
Keep your smile in working order for the better days to come!
We shall often laugh together at the hard times that we know,
And get measured by the tailor when our pants begin to go.



"Keep your smile in working order for the better days to come!"

How good a line is that!

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