‘The Empty Glass’ by Henry Lawson

The Empty Glass © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

The Empty Glass

by Henry Lawson, 1906

There are three lank bards in a borrowed room —

Ah! The number is one too few —

They have deemed their home and the bars unfit

For the thing that they have to do.

Three glasses they fill with the Land’s own wine,

And the bread of life they pass.

Their glasses they take, which they slowly raise —

And they drink to an empty glass.

(There’s a greater glare in the street to-night,

And a louder rush and roar,

There’s a mad crowd yelling the winner’s name,

And howling the cricket score:

Oh! The bright moonlight on the angels white,

And the tombs and the monuments grand —

And down by the water at Waverley

There’s a little lone mound of sand.)

Oh, the drinkers would deem them drunk or mad,

And the barmaid stare and frown —

Each lays a hand on the empty glass

Ere they turn it upside down.

There’s a name they know, in a hand they know,

Was scratched with a diamond there —

And they place it in sight — turn on more light —

And they fill their glasses fair.

There’s a widow that weeps by the Hornsby line,

And she stood by him long and true —

But the widow should think by the Hornsby line

That others have loved him too,

‘Twas a peaceful end, and his work was done,

When called with the year away;

And the greatest lady in all the land

Is working for her to-day.

If the widow should fear for her children’s fate,

Or brood on a future lot,

In a frivolous land with her widowed state

In a short twelve months forgot.

She can lay her down for a peaceful rest

And forget her grief in sleep,

For his brothers have taken an oath to-night,

An oath that their hearts can keep.

They have taken an oath to his memory,

A pledge they cannot recall,

To stand by the woman that stood by him,

Through poverty, illness and all.

They are young men yet, or the prime of life,

And as each lays down his trust,

May the world be kind to the left behind,

And their native land be just.

(Silence of death in town to-night,

And the streets seem strangely clear —

Have the pitiful slaves of the gambling curse

Fled home for a strange new fear?

Oh, the soft moonlight on the angels white,

Where the beautiful marbles stand —

And down by the rollers at Waverley

There’s a mound of the golden sand.)

Henry Lawson, 1906, Australian poet

Source:

http://www.ironbarkresources.com/henrylawson/EmptyGlass.html

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Henry-Lawson

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Henry Lawson’s Birthday Tribute

Henry Lawson Photograph 1902
Henry Lawson 1902

It’s Henry Lawson’s birthday today.  Writer, poet and balladist, Henry Archibald Hertzberg Lawson (17 June 1867–2 Sept 1922) redefined and immortalised early Australian life despite suffering many hardships including deafness.  Along with his contemporary Andrew ‘Banjo’ Paterson, Henry Lawson is among the best-known Australian bush poets and fiction writers of the Colonial period.  He was the son of the poet, publisher and feminist Louisa Lawson.


Henry Lawson Bush Poem

Read the full version of this ballad on Australian Poetry Library website.


Henry Lawson Poetry Book
‘While the Billy Boils’ is a collection of short stories in prose and verse by iconic Australian writer Henry Lawson, published by Angus and Robertson in 1896.  It includes ‘The Drover’s Wife’, ‘On the Edge of a Plain’ and ‘The Union Buries Its Dead’.

Quote: “Old Mathews drank to drown sorrow, which is the strongest swimmer in the world.”  The Ridiculous Family, from ‘Triangles of Life and Other Stories’ (1913)

Gretchen Bernet-Ward