Welcome to Poetry.com

Poetry.com is a huge collection of poems from famous and amateur poets from around the world — collaboratively published by a community of authors and contributing editors.

Navigate through our poetry database by subjects, alphabetically or simply search by keywords. You can submit a new poem, discuss and rate existing work, listen to poems using voice pronunciation and even translate pieces to many common and not-so-common languages.

Rate this poem:(0.00 / 0 votes)

Clinging Back

Henry Lawson 1867 (Grenfell) – 1922 (Sydney)

When you see a man come walking down through George Street loose and free,
Suit of saddle tweed and soft shirt, and a belt and cabbagetree,
With the careless swing and carriage, and the confidence you lack—
There is freedom in Australia! he’s a man that’s clinging back.
Clingin’ back,
Holdin’ back,
To the old things and the bold things clinging back.
When you see a woman riding as I saw one ride to-day
Down the street to Milson’s Ferry on a big, upstanding bay,
With her body gently swaying to the horse-shoes’ click-a-clack,
You might lift your hat (with caution)—she’s a girl who’s clinging back.
Clinging back,
Swinging back.
To the old things and the bold things clinging back.

When you see a rich man pulling on the harbour in a boat,
With the motor launches racing till they scarcely seem to float,
And the little skiff is lifting to his muscles tense and slack,
You say “Go it” to a sane man. He’s a man that’s clinging back.
Clinging back,
Swinging back,
To the old things and the bold things clinging back.

When you see two lovers strolling, arm-in-arm—or round the waist,
And they never seem to loiter, and they never seem to haste,
But indifferent to others take the rock or bush-hid track
You be sure about their future, they’re a pair that’s clinging back.
Clinging back,
Holding back,
To the old things and the bold things clinging back.

I, a weary picture writer in a time that’s cruel plain,
Have been clinging all too sadly to what shall not come again,
To what shall not come and should not! for the silver’s mostly black,
And the gold a dull red copper by the springs where I held back.
Clinging back,
Holding back,
To the old things and the cold things clinging back.

But if you should read a writer sending truths home every time,
While his every “point” goes ringing like the grandest prose in rhyme,
Though he writes the people’s grammar, and he spreads the people’s “clack,”
He is stronger than the Public! and he’ll jerk the mad world back.
Yank it back,
Hold it back,
For the love of little children hold it back.

Font size:

Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:52 min read

Henry Lawson

Henry Lawson 17 June 1867 - 2 September 1922 was an Australian writer and poet Along with his contemporary Banjo Paterson Lawson is among the best-known Australian poets and fiction writers of the colonial period more…

All Henry Lawson poems | Henry Lawson Books

FAVORITE (1 fan)

Discuss this Henry Lawson poem with the community:



    Find a translation for this poem in other languages:

    Select another language:

    • - Select -
    • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
    • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
    • Español (Spanish)
    • Esperanto (Esperanto)
    • 日本語 (Japanese)
    • Português (Portuguese)
    • Deutsch (German)
    • العربية (Arabic)
    • Français (French)
    • Русский (Russian)
    • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
    • 한국어 (Korean)
    • עברית (Hebrew)
    • Gaeilge (Irish)
    • Українська (Ukrainian)
    • اردو (Urdu)
    • Magyar (Hungarian)
    • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
    • Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Italiano (Italian)
    • தமிழ் (Tamil)
    • Türkçe (Turkish)
    • తెలుగు (Telugu)
    • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
    • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
    • Čeština (Czech)
    • Polski (Polish)
    • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Românește (Romanian)
    • Nederlands (Dutch)
    • Ελληνικά (Greek)
    • Latinum (Latin)
    • Svenska (Swedish)
    • Dansk (Danish)
    • Suomi (Finnish)
    • فارسی (Persian)
    • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
    • հայերեն (Armenian)
    • Norsk (Norwegian)
    • English (English)


    Use the citation below to add this poem to your bibliography:


    "Clinging Back" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 27 Sep. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/17771/clinging-back>.

    Become a member!

    Join our community of poets and poetry lovers to share your work and offer feedback and encouragement to writers all over the world!

    Browse Poetry.com


    Are you a poetry master?

    AA Milne wrote: "A bear, however hard he tries..."
    • A. "has very very tired eyes"
    • B. "can never stop telling lies"
    • C. "grows tubby with no exercise"
    • D. "stinks and attracts the flies"

    Our favorite collection of

    Famous Poets