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The Men Who Sleep With Danger

Henry Lawson 1867 (Grenfell) – 1922 (Sydney)

The men who camp with Danger
Are mostly quiet men:
And one may use a rifle,
And one may use a pen,
And one may strap a camera
In deserts to his bike;
But men who sleep with Danger
Are pretty much alike.
To men in places pleasant
Or in the barren West
There’s Danger ever present
A half unheeded guest.
But , thoughtful for the stranger,
The timid or the weak –
The men who camp with Danger
Keep watch but do not speak.
The men who go with Danger
Are mostly dreamy-eyed
Upon the swooping fo’c’sle.
Or by the camp-fire side,
And when they sit in darkness,
To show us where they are:
The glowing of a pipe-bowl
And often a cigar
The men who camp with Danger
Have quiet humour too,
And songs that you’ve forgotten,
And real good yarns for you.
There’s little you can tell them
Of yourself or your own
That men who’ve lived with Danger
Have never felt or known.
The men who sleep with Danger
Sleep soundly while they may,
But always wake at midnight
Or just before the day.
A something in the darkness
That shudders at the dawn –
A side-mate softly wakened,
A rifle swiftly drawn.
The men who sail with Danger
As actors are ideal:
They lightly laugh to fool you
When Danger’s very real.
The men who sail with Danger
A wondrous insight have:
They know if you are timid,
They know if you are brave.
The stewards set the tables
With careless, practised care,
And take accustomed comforts
To sea-sick cabins there.
They knock at doors of state-rooms
With broth and tea and toast,
While well they know, it’s touch and go,
And death sits on the coast.
The man who lives with Danger
Has knowledge all his own;
The instinct of a woman,
Of men who fight alone.
He learns from peace and comfort,
He learns from care and strife;
Unwittingly from all things
And from his native wife.
The men who live with Danger
See sermons in a log;
They have the nerves of horses,
The instincts of a dog,
When illness comes to loved ones
They know where’er they roam –
Have you seen, without for reason,
A farther start for home?
They know and feel our 'warnings'
As only Gipsies do;
They know the Norse Vardoger –
They hear and see it, too.
They know when death has passed them,
And the death watch is at end.
They know when he is coming
The Unexpected Friend.
The men who live with Danger,
They take things as they go –
In seeming unpreparedness,
To those who do not know.
They sleep when they have toiled and laughed
And fought for someone’s sake;
But Danger whispers in their ear,
And they are wide awake !

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:22 min read
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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

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