Sydney-Side (1898)

Henry Lawson returns to Sydney by boat:

Where’s the steward? – Bar-room steward? Berth? Oh, any berth will do –
I have left a three-pound billet just to come along with you.
Brighter shines the Star of Rovers on a world that’s growing wide,
But I think I’d give a kingdom for a glimpse of Sydney-Side.

Run of rocky shelves at sunrise, with their base on ocean’s bed;
Homes of Coogee, homes of Bondi, and the lighthouse on South Head.
For in loneliness and hardship – and with just a touch of pride –
Has my heart been taught to whisper, ‘You belong to Sydney-Side.’

Oh, there never dawned a morning, in the long and lonely days,
But I thought I saw the ferries streaming out across the bays –
And as fresh and fair in fancy did the picture rise again
As the sunrise flushed the city from Woollahra to Balmain:

And the sunny water frothing round the liners black and red,
And the coastal schooners working by the loom of Bradley’s Head;
And the whistles and the sirens that re-echo far and wide –
All the life and light and beauty that belong to Sydney-Side.

And the dreary cloud-line never veiled the end of one day more,
But the city set in jewels rose before me from ‘The Shore.’
Round the sea-world shine the beacons of a thousand ports o’ call,
But the harbour-lights of Sydney are the grandest of them all!

Toiling out beyond Coolgardie – heart and back and spirit broke,
Where the Rover’s Star gleams redly in the desert by the ‘soak’ –
But says one mate to the other, ‘Brace your lip and do not fret,
We will laugh on trains and ‘buses – Sydney’s in the same place yet.’

Working in the South in winter, to the waist in dripping fern,
Where the local spirit hungers for each ‘saxpence’ that we earn,
We can stand it for a season, for our world is growing wide,
And they all are friends and strangers who belong to Sydney-Side.

‘T’other-siders! T’other-siders!’ Yet we wake the dusty dead;
It is we that send the backward province fifty years ahead;
We it is that ‘trim’ Australia – making narrow country wide –
Yet we’re always T’other-siders till we sail for Sydney-side.

–Henry Lawson, Australian, 1867-1922.

Arthur Streeton – Cremorne Pastoral, 1895. (Art Gallery of NSW)

Arthur Streeton – Cremorne Pastoral, 1895. (Art Gallery of NSW)

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