Past Carin’

One of Australia’s quintessential authors was Henry Lawson. He wrote until the 1920s and in that time, from the turn of the century until his death, he painted a verbal picture of Australia. Not the picture of the wealthy cities of Gold, like Ballarat, or the bustling cities of wealth like Melbourne and Sydney. Lawson wrote about ‘the bush’, that part of Australia where men tried to establish farms on land where rain came in abundance and then failed after a few years to taunt the invader with drought.

And on these small farms where a man took a young wife and built a cabin from local bush trees and raised a couple of cows and tried to make a farm, when what he needed was a hundred more acres and twenty more cows and rain that came on time and a wife who loved him and was prepared to live through the desperate times when all this went bad.

Lawson knew.

Here is a poem he wrote in 1899 which dropped straight into the middle of the great drought of 1895-1903.

If you want to get the real feel of this poem, tell all those of whom you care, to sit quiet, and wait while you read, out loud. And slow. Don’t worry if some words are foreign – the feeling is not.And please, enunciate each word and give it all the power it deserves.

Past Carin’

Now up and down the siding brown
The great black crows are flyin’,
And down below the spur, I know,
Another `milker’s’ dyin’;
The crops have withered from the ground,
The tank’s clay bed is glarin’,
But from my heart no tear nor sound,
For I have gone past carin’ —
Past worryin’ or carin’,
Past feelin’ aught or carin’;
But from my heart no tear nor sound,
For I have gone past carin’.
Through Death and Trouble, turn about,
Through hopeless desolation,
Through flood and fever, fire and drought,
And slavery and starvation;
Through childbirth, sickness, hurt, and blight,
And nervousness an’ scarin’,
Through bein’ left alone at night,
I’ve got to be past carin’.
Past botherin’ or carin’,
Past feelin’ and past carin’;
Through city cheats and neighbours’ spite,
I’ve come to be past carin’.
Our first child took, in days like these,
A cruel week in dyin’,
All day upon her father’s knees,
Or on my poor breast lyin’;
The tears we shed — the prayers we said
Were awful, wild — despairin’!
I’ve pulled three through, and buried two
Since then — and I’m past carin’.
I’ve grown to be past carin’,
Past worryin’ and wearin’;
I’ve pulled three through and buried two
Since then, and I’m past carin’.
‘Twas ten years first, then came the worst,
All for a dusty clearin’,
I thought, I thought my heart would burst
When first my man went shearin’;
He’s drovin’ in the great North-west,
I don’t know how he’s farin’;
For I, the one that loved him best,
Have grown to be past carin’.
I’ve grown to be past carin’
Past lookin’ for or carin’;
The girl that waited long ago,
Has lived to be past carin’.
My eyes are dry, I cannot cry,
I’ve got no heart for breakin’,
But where it was in days gone by,
A dull and empty achin’.
My last boy ran away from me,
I know my temper’s wearin’,
But now I only wish to be
Beyond all signs of carin’.
Past wearyin’ or carin’,
Past feelin’ and despairin’;
And now I only wish to be
Beyond all signs of carin’.
It is because I was brought up on a small farm in the bush that I know. That when I read this aloud the tears form at the back of my eyes and I turn away so that you can not see. Do me a favour. Read it again. And if you aren’t already, pretend you are a wife.

7 thoughts on “Past Carin’

  1. I first heard of Henry Lawson through the singer/songwriter Garnet Rogers who set a number of the poems to music–The Outside Track being one of them––and After All another– I hope the links come through in AU–sometimes music is blocked.

    Liked by 1 person

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