The Days When We Went Swimming by Henry Lawson

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The breezes waved the silver grass,

Waist-high along the siding,

And to the creek we ne’er could pass

Three boys on bare-back riding;

Beneath the sheoaks in the bend

The waterhole was brimming –

Do you remember yet, old friend,

The times we ‘went in swimming’?

 

The days we ‘played the wag’ from school –

Joys shared – and paid for singly –

The air was hot, the water cool –

And naked boys are kingly!

With mud for soap the sun to dry –

A well planned lie to stay us,

And dust well rubbed on neck and face

Lest cleanliness betray us.

 

And you’ll remember farmer Kutz –

Though scarcely for his bounty –

He leased a forty-acre block,

And thought he owned the county;

A farmer of the old world school,

That men grew hard and grim in,

He drew his water from the pool

That we preferred to swim in.

 

And do you mind when down the creek

His angry way he wended,

A green-hide cartwhip in his hand

For our young backs intended?

Three naked boys upon the sand –

Half buried and half sunning –

Three startled boys without their clothes

Across the paddocks running.

 

We’ve had some scares, but we looked blank

When resting there and chumming,

One glance by chance along the bank

And saw the farmer coming!

And home impressions linger yet

Of cups of sorrow brimming;

I hardly think that we’ll forget

The last day we went swimming.

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