I’ve mentioned A.B. “Banjo” Paterson a number of times previously, most especially in relation to “The Man from Snow River,” one of the most famous poems in Australia. It’s highly enough revered that I have an Australian $10 note that pictures both Paterson and a horseman making the “terrible descent” celebrated in the poem. Paterson also wrote “Waltzing Matilda.” But he wrote a lot of poems, and many of them have become favorites of mine.
This one I particularly love because I have found it so often to be true. Writing rarely offers reward commensurate with the amount of work done, and yet the work itself is why one writes. So here is “Song of the Pen,” another in a continuing series of Aussie classics.
Song of the Pen
Not for the love of women toil we, we of the craft,
Not for the people’s praise;
Only because our goddess made us her own and laughed,
Claiming us all our days,
Claiming our best endeavour–body and heart and brain
Given with no reserve–
Niggard is she towards us, granting us little gain;
Still, we are proud to serve.
Not unto us is given choice of the tasks we try,
Gathering grain or chaff;
One of her favoured servants toils at an epic high,
One, that a child may laugh.
Yet if we serve her truly in our appointed place,
Freely she doth accord
Unto her faithful servants always this saving grace,
Work is its own reward!