George Meek – ‘Station Days in Maoriland’, 1952
When I was just a care-free youth, my Dad would say to me,
When you grow up to manhood, lad, I hope that you will be
A straight and honest fighter in whatever walk you plan -
For that’s the one profession that is worthy of a man.
You may not be distinguished, lad, and make a famous name;
But better be unknown than ill-known through your frame;
For though you be a toiler you can always be a man -
And set a higher standard, no profession ever can.
And right through life remember that whatever be your fate,
It’s one thing being honest, and another, being ‘great;’
For though the world may praise you as a man and Christian, too -
It’s mighty worthless honour when you know it isn’t true.
Mind, when the fight is hardest, lad, stand up and play the game;
Play hard and fair but don’t expect all men will do the same;
For many men best show their worth when up against defeat -
But others cannot play and lose, – so they must play – and cheat.
Then be upon your guard with men who boast a noble cause,
When there is showy virtue there are also hidden flaws;
Though men may say your word’s your bond, where mammon’s voice is heard -
They laugh to scorn, the honest man who tries to trade his word.
But courage, lad, is all you need to make the highest grade,
For mostly, genius consists in being unafraid;
So never fear the idle boast of man’s pretended power -
For just as each dog has its day, so each man hath his hour.
And whether you may serve beneath a halo or a hod,
“An honest man,” remember, “is the noblest work of God;”
But, should you take the wayward path, though riches make you ‘great’ -
There’s no profession in the world will ever keep you straight.