Child of Tears [poem by John Shaw Neilson]

[Editor: This poem by John Shaw Neilson was published in Heart of Spring (1919) and Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson (1934).]

Child of Tears

Impetuous as a wild-winged bird
Your mother could not be a slave;
Her gift she gave unto the world,
A child of many tears she gave.

No mouth was mad your mouth to kiss,
No bosom held you safe and warm,
Poor little soul who came and cried
And no one heard you in the storm.

The people of the market-place
Of all your shame made merry play;
The worshippers to chapel went
And said, Our hearts are clean to-day.

Each mother to her white breast held
Her little mite of Love’s own gold;
Softly she sang for its sweet rest,
And you were sleeping hard and cold.

They said of you, His eyes are bright;
Fair was his mother’s face to see.
His mother’s heart was false and black,
So as his mother he shall be.

Why the dark shadows hovering frowned
You knew not with your wondering eyes;
You played about the brink of Hell,
And you were sweet for Paradise.

In the long row your little grave
Can cover all your baby fears;
The great world cursed you and you died,
Dear little unloved child of tears.

Shaw Neilson, Heart of Spring, The Bookfellow, Sydney, 1919, pages 60-61

Also published in:
John Shaw Neilson (editor: R. H. Croll), Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson, Lothian Publishing Company, Melbourne, 1934 [May 1949 reprint], pages 54-55

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