Green Lover [poem by John Shaw Neilson]

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

Green Lover

“Froggie was caught while crossing a brook:
A lily-white duck came and gobbled him up.”

Old Rhyme.

Ghosts in plenty about the world
Step lightly here and there:
They take a trip in the chimney-smoke,
They cough in an empty chair;
But one I know of, he sets his sail
When the stars run pale and thin:
He sails away at the flush of Day
In a curled-up lolly tin.

Long ago did he saunter forth
When the trees come out to bloom:
Oh, evil luck with the lily-white duck!
He went to an early doom.
Crossing a brook he was. His heart
Was hot with love therein:
— Now he sails away at the flush of Day
In a curled-up lolly tin.

The peacock’s colour was on his back
And great thoughts in his eyes:
He would not care for the slow beware
Of his mother, old and wise!
He hopped elate; but a pitiless Fate
As a lily-white duck came in:
— Now he sails away at the flush of Day
In a curled-up lolly tin.

Sugar is love, and honey is love,
And that is the reason why
He loves to float in a sugary boat,
And he makes no moan or sigh:
He puts no curse on a race perverse
(With nothing to lose or win)
He sails away at the flush of Day
In a curled-up lolly tin.

If ever you rise when the little flowers
Come shyly one by one,
Whispering little white thoughts of Love
And leaning out to the Sun:
When the Laughing Jacks by the river side
Their comedies begin,
Then a ghost in green is plainly seen
In his curled-up lolly tin.

The peacock’s colour is on his back
And great thoughts in his eyes:
He is no trader, he has no need
Of a thousand worn-out lies:
He loses well, and he will not grieve
For the world or its weight of sin:
— He sails away at the flush of Day
In a curled-up lolly tin.

Whenever I read of kings and queens
And knights and ladies fair
Who drank of Life as a goodly cup
Nor dreamed of a sorrow there,
I know they were driven of Love for Love,
They fought through thick and thin,
And fell for Love — like the glistening ghost
In the curled-up lolly tin.

The Dawn is ever a creepy time:
The Mysteries make it so:
Beauty is broken about the sky
And into the earth below:
Shadows go out, and stars go out,
And the Royal Red comes in:
— A lover green is always seen
In his curled-up lolly tin.

Wise men perish, and old dreams go;
But many, the great and wise,
Have told the truth to our golden Youth
That a lover never dies!
His bones may whiten, his dust may go
Where new worlds would begin:
— And Love prevails: ’tis a lover sails
In the curled-up lolly tin.



Source:
John Shaw Neilson (editor: R. H. Croll), Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson, Melbourne: Lothian Publishing Company, 1934 [May 1949 reprint], pages 114-116

Editor’s notes:
laughing jack = a kookaburra (a bird also known as a “laughing jackass” due to the sound of its call)

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