Half a Life Back [poem by John Shaw Neilson]

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

Half a Life Back

Half a life back now the faces careworn or sunny,
Stare as we knew them, patient with heavy goodbyes;
Yet they give still the good warmth and the taste of the honey:
Neighbour! oh, neighbour! the light has gone out of their eyes.

Did we despise them? — We made little room for their sorrow:
All that was truth to them seemed to us spotted with lies:
They did so steadily speak of a shining to-morrow:
Neighbour! oh, neighbour! the light has gone out of their eyes.

Ruddy men, sallow men, praying and ever rebelling:
Men with their dreams burning out — women unwise —
To little white over-loved children parables telling:
Neighbour! oh, neighbour! the light has gone out of their eyes.



Source:
John Shaw Neilson (editor: R. H. Croll), Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson, Melbourne: Lothian Publishing Company, 1934 [May 1949 reprint], page 143

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