In the Street [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).]

In the Street

The night, the rain, who could forget? —
The grey streets glimmering in the wet:
Wreckers and ruined wreckage met:
There was no dearth
Of all the unlovely things that yet
Must plague the earth.

Gloom, and the street’s unhallowed joys:
The sly-eyed girls, the jeering boys:
Faint-carolling amid the noise
A woman worn —
A broken life: a heart, a voice,
Trembling and torn.

She did not sing of hillside steep,
Of reapers stooping low to reap:
No love-lorn shepherd with his sheep
Made moan or call:
A mother kissed her child asleep,
And that was all.

Slowly into our hearts there crept
I know not what: it flamed! it leapt!
Was it God’s love that in us slept? . .
I saw the mark
Of tears upon her, as she stept
Into the dark.



Source:
Shaw Neilson, Heart of Spring, The Bookfellow, Sydney, 1919, page 59

Also published in:
John Shaw Neilson (editor: R. H. Croll), Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson, Lothian Publishing Company, Melbourne, 1934 [May 1949 reprint], page 53

Editor’s notes:
dearth = lack, scarcity

stept = stepped

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